Notable bets is a regular Monday roundup of wagers -- some sharper than others -- made recently at sportsbooks across the nation.
With the year coming to a close and high-profile games abound, big bets -- as in $500,000, or even more in at least one case -- were flying around Las Vegas during the final week of 2018, as the first football regular season with expanded legal sports betting in the U.S. came to a close.
It was an up-and-down season for the betting public, which got off to an expensive start. September was Nevada bookmakers' most lucrative month ever, as they enjoyed a $56.3 million boon.
Bettors battled back midway through the season, handing Las Vegas one of its worst Sundays in recent memory.
Somehow, though, much like Rocky, the plucky underdog sportsbooks managed to get off the canvas and put together a strong finish to the year.
"We had our best Sunday of the season today," John Murray, race and sports director at the SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas, told ESPN late Sunday afternoon. "The season-long stuff all seemed to go our way. We needed the Vikings to miss the playoffs. We needed the Ravens to win the AFC North. And we wanted the Broncos to finish under seven wins -- and we got them all."
Saturday wasn't too shabby, either, thanks primarily to a flood of love for Notre Dame. Clemson's 30-3 rout of the Fighting Irish in the Cotton Bowl produced MGM sportsbook's largest win on a single college football game in recent memory, a nearly seven-figure win, according to Jeff Stoneback, director of MGM race and sports.
"I would say it's been an above-average season for us," Stoneback said. "We started off gangbusters, then we had a little bit of a slump for a few weeks, but we bounced back pretty good, and it's been a decent season for us."
Maybe 2019 will be the betting public's year, although history indicates that's a less-than-likely outcome.
Here are the week's -- and the 2018 season's -- most notable bets:
Most bets to win the Super Bowl by the end of the regular season at CG Technology books:
Most money wagered to win the Super Bowl by the end of the season at CG Technology sportsbooks:
Most-heavily bet teams (combined money-line and spread) for the season at DraftKings sportsbook in New Jersey:
Teams that attracted the least amount of money wagered (combined money-line and spread for the season at DraftKings in New Jersey:
Week 1: Packers (-7, 45) 24, Bears 23: Most-heavily bet game of season at Caesars' Nevada sportsbooks.
Week 1: Rams (-6.5, 47.5) 33, Raiders 13: Produced largest loss on a single game this season at CG Technology books.
Week 2: Cowboys (-3, 42) 20, Giants 13: "Monster handle for us," the SuperBook's Murray said, "and our biggest win of the year in the NFL."
Week 3: Lions 26, Patriots (-7, 55.5) 10: Produced largest win of regular season for Caesars.
Week 9: Chiefs (-8.5, 51.5) 37, Browns 21: Produced largest loss of the regular season for Caesars.
Week 11: Giants (-3, 54) 38, Buccaneers 35: Produced largest loss of the season for SuperBook. "We had a guy bet over 52 for $110,000 to win $100,000, and the public was all over the Giants," Murray said. "Ugly game for us."
Week 12: Texans (-3.5, 42.5) 34, Titans 17: Produced largest win for CG Technology.
Week 13: Chargers 33, Steelers (-3, 53.5) 30: Most-heavily bet game at CG Technology.
Week 14: Dolphins 34, Patriots 33 (-9, 49.5): "One of the largest swings or wins for the year was the Dolphins upsetting the Patriots and winning on the last play of the game," said Chuck Esposito, sportsbook director.
NFL odds & ends
- On Sunday morning, the most popular bet at the sportsbook at the SurgarHouse Casino in Philadelphia was the Eagles -6 vs. the Washington Redskins. The second-most popular bet at SugarHouse? The Chicago Bears on the money line against the Minnesota Vikings. The Eagles needed to beat Washington and have the Bears beat the Vikings to reach the playoffs. Both things happened, and bettors at SugarHouse celebrated.
- The SuperBook at Westgate Las Vegas saw a flurry of bets on the Pittsburgh Steelers to win the Super Bowl last week. "Almost $9,000" was bet on the Steelers to win the Super Bowl just last week, according to SuperBook vice president of risk Ed Salmons. The Steelers were eliminated from the postseason Sunday.
- The SuperBook reported a slightly higher winning percentage on NFL this season than college football. "That surprises me," Murray said. "It's very close."
Updated odds to win the Super Bowl at SugarHouse sportsbooks in New Jersey and Pennsylvania:
- Saints +260
- Chiefs +450
- Rams +500
- Patriots +600
- Bears +900
- Ravens +1,400
- Chargers +1,600
- Texans +2,200
- Cowboys +2,500
- Colts +2,800
- Eagles +3,300
NFL underdogs finished 134-112-9 against the spread in the regular season. There were 266 unders, 242 overs and four pushes, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
- Sugar Bowl sweats: Several significant parlays will be at stake when the Georgia Bulldogs take on the underdog Texas Longhorns on Tuesday in the Sugar Bowl. Georgia is a 12.5- or 13-point favorite over the Longhorns at most sportsbooks.
- The Flamingo sportsbook reported taking two large money-line parlays from the same player that will be decided by the Sugar Bowl.
$200,000 two-teamer on the New England Patriots and Georgia to win a net $68,000.
$135,000 four-teamer on Alabama, the Patriots, the Chiefs and Bulldogs that would win a net $101,000, according to director of race, sports and esports for Caesars John Lukasik.
- MGM sportsbook supervisor Scott Shelton reported taking three large money-line parlays that will come down the Sugar Bowl:
A $630,000 two-teamer on the Patriots and Georgia to win a net $200,000.
$125,000 five-teamer on Alabama, the Patriots, Seahawks, Chiefs and Georgia that would net $111,000.
A $50,000 three-teamer on Alabama, the Patriots and Georgia that would net around $28,000.
More bowl bets
- Bookmaker William Hill took a $60,000 and two $10,000 money-line bets on Notre Dame to beat Clemson.
"It was public and some large casino players were taking the Irish," the MGM's Stoneback said.
"It seemed like everyone was lined up out the door to bet Notre Dame," Murray of the SuperBook said.
- Big money backed the Alabama Crimson Tide against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl on Saturday. The sportsbook at the Flamingo in Las Vegas took a $550,000 money-line bet on the Crimson Tide at -550 odds. MGM took a $525,000 money-line bet on the Crimson Tide. That ticket paid a $95,000 profit after Alabama beat the Sooners 45-34. The bets were first reported by the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Covers.com, respectively.
- A bettor at a William Hill sportsbook in southern Nevada placed two wagers, totaling $110,000, on Purdue +3.5 against Auburn in the Music City Bowl. Purdue lost 63-14.
- FanDuel's New Jersey sportsbook took a $110,000 bet on Syracuse -2 against West Virginia in the Camping World Bowl. The Orange won 34-18.
- Bookmaker William Hill reported taking a $78,000 bet on Syracuse -3 (-120).
- FanDuel sportsbook in New Jersey took a $110,000 bet on $165,000 bet on Wisconsin +3 (-118) against Miami in the Pinstripe Bowl. Wisconsin won 35-3.
- Clemson-Alabama: MGM opened Alabama as a 6.5-point favorite over Clemson and received immediate action on the underdog Tigers from bettors considered by the book to be professionals. The line settled at Crimson Tide -6 at most sportsbooks.
Notable parlays from this season
- In Week 15 of the NFL season, a bettor at William Hill hit a $20, 12-leg parlay that paid $50,000. The bettor took the Texans -6.5, Texans-Jets over 41.5, Browns +2.5, Broncos-Browns under 45.5, Vikings -6.5, Bengals -2.5, Ravens -7.5, Ravens-Buccaneers under 46.5, Bills-Lions under 38.5, Bears -5.5, Falcons -8.5 and Seahawks-49ers over 43.5.
- On Oct. 27, a bettor with William Hill hit a five-team, $25,000 parlay that paid $533,055.055. The bettor had the Bengals-180, the Packers +8.5, Celtics -3.5, Heat -1.5 and Spurs +105.