The futures bet is the approachable entry point to sports gambling. It’s the roulette. The Red Sox, at press time, are 9-to-1 to win the 2019 World Series. Put down $100, and if they win, you get $900. No pointspreads, no confusion.
It’s the sort of thing that, if you have a friend going to Las Vegas, you throw them $20 and tell them to make the bet for you. It was an annual tradition for Chicago Cubs fans to throw down a few bucks on their team winning the World Series, in the hopes that would be the year. When it finally was in 2017, at least one sportsbook found more than 30 percent of tickets were kept as souvenirs instead of cashed.
That won’t be the case at William Hill, the multi-national book that took an $85,000 bet on Tiger Woods to win the Masters on Wednesday in Nevada. An $85,000 bet at 14-t0-1 odds.
A bet that, when all his contenders fell away and the 43-year-old won his first major since 2008, turned into a $1.19 million payday.
“It’s great to see Tiger back. It’s a painful day for William Hill — our biggest golf loss ever — but a great day for golf,” said Nick Bogdanovich, U.S. Director of Trading for the sportsbook, which sets the odds at the Twin River sportsbook in Rhode Island.
William Hill, who dropped its odds on Woods from 14-to-1 to 10-to-1 after the bet, was far from the only book hit hard by the legend’s victory. Action Network reports both FanDuel and DraftKings said they paid out in excess of $1 million when Woods won, with his popularity, his standing as a four-time Masters winner before Sunday, and his recent resurgence — Woods was in contention at last year’s Open Championship and the PGA before he won the season-ending Tour Championship — made him a popular choice.
The mysterious bettor ended up winning more money than the three second-place finishers at Augusta, Dustin Johnson, Brooks Koepka, and Xander Schauffele, who each won roughly $859,000. The $1.19 million is more than twice the $486,000 that Woods won for his 12-shot victory at the 1997 Masters, and more than every Masters winner until 2005, when Woods took home $1.26 million after nearly a decade of helping the game grow exponentially.
“Just unreal, to be honest with you,” Woods told reporters on Sunday afternoon.
He was far from the only one who felt that way.