A rash of huge sports betting upsets are giving new meaning to the term "Dog Days of Summer".
Even though sports bettors are just over a week into July, this summer has already provided plenty of jaw-dropping underdog wins and the bountiful windfalls that accompany those stunners.
For the most part, underdog wins are good for sportsbooks. While a handful of hopeful bettors rake in a big payday, the majority of the money lands on the favorite. However, sometimes the betting public falls in love with the live dog and sticks it to the bookies when that dog bites back.
From Wimbledon to Weidman, here are some underdog winners of note to kick off the summer.
The wackiness at Wimbledon actually started in late June when Rafael Nadal (-15,000) suffered a first-round stunner versus Steve Darcis (+2,800), followed by an insane second round that saw Roger Federer (-20,000 vs. Sergiy Stakhovsky +3,300), Maria Sharapova (-6,600 vs. Michelle Larcher de Brito +2,000), Caroline Wozniacki, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and other top seeds bow out.
Women’s favorite Serena Williams (-1,600) was upset by Sabine Lisicki (+900) in the fourth round and Andy Murray snapped a 77-year British drought at the All-England Club in the men’s final. Marion Bartoli finished off the tournament with another win for the dogs, after she took out Lisicki in the women's final and paid off her pre-tourney bettors at +8,000. Murray was a modest +333 to win Wimbledon.
According to Bet365.com, a parlay involving upsets of Nadal, Federer, Sharapova and Williams would have paid out at 166,320-to-1. However, not having the big names make it deep into a tournament is a double-edge sword for sportsbooks. They clean up on all the futures bets on those stars but see interest in the event sputter because of a lack of name power.
“Action in the early rounds of tournaments is minimal compared to the quarters and semis, so not having star power like Serena, Nadal, Federer was damaging to our volume,” says Michael Stewart, an oddsmaker with CarbonSports.ag, told Covers.
Word on the MMA street was that plenty of fight pundits were siding with Chris Weidman to snap Anderson Silva’s 17-fight unbeaten streak and take the middleweight title at UFC 162 in Las Vegas this past Saturday.
But, despite that growing buzz, most thought Silva would pull out the win – one way or the other – like he had in so many previous bouts. Weidman, still a relative newcomer, closed at +200 with the reigning champ coming back at -250.
Weidman made the most of his title shot, making Silva pay for showboating with a stiff straight left hand that dropped the champ to the mat in the second round. Weidman pursued with a couple shots on the ground before the ref jumped in. Weidman via KO paid out at +800 and Weidman winning the second round was a tasty +950.
“Referees always tell fighters, ‘protect yourself at all times’,” Aron Black of Bet365.com. “Well, Mr. Silva thought that playing cute and playing up to the crowd, which he’s normally good at, can be very costly. Getting caught whilst pretending to be hurt and then jumped on for a ref stoppage is not how he would like to be remembered, but the odds said that the loss wasn’t such a big shock.”
The Astros are just 2-5 so far in July but one of those wins came as a hefty +288 moneyline underdog at rival Texas this weekend. Houston was matched up against Rangers ace Yu Darvish, with Texas coming back as a -320 favorite.
The Astros chased Darvish with five runs through six innings and added another four runs in the seventh and eighth to secure a 9-5 stunner, getting a big day from their bats. Houston hit a three-run and two two-run homers in the victory.
“What was even a bigger decision for us was the runline, where the Rangers opened -1.5 (-140) and closed -1.5 (-170), a huge 30-cent move for a baseball runline,” says Stewart.
CFL Week 2
Underdogs are just 2-6 ATS through the first two weeks of the CFL season. Those two winners, however, were touchdown underdogs in their second games of the season.
The Winnipeg Blue Bombers defeated the Montreal Alouettes by the very-Canadian score of 19-11 - healthy amount of rouges - as 7-point pups Thursday. Edmonton rounded out the Week 2 slate with a 30-20 upset at Hamilton, also getting a TD from bookmakers Sunday.
British Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel was cruising to victory on Lap 42 at the British Grand Prix on June 30. He opened at +110 and was bet all the way up to -175 before the race.
His live betting odds spiked after Lewis Hamilton and others had tire troubles on the Silverstone Circuit, making Vettel a -1,000 favorite with 12 laps remaining. That’s when a gearbox failure in his Red Bull racer forced him out of the race, leaving Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg to top the podium.
“Considering (Vettel’s) position and odds at the time, it was quite an upset for him to not win the race,” says Black. “With a -1000 price tag, the field was effectively +650 against him.”