There aren’t many people who can truly say they saw Texas
State’s stunning 30-13 upset over Houston coming. But one of the few that can lives
in Las Vegas, and he’s $120,000 richer because of it.
The William Hill Race & Sports Book in Las Vegas says a man placed a $2,000
bet on Texas State to beat Houston outright at 60-1 odds, earning him a payout
of $120,000. Texas State, which was playing its first game as a member of the Football
Bowl Subdivision, was a 34-point underdog. It was just the seventh 30-point
underdog to win a game outright since 1980 according to RJ Bell, the founder of
the sports betting website Pregame.com.
“When you turn a toothpick into a lumber mill,” said William Hill bookmaker
Jimmy Vaccaro, “there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Vaccaro wouldn’t reveal the big winner’s identity, but said it was a customer
he has known for more than 20 years — one with a history of taking these kinds
of long shots. He once beat Vaccaro for $220,000 on a four-team parlay, the
“He gets a kick out of it,” Vaccaro said. “He likes to show the tickets off. I
call him Floyd Mayweather on steroids. He’s a very charismatic person. He’s fun
to have in your book.”
William Hill only took about $2,200 worth of action on Texas State-Houston,
meaning there were only a handful of other $10 and $20 bets placed on the game.
A payout of such scale is exceedingly rare, not just because upsets like that
rarely happen, but because most sports books don’t even offer money-lines (the
opportunity to bet a winner straight up with no point spread involved) when the
point spread is more than 10 points. Vaccaro said he thinks there might only be
a couple other sports books in Las Vegas that will do it.
“I’ve always contended that every game has a money-line associated to it, it’s
simply a math decision,” Vaccaro said, “although you don’t like to get hit too
much on bets like that.”
William Hill is the biggest bookmaker in the United Kingdom, but just began
operations in the United States in June. It’s known as an aggressive bookmaker
in the UK, a reputation it is trying to build here. And that’s why it always
offers the money-line bets.
“We feel like it’s part of our trademark,” Vaccaro said.
And though no bookmaker likes to get tagged for $120,000 on a single bet,
Vaccaro can live with this one.
“He walked away with $120,000 worth of money and it actually turned out about
$200,000 worth of publicity,” Vaccaro said. “So it wasn’t a bad tradeoff.”