How Sportsbooks Can Lose Money During The Masters
Golf isn’t a complicated game. It’s difficult to play well, but it has
clear rules and winners. That’s why every state that has legalized sports betting allows betting on golf. However, sportsbooks also know how to profit off golf. Their oddsmakers know the players and the data well enough to guess who’s going to win. They also watch how much money goes on each player or on each side of the line. That allows sportsbooks to make sure they profit no matter who wins.
However, good planning can only go so far. An underdog coming through can lose sportsbooks a lot of money. An unexpected upset can flush bettors a lot of cash. But those rewards come when something happens that sportsbooks haven’t prepared for, or rather, couldn’t have prepared for. Here’s how sportsbooks could lose money on the Masters Tournament this weekend and why it’s unlikely to happen.
How Sportsbooks Are Preparing For The Masters
There are a few ways to bet on the Masters. Bettors can pick the winner, some of the top spots, or choose from one of the many prop bets. Bettors may try to call the winner or hedge their bets by betting who makes the top four. But some golfers are consistently favored to win compared to the rest of the crowd. The five main favorites are:
Across sportsbook lines, these five golfers tend to have the lowest odds. The odds vary by the type of wager. Picking the outright winner includes high positive lines that begin around +950. Group bets place golfers head to head in more traditional moneyline bets with positive and negative odds. But overall, these five golfers have the lowest odds in their categories. Sportsbooks will pay out the lowest amount of winnings if one of those players win.
However, there are plenty of other golfers who can cause an upset without bankrupting the sportsbooks. Just because a player is an underdog doesn’t mean their win will make the sportsbook lose money.
- Dustin Johnson
- Bryson DeChambeau
- Jordan Spieth
- Jon Rahm
- Justin Thomas
So What Will It Take For Sportsbooks to Lose Money at The Masters?
There are plenty of unlikely winners who could still win within reason. Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay could come through with a win. However, the odds aren’t extreme in their cases. It would take someone like Matthew Wolff to give the sportsbooks a bad day. Rory McIlroy and Patrick Cantlay’s odds of winning it all are +1900 and +2050 respectively. But Matthew Wolff’s odds of winning the Masters are +10,000. Odds that high should tell you that sportsbooks think a Wolf win is outside the realm of possibility.
However, sportsbook reality and sports reality are different. Sportsbooks depend on statistical likelihoods. Based on the other players in the running, Wolf is unlikely to win it all. However, reality doesn’t always conform to statistical or financial models. The frontrunners could have terrible days at the same time that underdogs have their best days. Ultimately, anything can happen on Sunday.
If an extreme underdog begins pulling ahead, then sportsbooks can begin cutting their losses. They’ll adjust the odds in real-time to reflect the new competitive landscape. So, if Wolff suddenly leads the pack, his odds of winning will plummet from +10,000 to the single thousands. Bettors who wagered on Wolff early would win $10,000 for every $100 they bet on him. However, bettors who wagered on Wolf as his odds dropped would be rewarded based on those new odds.
Betting On Extreme Upsets
It’s one thing to call an upset between two teams. However, calling an upset in a field of Masters players is a near-impossible undertaking. Golf bettors have the option to bet on who’ll crack the top 20 or 40, giving bettors some wiggle room. But the extreme underdogs carry the same temptations as state lotteries. Bettors probably won’t win, but one big win can be worth the massive rewards. (And the massive taxes that follow.) Hitting one requires bettors to bet on many extreme underdogs across many sports and many wager types.
And of course, a staggering amount of luck.
But sportsbooks will probably be fine on Sunday. They’re good at managing risk and making sure they’re always in the black. If an extreme underdog manages to come through, sportsbooks will still react in real-time to make sure they can come out profitable. But it’ll be hard if they owe tens of thousands of dollars to early bettors on game day. Extreme bettors almost certainly won’t come out of The Masters with extreme wins. But they could, and they only have to be right once to enjoy the massive winnings that come with a massive upset.
We’ll be watching to see if there’s any interesting movement in Sunday’s lines. But it’s more reasonable to expect one of the favorites to win. The statistics are on their side, after all.