Setting betting lines on sports is a delicate task. It takes a lot of research and understanding, as well as attention to detail. One oddsmaker recently found out the hard way what happens when you miss some of the details. Because of a simple oversight, he forced what has been dubbed as the biggest line move in sports betting history. On the bright side, he is now in the history books.
Circa Sports Causes 50-point Line Shift
The way ESPN tells it, oddsmaker Matt Metcalf, the sportsbook director at Circa Sports, was ready to jump on the odds for the WNBA All-Star Game this past Wednesday. No lines were up anywhere, and it was a chance for Circa to show off. At 7 AM that morning, most likely before a good dose of caffeine and in a rush to stay ahead of a busy schedule, he took charge and opened the game’s Over/Under at 248.5. However, what transpired for the next several hours would boggle the minds of bookmakers and gamblers everywhere.
An hour before the game started, the line had moved to 195-.5 – a 53-point shift. That’s unheard of in any sport, although shifts are common. If a player suddenly becomes ill or injured before a game, there is always some movement in the odds. However, a shift of 53 points is something no one would expect. At one point, a couple of hours after the Over/Under was posted, the line actually moved up to 252.5, making the drop an even bigger deal.
If Metcalf had looked closely, he would have never posted a line of 248.5 on the Over/Under. He considered previous All-Star Game points when crunching the numbers, but missed the fact that this game was between the best of the WNBA and the US women’s national team, the team that is headed to the Olympics. While the All-Star Game is typically a fun way to break up the season, this year, it takes on a completely different meaning, with both sides playing more seriously. Speaking about his SNAFU to ESPN, Metcalf said, “At worst, I don’t think this was more than 15 points off. That’s as bad as I think it could be. I didn’t think it would be the worst number ever.” He added that it was the “worst mistake I ever made.”
All’s Well That Ends Well
No harm, no foul is the rule of the game. Other books began posting similar numbers as Metcalf’s opener, but all of them saw big drops as wagers continued to come in. The SuperBook at Westgate moved its line a staggering 32 times before the game, ultimately leaving it at 197. When ESPN asked around, oddsmakers all echoed virtually the same thing – no line had ever moved 50 points, as far as they could recall. According to Rex Beyers, the risk manager for the SuperBook, “It’s certainly in the top five.”
In the end, with Circa Sports willing to bite the bullet and pay out whatever it would have to pay, only those who took the Under won. Beyers told ESPN that the sportsbook had taken more bets on the Over than the Under and that it hadn’t taken any limit bets, which might mean that the house won. The final score of the game was 93-85 in favor of the WNBA squad, a 178-point total that was well below the originally-posted 248.5.