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BETTER BETTOR

Caesar's better bettor: An Astros Series win would be worth $72.6 million to Houston gambler

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Houston furniture store owner Jim McIngvale has made $10 million in bets on the Astros to win the World Series, which if successful would be worth more than a $72 million profit.

There’s a lot of money on the line in the World Series.

The winners’ and losers’ shares are yet to be determined, as they are based on revenue generated. Last year, the Atlanta Braves won and awarded 66 full shares to their personnel, worth $397,391 each. The runner-up Houston Astros split the pot 67 ways for full shares, worth $258,373 each.

So it’s safe to say it will be a substantial amount this year. But those paydays will be a mere pittance to what Houston businessman Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale would make if the Astros win the title — as they were heavily favored to do heading into Game 1 Friday night.

How much can he reap? More than $72 million. That far exceeds the annual salary of the highest-paid player in the Series, the $26 million that was the compensation this season for Philadelphia’s Bryce Harper.The difference is that Harper gets his money no matter what. McIngvale will be out $10 million if the Phillies win the Series. That’s how much he placed in bets on the Astros in various intervals in the first half of the season. Because sports betting is not legal in Texas, he had to travel out of the state to make his big wagers.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, in May he made two monster bets in Louisiana on the Astros — $3 million at Caesars (10-1 odds) and $1 million at WynnBET (12-1 odds). That $4 million risk would bring him a profit of $42 million.”

We’ll be getting the combination to the vault ready in case he wins,” Ken Fuchs, head of sports at Caesars Sportsbook, told the Houston Chronicle. He also said, ”I’m definitely a Phillies fan this week.”

Then two months later McIngvale was on the move again. He bet $2 million on the Astros at the Bellagio in Las Vegas (5-1 odds), $2 million at the Barstool Sportsbook in Louisiana (5.33-1 odds) and $1 million at each of two books in Iowa (5-1 odds at both). His $6 million investment in that round of bets would yield a profit of $30.6 million.

Those wagers look great now from an odds perspective — the Astros headed into the start of the World Series on Friday night as being just short of a 2-1 favorite to beat the Phillies. At that rate, he’d now have to risk nearly $140 million (instead of the $10 million he currently has invested) to try to win that $72.6 million.

He has made many mammoth bets before, often taking big losses. But he uses the wagers to hedge against paying off promotions he has at his furniture store, often involving mattresses. For instance, this year he offered customers who spent at least $3,000 on specified merchandise double their money back if the Astros win the World Series.

“I just get bored to death with stability, which is why I guess I like all of these big bets,” McIngvale, 71, recently told ESPN.com. “I thrive on chaos.”

Tiger talk

Mizzou has had a disappointing football season, winning just three of its seven games after a narrow escape last weekend against lowly Vanderbilt.

But the Tigers also have had a couple close calls the other way, too, nearly upsetting mighty Georgia and covering the point spread in a gut-wrenching loss at Auburn in which they squandered multiple chances at a game-ending score.

They are 4-3 at the betting windows, and are a 3 1/2-point underdog this week at South Carolina. They face a Gamecocks team that upset Texas A&M last week, winning 30-24 as a three-point underdog, to improve to 5-2 on the field and — like MU — 4-3 against “the man.”

The game is set to kick off at 3 p.m. (St. Louis time) and be televised on SEC Network.

More bite the dust

Last week we discussed the “survivor” contest at the Circa sportsbook in Las Vegas, in which competitors put up $1,000 before the season began in a winner-take-all contest in which the task seemed easy. Just pick one winning NFL team a week, though the same club can’t be used more than once. The jackpot settled in at just over $6.1 million.

But the carnage has been profound in a season full of big upsets. Heading into last weekend, just 382 of the original 6,133 entries were alive. Then 257 more were whacked in Week 7 — 175 on Monday night when the Bears shocked the Patriots. The day before, 70 were ousted by the heavily-favored Buccaneers’ loss to the Panthers.

That leaves the field at 125, a mere 2% of the starting field — not even halfway through the season.

Stat of the week

From the sports-betting website actionnetwork.com:

The Packers have been an underdog just 14 times under Matt LaFleur, who now has coached them in 56 games, and they never have been a double-digit underdog in a game started by QB Aaron Rodgers — something he had done 213 times in the regular season and 21 times in the postseason.

Well, as of Friday, they were 11-point ‘dogs for their road game Sunday night against Buffalo.

Weekend picks

We were 2-1 last week with our selections but broke even in units (selections can range from one • to five •••••). That leaves the records at 9-11 and -11 units. This week’s opinions (odds listed are the most favorable that were available Friday afternoon among the three area sportsbooks — Argosy in Alton, DraftKings in East St. Louis and FanDuel in Collinsville):

Missouri at South Carolina, 3 p.m. Saturday: Mizzou has a lot of trouble scoring, surpassing 17 points just once when playing a Power Five foe this season. The Gamecocks have given up more than 20 points in just one of their last four outings. Missouri team total points under 20 1/2 (Argosy). ••

Game total (combined points for both teams) under 46 (DraftKings). •

Cardinals at Vikings, noon Sunday: Arizona receiver DeAndre Hopkins made a big splash in his season debut last weekend after serving a long suspension, making 10 catches for 103 yards against the Saints. Now he faces the NFL’s fifth-worst pass defense (allowing 272 yards a game). Hopkins over 70 1/2 receiving yards (DraftKings). ••••

Broncos vs. Jaguars, 8:30 a.m. Sunday in London: Denver averages an NFL-low 14.3 points per game, and Jax is in the bottom half of the league in scoring, too, at 22.1 points per outing. Both defenses, conversely, are solid. In fact, Denver is No. 3 in points allowed (16.4/game), and Jax is at 19.6. Throw in a long overseas trip, and it’s a fine recipe for a low-scoring game. Under 40 1/2 (all three area books). •

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