Weekend in gambling: Bettor loses $110K on Texans

Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson had to escape pressure often on Sunday against the Titans. Jim Brown/USA Today Sports

The betting public has had better Sundays.

On Saturday, when the entries were tallied up in the most prestigious NFL handicapping contest in the world, the Westgate Las Vegas SuperContest, more than half of the 3,123-person field had included the Houston Texans to beat the Tennessee Titans among their five picks.

The Titans held on to beat the Texans 20-17, one of 10 underdogs to cover the spread on Sunday.

Including the Texans, the five most popular selections in the SuperContest -- the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants -- went 0-5 against the spread.

"We're having a very good day," Ed Salmons, sportsbook manager at the Westgate, told ESPN on Sunday afternoon. "But we still have a really big decision tonight. Everyone is betting the Giants."

Even when bettors backed the underdog, it was the wrong one. The Dallas Cowboys, a 3-point favorite over the Giants, won 20-13 in prime time, capping a lucrative day for the books.

"It was a very, very good day," said Chris Andrews, sportsbook director at the South Point in Las Vegas.

Big money shows up on Texans

The influential bets on the Texans showed up Thursday at multiple Las Vegas sportsbooks.

They were large and from a known, respected player: $110,000 on Houston -2 at the South Point, another "pretty good sized" bet on the Texans at the Wynn and big chunks at MGM and the Westgate as well.

"I think everyone in town [took big bets on the Texans]," said Johnny Avello, executive director of Wynn race and sports.

After the bets from the unknown bettor were placed Thursday, the line grew to as high as Houston -4 and the Titans' injury situation, including quarterback Marcus Mariota's availability, started to become clearer.

On Friday, Tennessee coach Mike Vrabel told the media that Mariota and backup Blaine Gabbert would share snaps against Houston and announced that starting offensive linemen Taylor Lewan and Jack Conklin had been ruled out.

"He's one of our really sharp players," Andrews said of the savvy bettor. "He's what I'd call a spot player. He comes in and plays as high as you want to put him on for. But he doesn't bet all the time, just when he feels he has the edge. I don't know if knew something about Mariota before the rest of us did."

"The same guy bet the Falcons +4.5 against the Eagles in their first game," Salmons of the Westgate said. "Even though he's lost his two bets, his stuff is correct; [the market] moves accordingly."

Atlanta closed as a small favorite against the Eagles, after Philadelphia quarterback Carson Wentz was ruled out, but lost the game.

Mariota did not play against the Texans.

Rodgers' impact on Vikings-Packers line

The status of Aaron Rodgers kept the point spread on the Minnesota Vikings-Green Bay Packers game off the betting board for much of the week in Las Vegas. After Rodgers was in the Sunday night game in Week 1, the line (which had moved from Green Bay -2.5 to around a pick-em) was taken off betting boards in Vegas and offshore on Monday -- and remained that way until Sunday.

When news broke Sunday morning that Rodgers would play, the Vikings were installed as 2.5-point favorites. The line shrunk to Minnesota -1.5 by kickoff, but several books still found themselves rooting for the Packers.

Salmons said he had to keep the line off the board until there was some clarity about Rodgers' availability "because, obviously, if he doesn't play, the line is on the other side of 7.

"I was shocked at the amount of money that came in on that game with the line only up three hours," he added. "It was all Vikings."

The game finished in a 29-29 tie, with the Packers covering the spread.

Books win on Jaguars, Dolphins

• The books did well on the Jacksonville Jaguars' win over the Patriots. "One of our house players -- he's really smart -- placed a decent-sized bet on the Jaguars," Salmons said. "All the rest of the money was 100 percent public on New England."

• The Miami Dolphins' win over the favored New York Jets produced one of the largest wins of the early kickoffs for MGM's sportsbooks. "Lots of money on the Jets, including a couple of big plays," said Jay Rood, vice president of MGM race and sports. "We had a couple of in-house guys betting the moneyline on the Jets rather than laying the 2.5 early in the week. That was solid for us."

• Bettors did well backing the San Diego Chargers, who were 7.5-point favorites over the Buffalo Bills. The Chargers won 31-20. "We got lucky on the Chargers," Rood said. "We had strong play at halftime on the Chargers again, and the Bills covered for us [in the second half]."

• The new FanDuel sportsbook in New Jersey said the Cowboys winning and covering against the Giants "easily" produced the largest win of any game for the company.

Here is a chart of how every team did in Week 2:

NFL Week 3 lookahead

• The Eagles were 7-point favorites over the Indianapolis Colts in early Week 3 lines posted last week by the Westgate SuperBook. ESPN's Adam Schefter reported Sunday morning that Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz still needs medical clearance but is on track to play against the Colts.

The Westgate kept the game off the board when it posted its opening lines Sunday night.

• The Vikings opened as 16.5-point favorites over the Bills. It's the most points the Vikings have been favored by since 2009.

College football report

• It wasn't a good weekend for the Big Ten. Wisconsin, Northwestern, Nebraska and Maryland each lost as double-digit favorites. On the season, 13 teams have lost straight up as double-digit favorites. The Big Ten has suffered five of the losses.

Wisconsin and Northwestern each lost as 20-plus-point favorites Saturday. The Badgers and Wildcats are the only two teams to have lost as 20-plus-point favorites this season.

Overall, Big Ten favorites have lost straight up 10 times in nonconference play this season, the most of any conference.

• The Alabama-Ole Miss total closed at 72 at some books, by far the highest in Nick Saban's coaching career. After leading 49-7 at halftime, the Crimson Tide held on for a 62-7 win in a game that remarkably stayed under the total.

• Alabama has covered the spread by an average of 19.8 points per game, the most of any team this season. Florida State has failed to cover the spread by an average of 25.5 points per game, the most of any team, according to TeamRankings.com.

• Alabama is now an odds-on favorite, at -110, to win the national championship at the Westgate SuperBook. Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa is the favorite to win the Heisman trophy at +250.

• The Boise State-Oklahoma State game saw significant line movement leading up to the Saturday afternoon kickoff, with the visiting Broncos going from 3-point underdogs to as high as 3-point favorites at some books. The Cowboys won 44-21. "Oklahoma State was our biggest game of the day," Rood said. "Pros and Joes were on the same side, Boise."

• The South Point reported taking a $40,000 bet on Texas A&M against Louisiana-Monroe. The Aggies, who were 28-point favorites, won and covered 48-10.

• College football underdogs went 36-23-2 against the spread Saturday.

• The SEC is 22-11 against the spread in nonconference play.


Canelo Alvarez closed as around a +150 underdog in Saturday night's middleweight title fight with Gennady Golovkin. Alvarez was awarded a majority decision, producing mixed results for sportsbooks around Las Vegas.

Station Casinos' sportsbooks, along with the South Point and Westgate, said they fared well on the fight, while MGM took it on the chin.

Rood said he took "two or three" six-figure bets on Alvarez and ended up on the wrong side of a seven-figure swing.

"Today made up for a little bit of that robbery from last night," Rood joked about the close decision on Sunday afternoon while reviewing his NFL results.

Shortly after the fight ended, the Westgate SuperBook opened odds on another potential rematch between Alvarez and Golovkin at pick-em.

Data used from TeamRankings and BetLabs