Worst Bad Beats in Sports Betting Compiled by Doc’s Sports Handicappers and Clients
Bad beats intro by Robert Ferringo of Doc’s Sports. Scroll down for bad beats in sports betting stories from some of the top sports handicappers in the business as well as stories from some of Doc’s Sports best clients! If you have a personal story of a bad beat in sports betting, send it to email@example.com and we will include it on this page.
Every gambler knows That Feeling.
You know the one.
The one where it feels like your soul has been suddenly ripped clean from your body and then used by Lady Luck to wipe her ass. The one where harsh hand of Fate pierces your heart, causing your limbs to go numb. The feeling where five steps of the grief cycle all simultaneously explode through your mind and body like an emotional supernova, leaving you as a broken husk of a human being.
Every gambler knows has experienced a Bad Beat.
Not all losses are the same. No gambler will admit it, but some bets are just stupid bets. Others might be solid, well-reasoned wagers that just don’t go your way. Still, other losses involve some measure of poor luck, usually measurable by some manner of statistical anomaly or hypercorrection.
If it were easy, then everyone would do it. Losses are part of the gambling package.
Then there are Bad Beats. These are the cruelest losses of all. These are the games where you absolutely had the right side and where things played out exactly like you knew they would. Except, instead of winning this wager, some cruel twist of karmic consequence left you on the receiving end of a cosmic flogging. These are losses that come down to one unlucky bounce, one lousy call, or one shocking act of stupidity. Bad Beats are the type of losses where a whirlwind of tragedy befalls you and you are powerless to stop it.
I’ve been a professional handicapper for nearly 20 years. I release thousands of plays in nearly a dozen sports over any given orbital period. I’ve had more Bad Beats than I can count. You would think that it would get easier to deal with over time and experience. It doesn’t. Anyone that has truly experienced a Bad Beat knows that there is no getting over it; some scars won’t heal. And there is no amount of whiskey, narcotic or law enforcement that can suppress the rage that these horrendous losses create.
Some of the memories of my Bad Beats repressed deep in my psyche, an undercurrent of pain and shame that flows through the recesses of my being. Yet there are still some that stand out, forever haunting and continuously pecking at any moment of confidence or assurance that I might have.
One that comes to mind happened on June 30, 2009, the day before my third wedding anniversary. The traditional material for the third anniversary is leather. Like the leather of a baseball glove. I had released a Game of the Year selection to my clients on Boston (-125) over Baltimore and then made a much-larger-than-I-should-have wager with my own money.
John Smoltz was starting for the Red Sox. It was only Smoltz’s second start for Boston. He was coming back from an injury that had sabotaged his 2008 season and his final year in Atlanta. Smoltz had looked sharp in his first start. His fastball was popping around 95, and his breaking stuff had bite. He still had it. Smoltz took the loss in that game, though, allowing four first inning runs. It was the guy’s first start in over a year. Some rust should be expected. And he rebounded from that shaky first inning to dominate the next four.
The sportsbooks were being too cautious in installing Smoltz as a paltry -125 favorite. I knew it. He was going up against a Baltimore team that would lose 98 games that season. The Red Sox, who would end up winning 95 games that season, had absolutely dominated their A.L. East rivals, winning all five meetings to that point in 2009 and going 49-15 in their last 64 games against them! Baltimore was trotting out Rich Hill and his 6.03 ERA against a Sox lineup that was 17-4 against left-handed starters. The stars had aligned. It was a spot for a big money move.
The game started exactly how I thought it would. Boston scored two in the top of the first inning and two in the top of the second to secure a 4-0 lead. The Red Sox pounded Hill out with five more runs in the top of the fourth, claiming 9-1 lead that they held going into the bottom of the fifth inning. Smoltz was absolutely cruising, giving up just three hits and one run through four.
Then, an Act of God.
The rains came, causing a five-hour rain delay. You read that right: five hours. It knocked Smoltz – the crux of my wager – out of the game. Still, Boston came out of the delay fine, tacking on another run in the top of the seventh to take a 10-1 lead on my Game of the Year with just nine outs to play.
It fell apart.
I won’t go into details. But Baltimore scored five runs in the bottom of the seventh (it was still 10-6!) and then five in the bottom of the eighth inning to complete the biggest comeback in franchise history. I was mortified.
"No one would have ever dreamed it would play out the way it did," Smoltz said to local reporters afterwards. "It's one of those games when you shake your head and can't believe what you just saw."
Here I am, 13 years later and I still remember that game like it was yesterday. You know, people try to say that Bad Beats always “even out”, even if gamblers don’t realize it. (For example, I was on the Patriots -3.5 in Super Bowl LI.) It’s not true, though. I’ve found that the number of Bad Beats outnumber the Lucky Wins by at least a 10-to-1 margin. But that’s hardly scientific.
I’m sure you have your own story as well. And here are some from Doc’s Sports handicappers that you can probably relate to:
Scott Spreitzer of Doc’s Sports:
Monday Night Football, October 1995, a day that lives in infamy in my sports betting career. I was in a $10,000 winner take all contest at the Stardust Race & Sports Book in Las Vegas, and my opponent, sports writer and bettor Benjamin Lee Eckstein, had just gone 6-1 ATS with the required seven picks for the contest. We both had a big winning weekend as I was sitting 5-0-1 heading in my final play, Monday Night Football between the Chargers and Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium.
Back to the game in a moment. The prior Friday night, in front of a packed house at the Stardust, Eckstein and I took turns revealing our bets for the weekend and the reason why we chose the sides and totals we did. This was a big deal for me. I was 28-years-old at the time, just getting started in my career, and at that age, $10,000 might as well be $100,000. Not only that, but I knew what "Stardust Champion" would mean to a fledgling career.
Move forward to the final two minutes of regulation. The Chargers, a 3.5-point underdog not only led Kansas City 23-16, but had possession of the football. As the clock ran inside of 90-seconds left in the game, all I needed was a first down and the win was mine. QB Stan Humphries was slammed to the ground and San Diego had to punt the ball back to Kansas City. Okay, no problem -- the Chargers' defense had been stout all night. But the Chiefs drove 79-yards in the final 72-seconds to tie the game at 23. Overtime.
I knew I might be in trouble, because shortly before the end of regulation, Chargers' QB Stan Humphries was slammed to the ground and injured his shoulder. My fate would be decided by Gale Gilbert. What the heck is a Gale Gilbert? Having said that, the teams alternated OT possessions and more than half of the OT period had been played. At this point, I'm thinking a tie game or a FG by either team...I win.
More than halfway through the OT period, with the ball near midfield, the Chargers punt the ball to KC. Since we had decent field position, I'm feeling pretty good. KC will get the ball back deep in their own territory, and neither offense is doing anything. Good news...right? Wrong. KC WR/PR Tamarick Vanover, a Canadian Football League refugee (as one writer put it) in his first work in the NFL, averaging 6 yards per return with a season-long return of 16 yards, receives the punt at his own 14-yard line. Thanks to great blocking, shoddy tackling, great moves, and a punter from Australia who apparently thought tackle had something to do with fishing, Vanover returned the punt 86 yards for the game-winning, game-covering TD, that cost me $10,000 and all the accolades that comes with winning the world-famous Stardust competition. Adding insult to injury, it was the first time in NFL history that a game ended in OT on a punt return. Yes, I had gone 5-1-1 but lost. And while it's 27 years later, every time I have dinner with Benjamin Lee Eckstein, he still reminds me of that game. Yes, it was my worst beat ever. Never count your chickens...as they say.
Jeremy Martin, Content Manager for Doc’s Sports
I don’t play championship futures too often, as I prefer daily sports betting and don’t like my money tied up for a full season. I do play them sometimes, however. And one instance in particular, I remember as one of my all-time bad beats.
For the 2008 college basketball season, I loaded up on Memphis Tigers championship futures with a $500 bet at 12-to-1 odds. Memphis rolled through the regular season with only one loss and were the No. 1 seed in the South Region for the NCAA Tournament. They eventually reached the National Championship Game and played the Kansas Jayhawks for all the marbles and a $6,000 payday for me if they won.
I’m a very superstitious bettor and never count my chickens before they are hatched. I told my girlfriend at the time that I would take her on vacation to Chile if I won the bet. Memphis dominated the game and was up nine points with two minutes left. I literally was on my computer getting ready to book my international flights.
Then, the unthinkable happened.
Kansas started fouling, and the Tigers couldn’t hit their free throws. Kansas made shot after shot, and Memphis went ice cold from the line. Mario Chalmers for the Jayhawks made a crazy three at the buzzer to send the game into OT, and I could barely watch at that point as the momentum had turned. Of course, the Tigers didn’t have anything in the extra OT period, and I knew the bet was sunk at that point.
The bad beat was made worse since I celebrated prematurely. I hated Chalmers all throughout his NBA career as a result. And I’ve still never been to Chile.
Tony George of Doc’s Sports:
I cannot recall the exact date, but it was in the early 2000's during Super Bowl weekend that I placed a $4400 wager to win $4000 on Maryland +3 playing Duke. With 29 seconds left in the game, Maryland had an 11-point lead. They were playing on their home court, and Duke was the road team.
To make a long story short, Maryland lost by 4 points in Overtime! One of the most horrific beats ever. I have lost more money than that on a single wager over my 30 years of betting sports, and some really tough beats in football, but that one by far takes the cake.
Rule No. 1 in Sports betting: It is NEVER over until the clock strikes 0:00.
Nolan Patrick from Doc’s Sports handicapping group Strike Point Sports:
One snowy night in December of 2012, I was enjoying the winter holiday and an entertaining bowl game between Cincinnati and Duke. I took the underdog Blue Devils (+9.5) in that game and felt great about my choice. It was an up-and-down, high-scoring affair that saw the Blue Devils tied 34-34 with less than two minutes to play with the ball at the Cincy five-yard line. They weren’t just going to cover the spread – they were going to win this game!
With less than 1:30 to play, Duke’s running back fumbled the ball inside the Cincinnati 5-yard line. The Bearcats recovered. Awful for the Blue Devils, but I was still sitting fine with my 9.5 points. It is always a nice feeling when you take a dog and they win outright, but I figured "no big deal" as Cincy will drive the field, kick a field goal, and win 37-34. Or we would go to overtime and then I would be guaranteed a winning ticket.
Cincy took the ball and I watched as Travis Kelce scored on an 83-yard touchdown with 44 seconds left. “Oh well,” I thought. I still had a cushion with the points. I felt bad for Duke as they had the game in hand and blew it. And they took the ensuing kickoff and moved the ball to midfield with a slight chance of tying the game.
This is where it all went to hell. As Duke got to midfield, I turned to my friend and said, "you know what’s going to happen don't you?" He looked at me with a quizzical look and said, "we are going to take your winnings and buy beer?"
I laughed, and responded, “Nope.” Just as those words came out of my mouth, the Duke quarterback got hit, threw the ball up for grabs, Cincinnati intercepted it, and then ran it back for a 55-yard pick-six with 30 seconds left for a 48-34 victory.
Good lord in Heaven.
Thanks for letting me relive this.
Vernon Croy of Doc’s Sports:
I can't remember one precise game, but I know of many bad beats that I have had. From having the under in an MLB game and shutting it off in the eighth inning thinking I cashed by 8 runs to waking up and finding out both teams put up 3 runs a piece in the ninth and then another 3 runs in extra innings to cost me the game. I've also had several bad beats where my MLB team is up by 3+ runs heading into the 9th and then the other team puts up 4+ runs to cost me what should have been a victory.
Some of the several bad beats in football I've had are with unders getting crushed despite going into OT with 7 points to give, but both teams got a FG and then another got a TD to crush the under for me. I've also had numerous bad beats in basketball with the unders getting crushed despite having 14+ points to give with less than 30 seconds left in the game.
I also remember a basketball game a few years back where I needed just 6 points in the final two minutes to give me the over in the game and they put up just 5 total points to cost me the victory.
With all the bad beats over the years, there are always games that I shouldn't have won that have also cashed for me, and it equals out over the long run.
Doug Upstone of Doc’s Sports:
2014 Bahamas Bowl
First the setup, this was the first ever Bahamas Bowl and a day game.
Western Kentucky had a great passing game. And the morning of the game, the Hilltoppers dropped from -3.5 to -3 and I gave it out to my members and ended up making it my biggest bet of the bowl season. Western Kentucky thoroughly dominated the game and was ahead 49-14 heading into the fourth quarter.
Then the madness started. Central Michigan QB Cooper Rush got hot, and the WKY defense started playing like they were at the beach. After the Chippewas first touchdown, they could do nothing wrong, and Western Kentucky's offense went on siesta. At 69 seconds (that number was prophetic), CMU scored and it was 49-42. Then this happened:
A 75+ yards Hail Mary is miraculously answered with no time on the clock. Besides disbelief, I was thinking OK, this goes to OT and I still cover. The Central Mich. coach had seen his team outscore WKY 34-0 in the last 11 minutes, so let's win it here. The Chips failed on the two-pointer, lost 49-48 and I was any number of descriptive adjectives you wanted to use. It was absolutely the worst Christmas Eve of my life with a house full of people, and it was a pain (and nightmare) that will never go away from a betting perspective.
August Young of Doc’s Sports:
For me, as I'm sure it was for many, one of my worst bad beats was in Super Bowl LI when the Patriots scored 31 unanswered points against the Falcons to tie the game in the final seconds and ultimately winning in overtime.
I had a position to the tune of $35,000 on the Falcons +3.5 between my own wagers and personal client wagers. It was the sharp side and was the side we projected lots of value (which is extremely rare for the Super Bowl) -- so we loaded up. Most of my clients were sending me messages of celebration when the Falcons were in complete control up 28-3 as we neared the fourth quarter, and then all the craziness started to happen. Thirty-two yard completions back to back, circus plays where a pass from Brady bounced off a defenders helmet, then bounced off Julian Edelman's heel before being caught just before the ball hit the ground with 2 minutes to play -- how this was a legitimate completion is still shocking to me.
We had a 2-point conversion to force OT, and holding +3.5 we could still win with the Patriots kicking the FG, but no... it was complete insanity. It still holds the record for the most consecutive points in a post-season NFL game completing a comeback win and will forever haunt me.
Bad Beat Stories from Doc’s Sports Clients (if you have a bad beat story you want included on this page, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org and we will add it to the page!):
That time an intentional safety caused a 1 point NFL loss, or when I lost an NBA under bet halfway thru double OT. But the one that killed me was a long time ago, getting 10 1/2 in college football. Game goes to OT. I CAN’T LOSE. Bad guys get a TD, good guys…fumble, bad guys run it back for a TD to win by 13. Yuck!
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