Most avid sports bettors and poker players can write a book on bad beats. It would be a tragicomedy about the most agonizing losses of their gambling lives that double as miracle wins for other bettors.
Scott Van Pelt features a weekly “Bad Beats” segment on his ESPN “SportsCenter” and bettors suffer a bad beat — aka a moose — on a nightly basis during basketball season.
But there are some bad beats that stand out above the rest. Here are 10 of the worst bad beats from 2017 (in chronological order):
1 UNR 105, New Mexico 104, OT (Jan. 7)
The Wolf Pack were 2½-point underdogs at the Pit, where they trailed by 25 with 11 minutes left and by 19 with 4:27 to go.
UNR hit seven 3-pointers in the final 1:49 of regulation, including four by Marcus Marshall in the final 60 seconds. Marshall banked in a 3 to tie the score with seven seconds left and send the game into overtime, where the Wolf Pack trailed by five before winning on a 3 by Jordan Caroline with two seconds left.
2 Patriots 34, Falcons 28, OT (Feb. 5)
Super Bowl LI was a historically bad beat for Falcons bettors, including one at CG Technology who lost his $1.1 million wager on Atlanta plus-3 after it blew a 28-3 second-half lead. Under bettors also lost in painful fashion, as New England converted two 2-point conversions to send the Super Bowl into overtime for the first time, then won on James White’s 2-yard touchdown run to push the total over 59.
3 San Diego State 62, UNLV 52, OT (March 8)
The Rebels blew an 18-point halftime lead over the Aztecs, who opened as 8½-point favorites, and failed to cover for most backers after getting outscored 12-2 in overtime in the Mountain West tournament.
4 Grizzlies 101, Knicks 88 (April 7)
New York was a 12½-point underdog trailing by 10 as Memphis guard Wade Baldwin IV was dribbling out the clock. But then Baldwin suddenly launched an otherwise meaningless 3 from near half court that swished through the net as time expired.
5 Jeff Horn (UD) over Manny Pacquiao (July 2)
The referee almost stopped the fight after the ninth round, when Pacquiao battered and bloodied Horn. Pacquiao, a 7-1 favorite, landed almost twice as many punches (182-92), but judges awarded the controversial unanimous decision to Horn in his hometown of Brisbane, Australia.
6 Gennady Golovkin-Canelo Alvarez draw (Sept. 16)
Gamblers who made straight bets on Golovkin, a 2-1 favorite, had their money refunded on the push.
Bettors, including myself, who wagered on GGG to win by decision lost their bets after the controversial draw at T-Mobile Arena.
The vast majority of observers had Golovkin clearly winning the fight.
But judge Adalaide Byrd inexplicably had Alvarez winning in dominant fashion, 118-110. Not that we’re still bitter.
7 Chiefs 29, Redskins 20 (Oct. 2)
This “Monday Night Football” moose decided the side (Chiefs by 7) and total (48). Harrison Butker’s 43-yard field goal with eight seconds left put Kansas City ahead 23-20. Washington took over at its 25 with four seconds left, tried to lateral the ball and fumbled. Justin Houston returned it for a touchdown, and Redskins and under bettors suffered an epic bad beat.
8 Florida Atlantic 30, Marshall 25 (Nov. 3)
The Owls were 6½-point favorites and led 30-23 with 14 seconds left when coach Lane Kiffin had his punter run out of the end zone for an intentional safety rather than risk having the punt blocked. Kiffin then joked about the bad beat on Twitter, writing “Didn’t want to cover because of too much rat poison.”
9 Jaguars 19, Browns 7 (Nov. 19)
Cleveland, a 7-point underdog, turned the ball over twice in the final two minutes, including a fumble by DeShone Kizer that Jacksonville recovered in the end zone for a touchdown and cover with 1:14 left.
10 Packers 27, Browns 21, OT (Dec. 10)
Cleveland, an underdog of 3 or 3½ points, blew a 21-7 second-half lead, and Kizer threw an ugly interception in overtime to put Green Bay in position for a game-winning field goal. But Davante Adams scored on a 25-yard TD catch to burn Browns bettors again.
Have yourself a merry little Christmas. Let your losses be light. From now on your bad beats will be out of sight.
— San Diego State (-6) over Army
— Utah (-6.5) over West Virginia
— Kansas State (-2.5) over UCLA
— Boston College (+3) over Iowa
— Purdue (+3.5) over Arizona
— Michigan State (+1.5) over Washington State
Last week: 0-0
Season: 43-58-4 against the spread