Cubs win World Series? ...Against Miami?
March 9, 2014 8:03 PM   Subscribe

According to Back to the Future II, the Chicago Cubs will win the World Series in the distant future of 2015. If a meme started up and caused an inordinate number of people to jokingly/ironically bet on the Cubs next season, would that affect their odds?

From what I understand, oddsmakers don't base odds based on what they think a particular outcome will be, but how they think the general public will bet.

So if the 2015 Cubs were, say 50-1 (as they are this year), how much of a movement would there have to be before oddsmakers would actually make adjustments so they're not all screwed just in case the Cubs actually did win?

And are there any weird cases where some quirk resulted in the odds being affected by unusual external circumstances, or some longshot won in a way that the oddsmakers were completely unprepared for?
posted by TheSecretDecoderRing to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (2 answers total)
They make adjustments all the time. The odds aren't based on logic, at all. They are purely based on what the odds-makers think the best balance of people betting both sides will be for them to make money. A single giant bet can move the line. A bunch of rabid fans betting against logic can move a line. So yes, all the time betting odds are affected by mass emotion. Or even deliberately affected for external reasons, like in the 2012 election.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:27 PM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

Odds for sports aren't based on what bookmakers think the outcome will be, the odds are based on ensuring the bookmakers will make money. I can't find a good piece on this, unfortunately (the best I could do is this How Stuff Works article though there's also an episode of Veronica Mars that touches on it), but it's really about math and safety. You start with a number that's more or less an educated guess (a very educated guess) and then it moves as circumstances change and bets come in to ensure that you make money no matter what the outcome is. Basically, it should only be gambling if you're placing the bet; if you're taking bets, it should be a sure thing.

What this means in terms of your question is that bookmakers want to be sure that if the Cubs win the World Series* they are not fucked out of tons of money. If a lot of bets start coming in for the Cubs, they will lower the amount of money they pay out for a successful pro-Cubs bet to make sure that whatever they'd have to pay out to anyone fool enough to root for the Cubs is more than offset by what they've made from people betting on teams with more merit. Obviously this doesn't change the odds for the actual game, but it does change the way money is transacted based on the outcome.

Short answer: Odds change based on market fluctuations. Decent bookmakers are going to make money no matter what the outcome is. If a lot of people start betting on the Cubs such that the Cubs winning becomes a financial risk, that will change the Vegas odds.

*Which I hope they don't. Go Nats!
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 11:53 PM on March 9, 2014 [1 favorite]

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