Fifteen dollars, one 12 game Parlay Ticket, a backdoor touchdown, and the culmination of every sports bettor’s dream. That’s what the Atlanta Falcons tremendous comeback meant to a sports betting couple in Las Vegas last evening.
Meet Ryan Cazares (https://twitter.com/RyanCazares), a 30-year-old former Arizona State football player who hails from Northern California. A graduate of high school football powerhouse De La Salle, Cazares is like many that move to Vegas after college gravitating towards the nightclub industry as a VIP host seeking to make good money in a city that never sleeps. However that’s not what led social media to Cazares last night instead it’s what he and girlfriend Nadia Nicole (https://twitter.com/parlayprincess) accomplished with just $15 bucks.
Picture a 30 year old man, desperate for a Falcons cover +12.5 sitting at the Westgate Superbook on Monday night. Not just sitting there obviously, surrounded by a sea of Packer fans clamoring for their green and gold to not only beat the Falcons but cover a hefty number in the process. After an abysmal 30 minutes we’ve all been there as bettors; so disgusted by our team’s performance that drastic measures needed to be taken
The Falcons trailed 31-7 and Aaron Rodgers was unstoppable. So Ryan decided the easiest way to change the Falcons mojo was to leave the sportsbook, heading home to watch the second half of what looked to be a brutal gambling loss with his girlfriend. Lo and behold on the opening drive of the second half while Cazares listened to the game on radio in his car Atlanta converted a 4th and goal situation, trimming the Packers lead to 31-14 proving the Falcons weren’t dead yet.
“My girlfriend and I don’t usually watch the games together. She always feels like watching the games makes her a jinx so a lot of the time she won’t watch them at all,” said Cazares
It wasn’t until 12:33 remained in the 4th quarter that Cazares and Nicole began to believe they actually had a chance when Atlanta cut the deficit to 10. That enthusiasm was short lived when Green Bay promptly marched 74 yards in 4 plays to extend their lead to 40-24 after Mason Crosby missed the extra point. Ryan and Nadia, like so many other gamblers, are creatures of habit. They head to the Tuscany to pick up parlay cards on Thursday afternoon, using that evening and all of Friday to narrow down their selections for the week. Now for those going “I’ve been to Vegas, where the f**k is Tuscany?” It’s a smaller casino located just east of the strip on Flamingo. As a satellite book in the William Hill empire it offers the highest parlay payouts in town on 12 teamers at 3000-1 whereas other strip properties typically cap at 1,500-1.
“The funniest part about the whole thing is that when Nadia and I were headed to Tuscany early Saturday morning we realized neither of us grabbed any cash before leaving the house. We ended up digging through the entire car trying to muster a few bucks to put on the ticket before games kicked. It could have been a bigger hit but I’m glad we scraped together $15 bucks for it.”
Down 40-24, Atlanta went on the march covering 71 yards in 12 plays culminating in a 1 yard TD reception from Roddy White. Again the potential payday with Atlanta +12.5 was short lived when their failed onside kick attempt gave the Packers great field position. Green Bay capitalized, getting a 53 yard field goal from Crosby to extend the lead to 13, far from an optimal outcome when you’re sitting on a +12.5 ticket.
“Typically we only play a few hundred bucks a week on the cards. We know that they’re more for fun than anything else but it gives us something to shoot for…turning a small investment into a big pay day. Let’s just say there’s also a lot of back and forth between us before we finalize the picks,” Cazares added.
Like every gambler that shares his picks with buddies Cazares’ phone started to blow up with 4:33 remaining in the game, everyone realizing the Falcons needed a touchdown because they wouldn’t be settling for a field goal down 13 points. Cazares and Nicole weren’t strangers to the gambling game, as veterans of the Westgate Supercontest competing under the name PENGwin they had an idea of where the emotional roller coaster was about to take them.
Then it happened…8 plays covering 64 yards that had the young couple pacing all over their house hoping the Falcons reached pay dirt. It wasn’t until the 9th play of the drive on yet another 4th and goal that the Dirty Birds punched it into the end zone on a Ryan to Douglas connection making it a 6 point game. Every gambler needs a bit of luck combined with fate to complete a big score…and that’s exactly what happened because rather than attempt another onside kick, Atlanta pooched it knowing they had their full compliment of timeouts to stop the clock. Alright Cazares thought, just one Packer first down…then that $15 buck 12 teamer would yield a $45,000 payday.
But in gambling, who are we kidding it’s never that easy! First and ten from the Green Bay 39 saw the Packers gain 2 yards. 2nd and 8 from the Green Bay 41, Aaron Rodgers to the Falcons 47…tick tick tick. Then it happened, the backbreaking run from James Starks all the way to the Falcons 6 that started the sweat all over again.
“As soon as the Patriots side cashed last night I knew it meant figuring out a hedge. I shopped all over town and found a book where I could bet Green Bay -12. Rather than get too aggressive we ended up risking just $6,500 so little to say we were still huge Falcon fans.”
Thankfully over the final 4 plays Green Bay had no intentions of scoring to push the margin of victory from 6 out to 13, never getting closer than the Falcons 6 yard line before Aaron Rodgers took a knee as time expired.
The best part talking to Cazares about the big win is he seemed so relaxed about the entire process. I figured I’d have to look far and wide, tracking down the lucky winner at the Spearmint Rhino or Magnum Monday’s at the Cosmopolitan but he said he and Nicole intended to save their winnings rather than celebrate the motherload.
Just when I thought the story couldn’t get any more remarkable Ryan tossed a real curveball tossed my way…”We actually cashed an 11 teamer for $35,000 a few weeks before at the Westgate Superbook,” he told me. Wait what?! Two massive parlay hits don’t happen in an entire lifetime let alone in one season inside of five weeks. Not every sports gambler gets a fairytale ending like this but for one happy couple sports betting, at least for this season, has them shooting for the stars.