Misery Loves Company: Gambling Bad Beats

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Bad beats are a gambler’s rite of passage — battle scars for those toiling to find winners every week throughout the year.  Bets gone horribly awry in the most improbable of fashion create stories you share with your friends over a few beers whenever possible.  Friday night we saw one of the more ridiculous endings to a college basketball game between Duke and Utah, at least in the way it pertained to the spread.  Officials appeared intent on letting the Blue Devils run out the clock after neglecting to call a jump ball with about 4 ticks left. Au contraire, even after the players and coaches shook hands they brought Quinn Cook back out to attempt free throws, which pushed the final margin of victory from 5 to 6. Curious, to say the least, when the pointspread had floated between 5/5.5 all week long.  This game led me to thinking, after some provocation from buddies, colleagues, and one astute Fox executive, what other outcomes should go down in gambling infamy.  

With the sheer volume of sporting events in a given calendar week, bad beats (or mooses as we call them in the gambling community) happen almost as regularly as Clay Travis offends a fan base. Thanks to the cast of degenerates on Twitter for contributing their worst moments.

Here’s a list of the most gut-wrenching post season gambling losses a man or woman could ever endure.  Just to make it easier we’ve done our best to track down video for each of them.  Please be sure to watch these away from small children and keep a box of tissues within arm’s reach.

Don’t believe sports bettors let these things linger?  Here’s the original thread that provoked the entire discussion if you want to really get a sense for how mooses make bettors feel.

1999: NLCS Game 5 Braves @ Mets O/U7.5

When betting sports, losing in overtime, extra innings, penalty kicks, etc is about as painful as things get. Back in 1999 bettors sitting on tickets O7.5 thought they’d just luck boxed the most improbable over winner of all time. Unfortunately for them Robin Ventura and his throng of Mets teammates turned a walk off grand slam into a 350 foot single…

2004: NCAA Tournament Uconn -2.5/-3 vs Duke

I remember exactly where I was sitting back in college when this game was decided.  Clearly my Uconn ticket looked dead in the water with only a few minutes left to go so I’d already come to accept defeat.  Then it happened, the Huskies went on a mammoth run to get outside the number with just a few seconds remaining.  Of course then this happened…(watch from the 8:30 mark until the end).  Watching this highlight reel again last night, the one thing that still bothers me more than losing my bet is that Jim Nantz said Chris Duhon’s 3 didn’t mean anything.

2012: Belk Bowl Cincinnati -9.5 vs Duke

Another veritable house of horrors for those of us that thought we would not only cash Duke +9.5 but also grab the moneyline as well.  I don’t even want to think of what the mathematical probability was for this sequence of events to unfold the way it did.  I won’t try to put this moose into words, you’ll just have to watch it with your own eyes.  The misery starts :46 seconds into the video…leave it to the announcer to toss salt in the wounds simply using the words “Cincinnati also added a late pick 6 to win 48-34.”  Losing this bet felt like a real kick in the nuts…

2014: Bahamas Bowl Western Kentucky -2.5/-3 vs Central Michigan

When is a 49-14 lead headed into the 4th quarter while having a bet on a field goal favorite not enough?  Apparently the answer was this past Christmas Eve when the gambling gods revealed their cruel sense of humor by ripping a sure fire Hilltoppers cover away from their backers.  Central Michigan looked dead and buried, including with 3 seconds to go when they were pinned inside their own 25 trailing 49-42.  In a game that will live on in bowl betting lore CMU did the unthinkable…no not complete just the Hail Mary but elect to go for 2 rather than playing for OT, losing the game outright yet covering the spread.

2013: MAAC Championship Iona -4 vs Manhattan

I tried to dig up video footage of this epic debacle but struggled to find anything better than an Iona student recording the game with a handicam.  Let’s just say when you’re laying 4 and you get a run out dunk with 6 seconds to go to make the lead 8 your cover should be safe.  On this night during championship week it was anything but the case…however the gambling historians won’t even let you relive it through play by play since apparently it’s been erased from the annals of history.

Here’s the video, notice the 5-0 Manhattan run over the final 6 seconds magically isn’t caught on tape.

2014: World Cup Mexico and Holland O/U 2.5

Hey Ma, look how I lost this total that was 1-0 in the 88th minute of regulation with the live betting over under sitting at 1.5 paying almost 6-1 to go over.  Glad the referee wanted to help over bettors realize their dream with a phantom PK.  Given the global impact of this one, I’m willing to bet bookmakers from Costa Rica to Kuala Lampur weren’t exactly thrilled with how the last few mins of regulation and stoppage time played out.

For all you college football fans here’s a list of other bowl debacles that needed to be included:

2011: Music City Bowl Tennessee -1.5 vs North Carolina

I mean if this game doesn’t encapsulate the entire Tyler Bray era at Tennessee I don’t know what would.  For at least one bowl game, bettors felt similar pain to what the Vols fans experienced for years.  When is a win not a win? When Coach Dooley walks the sidelines taking a bowl victory (and cover) away from everyone.

2012: Fiesta Bowl Oklahoma St -4.5 vs Stanford

We won’t go quite so far as to call this a bad beat if you had Oklahoma St -4.5 given the Cowboys only lead came in OT, but to this day I’m not sure if the Pokes scored a TD.  I’ll be honest, still thankful Gundy elected to take the 3 rather than run it into the end zone.

The fun starts at the 5:40 mark…

2006: Orange Bowl Florida St vs Penn St O/U 39.5/40

Want to hate college kickers for the rest of your life? Try holding an under ticket in this defensive slugfest yet somehow walking away empty handed

2011: Insight Bowl Oklahoma -13.5 vs Iowa

Hey Coach Stoops?! Don’t be a dick just run it into the line. I guess you needed to keep some boosters happy.

Written by Clay Travis

Clay Travis is the founder of the fastest growing national multimedia platform, OutKick, that produces and distributes engaging content across sports and pop culture to millions of fans across the country. OutKick was created by Travis in 2011 and sold to the Fox Corporation in 2021.

One of the most electrifying and outspoken personalities in the industry, Travis hosts OutKick The Show where he provides his unfiltered opinion on the most compelling headlines throughout sports, culture, and politics. He also makes regular appearances on FOX News Media as a contributor providing analysis on a variety of subjects ranging from sports news to the cultural landscape. Throughout the college football season, Travis is on Big Noon Kickoff for Fox Sports breaking down the game and the latest storylines.

Additionally, Travis serves as a co-host of The Clay Travis and Buck Sexton Show, a three-hour conservative radio talk program syndicated across Premiere Networks radio stations nationwide.

Previously, he launched OutKick The Coverage on Fox Sports Radio that included interviews and listener interactions and was on Fox Sports Bet for four years. Additionally, Travis started an iHeartRadio Original Podcast called Wins & Losses that featured in-depth conversations with the biggest names in sports.

Travis is a graduate of George Washington University as well as Vanderbilt Law School. Based in Nashville, he is the author of Dixieland Delight, On Rocky Top, and Republicans Buy Sneakers Too.