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Super Bowl already seeing big money bets, Borgata exec bracing for ‘monster’ weekend

Generally, 50 percent of the total handle comes in the final weekend. But because of travel restrictions and even the foul weather during the week, 75 percent is expected from Friday to Sunday night.

A Washington D.C. bettor has 480,000 reasons to hope Tom Brady is up on the victory platform after Sunday's Super Bowl. Two other bettors wagered a combined $5.76 million on the Bucs +3.5.
A Washington D.C. bettor has 480,000 reasons to hope Tom Brady is up on the victory platform after Sunday's Super Bowl. Two other bettors wagered a combined $5.76 million on the Bucs +3.5.Read moreMatt Ludtke / AP

So this guy walked into the sportsbook at the Borgata two years ago looking a little rough. This was when the sportsbook and racing parlor shared the same room, so the guy fit in with some of those grizzled horse players.

After looking at the odds board and seeing the Patriots favored by a couple points, he went up to the counter and asked how much he could wager. “Anything you want,” he was told.

The guy turned around, looked back at the odds board once more, and then disappeared for about 15 minutes.

He came back in, shuffling up the narrow walkway to the betting window, said he wanted to put “260 on the Rams and over.” The cashier punched in the $260 parlay and asked the ragged customer to verify it.

“No,” he said. “I wanted $260,000.”

It was a scene that still makes Tom Gable, the Borgata’s director of the Race & Sportsbook, chuckle in amazement.

» READ MORE: Vegas Vic says pick Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs to repeat as Super Bowl champions against the Bucs

“I’m thinking this guy doesn’t look like he has $260 on him,” Gable said. “Sure enough, though, he starts taking $260,000 out of his little plastic bag. It was all strapped from the bank, and he put it on the counter. You really can’t judge someone by their appearance at all.”

The six- and seven-figure bets on Sunday’s Super Bowl have started to roll in, but Gable thinks the heavy action is yet to come. Normally, about half of the handle for the Super Bowl comes in the final 48 hours or so before kickoff. Gable’s bracing himself for an onslaught of 75 percent this weekend.

Travel restrictions and the snow storm earlier in the week kept people away. “This weekend I think is going to be a monster in terms of the majority of handle,” Gable said.

“Mattress Mack” was back in the news this week when he put $3.46 million on the Buccaneers at +3.5 with the DraftKings app in Colorado. While it’s an interesting play to us amateur bettors, it aggravates the professionals who are hamstrung by seemingly arbitrary limits.

It’s a problem seen more often online than at retail establishments, but it does happen at the brick & mortar shops.

Gable said the Borgata’s sportsbook is willing to take $1 million on either the Chiefs or Buccaneers or the over/under, which was 56. They’ll take $10k on props involving quarterbacks, $5k on other props and $2k on the novelty wagers.

“And of course if somebody wants more, they can ask and we’ll look into it,” Gable said.

BetMGM has a $2.3 million bet on the Bucs at +3.5. William Hill is holding a $520,000 ticket on the Chiefs at -3 and another $115,000 from a futures bet when the Chiefs were +150. That would pay $172,500.

It’ll be a big headache for the sportsbooks if the Bucs win outright. Many are holding heavy futures action on Tampa Bay, placed almost from the moment Tom Brady decided in March to take his talents to central Florida. A Washington D.C. bettor laid $40k at a William Hill establishment when the Bucs were 12-1.

Then there’s the props.

William Hill asked its employees to submit ideas for goofy props. They have a line on whether a missed field goal will hit off the upright. Probably came from a Bears fan still miffed at Cody Parkey.

“It’s one of those where the professionals will be one side and the masses will bet the big plus and hope someone hits a doink,” said Nick Bogdanovich, William Hill’s U.S. director of trading. “We’ll need ‘NO’ on that one.”

» READ MORE: Super Bowl prop bets: Patrick Mahomes’ passing yards, MVP and more