There aren't many people who can truly say they saw Texas State's stunning upset over Houston coming, but one of them lives in Las Vegas, and he's 120,000 richer because of it.
The William Hill Race & Sports Book in Las Vegas says a man placed a 2,000 bet on Texas State to beat Houston outright at 60-1 odds, earning him a payout of 120,000. Texas State, which was playing its first game as a member of the Bowl Subdivision, was a 34-point underdog. It was just the seventh 30-point underdog to win a game outright since 1980 according to RJ Bell, the founder of the sports betting Web site Pregame.com.
"When you turn a toothpick into a lumber mill," said William Hill bookmaker Jimmy Vaccaro, "there's nothing wrong with that."
Vaccaro wouldn't reveal the big winner's identity, but said it was a customer he has known for more than 20 years -- one with a history of taking these kinds of long shots. He once beat Vaccaro for 220,000 on a four-team parlay.
"He gets a kick out of it," Vaccaro said. "He likes to show the tickets off. I call him Floyd Mayweather on steroids. He's a very charismatic person. He's fun to have in your book."
William Hill only took about 2,200 worth of action on Texas State-Houston, meaning there were only a handful of other 10 and 20 bets placed on the game.
A payout of such scale is exceedingly rare, not just because upsets like that rarely happen, but because most sports books don't even offer moneylines when the point spread is more than 10 points. Vaccaro said he thinks there might only be a couple other sports books in Las Vegas that will do it.
"I've always contended that every game has a moneyline associated to it, it's simply a math decision," Vaccaro said, "although you don't like to get hit too much on bets like that."
William Hill is the biggest bookmaker in the United Kingdom, but just began operations in the United States in June. It's known as an aggressive bookmaker in the UK, a reputation it is trying to build here. And that's why it always offers the moneyline bets.
"We feel like it's part of our trademark," Vaccaro said.
And though no bookmaker likes to get tagged for 120,000 on a single bet, Vaccaro can live with this one.
"He walked away with 120,000 worth of money and it actually turned out about 200,000 worth of publicity," Vaccaro said. "So it wasn't a bad tradeoff."