The Action Network’s Cash Corner: Looking Back on Last Week’s Bets (May 19-25)

The Action Network’s Cash Corner: Looking Back on Last Week’s Bets (May 19-25) article feature image

Maddie Meyer/PGA of America/PGA of America via Getty Images. Pictured: Phil Mickelson.

“Think about how far you’ve come, not always how much is left.”

We’ve heard it countless times over the last couple of weeks, and we won’t stop hearing it until we are in the Dog Days of summer, but by God are we officially back! Barring some sort of alien invasion, it’s safe to say that things have finally returned to normal.

Nothing has been more telling of our return to normalcy than this past weekend’s events. Between watching the gallery at Kiawah follow Phil Mickelson down the 18th fairway like a scene straight out of Happy Gilmore and watching 13,000 Knicks faithful erupt every time a player took a breath, it felt like we could truly live in the moment.

If this weekend was an ice cream sundae (my dad is going to love this metaphor), then betting on all of these events would be the delicious layer of hot fudge that you drizzle on top. Don't get me wrong, the sundae is great without it, but when you throw the the hot fudge on, it adds an entirely new component to the ice cream eating experience.

I can guarantee that the emotions that came with betting on the games made these moments even more remarkable. So, take a step back and appreciate the wins, losses, pushes and every gut-wrenching moment that came with it.

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Last Week’s Big Things

1. Phil Mickelson Defeats Father Time

Was the pollen count in New York City extraordinarily high on Sunday or what? For some odd reason, when Phil Mickelson sunk that par putt on 18 to secure his second career Wanamaker Trophy, my eyes were tearing up and I couldn't control it. Damn allergies.

50 years, 11 months, and seven days. At the staggering odds of 300-1, Mickelson pulled off the impossible by becoming the oldest Major champion in the history of golf. You couldn’t help but get Tiger-Woods-at-the-2019-TOUR-Championship vibes as Phil walked down the fairway and a stampede of intoxicated patrons followed in absolute astonishment.

Phil at 18. UNREAL

— GolfBet (@GolfBet) May 23, 2021

If we could take away only one thing away from Mickelson’s historic victory, it’s that you can never count out the underdog. Alright, Mickelson also taught us that he’s the coolest freaking guy on the planet, but most of us knew that already.

This past Sunday at the legendary Ocean Course at Kiawah Island is a moment that will be etched in sports fans’ minds until the day we die. Normally, when a golfer like Mickelson is making his victory stroll up to the 72nd hole of a tournament, I would be kicking myself for not betting him. But, Sunday was different. I truly enjoyed the moment and didn’t think about the money I lost (until I looked at my account's balance later that night).

Nothing about the weekend was more poetic than the most lovable golfer on the PGA TOUR winning on one of golf’s biggest stages in front of a crazed group of 10,000 fans. There are certain athletes who thrive when the spotlight is on them, and Mickelson is definitely one such athlete. At a point in his career when seemingly no one thought he could defeat a field of 155 golfers, Mickelson locked in and proved everyone wrong.

Moreover, at odds of 300-1, there’s no way the gambling aficionado didn’t tell those in his inner circle to throw a buck or two on him to capture the PGA Championship. Long odds yield massive returns; just ask these two bettors:

What. A. Bet. ⛳️@PhilMickelson just made this bettor's year 👏

— GolfBet (@GolfBet) May 23, 2021

… and if you’re naive enough to believe that Mickelson didn’t know the betting implications of his win, think again:

Me: “Congrats, Phil. So happy for you.”

Phil: “Did you get a little payout on that? I know how you roll.”

True story.

— Jason Sobel (@JasonSobelTAN) May 23, 2021

The most compelling stories happen when you are least expecting them, and the most fun bets are the ones you don't expect to be in contention. After a four-day grind, Mickelson completed one of the most profound sports stories of all time.

2. NH-oly Hell

Stop me if you’ve heard this before, “nothing is better than playoff hockey.”

Is there anything better than playoff hockey?? 🍿

— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) May 18, 2021

Whether it’s been the Bruins and Capitals going to OT for three straight games or 10 grown men beating the absolute snot out of each other (happens pretty much every game), I guarantee there is something for you.

Ladies and gentlemen, the NHL Playoffs 🍿

— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) May 21, 2021

Of the 37 games that have been played, 18 have been decided by one goal, –and of those contests, 13 have gone into overtime!

Public Service Announcement: If there is one thing that will enhance your viewing experience, it’s following Action Network Senior Editor and Writer, Michael Leboff (@TheBigLeebowski) on Twitter and the Action App and tailing his picks. Your heart truly hasn’t raced until you have money on a hockey team that is going into 2OT.

Notable Betting Trends Through 37 Games:

  • Favorites ML: 22-15, $100 bettor would profit $286
  • Home Teams ML: 19-18
  • Overs: 18-17-2
  • Favorites on the puckline (-1.5): 17-20, $100 bettor would profit $611

Betting on the NHL Playoffs is just like eating fast food: It’s an experience that always comes with a lot of sweat and the chance of a heart attack.

3. NBA Play-ins-and-offs

The first games have been played and the tone has been set. We saw LeBron James knock down a game-winning 3 with one eye closed (and Steph Curry’s hand in his face), Madison Square Garden turn into a zoo, and players go berserk in their NBA Playoffs debuts.

In just 18 games, we have already witnessed some of the best basketball that has been played all season.

Biggest Takeaways

Don’t Doubt the Debutants

Devin, Trae and Ja. Three debuts. 92 combined points.

There’s no two ways around it. The NBA is a star-driven league, and if you want to push the envelope, then you need your playmakers to show up when it matters most. It’s pretty easy to see that these three young phenoms were the reason their teams were able to pull off upsets against the defending World Champs and the two most profitable teams against the spread in the regular season.

Devin Booker took the floor on Sunday afternoon in his NBA Playoffs debut, on the same court with future Hall of Famers LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Chris Paul. The latter three players (James, Davis & Paul) have a combined 36 All-Star appearances, yet Booker looked like the best player on the hardwood. The 24-year old played more minutes than anyone in the game and showed out with a 34-point performance. He willed his team to victory to secure a win and cover for Suns (-2) bettors.

The World’s Most Famous Arena. The Garden. The Mecca of basketball. Whatever you like to call it, you could hear a pin drop after Trae Young hit his game-winning floater over the Knicks’ defense.


— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) May 24, 2021

Young put the Atlanta Hawks on his back in every way possible. His props bets went over in every conceivable category, and he led his team to victory in arguably the most intense environment there is in sports.

✅: First bucket (+500)
✅: Over 26.5 Points
✅: Over 4.5 Reb
✅: Over 9.5 Ast
✅: Hawks (+1.5) cover
✅: Hawks (+102) moneyline@TheTraeYoung: "This is how I win…"

— NBABet (@nbabet) May 24, 2021

Next, it was Ja Morant’s turn. After defeating the legendary Gregg Popovich’s Spurs and upsetting Steph Curry in his home arena, the Grizzlies took their youthful squad to Salt Lake City to face the No. 1 seed in the West. Behind Morant’s 26 points, Memphis was pulled off the biggest upset of the postseason … so far.

vs. Warriors
✅: Ja over 21 pts
✅: Grizzlies moneyline (+175)

vs. Jazz
✅: Ja over 21.5 pts
✅: Grizzlies moneyline (+265) @memgrizz X @JaMorant 😤

— NBABet (@nbabet) May 24, 2021

Fade the Public

Teams that have received the majority of bet tickets (>50%) since the first play-in game are 7-11 against the spread. Favorites that have received the majority of tickets are 4-7 against the spread, with four of those squads losing outright.

Two biggest public sides lost outright today 🥶

73% of bets: Knicks -1.5 ❌
57% of bets: Jazz -8 ❌

— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) May 24, 2021

During any postseason — whether it’s the NBA or NHL Playoffs — money is going to flood the market, and casual bettors are going to side with the favorite or the hotter/more popular team.

A casual fan sees Steph Curry in an elimination game and reflexively assumes that the future two-time MVP can’t lose. This is precisely the type of cognitive bias that bettors must eliminate from their heads, because anything can happen during the postseason — especially when teams are more even than most think.

Percentage of money on Warriors tonight:

PointsBet: 87%
BetMGM: 84%
FanDuel: 83%
DraftKings: 82%

— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) May 22, 2021

As we always say, it’s better to bet with your brain than your heart.

The Best Thing I Saw on The Action Network Twitter

While the NHL and NBA Playoffs might be getting all of the attention, there is a man on the West Coast that is doing something no one has done since the character you built in MLB The Show ‘07.

Shohei Ohtani is putting together a Most Valuable Player campaign like we have never seen before.

Via BetMGM's data: “Since May 18, Ohtani has generated 49% of the total number of tickets and 80% of the total dollars wagered among all AL MVP bets at William Hill. Since this market was first up on Feb. 17, he still leads the way in both total number of tickets (26%) and total dollars wagered (53%).”

Shohei Ohtani this season:

13 HR, 32 RBI, .925 OPS

25.2 IP, 2.10 ERA, 40 K

Ohtani’s MVP odds @BetMGM went from +1100 ➡️ +500 with 48.6% of the tickets and 35.5% of the handle on Ohtani 😳

— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) May 18, 2021

Not only is Ohtani smacking dingers that defy physics and playing the field almost everyday, but he is also taking mound to pitch every fifth game. He is putting up numbers we haven’t seen since the Great Bambino.

Most HR in Single Season — Min. 5 Games as Pitcher (Since 1900) ⚾️

29 – Babe Ruth (1919)
22 – Shohei Ohtani (2018)
14 – Shohei Ohtani (2021)

— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) May 19, 2021

Although fans might not be enthused because the MLB has become a league where no-hitters are thrown every other week, I guarantee that Ohtani and the Angels will wow you when you turn on the television.

14 💣


— The Action Network (@ActionNetworkHQ) May 19, 2021

Notable Events on the Upcoming Sports Schedule

  • Tuesday, May 25: Hurricanes vs. Predators (Game 5) | Lakers vs. Suns (Game 2)
  • Wednesday, May 26: Knicks vs. Hawks (Game 2) | Penguins vs. Islanders (Game 5)
  • Thursday, May 27: Canadiens vs. Maple Leafs (Game 4) | Nuggets vs. Trail Blazers (Game 3)
  • Friday, May 28: Clippers vs. Mavericks (Game 3) | Knicks vs. Hawks (Game 3)
  • Saturday May 29: Bucks vs. Heat (Game 3) | 76ers vs. Wizards (Game 3) | Jazz vs. Grizzlies (Game 3)
  • Sunday, May 30: Final Round of Charles Schwab Challenge | Mets vs. Braves (Sunday Night Baseball)


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