Sportsbooks Miss WNBA All-Star Game Over/Under by 70 Points

  • Over/under line plummeted more than 50 points from opening to game time
  • Circa sportsbook director hastily researched the game, leading to the mistake
  • A different team structure and competitive game led to a total still way under the line
  • The books might not have been hurt significantly, despite the terrible over/under
Darts that missed the target
Circa Sports set an opening over/under line on the WNBA All-Star Game that fell by over 50 points by tipoff and missed the final total by 70 points. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Line dropped over 50 points

Sportsbooks posted an over/under line on the WNBA All-Star Game that was so bad, it blew every notion of what it means to miss out of the water. On Wednesday, sportsbooks in the US and internationally, led by Circa Sports in Las Vegas, had to adjust the line by an astounding 53 points by the time the game started. And they still overshot miserably.

According to ESPN’s David Purdum, Circa Sports was the first to post the over/under on the All-Star Game Wednesday morning, opening at 248.5. After a “respected account” bet the over a couple hours later, the line jumped to 252.5. Other sportsbooks then posted their own lines, starting them around where Circa’s number was.

Superbook at Westgate Las Vegas had adjusted its line 32 times during the day, from 251 to 197.

When bettors started pounding the under, though, the lines dropped quickly. Before the game’s 7pm tipoff, Circa’s over/under was 195.5. Superbook at Westgate Las Vegas had adjusted its line 32 times during the day, from 251 to 197.

According to long-time bookmakers who spoke with ESPN, it was the largest line shift that any of them could remember.

Rushed research led to blunder

Fortunately, the screwup appears to have been just a mistake, a miscalculation, rather than something nefarious. Matt Metcalf, Circa’s sportsbook director, told Purdum that at 7am, he saw that his book could be the first to post the over/under line on the WNBA All-Star Game. In his rush to get ready for work, he quickly went over points totals for past All-Star Games, leading him to the 248.5 figure.

Normally, that wouldn’t be the worst way to do things. The problem was, this year’s game was different. The All-Stars usually just aim to put on a show for the fans, playing little defense and just running up and down the court, trying to make highlight reel plays. This game, however, pitted the U.S. Women’s National Team against the WNBA All-Stars, rather than an All-Star versus All-Star game. The National Team was using this as a warmup game for the Olympics and thus took it more seriously.

Because of this, the final score total was likely to be a lot lower than in previous years.

I didn’t think it would be the worst number ever.”

“At worst, I don’t think this was more than 15 points off. That’s as bad as I think it could be,” Metcalf said, referring to what he was thinking when making the line with little research. “I didn’t think it would be the worst number ever.”

As it turned out, not only was the opening line off by a country mile, the final line was also worse than Metcalf’s envisioned worst-case scenario. The WNBA All-Stars won, 93-85, putting the total at 178, still far below any sportsbook’s total.

May have escaped with minimal damage

It doesn’t sound like the sportsbooks got carved up too badly, though. Rex Beyers, risk manager for the Superbook, told ESPN a few hours before tipoff that more money had come in on the over than the under. Perhaps the betting public also forgot about the change in team composition.

Metcalf said that it was only somewhere from six to ten limit bets on the under that caused the line to plunge. The opening limit was only $2,000 and was later reduced to $500.

Metcalf clearly owned up to his mistake, never considering taking the line off the board. Actions like that are permitted in the case of an obvious line mistake or typo, but he said simply: “I made a horrific number, hung it and took bets.”

Anything the books lost on the WNBA All-Star Game was likely made back and then some on Game 4 of the NBA Finals. According to Darren Rovell, a “huge amount of money” was bet on the over of 221. At William Hill, 90% of the money was on the over in what turned out to be one of the most heavily-bet games of the playoffs. The Milwaukee Bucks beat the Phoenix Suns 109-103, easily clearing the under.