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Were Leicester’s odds of 5000-1 the biggest mistake by bookies ever?

Vardy Mahrez

Some lucky punters bet on Leicester to win the league at 5000-1. Should there odds have been that high? Or is this the biggest mistake by bookies ever?

If Leicester beat Manchester United this Sunday, or Spurs lose against Chelsea, then Leicester City will win the league. This means lucky punters who bet on sports in the UK, and backed Leicester, will be paid out at odds of 5000-1. While this is undoubtedly a magisterial achievement, were the bookies odds correct? We consider the factors for and against this being the biggest mistake by bookies ever:

FOR: Leicester were way more likely than 5000-1 to win the league

When you see Riyad Mahrez’s skills on the ball, or Jamie Vardy slotting home after another scintillating counter attack, it’s hard to believe that Leicester deserved odds of 5000-1. Maybe they’ve been lucky at some points, and avoided injuries, but they’ve not just been lucky… they’ve been good!

Jamie Vardy - Leicester 2016

Jamie Vardy (Photo: TheSportBible)

The biggest argument for this being the biggest mistake by bookies ever is to look at Leicester’s form in the second half of last season. Despite having a terrible start to the season, by the end they were playing like a title-contender. Their form to save themselves from relegation was second to none, and online sportsbooks should have considered that.

FOR: Nothing in football should be 5000-1

There’s no record in gambling news history of a sporting result achieved against odds that high…not even close! Sure, it’s unlikely, but odds of closer to 100-1 would’ve been more sensible. In a 38 game season, anything can happen: and it’ll happen more than once in 5000 times! At the end of the day, nothing is certain, and so odds should reflect that better.

AGAINST: Leicester’s season is reaallllly unlikely

Marc Albrighton. Danny Simpson. Andy King. These are just some of the players who will collect league winning medals very soon. Did anybody expect that in their careers? These aren’t the kind of players who usually win the league, and they probably won’t be in the future. Claudio Ranieri has done a magisterial job, with only a few players who you would expect to find in the squad of a contender for Europe, let alone a title winner. This is once in a lifetime achievement, and maybe 5000-1 accurately reflects that!

AGAINST: The bookies were smart, outsiders usually don’t win

Here’s the thing: online sportsbooks everywhere know that outsiders don’t usually win the league. Most people bet on big teams, and usually big teams win. Sportsbooks know this, so make their outsider prices very tempting by making them higher than you’d expect.

Maybe online sportsbooks will make a loss this year, paying out thousands to Leicester fans. However, next year they know that they’ll make it all back when everybody decides to bet on an outsider! They know that Leicester were more likely than 5000-1 to win, but it was still pretty unlikely! Our gambling exert tip: next year, bet on a favourite. Don’t bet on Leicester (especially since they’ll be distracted by Europe), and don’t bet on the “next” Leicester, whether that’s betting on Southampton, or betting on West Ham or someone else! Bet on a favourite, because as bookies know, favourites usually win!

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