Yale Economics Graduate Wagering $600,000 on Super Bowl Prop Bets

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterJanuary 31, 2014

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 30:  A sign is seen on Super Bowl Boulevard on January 30, 2014 in New York City.  (Photo by Alex Trautwig/Getty Images)
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Many will plunk down hundreds, maybe even thousands, on Super Bowl prop bets this weekend. That's adorable, because Rufus Peabody is dedicating an unbelievable $600,000 to that particular gambling endeavor. 

The SportingNews' Matt Hayes has a column dedicated to the Super Bowl prop bet and the unlikely touchdown from former Bears star William "The Refrigerator" Perry that seems to have sparked current prop bet mania. 

One item that catches the eye is the section on a Yale grad, Peabody, who finds the hard math behind the seemingly ridiculous bets. 

According to Hayes, Peabody is a 28-year-old professional gambler who also happens to have graduated from Yale in economics, training that no doubt aids in his current career. 

For Peabody, laying $600,000 on the line is as calculated a measure as anything you might do in your job, only he has to work with outlandish hypotheticals like what player might score first or whether Richard Sherman might receive a taunting penalty.

(You can see all the prop bets, from the sensible to the absurd, at sites like Bovada.lv.)

LAS VEGAS - MARCH 19: In this handout provided by the Las Vegas News Bureau, the Mirage Resort Race and Sports Book in Las Vegas is shown crowded with basketball fans during NCAA March Madness Tournament March 19, 2010. in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Gl
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While the bets may border on ridiculous, the expectations are very real, because Peabody fully expects to make a profit on his wager—in the realm of five to 10 percent. 

Peabody explains his thoughts to Hayes

If it’s anything more than that it’s luck. It’s entirely quantitative; I don’t use gut feelings. The best bets I make are the ones where I say, 'How would I like this?' My gut would say no, this is an awful bet. But it’s not. It basically shows you can’t trust your gut.

In this game, you simply can't lack confidence or information, things Peabody seems to have on lock down. His Twitter bio reads, "Half of Massey-Peabody Analytics. I bet on sports for a living. Don't argue with me, I have data on my side."

The Las Vegas Sun's Case Keefer has a more thorough breakdown in a Jan. 24 article on Peabody, chronicling his methods of placing bets as the prop wagers came out last weekend. Spoiler alert: you won't find any concrete tips, because Peabody wisely covers up how he plans to wager. 

The most interesting and obvious aspect of Keefer's report is the highs and lows that follow a man making his living off such uncertainty.

Keefer writes that Peabody won a substantial sum five years ago after throwing down his life savings during Super Bowl XLIII between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Arizona Cardinals. 

Peabody reminisces, "I couldn’t even watch. I remember I went to play a round over at Callaway, the 3-hole golf course. I had a huge bet on Gary Russell scoring the first touchdown at 20-to-1, and the first thing I saw was that he did it. That was the greatest feeling." 

If you think prop bets are just zany things some do for a goof or gamblers might procure for whimsy, think again. These proposition bets take up a sizable chunk of the end game Las Vegas enjoys for the Super Bowl. 

NEW YORK, NY - JANUARY 31:  Fans participate in the festivities on Super Bowl Boulevard in Times Square prior to Super Bowl XLVIII on January 31, 2014 in New York City. Super Bowl XLVIII will be played between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos o
Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Hayes writes, "By the time the NFL crowns a new champion, Vegas books estimate, as much as 50 percent of the potential record $100 million-plus bet on the game will be from prop bets."

And Peabody will have a not-unsubstantial stake in the entire mound of cash moving hands, which means he might want to over order on the antacids. 

He tells the  Las Vegas Sun that he plans on watching on Sunday, but explains how fleeting things like comfort and ease can be for him during the game. "It’s going to be pretty stressful," which might win understatement of the weekend.

He continues, "Every play is like, 'oh my God, we just lost $5K or we just won $5K.' By the end of the game, you need three yards but not four yards. But you’ve got to accept the variance and know you hold an edge."

Fill out your squares and plunk down hefty sums on prop bets, but just know that the huge swings in the Super Bowl aren't for everybody. 

It takes knowledge, courage and a very large bank roll. 


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