For this bettor, Owls well, ends well

Bet on it: Florida Atlantic’s run to the Final Four pays dividends to gamblers who were paying attention during the season

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Florida Atlantic

Florida Atlantic head coach Dusty May holds up the championship trophy after Florida Atlantic defeated Kansas State 79-86 in an Elite 8 college basketball game in the NCAA Tournament’s East Region final, Saturday, March 25, 2023, in New York.

Adam Hunger/AP

LAS VEGAS — En route to the Westgate SuperBook for a date with destiny, “the jailer man, and sailor Sam . . .” blared on satellite radio. A one-man band on the run, I pulled into a bank to make an uncomfortable withdrawal.

The mission, eight mornings ago? To secure -120 moneyline odds on Kansas State, against my 60-to-1 ticket on Florida Atlantic to make the Final Four. The Wildcats and Owls battled in the Elite Eight the next day.

No matter the outcome, I sought guaranteed profit.

The lowest such K-State price any competitor offered was -130. At -120, the SuperBook would lock in 8% more potential profit with a Wildcats triumph.

At 9:47 a.m., though, the bank was closed. New hours. Opened in 13 minutes. Every second ticked louder. I bolted to the ATM, uncertain that it could dispense what I wanted. A woman yanked at the locked doors and cussed.

I said, “Darlin’, if that’s the low point of your day, you’ll have a great Friday and fun weekend!”

She smiled. “Bless you! Love is alive!”

The machine spat out my C-notes. I was riding a rare cloud of euphoria.

I zipped out of the parking lot to, “K.C. Jones you’d better, watch your speed!”

A left on Desert Inn. A Metro Police SUV. Brakes gently tapped. It turned right. “Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right . . .” serenaded my entry into the SuperBook parking lot.

Lacking a special tag, I pulled into a reserved spot near the doors, anyway. Luck was with me . . . but for how long?

I hustled inside. At an open window at 10:02, I asked the ticket writer Kansas State’s moneyline price.


I unfolded the bills. He inquired about my FAU position. For the first time, I tipped a writer just for scratching a ticket.

He said, “Smart hedge.”

No ticket on the windshield.


In December, I chose to solely speculate on Final Four and title futures, in betting this tourney, and bet against those hefty hauls as situations warranted.

The aim — which I detailed in this space Jan. 28, accompanied by a photo of Florida Atlantic coach Dusty May — was to hold Final Four ducats on all four national semifinalists.

I went 3-for-4, with a caveat; I possessed Final Four positions on FAU (60-1), San Diego State (18-1) and Miami (10-1), plus title tickets on the Hurricanes (55-1 and 80-1) and UConn (10-1 and 20-1).

The first national semifinal Saturday in Houston pits the Owls against the Aztecs, the second features Miami and UConn.

SDSU, the alma mater, had never advanced to an Elite Eight. Hence, I opted for only a Final Four spot because just getting there, for it, would be akin to winning it all.

Overall, I’d own Final Four spots on nine squads, title tickets on eight teams, plus another three as in-tourney hedges. Personal bias eliminated certain teams, I dismissed others based on scant odds.

That single FAU payoff offset all expenses and delivered profit, so every other winner was, and is, gravy.


Twice a week for years, I’ve updated the nation’s top- and bottom-30 college hoops teams in various statistical categories, with repeat squads in the former earmarked as bet-on game plays and the latter as bet-against.

Not only were the Owls faring well early, in several of those key departments, but they also distinguished themselves as one of the nation’s top teams against the spread.

They were truly elite.

My December notes contain thick arrows pointing to FAU.

The SuperBook opened its Final Four wagering, with 194 teams, on Nov. 15. FAU wasn’t on it. On Dec. 29, the Owls covered a lined game for the 10th consecutive time, but no SuperBook recognition.

On Jan. 9, at 500-1, FAU appeared on the SuperBook’s title sheet. Too fairy-talish, I thought. Finally, Jan. 23, the Owls appeared on its Final Four list, at 60-1.

I struck.

I am keenly aware of the treacheries of this business, so I tread lightly. I want placing a bet to be difficult, so I have no apps. Plus, I want to hold the ticket. Old school.

Thus, that morning race to the SuperBook.


I spoke with veteran oddsman Dave Sharapan, curious about my good fortune, several times Sunday. Navigating such waters requires comprehending actual equity value in a futures play, to hedge properly. An a invaluable exercise.

Guaranteeing profit, he agreed, is wise.

At that point, Miami trailed Texas by double digits. I told him, if the Canes — my final big pay-out possibility — were to come back and zap the Horns, this would feel like ‘‘The Twilight Zone.’’

The Hurricanes did just that.

Sharapan called back to howl.

San Diego State frat pals have swarmed into Houston, but I have a very early Sunday deadline for a preview to Monday’s title game for an outlet.

And should Miami win Saturday, I’ll have one final big position to stake Sunday morning, to secure optimal guaranteed dividends.

Sharapan said, “Professional.”

I keep hearing Tom Petty.

“Even the losers, get lucky sometimes . . .”

Most prominently, however, I hear Clark Gable in “The Misfits,” the star’s final film, regarding a string of bad luck.

“That’s the way it goes. It goes the other way, too — don’t forget that!”

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