If You Want to Know How Your Favorite TV Show Ends, Follow the Odds
Bran might sit on the newly refurbished Iron Throne for now, but there’s only one king who reins eternal. Cash. That’s right, baby. Cash is king, and if you followed the cash you would have known Bran would come out on top all the way back in December of 2017.
Following the Game Of Thrones Season 7 finale on 8/27/17, many gambling sites posted their updated “Who will sit on the Iron Throne?” prop bets the very next day. Mind you, most of these sites had been taking such bets for a few seasons, but this date works well as a starting point to examine when the Bran leak occurred. On Bovada, part of the massive Bodog gambling empire, Bran came out of the gates at 50/1, placing him alongside the likes of Varys, Arya and the Night King as the seventh-likeliest champ, far behind Jon (2/3) and Dany (2/1). On 12/14/17, MyBookie had even better odds on Bran at 70/1 as the eighth favorite while Jon still held the top spot at 5/6 followed by Dany at 2/1.
Then the weekend hit, and some bettors made a bunch of easy money. Bets on Bran flooded the market. Bran’s odds at BoyleSports dropped from 33/1 to 8/1 by Monday morning and closed the day at 11/2. Strangely, I could find only two contemporaneous articles (BoyleSports and Metro) about this massive line shift. I sit here perplexed this didn’t create larger headlines. Let me state the obvious. If a betting line on a participant in a scripted event drops from 33/1 to 11/2 over a weekend, the Ser Pounce is out of the bag.
This was different than the Yorgos Lanthimos betting frenzy from this year’s Oscars. Odds on Lanthimos to win Best Director shot from as low as 45/1 to 5/1 in the hours before the show based on unsubstantiated internet rumors. And he didn’t win. There was no fanfare or online buzz when the Bran bets poured in. Just some sharps with the inside scoop printing winning tickets and keeping quiet.
The Best-Kept Secret In Westeros
Shockingly, the lack of coverage allowed sites to keep their GoT bets online. Leaks or suspicious betting patterns in past seasons frequently led to prop bets being taken offline. The odds on Bran even rebounded to up to 14/1 by March of 2018 until the next run of bets on the Three-Eyed Raven drove his odds to a new low and caused some sites, such as Betway, to suspend the wager altogether.
And still, the bards played on. Jon and Dany continued as the betting favorites in the following months, but Bran continued to gain ground. In early June, Bran sat at 7/2 on Bovada just behind Jon and Dany, both at 2/1. And somehow, yet again, Bran popped back up to 5/1 on SBGGlobal and other sites through early November.
Bran finally emerged as the betting favorite on Bovada on 11/13/18 with a huge leap to 13/10. That’s basically even money after starting as a 70 to 1 underdog, folks. Jon (5/1) and Dany (6/1) were starting to fade. Many of the articles during Bran’s rise through the betting ranks comically correlated his ascension to popular fan theories of him becoming the Night King or finally tapping his powers to sway the odds in his favor. Were the betting sites or HBO paying for these articles to be written? I’m genuinely curious.
Bookies offered the first entertainment wager on a TV show outcome in the U.S. with “Who shot JR?”. The bet generated so much interest, the Nevada Gambling Control Board ordered it to be taken down and all bets be refunded before the show aired.
Despite a run of articles in major publications detailing the strange betting interest on Bran at the beginning of this season, Bran’s odds stayed in this territory until after Episode 4 when a final wave pushed his odds down to 1/4 and then off the board at BoyleSports. Paddy Power and a host of other sites also halted all wagering on Bran. Finito. The biggest spoiler of all time was officially on the market. And I missed it?
I’m still dumbfounded I never ran across any of these articles until I started fishing around after the finale. Zuckerberg, I don’t know how you kept a massive GoT betting spoiler off my feed for a year and a half when I probably post about GoT and sports more than anything besides my kids, but I thank you. And still find it suspicious.
If you’re furious about your newfound greenseer ability and shaking your fist at all of the degenerate gamblers for letting this happen, I can offer a bit of solace. Based on a quick perusal of gambling forums, some Bran bettors are losing their asses. The wording on some betting sites allows them to straight up rob their customers. “Who will sit on the Iron Throne?” Bran, right? Some sites have reportedly marked that bet as Nobody or a push with the destruction of the Throne. Ouch. “Who will rule Westeros or the Seven Kingdoms?” Uh-oh. There are now only six kingdoms, and Sansa Stark rules the North. Some sites haven’t paid out on that one either.
Even bettors who cashed those Bran tickets aren’t exactly sailing off to Braavos on their new yachts. Some sites, like Bovada, have both a wagering and payout cap ($200) for entertainment prop bets. They ain’t dummies. Other sites allow winning bets to stretch to a few thousand dollars, so it is possible some writer’s brother-in-law could have made off with low five figures if he opened accounts on enough sites.
What’s the big lesson in all of this? If you want the truth, follow the money. Always read the fine print. And when it comes to season finales and online betting, shield your eyes or prepare for disappointment.