# Why this \$2 million Open Championship bet wasn’t as gutsy as it seemed

Tiger Woods and a \$2 million wager. Reference both in a single tweet and it is bound to draw attention.

It did, anyway, on Monday morning, when word spread on social media that a sports bettor named Rufus Peabody had placed a total of nearly \$2 million on eight golfers, including Woods, not to win the Open Championship for a payout of just over \$35,000.

Spoiler alert: None of the golfers Peabody wagered against was Xander Schauffele, so Peabody cashed in.

Even so, the average fan, reading of such a wager, might reasonably ask: What kind of gambler would risk so much money for such a relatively small return?

The short answer is that Peabody is not your garden-variety gambler. The slightly longer answer is that the risk he was taking was nowhere near as great as those numbers suggest.

First, about Peabody. A Yale-educated quant with a background in economics and sports analytics, he bets on golf for a living. Among the research tools he uses is an algorithm he co-developed that helps give him a statistical edge.

So, that’s the bettor.

Now, about his bet, which Peabody broke down for GOLF.com.

As the Open Championship approached, Peabody did what he always does before a tournament. He crunched a ton numbers, looking for good-value plays. One of the plays that jumped out at him involved Woods. The odds on Woods were 330-to-1 to win, which made him a long shot and yet, according to Peabody’s calculations, not nearly as big a long shot as he actually was. In the computer simulations Peabody ran, Woods won the tournament just eight times in 200,000 tries. The true odds of him hoisting the Claret Jug were closer to 25,000-to-1.

In short, it made great mathematical sense to bet against him, which Peabody did, placing \$330,000 to win \$1,000 on Woods not to win. Similar computations suggested it made sense to bet against seven other players, too: Bryson DeChambeau, Tommy Fleetwood, Brooks Koepka, Cameron Young, Wyndham Clark, Ashkay Bhatia and Robert MacIntrye. You can check out Peabody’s betting ticket below.

If you add up all the liabilities (\$330,000 on Woods, \$221,600 on DeChambeau, and so on), they do indeed total close to \$2 million. But that’s not what Peabody was actually risking. His maximum exposure was far less than that. Because only one player can win a tournament, Peabody was guaranteed to win at least seven of those bets. If Woods had won, for instance, Peabody would have been out \$330,000 on Tiger but he would have won \$34,175.91 on the seven others for a total loss of just under \$296,000. Even in the worst case scenario for Peabody (a win by Bhatia), his losses would have totaled around \$360,000, far shy of \$2 million.

That’s still a lot of money, more than most of us could stomach putting on the line, which helps explain why not-to-win bets of this kind aren’t especially popular among recreational players. There’s not much of a market for them.

“People typically want the opposite risk/reward profile,” Peabody said. “You wager a little to win a lot.”

Not-to-win bets of the kind Peabody often places are also not the type of wagers you can make on DraftKings or at a Vegas sports book. You need an account with a betting exchange, which operate like options brokers, matching sellers to buyers and taking a commission on each transaction.

Given the odds and logistics involved, not-to-win bets — also known as “no” bets — are more commonly placed by professional bettors.

Of course, no wager is a guarantee. Even the most statistically sensible plays can come back to bite you. Peabody is not immune. In June, to cite one sour outcome, he and his brother, Tom, had \$360,000 to win \$15,000 on DeChambeau not to win the U.S. Open. Most golf fans know how that turned out.

Peabody tweeted about that setback. He tends to speak more openly about his losses than he does about his wins. Many professional bettors lean that way, partly so as not to come across as boastful but also because they don’t want to give away an edge.

“Winning gamblers in general are very unassuming,” says Martin De Knijff, a former professional bridge player who runs Metric Gaming, a Las Vegas-based technology company that serves the betting industry. “It’s also not in your best interest for the whole world to know you’re winning, either.”

In the age of social media and increasingly widespread legalized gambling, word of high-stakes wagers often gets passed around quickly — and not always by the bettors themselves. The betting exchange Sporttrade, for instance, has a service it calls “Whale Tracker,” which makes public all bets of \$3,000 or more that are made on its site. After last week’s Scottish Open, Whale Tracker reported a whopper of a losing wager: someone had risked \$73,800 to win \$1,176 on Robert MacIntyre not to win the Scottish Open.

As it happens, Peabody was also on the wrong side of that bet, losing around \$69,000.

Open Championship week brought happier results. The first report of Peabody’s winning not-to-win bets came from Peabody himself, who posted a picture of his betting ticket on X, along with the message: “Was a better week in outright ‘no’ land.” His tweet was reposted by others who referenced the \$2 million risk.

Going public about a win was rare for Peabody. His intention, he said, was to offer a counterbalance to his DeChambeau loss but also to spark conversation and help people better understand how certain wagers work.

“I am not trying to convince anyone of anything,” he said. “But there are a lot of misunderstandings out there and tweets that I think can give a distorted picture of the gambling industry, so I think there’s an educational opportunity. Or sometimes I’m just trying to give people a chance to laugh at me.”

It was Peabody who got the last laugh this week. No one mentioned this on social media, but he also had money on Schauffele to win.

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#### Josh Sens

Golf.com Editor

A golf, food and travel writer, Josh Sens has been a GOLF Magazine contributor since 2004 and now contributes across all of GOLF’s platforms. His work has been anthologized in The Best American Sportswriting. He is also the co-author, with Sammy Hagar, of Are We Having Any Fun Yet: the Cooking and Partying Handbook.