Professional bettor Mark DeRosa was on a plane out of Atlantic City after last year’s Super Bowl when he got a clear picture of what was going to be one of the biggest scores of his career.
DeRosa believed Tom Brady would leave New England in the off-season and that Tampa Bay was one of the most likely landing spots. Sportsbooks disagreed, however, roughly 50-1 listing the Buccaneers where Brady would play in the 2020 season. The bookies made Brady, who returned to New England, a strong favorite.
“The books rated it like there was a 75% chance he would come back [to New England]”Said DeRosa.” I thought there was a 75% chance it won’t return so the market was really far away. “
While in Atlantic City for the Super Bowl, DeRosa made two $ 500 bets with DraftKings on Brady, who was playing with the Buccaneers, at 50-1 and 40-1. Then, on the plane back to Florida, he decided to land more in Tampa Bay to win the NFC and the Super Bowl the following season. He was going to have to convince his old college friend and betting partner, Zack White, that the Bucs were a good bet.
Tampa Bay had just finished a 7-9 campaign in which quarterback Jameis Winston threw 30 interceptions. It was the third straight season the Buccaneers lost, and they were once again considered long shots with Super Bowl odds in the 65-1 range.
“He had to really persuade me,” recalled White, a respected Las Vegas bettor. “His reasoning pretty much came down to Brady going there.”
White asked DeRosa how likely it was that Brady would end up in Tampa Bay. “If he doesn’t, that bet is pretty terrible.”
DeRosa said he had a hunch, one well-reasoned, based on several signs that suggested Brady was leaving New England. DeRosa recalled a 2018 ESPN story that highlighted a rift between Brady, patriot coach Bill Belichick and owner Robert Kraft. In August 2019, DeRosa read that Brady had put his Massachusetts mansion up for sale, and he felt it made sense that the six-time Super Bowl champion quarterback let his contract run out for the first time in his career.
DeRosa believed Tampa Bay – because of coach Bruce Arian’s displeasure with revenue-prone Winston, a squad full of playmakers, warm weather, and lack of state income taxes – was one of the few seizures for Brady.
“The worst scenario is that you have [Tampa Bay] 30-1 to win the NFC and 60-1 to the Super Bowl, and that’s just the market price, “DeRosa argued with White last February.” When it happens they will be 5-1 and 10-1 and I really think it will happen. I don’t think he’s coming back. I think he’s going somewhere else. “
White was convinced and went to work in Las Vegas. He bet several thousand dollars on the Buccaneers to win the Super Bowl 65-1 and 60-1. Meanwhile, DeRosa in Florida had been monitoring odds on sports betting in New Jersey and found that the Borgata opened the Bucs 35-1 to win the NFC. DeRosa immediately booked a flight back to Atlantic City and wagered $ 8,000 on Tampa Bay to win the conference 35-1.
By the time DeRosa and White finished betting, they’d invested around $ 20,000 in the Bucs, with odds of 65-1 to win the Super Bowl and 35-1 to win the NFC. They each held minor positions on a few teams, DeRosa with the Los Angeles Chargers and White with the Saints, but their biggest investment was with the Bucs.
On March 20, Brady signed a two-year deal with the Buccaneers whose Super Bowl odds in sports betting were dramatically improved. At the start of the season, Tampa Bay won the Super Bowl 10-1 and the NFC 5-1, just as DeRosa expected.
Things didn’t look good for the Bucs in the middle of the season. They lost three out of four in November, including a 38-3 loss to the Saints, and fell to 7-5.
“There was a bit of frustration,” White said with a chuckle at Tampa Bay’s midseason faint, “but it’s the NFL, man, you don’t count anyone out until the end.
“There was always so much value in those big money tickets. You could have made a lot of profit before the season even started with the numbers we had.”
They each hedged a bit of their risk by beating the Washington Football team in the divisional round of the playoffs against the Buccaneers with a +9.5. Tampa Bay won by eight. For the most part, however, they held on and planned to do the same for the Super Bowl. The Buccaneers are 3 point underdogs to the Kansas City Chiefs.
“I’m not big on coverage,” DeRosa said.
Both, in their late 30s, DeRosa and White visited the Appalachian State together and have been setting professionals for over a decade. They have already made six-figure wins with the Bucs and are in a position to get the most points of their career in any sport if Tampa Bay wins the Super Bowl.
“We had about $ 11,000 to win $ 400,000 in the NFC Championship,” DeRosa said. “And then we have $ 8,000 or $ 9,000 to win the Super Bowl 60-1.
“So go to Bucs.”