The plight of Bears fans is well-known, the misfortunes of Bears bettors is even worse

Chicago
By Chicago 9 Min Read

LAS VEGAS — No doubt the Double Doink triggered untold grief in Chicagoland, and among Bears fans worldwide, the night of Jan. 6, 2019.

Cody Parkey’s field-goal attempt smacked the left upright, banged down onto the crossbar and plopped back into the end zone at Soldier Field, expiring ingloriously beyond the goal line.

The Eagles advanced in the playoffs.

Since that theatrical fail, no NFL team owns a worse point-spread record than the Bears’ 34.1% (23-45-1).

Bear down for the second gut kick.

Over that same stretch, the Packers have the best ATS mark at 60.3% (44-29), according to TeamRankings.

Bears fans who have been betting blindly with their hearts, on Chicago and against the archrival Packers, instead of their heads have paid dearly.

A $100 bettor is down $45,900; -26.5 units on the Bears, -19.4 against Green Bay.

Conversely, perhaps north of the Land of Lincoln, punters risking the same amount against the Bears (+19.7 units) and on the Pack (+13.9) are up $33,600.

“Good stuff,” professional handicapper, Chicago native and Vegas resident Chuck Edel says. “Very true.”

The Vegas Stats & Information Network’s Matt Youmans, an Indiana native, winces at the numbers.

“I would hope most Bears fans are smart enough to bet against their team, not on it. A fool and his money will soon part ways, right?”

On Long Island, pro bettor Tom Barton is a lifelong Bears fan, since glorious 1985, who wagers with cold calculation.

“It’s a rule of mine to never blindly bet on something. But those are percentages you can’t not look at with awe and disgust.”

BLOOD AND MONEY

It seemed as if Duane Colucci, the race and sports manager of the Rampart Casino in Summerlin, Nevada, had just whiffed moldy cheese.

His recoil, however, reflected the Bears’ plight.

“They’re terrible. Poorly coached. [Justin] Fields is the most overrated quarterback in the NFL. Them and Cleveland, people bet them blindly. Pittsburgh, too. [They] keep us in business, keep the blood and money flowing.”

Colucci actually said that a few days before the Bears flopped at Tampa Bay.

On Sunday, they’re 12.5-point underdogs at reigning Super Bowl-champion Kansas City. Chicago was last such a big dog in 2017.

At DraftKings, which serves Illinois and 16 other states, race and sportsbook director Johnny Avello laughs when told about someone in Chicago betting so carelessly on the Bears and against the Packers.

The giggling seemed sympathetic.

“In other words, they’ll say, ‘That hasn’t worked for me.’ Crazy. I didn’t know either of those stats. I’m surprised.”

At the New England Sports Network, Chicago native Sam Panayotovich says the fan base is starved, having watched the team win a single playoff game since losing the Super Bowl to cap 2006.

“I don’t think the average Bears fan can sideline his or her fandom most Sundays. It’s more fun to bet on the Bears, or dial up a same-game parlay with your favorite players, than to ever bet against the beloved.” 

CRYSTAL VISION

Dennis Rhinevault considers the aforementioned statistics, the profits and losses, and makes a salient point.

“Oh, to have a crystal ball.”

He worked an NFL preseason TV show with another handicapper, to forecast the season, and the other guy claimed wagering against Arizona in its first five games to be locks.

Rhinevault says, “And the Cardinals are 2-0 ATS!”

Ah, the crystal ball. Anyone who bet on Green Bay and against Chicago every single week, since the start of 2019, indeed possesses sterling foresight.

It might be folly to picture such fortune, but Rhinevault is familiar with misfortune. For several decades, the Chicago native might as well have burned his gambling stake.

In 2016, he retired from the food and beverage industry to Vegas, experienced a tactical epiphany and has since enjoyed handsome annual profits. Those challenging decades stung.

“I hope it’s not the case now, but when I first started betting with the bookies in Chicago, more than 40 years ago, they routinely inflated the Bears’ betting line by a point or more.”

When his grandfather retired from Western Electric in Cicero in 1962, he and his wife moved to Shawano, Wisconsin, 30 miles from Green Bay.

Dennis and younger brother David visited and were taken to Masonic Lodge functions, where they met Packers players, including legends Bart Starr and Ray Nitschke.

David converted to the Packers, whom he and his family root for today. Dennis cheers for the franchise on the other side of the I-15 from his high-rise, the Raiders.

HISTORIC HUMILIATION

Youmans, a Purdue graduate who cut his teeth writing about Chicago teams for The Times of Northwest Indiana, has been betting against the Bears more often than not, in game situations and on Under in their season-win total.

At the Westgate SuperBook in July, that projection was 7.5 victories, Under priced at +105.

He also took Over on Green Bay’s total of 7.5, at -120, plus he nabbed +500 on the Packers to win the NFC North.

“Green Bay has built its roster well through recent drafts. Aside from one fluke season with Matt Nagy, it’s been ugly in Chicago. The GM, coach and quarterback combinations have been mostly losing situations, and it’s obvious.”

Barton calls the team that has lost its last 12 games, and 15 of 16, “broken . . . awful . . . a complete and utter disaster.”

He can’t picture people betting solely against the Bears and on the Packers.

“But if they did, they are reading your article from a nice private jet somewhere. At this point, all I care about is the No. 1 pick.”

USC quarterback Caleb Williams is expected to be the big catch in the April draft. Ten days ago, BetMGM had -450 on Chicago making the playoffs. Wednesday, it moved to -1200 — risk $1,200 to win $100.

“This was supposed to be a tough, defensive-minded team that took on its coach’s personality,” Panayotovich says. “Yet, they’re the first team in NFL history to lose 12 consecutive games while allowing at least 25 points in each one.”

Yet, he hoped to find the Bears +14, at some book, against the Chiefs.

“I’ve made my fair share of Bears wagers since the Double Doink. And while there are more losses than wins, I’ll still pop ’em at the right numbers.”

WISE UNCLE DINO

Florida pro bettor John Murges was born and raised in Chicago, and we’ve chronicled how he made book for some connected figures in the 1980s.

The one anomaly to the Bears’ longtime losing ways arrived in 1985, when they went 15-3-1 against the spread and claimed the franchise’s lone Super Bowl.

“A highly experienced mentor told me, ‘We’ve never gotten hit like this in my career as a bookmaker.’ The boys were getting hammered by the bettors.”

Uncle Dino’s words, when he was 11 or 12, still stick with Murges.

“His exact words were, ‘Remember this, Johnny. If you bet with your heart in this town, you’re going to get killed.’ I do feel sorry for those people who bet on the Bears every week. 

“Unfortunately, for them, they didn’t have an Uncle Dino to warn them of the dangers of betting with their heart.”

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