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Panthers punt was my palpable error – Best and worst sports bets ever

Article, Betting Strategies, Editorial, Featured | Article posted on May 30th, 2013

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Panthers punt was my palpable error -

Best and worst sports bets ever




Every week, bookmaker and former Racing Post chief sports betting writer Mark Worwood takes you inside the wagering industry with tales of the best and worst bets of all time.



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Every punter dreams of getting on at the wrong odds and not having their bet cancelled under what is known in the bookmaking business as the palpable error rule, which protects betting companies from obvious mistakes.

Stan James made one such glaring error on a National Rugby League game in May 1999 and, even 14 years on, I still wish that I had not spotted its major inputting rick and jumped on the telephone – online betting was its infancy – to bet.

As Racing Post’s rugby league betting journalist, I kept a close eye on the National Rugby League competition from the United Kingdom, particularly as Sky Sports was starting to broadcast more than just State of Origin matches into the country. Most Saturdays Sky Sports would screen a live game and on this Saturday it was Western Suburbs versus Penrith.

Even though it was something of a local derby, it was not a blockbuster clash. Going into Round 12 of the 1999 National Rugby League season, the Magpies were one point and one rung off the foot of the 17-team ladder, while the Panthers from further north in Sydney’s west were in fourth position. On paper, it looked like a fait accompli for the high flyers.

I would not have given the game more than a moment’s thought had Stan James not posted 1-6 Western Suburbs, 7-2 Penrith and 16-1 draw on one of its teletext pages. Not only had Stan James got the match betting market the wrong way round but also there were a couple of other factors favouring the Panthers. First, the game was taking place at Parramatta Stadium so the Magpies had given up home advantage. And second, the reverse fixture two months earlier had seen Penrith thrash Western Suburbs 60-6. The 54-point win was, at the time, the biggest in the history of the Panthers.

The Magpies were in absolutely appalling form – they had won only one of their last 19 National Rugby League matches and their solitary victory had been by just a two-point margin – so I lumped on Penrith and crossed my fingers that Stan James would not void my bet on the sure-thing Panthers.

I tuned in to the Sky Sports broadcast and former Western Suburbs hooker Chris Warren – son of legendary Australian commentator Ray – was on host duties in its London studio. Rabbits junior was talking up the Magpies but I thought nothing of it. After all, Warren played five first-grade games for them, scoring a try on debut, so he was always going to be positive in spite of negative statistics.

Even when Warren introduced the Australian feed and I saw that it was bucketing down at Parramatta Stadium I did not worry. Sure, the rain would prevent Penrith from putting 60 points on Western Suburbs again but the Panthers would have too much class for the Magpies. I was wrong. Oh so wrong.

The match was tortuous to watch. Penrith made a bunch of basic errors and conspired to lose 6-7 to Western Suburbs, with Magpies five-eighth Leo Dynevor kicking the one and only field goal of his 46-game career to seal the deal. I went back to bed, pulled the blankets over my head and did not move for several hours. Stan James did not cancel my bet and, four days later, Manchester United’s two injury-time goals in Barcelona killed my 14-1 bet on Bayern Munchen winning the UEFA Champions League. It was a bad week.

What is the best bet that you have ever placed? And what is the bet that you regret most?

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