Marco Piemonte has come a long way since betting $2 a hand on card games with his high school friends.
On Monday, he has a chance to bring home more than $1.2 million. All he needs is something that has not happened in 15 years – a Georgia win over Alabama.
“This will by far be my largest moment in sports betting, for sure,” he said.
Piemonte, a 32-year-old car dealer from Elmhurst, Ill., went from betting pocket change to hundreds to tens of thousands of dollars on sports. Between games, parlays and live betting, he has brought in some tremendous gambling payouts. Just three months ago, he won more than $1.3 million after putting $33,000 on a four-leg parlay that was capped off by a Cleveland Browns win over the Denver Broncos on Oct. 21.
Now, Piemonte is in the midst of another high stakes parlay, this one with a $30,000 wager and five legs.
If the odds are any indication, the toughest part of Piemonte’s five-leg parlay is behind him. The Cincinnati Bengals were +330 underdogs during their Week 17 contest against the Kansas City Chiefs but pulled off an upset thanks to a game-winning field goal as time expired. He got more help that same day from the Arizona Cardinals, who were listed as +240 underdogs to beat the Dallas Cowboys and went on to win 25-22.
The other two legs that Piemonte has hit on so far were considerable favorites. He picked his own line when the Los Angeles Rams visited the shorthanded Baltimore Ravens, getting the Rams at +9.5 for -375 odds. That line paid dividends as the Rams trailed for the first 59 minutes of the game before scoring a go-ahead touchdown with 57 seconds left in regulation. The other favorite that came through for Piemonte was the Los Angeles Chargers (-351), who dominated the Denver Broncos in Week 17 by a final score of 34-13.
While Piemonte is a gambling veteran, this parlay is one of his first with PointsBet. The overwhelming payout in this particular parlay has escalated the relationship between client and sportsbook.
“It kind of went zero to 100, and then here we are,” Piemonte said. “I bet you they regret signing me up at this point. They’re sweating a big one.”
As far as this particular parlay, “here we are” sums up PointsBet’s perspective.
“For the most part, you look at a bet like that and you just don’t think it’s going to win because there’s so many things that have to go right, but here we are,” said Jay Croucher, the director of trading at PointsBet.
Letting it ride on the Bulldogs
As if a $1.2-million payout for Georgia beating Alabama wasn’t enough, Piemonte upped the ante with another $1.16 million parlay. The six-leg parlay involved Alabama covering 13.5 points against the Bulldogs, so a Georgia win of 13 points or less could have paid out $2.36 million for Piemonte. The second parlay was cut short when the Philadelphia Eagles lost to the Cowboys by a score of 51-26 on Saturday.
Piemonte has no other plans to hedge on the game and intends to let the original $30,000 ticket ride Monday night.
Diving further into the College Football Playoff National Championship, Piemonte has history with both teams involved.
On the one hand, Georgia has pulled through for Piemonte. His first big bet with PointsBet was a $300,000 gamble on the Bulldogs to beat Michigan in the Orange Bowl on Dec. 31. Piemonte came away with $100,000 as Georgia cruised to a 34-11 win, and he used that money to create his current parlay.
On the other side, Nick Saban and Alabama crushed both Ohio State and Piemonte in last year’s national championship. Piemonte put a combined $250,000 on the Buckeyes, but the Crimson Tide rolled to a 52-24 victory that was an unfortunate glimpse of things to come for his hometown NFL team.
“It was an absolute massacre,” he said. “Justin Fields was running around worse than he was during the Bears season this year. That was a tough one to swallow.”
Georgia and Alabama National Championship history
Georgia and Alabama also have history with one another going into Monday’s title game. Along with their matchup in the 2018 CFP National Championship, the two teams met up in this year’s SEC Championship Game with Alabama winning 41-24. Despite his confidence in Georgia all season, he went all in on Alabama for the conference championship game.
“I know at the end of the day Alabama had something to play for there,” he said. “If Georgia lost that game, they were not going to miss out on the College Football Playoff.”
Georgia, the No. 1 team in the country at the time, entered that matchup as a 6.5-point favorite. The 17-point loss to the Crimson Tide one month ago brought the Bulldogs down to three-point favorites for the national title game, which is seen as a significant but respectable dropoff.
“That’s not something that you typically see, that one game can move a line 3.5 points in the rematch in such a short period of time,” Croucher said. “So we think that we have made the adjustment to give Alabama that additional respect, but when you look at the season-long sample, we still think that Georgia is the better team.”
With 37 days in between matchups, both Croucher and Piemonte foresee the Bulldogs coming through and capping off a successful parlay.
“The reason that we’ve made Georgia -145 favorites, we think they are the most likely team to win,” Croucher said. “And Marco doesn’t need them to cover three – he just needs them to win. And I suspect that he’ll have a payout and a pretty big sum of money in his account.”
“I just can’t see [Georgia] getting slapped twice,” Piemonte said. “When your big brother slaps you once, and then you get a little bit of time to grow, you’re going to come back and slap him.”
Looking forward, Piemonte has his sights set on a landmark figure: $5 million. He’s told his friends he will someday hit a parlay that high, and if his previous predictions are any indications, the payout is certainly within reach.
“Any time I’ve ever told my friends I’m going to do something, I always do it,” he said. “When you’re 5-foot-8 and you’re Italian, you’ve got to compensate in some way, and it’s always about winning. And I’m gonna keep winning.”
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