Three weeks into the NFL season, Brian Wood had seen enough. The 34-year-old entrepreneur from New Jersey knew what he wanted to do. He just needed to figure out how.
"I thought about the best way to bet on the Jets being bad," Wood said, with a chuckle.
He considered betting on the Jets to go 0-16, a popular prop bet at sportsbooks, but instead found what he believed was a better option. FanDuel was offering odds on which week the Jets would win their first game, something Wood didn't expect to happen until late in the season, if at all.
At 11:32 a.m. ET on Sept. 26, Wood bet $100 on the Jets winning their first game in Weeks 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16 and 17. The odds on his seven $100 bets ranged from 23-1 for a win in Week 12 against the Dolphins, to 180-1 for a win over the Patriots in Week 17.
Entering a Week 13 home game against the Raiders, the Jets had done their part and remained winless. Wood had already padded his bankroll by betting against the Jets versus the Dolphins twice, and now had the Jets at 60-1 odds to beat the Raiders for their first win.
To hedge his bet, he placed two money-line wagers totaling $7,185 on the heavily favored Raiders to win the game outright at -330. If Las Vegas won, he would win $1,459 from his money-line wagers, and the rest of his Jets' first win bets would still be alive. If the Jets sprung the upset, he'd win $6,000 from his first-win bet, but lose the money he risked on the Raiders.
In a back-and-forth game, the Jets rallied to take a 28-24 lead late in the fourth quarter. With five seconds remaining, Raiders quarterback Derek Carr threw a last-gasp, 46-yard touchdown pass to Henry Ruggs III for a game-winning touchdown.
"The Raiders about gave me a heart attack," Wood said. "I picked my girlfriend up and ran around the room."
After a blowout loss at Seattle in Week 14, the Jets headed to Los Angeles to take on the Rams as 17-point underdogs. Wood had the Jets at 120-1 to get their first win here -- and they did, becoming only the 11th NFL underdog of 17 or more points to win a game straight-up since 1970.
Wood had just won $12,000 from one of his $100 bets, plus the approximately $5,247.13 he won by betting on the Jets' opponents. His net profit: $16,647.13. Yet he barely celebrated. Wood said he felt numb at that point, and his eyes were glued to the NFL RedZone channel. Something even bigger was happening. His entry in the DraftKings Pro Football Pick 'em National Championship, with a $1 million first prize, was moving into first place.
"There were four games that we needed to go a certain way, and we were losing all of them," Wood said. "Then, all the teams we needed to cover came back and covered. We went from probably being in third, fourth or fifth going into the last week into first."
Wood, who has a degree from Harvard Law School, is founder and CEO of Panodime, an app designed to "make decision-making easy." Wood says Panodime is slated to launch in the coming months. In the meantime, he has some big decisions to make.
DraftKings' pick 'em contest has 689 entries across three states (New Jersey, West Virginia and New Hampshire). Entering Week 16, the final week of the contest, Wood's entry "bwood12" can likely lock up the $1 million first prize by going 4-1 with the mandatory five picks. As of Wednesday, he was still working through his selections and examining options for what he says would be "life-changing money."
"If it ends up coming down to one game, it's going to be crazy, because I don't have enough liquid capital to hedge at a certain point," Wood said. "That's going to be a really uncomfortable position if it comes down to having $750K on the Monday night game. There's nothing I can do at some point. I just have to hope it goes my way.
"There's going to be a lot of sweating this weekend. I've never had this much sweat on a game," he added. "It's been a really good sports betting year for me."