John P. Lopez — Beyond the angst: Mack’s big bets on verge of paying off for Houston

John P. Lopez — Beyond the angst: Mack’s big bets on verge of paying off for Houston

John P. Lopez

While Mattress Mack never was at risk of waking up in a gutter, this now-highly public sportsbook journey of his has been anything but feather pillows and Tempur-pedics.

“Had the Astros lost that first series against Seattle,” Mack said, raising his eyebrows forlornly, “I’m out $8 million. I mean … I’m dead in the water right there.”

The perception has been the exact opposite.

The perception, even among hardened gambling experts and sports analysts, has been that Mack perhaps paid a team of high-level mathematicians or relied on some kind of biometric super-secret algorithm to figure it all out. And all the while, Mack sat behind a solid wood desk, counting his millions.

The reality is Mack’s series of huge Astros bets came from the same place most of his life’s gambles have come from. His gut.

“I am a high-risk individual,” Mack said. “We are on the plus side now, but there were a lot of hurdles to get over to get here. This was not a risk-free application.”

Today, the risk has been mitigated almost to the final dollar. With the Astros, a mere four wins from winning the World Series, the promotion that led Mack – Jim McIngvale – to sportsbook windows across the country could not have worked out better for all involved. Mack’s Gallery Furniture has sold $75 million worth of furniture during the promotion, which ended Monday. Mack stands to win $75 million on the $10 million he has wagered. And the Astros and the City of Houston are on the brink of a giddiness that just may top the 2017 World Series fever.

“Today, everybody does win,” Mack said. “Here’s the thing I didn’t anticipate, though. I didn’t anticipate the Astros winning in four games against the Yankees. So when they did, the next day was the biggest day in our 42-year history. And it was in the middle of an absolute furniture recession. I figured we could carry the promotion on through Thursday because Monday was not a holiday like Columbus Day or Presidents Day. It was a back-to-work Monday. But we sold 20 percent more than we did Sunday. So in those two days, we sold about $15 million worth of mattresses just like that. We wanted to keep it going, but we had to cut it off.”

Just more than a week after wondering if he would take one of his worst gambling losses, as the Mariners appeared to be storming toward an ALDS Game One victory, today Mack is all about hoping the Astros finish the task. And we all walk away with smiles on our faces.

As he watched the final few at-bats of that Game One between the Astros and Mariners, Mack said he “definitely had a sinking feeling in my stomach.”

“I knew they had a chance, though; I’ve seen them do it before,” Mack said. “When Yordan hit that home run, to me, it was the biggest home run in playoff history. And that was a $5 million home run for us.”

After the Astros went on to close out the Mariners in a three-game sweep, more and more customers began streaming through the Gallery Furniture doors in search of new furniture and a chance to ultimately get their money back if the Astros go on to win the World Series.

The night the Astros were on the brink of sweeping the Yankees as well, Mack worked late as usual, then drove home with the radio off.

“Driving home, I was praying the Rosary for the Astros; I wasn’t listening to the baseball game,” he said, laughing. “I got home, my wife never has been interested in baseball, but she’s sweating the game. She was listening to it on the radio, and it sounded like a 1950s radio, with all these cracks and sizzle in it. So I went to sleep. She asked me if I was going to stay up for the game, and I said, ‘I can’t affect the outcome.’”

A while later, she woke Mack up to tell him the Astros won.

“I was sleeping like a baby,” Mack said, smiling, “because I have a great mattress.”

So, too, do many happy customers. Now, with everything looking so promising for the Astros, Mack, and customers, the same sportsbooks that took Mack’s Astros bets are offering him bets to hedge the other way. In other words, they are offering him favorable odds to bet on the Philadelphia Phillies – just in case he wants to win back some of that $10 million he wagered should the Astros lose.

“When I got that text, I sent back the reply: ‘Never in a 1,000 years,” Mack said. “Go Astros!’”

The only question left now: What’s next? As always, Mack is thinking big. He’s thinking high risk. He’s thinking global, you might say.

“We’re talking about the biggest event in the world,” Mack said. “We want to do a promotion that if the USA and Mexico both make it out of their groups and into the next round of the World Cup, you get your money back. We’re working with some of our friends at Caesars and some of the other guys to try to get a good price on that. We want to give customers an offer to buy some more furniture and get it free if the Mexico and USA parlay gets through. I’ve got to be honest, all these crazy, wacky promotions, our team members love them. The customers love them. And it keeps me much younger than my 71 years would attest to.”

Related Posts:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *