The lesson of “Game of Thrones” is that you should trust betting odds

The smart money knew.
The smart money knew.
Image: Reuters/Sergio Flores
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This post contains spoilers.

Before the eighth and final season of Game of Thrones was released, it became a popular parlor game to try to guess who would finally sit on the Iron Throne, ruling the land of Westeros.

It turns out it was right there in front of us. We just had to follow the gamblers.

According to several betting sites, Bran Stark had by far the best chance of becoming ruler at the end of the show’s run. The popular MyBookie had Bran’s odds of ruling at -130 on March 31, 2019, the equivalent of a 57% chance (In betting terms, to win $10 you have to put $13 dollars on the line.)

At the start of the season, Bran becoming king would have been a surprise for many viewers. Major protagonists who had received more screen time, such as Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen, would have seemed more likely (they had the second and third best odds respectively). Bran did not even appear in the fifth season.

In early March 2019, Bran’s chances on betting markets were not so good. Betway had him at +1,400 odds, equivalent to a chance of less than 7%. Then a large number of bets were made on Bran, and the site chose to suspend betting on who would rule Westeros, as it found those bets suspicious.

The best explanation for the accurate odds on Bran was that the outcome was leaked. Before the season began, a Reddit user was able to describe the ending in almost exact detail.  This another argument against allowing people to gamble on an outcome already known to some people, like the results of a TV show. It is an unusually easy opportunity for insiders to make money at the expense of a less-knowledgable general public.