Game of Thrones Finale: How the Bookies Got It Right

Posted on: May 21, 2019, 10:41h. 

Last updated on: May 21, 2019, 10:41h.

[Warning: contains immediate spoilers] All hail Bran the Broken, First of His Name, King of the Andals and the First Men, Lord of the Six Kingdoms, and Protector of the Realm … etc, etc.

Game of Thrones
All we really needed to do was listen to the bookmakers, who predicted Bran’s unlikely ascent to becoming ruler of Westeros, Daenerys’ death at the hands of Jon, and other Game of Thrones plot twists. (Image: HBO)

Whatever your feelings about the Game of Thrones finale — and there are many who hated not only the finale but the entire final season — you have to marvel at the bookmakers’ ability to get the ending right.

The question of who would sit on the Iron Throne when the fantasy juggernaut ultimately drew to a halt has been preoccupying fans since days when Ned Stark’s head was still happily attached to his neck.

The answer, of course, was nobody, because the Iron Throne was reduced to molten metal by a grief-stricken dragon.

But if we rephrase the question to Who will be the ultimate ruler of Westeros? then the bookies had it spot on.

Seeing the Future

A spokesman for UK bookmaking giant William Hill told that the company took around $27,000 online — and “probably double that” in total — on this question alone during the final season, but suspended the market with two episodes still to run “because we didn’t want to give it away.”

It’s hardly the World Cup, but it’s a good amount for a novelty-betting market on one single aspect of a TV show — especially when you consider bookmakers would likely turn down any large bets on Game of Thrones because of the possibility of leaks. This is, after all, a betting proposition where the outcome is already known, albeit by just a few — and the show has always been leaky aplenty.

Bookmakers first made Bran a favorite for the throne midway through the last season when when a flurry of suspicious betting patterns prompted some to suspend the markets.

The youngest surviving Stark had previously been around 14/1 and seemed like an odd choice at the time, especially when you consider he didn’t appear at all in season 6. Some believe he’s still an odd choice, incidentally, including a group of disappointed fans who have signed a petition to have the entire final season rewritten.

Rumors, Bookies, and Broken Things

It’s not that the bookies necessarily had insider information themselves, it’s just that they closely monitor betting patterns, and a wave of customers suddenly attempting to make large wagers on an unlikely candidate will trigger alarm bells.

Nothing is guaranteed, of course, because even the most suspicious patterns could be the result of a false rumor, which can spread like the highly-explosive green liquid that is wildfire.

But oddsmakers will look for information beyond betting patterns too. Someone on Reddit, for example, appeared to be able to describe many of the plot twists in Season 8 before the season kicked off, including Bran’s destiny as ruler and Daenerys’ death at the hands of Jon Snow.

The Redditer’s predictions were just another bunch of half-baked fan theories amid a sea of wild speculation — until they all started coming true.