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Professional bettor cashes in on Bucs after NFC Championship Game

Mark DeRosa, who once won $286,000 on Lamar Jackson for MVP, cashed in for $280K after the Bucs defeated the Packers.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) holds the George Halas Trophy after the Bucs beat the Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday in Green Bay.
Bucs quarterback Tom Brady (12) holds the George Halas Trophy after the Bucs beat the Packers in the NFC Championship Game Sunday in Green Bay. [ MATT LUDTKE | AP ]
Published Jan. 29, 2021|Updated Jan. 30, 2021

About 10 months ago, Mark DeRosa wasn’t even sure if the NFL would have a season. Now, he’s richer because of it.

The 48-year-old South Florida resident, who makes his living betting on sports, made multiple bets just before and after last year’s Super Bowl, including Tom Brady playing for the Bucs by Week 1 — earning DeRosa $45,000 — and Tampa Bay winning the NFC South.

On Sunday, another of De­Rosa’s gambles paid off.

With the Bucs’ 31-26 win at Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game, DeRosa said he was able to cash in on an $8,000 bet he placed a little over a year ago in Atlantic City, N.J., netting him $280,000.

“It was pretty exhausting,” he said. “The worst thing about my house is my TV runs 45 seconds behind (because he streams games via Hulu Live), so I can see what’s going on, on an ESPN or scoring app.”

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People were texting DeRosa throughout the game, he said. When the Bucs went up by 18 in the third quarter, some even jumped the gun to congratulate him on his big night. He said all he could think was, “please don’t do that.” DeRosa, as every gambler knows, didn’t want to jinx anything.

“I had a pretty big feeling of relief (on the final drive),” he said.

The celebration was short. DeRosa said he tries not to focus too long on what happened and, instead, prepares for what could happen next. He was up until 1 a.m. Monday and woke at 7 a.m., poring over box scores and other statistics, he said.

“I end up having every angle of the game covered, for betting purposes,” DeRosa said. “Not really much time to enjoy it.”

On Wednesday, he left for Atlantic City and said he plans to stay there through the weekend to place his bets on the Feb. 7 Super Bowl, when the full menu of 300-plus bets are released the Friday before the big game.

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The NFC title-game bet was his second biggest to date, De­Rosa said, behind the Lamar Jackson MVP wager he placed in 2019, which won him $286,000.

DeRosa said it’s “a really good feeling,” because he tweeted in March that he thought a conference championship could happen this season for the Bucs. Some people took his advice and even reached out later to say thanks.

“It’s nice when you’re able to win money for other people,” he said.

Though 2020 was unprecedented, DeRosa said he placed thousands of bets, as he would in any other year.

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Before the season began, De­Rosa said he saw the potential for the Bucs to make it to the NFC title game, even when their record was 7-5.

“I knew they were still a top-four team, if not one of the best teams,” he said. “I still feel like they have not played up to their potential. They’ve not really put a complete game together, other than when they blew out Las Vegas (45-20) and the Panthers a couple of times (31-17 and 46-23). They’ve not been efficient.”

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DeRosa’s said his Super Bowl plans are still up in the air. He has a flight booked for Atlantic City next weekend, but if he doesn’t see any added value in being there, he said he hopes to try to go to the game in Tampa.

“It’s one of those things, in a regular year I know I could get a ticket last minute,” he said. “But this year, I have no idea because tickets are really limited. Honestly, I don’t think I have anybody to go with, and it’s probably a long shot for me to go.”

DeRosa said he believes the game will come down to how Tampa Bay’s defense does against Kansas City’s offensive line. He thinks the Bucs have “a really good chance” in the game, despite being the underdog.

“For Tampa, the key’s going to be getting out to an early lead and putting pressure on (Patrick) Mahomes,” DeRosa said. “Even if they can’t sack him, make him uncomfortable. If they can get after him and make him a little erratic … they should have a chance.”

Contact Mari Faiello at mfaiello@tampabay.com. Follow @faiello_mari.

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