Brexit. Donald Trump. Leicester City. Danny Willett. Ireland beating the All Blacks. 2016 was the year where pollsters got it wrong, underdogs beat the odds and nothing seemed impossible – for better or worse.

That unpredictable Brexit vote

On the political front, Brexit defied bookmakers and pollsters alike. The chances of Britain leaving the EU were long with all the major bookmakers in the UK as Britons headed to the polls on 23 June. Ladbrokes offered odds of 5/1 (meaning a £1 bet would return £6) on a Brexit compared with 4/1 and 9/2 earlier in the day, while odds on Britain remaining within the union shortened from 1/3 to 1/8.

"Most of the actual bets are for Leave, most of the money is for Remain – around 85% of all the money we've taken this morning and overnight is for Remain," Matthew Shaddick, head of political betting for Ladbrokes, told IBTimes UK on the day of the vote.

"There was a big a move first thing this morning, anticipating good polling news for Remain."

Things turned out very different, as the Leave campaign secured a 52% to 48% win, which saw David Cameron resigning, while Nigel Farage and Boris Johnson celebrated triumphantly.

Most pollsters, meanwhile, endured a torrid of time of their own. The final opinion poll from Ipsos Mori put Remain on 52% and Leave on 48%, while YouGov had the former ahead 51% to 49% and a poll from the NatCen Social Research predicted 53% of Britons would vote to remain in the EU.

Trump's triumph

The lesson of Brexit was not heeded, and pollsters and bookies were left red-faced once more just a couple of months later, as Donald Trump clinched a surprise victory to beat Hilary Clinton in the race to the White House.

Paddy Power lost approximately £800,000 after wrongly calling the election in Clinton's favour weeks before polling day. If it was a year to forget in politics, bookies had little succour as far as sports were concerned.

Unsporting odds

William Hill waved goodbye £2.2m as it paid out on the biggest single-event loss in British bookmaking history, as Claudio Ranieri's Leicester City lifted the club's first Premier League title. The loss was ten times worse than the previous worst result. This was despite taking only 25 bets on the Foxes to win the league at the start of the season, when the odds on Jamie Vardy and pals achieving what appeared an impossible dream were as long as 5,000/1.

Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago
Donald Trump upset the odds to succeed Barack Obama at the White House. Reuters

Meanwhile, Danny Willett became the first Englishman in 17 years and only the second in history to don the prestigious Green Jacket after winning the Augusta Masters in April. That he did so by defeating overwhelming favourite Jordan Spieth was impressive enough, notwithstanding the Texan's implosion on the 12th hole, but the Yorkshireman's success was even more incredible as he was ranked a 60/1 outsider.

Willett's triumph saw Paddy Power pay out £23,000 on a lucky punter who had placed a £300 bet each way on the Sheffield-born golfer before the star of the tournament. Things did not turn quite so positively for the New Zealander who bet NZD$100,000 (£56,000) on the All Blacks overcoming Ireland in Chicago in November.

The reigning world champions arrived to the game on the back of a record 18-Test winning streak, but were upset by 10-1 outsiders Ireland, who recorded their first win against the All Blacks in their history.

If upsets hurt bookmakers, favourites living up to their name inflicted damage just as severe. In March, bookies endured the worst Cheltenham Festival in history, paying out a record £60m, as three of the four favourites from Willie Mullins' stable stormed home in emphatic fashion on day one.

William Hill paid out £2m that day and things could have been even bleaker for the bookies, had firm favourite Cue Card not unseated just three fences from the end of Gold Cup. Betfred avoided a £1m payout on the horse, who had won the first two legs of the Stayers Chase Triple Crown.

Bring on 2017

So, with 2016 being arguably the most unpredictable year in living memory, what can we expect over the next 12 months?

Odds on Donald Trump failing to see out his first year in charge are 2/1 with Betfred, while Nigel Farage is 7/1 to become the next UK ambassador to the US.

In the UK, meanwhile, a number of bookmakers have Boris Johnson as the 5/1 favourite to replace Theresa May as the leader of the Conservative Party, while the same odds are available on Jeremy Corbyn to become the next occupier of Number 10.

Leicester probably won't repeat their Premier League exploits but they remain 50/1 to win the Champions League this season, while the British and Irish Lions are 4/1 to win their first series in New Zealand since 1971.

And if you think that's impossible, remember that a £10 treble on Leicester City before the start of the football season, and Brexit and Trump victories at the height of their election night outsiderness, would have returned £7,701,530. If only bookmakers didn't cap their payouts at £2m.....