From the most feared sport’s bettor in the world to prison, the story of Billy Walters | 10 PEOPLE WHO GOT RICH ON SPORTS BETTING

Billy “The Great White Shark” Walters

Walters making his way into court. Source: Bloomberg

Walters making his way into court. Source: Bloomberg

Billy Walters has been described by odds-makers in Nevada as a Great White Shark, the most dangerous and feared sports bettor in the world. 

For four decades, Walters amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in sports betting profits, mostly on American Football and Basketball.

He simply loves betting, one time he won $400k on a hole in golf, and $1m on a round.

His story is quite incredible when you take into account that his family was dirt poor and his mother an alcoholic.

Making $5k at the age of fifteen

Billy’s dad was a professional poker player and his uncle a professional bettor, so by the age of nine, when he made his first proper bet, it was no real surprise. 

Six years later and at the age of fifteen, Walters made $5k playing Pool.

But he wasn’t always a winner, recounting at least fifteen times where he came home to tell one of his two previous wives they’d have to move after losing his home on a bet. 

Billy has sure made a lot of money on the NFL!

Billy has sure made a lot of money on the NFL!

How Billy’s syndicate started and operated

Billy’s success began when he moved to Las Vegas, where set up his own betting syndicate, known as ACME Group Trading.

His information comes from mathematicians who are experts in analysing the sport he’s betting on. 

For example, he has a guy on the East Coast known as ‘The Reader’, who scans websites, blogs, newspapers and Twitter for information, which is then plugged into a computer with previous data.

All this data comes together with the assistance of a few algorithms and probability theories, eventually spitting out a line for the two teams.

He will then hammer the line to where he wants it, placing bets of $75k on a team to move the line one way, just so he can smash the other team’s with a bet of $250k!

Walters also uses anonymous people, one of them referred to as ‘Wolfman’, to place his bets for him.

Most days he’ll normally have $2m at risk which sounds ludicrous, but he only had one losing year in over four decades.

Reports suggest that he averages $15m in profit every year from betting on sports, which has led to a number of lawsuits against him. 

He also made his money through trading on the NBA.

He also made his money through trading on the NBA.

From Nevada’s most dangerous bettor to prison

Great speculation surrounded Billy’s success and from the mid-1980’s until 2002, he and some of his associates faced several indictments for money laundering, conspiracy and illegal transmission of wagering information.

Walter’s and his co-defendants were acquitted of all of the above, but in 2014 he faced fresh allegations of insider trading, leading to five-year prison sentence in 2017.

How he ended up in prison (feat. Phil Mickelson)

Essentially, the FBI discovered a friendship between Dean Food’s chairman Thomas Davis and Billy Walters (which Walters had shares in).

Famous golfer Phil Mickelson played a part in Billy going to prison.

Famous golfer Phil Mickelson played a part in Billy going to prison.

More so, famous golfer, Phil Mickelson, was in serious debt to Walters after a series of losing bets.

The allegations were that Walters gave Mickelson insider knowledge on Dean Food’s stocks and a way of making a quick profit to pay him back, to which he did after the shares sky-rocketed.

Thomas Davis pleaded guilty to the charge in exchange for a two year prison sentence, even though for the 21 months previous, Davis had maintained his innocence in interviews with the government and in sworn testimony, saying that he had never tipped Walters.

Leaving the game but still swinging

Billy has resided in a white-collar prison in Florida Panhandle for two years now, and has recently stated that his gambling career is over after earning himself an estimated worth of $200m.

He had an appeal thrown out in December, 2018, after Walters’ attorneys believed his conviction was unconstitutionally tainted by several leaks from an FBI agent before his trial.

Worst case scenario, Billy is scheduled to be released from prison on February 14, 2022, at the age of 75.

Check out our other articles in the 10 People Who Got Rich On Sports Betting series:

Want to read about some of our customers who are on their way to becoming professional sports bettors too? Take a look at some of these videos/articles:

  1. My Value Betting Journey from 1k to 2k

  2. Matias Interview - from 5k to 20k

  3. Jonas Gjelstad Documentary Series - from 10k to 1m

Source: Source: Bloomberg

The card-counter who was nearly killed by a casino | 10 PEOPLE WHO GOT RICH ON SPORTS BETTING

Edward Thorp

The famous card-counter, Edward Thorp. Source: Mark Boster Los Angles Times

The famous card-counter, Edward Thorp. Source: Mark Boster Los Angles Times

Although he doesn’t fit the theme of a sports bettor, it would be rude not to include betting pioneer, Edward Thorp, in our article series.

As mentioned in our article on Bill Benter, Edward Thorp was made famous through his book Beat the Dealer.

Thorp brought the phenomenon of card counting to light when his book was released in 1962, selling over 700,000 copies and making it onto the New York Times Bestsellers list. 

Independant and curious

With his father involved in World War II and his mother working to make ends meet, Thorp found himself on his lonesome through a large proportion of his childhood.

Unlike other children, this didn’t lead to Thorp rebelling and getting into trouble, it led to the opposite, spending time playing chess and reading books.

He also dabbled in a few childhood experiments, attempting to fly using large balloons and setting off home-made explosives.

His love of science brought him to university, where he decided to study mathematics and physics, earning a doctorate in both fields.

The card-counter who was nearly killed by a casino _ 10 PEOPLE WHO GOT RICH ON SPORTS BETTING Photos 2 blackjack.jpeg

From maths and science to beating casinos

Throughout his spare time at university, Ed began reading statistical journals on Blackjack strategy and observing various games.

After a trip to Vegas, Thorp left convinced that he had a strategy that could beat the system.

His two main tools were an old-school IBM computer and the Kelly criterion, a formula that determines the ideal size of wagers. 

He created a card-counting system that centred on one deck of cards, but nowadays, his system is largely ineffective as casinos use multiple decks of cards.

Nonetheless, to summarise his system simply, he reduced the houses edge by placing larger wagers when he had a greater chance of achieving a valuable hand.

As he had counted the cards since the fresh deck had been dealt, he was able to know when a hand would be more likely to be valuable.

This might sound confusing and hard to implement for some, but for a genius mathematician it wasn’t.

A Nevada casino tried killing Thorp!

A Nevada casino tried killing Thorp!

The casinos started spiking his drinks and car

After receiving financial backing, Thorp headed to Reno, Nevada with his system, leading to a weekend where he turned $10k into $21k. 

His next stop was Vegas, and after plenty of early success he was starting to attract unwanted attention, especially after the release of his book.

He stated the following in his latest book, A Man for All Markets;

I was sitting at a baccarat table and they offered me coffee with cream and sugar. I drank the coffee and before long my pupils dilated and I could no longer count the cards. On the fourth night, they offered me coffee again. I put just one drop on my tongue and it tasted like baking soda. "What could one drop do?" I thought. It was enough to take me out again. They kicked out my two team members, who were told not to come back. On our final night, we went to a different casino, The Sands, where I set the win rate at $1000 an hour. After two and a half hours, they came in with a gigantic security guard and told us to leave.

“As I drove home the next day, my accelerator pedal locked to the floor and the brake wouldn't control the car. We got up to about 80 miles per hour. I downshifted to first gear, turned off the key, pushed hard on the brake, and set the emergency brake, all of which slowed the car down. We pulled over and popped the hood when somebody came by who knew a lot about cars. He looked at the accelerator linkage and said that it had been changed in a way he'd never seen.”

Thorp has also been successful on Wall Street.

Thorp has also been successful on Wall Street.

From disguises to the stock market

After the success of Beat the Dealer, Thorp tried wearing disguises to casinos, but even that didn’t prove effective for too long, prompting a shift to the Wall Street world.

He wondered whether his methods at casinos could be transferred to giving him an edge in the stock market.

Funny enough they could, making a 15.1% return on his hedge fund over nineteen years and his personal investments yielded a 20% average return over 28.5 years.

He believed betting and investing shared some key traits, most importantly being that if you measure the probabilities of outcomes and then vary the size of your bets accordingly, you can be very successful.

Nowadays, the multi-millionaire spends his time in semi-retirement after being inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2002.

Check out our other articles in the 10 People Who Got Rich On Sports Betting series:

Want to read about some of our customers who are on their way to becoming professional sports bettors too? Take a look at some of these videos/articles:

  1. My Value Betting Journey from 1k to 2k

  2. Matias Interview - from 5k to 20k

  3. Jonas Gjelstad Documentary Series - from 10k to 1m

How To Go From Winning Poker Player To Profitable Sports Bettor

Beating the Poker markets have become tougher in recent years due to the amount of educational content surrounding the topic. Winning has now become trickier as not only do you have to beat the other players, but you also have to beat the house. Here is a two-part video series to help you make the transition from poker player to sports bettor.

Part 1

This video explains how you can go from playing professional poker to professional sports betting. Including key poker and sports betting concepts such as the Long Run, Expected Value, Variance, The Law of Large Numbers, Zero Sum Game and The Key To Winning in Poker.

Part 2

Now that you understand some of the key concepts in both poker and sports betting, Marius runs you through how you can find edges over bookmakers in sports betting.

Check out all our content on Jonas Gjelstad here, a former poker player who made the transition to a professional sports bettor.

The Horse Racing millionaire who left $118M in Hong Kong | 10 PEOPLE WHO GOT RICH ON SPORTS BETTING

Bill Benter

A young Bill Benter. Source: Bill Benter

A young Bill Benter. Source: Bill Benter

Bill Benter is one of only a few who has managed to master the world of betting on Horse Racing. 

In the mid-1980’s, Benter produced an algorithm to beat Hong Kong Horse Racing, and over thirty years later, Bill has amassed nearly $1 US billion. 

For a sport which can produce hundreds and thousands of variables per race, from what a horse ate for breakfast to jockey’s falling off, his success is phenomenal. 

Although he produced this game-changing software for Hong Kong Horse Racing, that’s not where it began for Benter.

Benter lived the life of a Vegas card-counter for a while.

Benter lived the life of a Vegas card-counter for a while.

From math nerd to card counter

At the age of 22, after spending years travelling throughout Europe and Africa, Benter quit university and moved to Vegas.

He had recently read Beat the Dealer by Edward Thorp, who was famously known for inventing card counting.

Bill was your typical mathematics nerd and Thorp’s book captured his imagination, leading to a lot of time at the casino.

Soon after moving to Vegas, Benter was approached by Alan Woods, the leader of an Australian card-counting team.

Six weeks later, he was working for Woods making roughly $80k a year counting cards.

This came to an abrupt end in 1984, when himself, Woods and other co-workers were blacklisted from a range of casinos in Vegas. 

Their notoriety around Vegas meant their time in the desert was over, but little did Benter know, this was the start of something very promising. 

Happy Valley Racecourse in Hong Kong.

Happy Valley Racecourse in Hong Kong.

From the casino to the track

After nine months of studying Horse Racing, from academic papers to betting systems, Bill and Woods moved to Hong Kong, the home of Horse Racing betting.

Twice a week, they would study the racing form, correcting Benter’s algorithm, which would spit out bizarre predictions at times. 

They lost $120k in their first year, leading to a dispute between the pair regarding ownership.

Woods had more money than Bill and wanted 90% of the business, Bill said “no way” and the two went their separate ways.

Developing the algorithm

Benter was short of money so he went back to card counting, this time in Atlantic City, where he managed his own team and made a few hundred thousand dollars in two years, whilst developing his Horse Racing model.

In 1988, Bill made his return to Hong Kong, having created an algorithm with twenty Horse Racing variables, which would spit out what he believed were the true odds of a horse. 

In other words, if a bookmaker had a horse at odds of 3.50, but his model believed the horse should be 2.80, he would bet on that edge.

His theory was that over time, his possibility of bad luck would diminish the more volume he betted

After his first year back in Hong Kong, Benter had won $600k, which he put down to adding in the variable of rest days between races for horses.

But that wasn’t his greatest innovation

Bill believes the greatest change to his model was made in 1990, when the Hong Kong Jockey Club made their betting odds publicly available.

Instead of before where he made his own odds from scratch, he used the clubs’ odds as a starting point and further refined them with his algorithm; the next year he made $3 million.

Skip to 1997 and Benter’s team endured a huge winning season, profiting more than $50 million, but that resulted in him losing his right to bet through computers and phones.

Bill then formulated a new strategy, getting a heap of betting slips, designing a printing system that would turn those blank slips into betting slips with the relevant boxes marked, and then running to a betting terminal to feed his tickets into.

Benter made some serious money on Horse Racing.

Benter made some serious money on Horse Racing.

Leaving $118 million on the table

His new system ran into the 2000’s, by now his algorithm accounted for over 120 variables per horse, but logistically, his system was a true grind.

He had one final bet on the Triple Trio in 2001 (picking the first three horses in three different races) and decided that if he won he would leave the ticket unclaimed, to which Club policy was to send the money to a charity. 

Benter’s bet won, meaning he would leave $118 million unclaimed in Hong Kong!

What does Bill do now?

It’s been over three decades since Benter arrived in Hong Kong, but he still bets on horses all around the world and is amazed he still wins.

His algorithm is always being tinkered with, the latest adjustment accounting for how much a horse’s performance changes with a new trainer.

He spends a lot of time as a philanthropist now, starting the Benter Foundation which supports health, education and the arts. 

Check out our other articles in the 10 People Who Got Rich On Sports Betting series:

Want to read about some of our customers who are on their way to becoming professional sports bettors too? Take a look at some of these videos/articles:

  1. My Value Betting Journey from 1k to 2k

  2. Matias Interview - from 5k to 20k

  3. Jonas Gjelstad Documentary Series - from 10k to 1m

NBA's greatest ever bettor Haralabos Voulgaris, from pro bettor to Mavericks director | 10 PEOPLE WHO GOT RICH ON SPORTS BETTING

Haralabos ‘Bob’ Voulgaris

Bob has played a bit of poker in his time too. Credit: Jayne Furman

Bob has played a bit of poker in his time too. Credit: Jayne Furman

From the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s, Haralabos Voulgaris (a.k.a. Bob), made betting look easy, exploiting inaccurate odds on NBA points totals.

For five years, Bob made an absurd amount of money with a winning rate of almost 70% at a point in time. 

He found a flaw in the bookies prices where the total points for the first and second half of NBA games were simply half of the predicated game total.

Traditionally in any game of Basketball, more points are scored in the second half as teams use more fouls and time-outs, which results in further possessions and higher scores. 

Bob would take advantage of this edge, taking overs in the second half, especially when coaches Eddie Jordan, Byron Scott and Jerry Sloan were in action.

He read those coach’s every move, for him it was so easy it was a joke and it resulted in him staking over $1m USD on any given day of NBA fixtures. 

Bob made all of his sports betting fortunes from Basketball.

Bob made all of his sports betting fortunes from Basketball.

Losing a third of his bankroll in one month

After five years of success, Bob hit the wall in 2004 where he went on a long run of losses, losing a third of his bankroll in one month.

As his losses continued into the next season, he knew he had to change his strategy if he was to become successful again, and he did just that.

He employed a more grinding style of betting, using quantitative data to make smaller bets on edges over a longer amount of time.

Creating a game-changing model

Bob also took some time off betting and after trialling six different people he found a math prodigy who remains anonymous, but is more commonly known as ‘The Whiz’.

Together they built a model called Ewing, an algorithm that simulates a game of basketball between any two teams and creates a projected score.

After years of testing and adjusting Ewing, Bob returned to the betting arena in 2009 and crushed the second half of the NBA season.

Voulgaris’ confidence in his model has only increased since then, and has described Ewing as the “greatest thing ever when it comes to sports betting.”

Bob’s first dabble in the NBA

Soon after announcing Ewing’s profound success, Bob then took a break from betting to work as an advisor on player trades for an anonymous NBA franchise.

Arrogantly, after spending so much time watching and analysing Basketball, Bob believed he could put together a better squad than any general manager in the league.

Voulgaris at another Poker event. Credit: Danny Maxwell

Voulgaris at another Poker event. Credit: Danny Maxwell

Back to professional betting

Five months later and his time in the NBA was over, resulting in Voulgaris returning to the betting arena after he felt a sense of exclusion by the co-owner of the franchise.

Bob’s betting success continued through the use of Ewing, but he faced the same problem as some sharps face, the sustainability of his edge.

His ROI was slowly decreasing year on year, meaning he would have to take an even higher volume approach to his betting, but he felt he was delaying the inevitable. 

Bob is now working for the Dallas Mavericks.

Bob is now working for the Dallas Mavericks.

From maverick bettor to Maverick Director

As time went on Bobs’ goals changed, especially after seeing Tony Bloom take over EPL side Brighton FC.

Even though Bob has the aspiration to own a basketball team, he took on the role of Director of Quantitative Research and Development for the Dallas Mavericks in 2018.

Another chapter in the life of Bob, who is now working for Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban, in the hope of finding a statistical edge for the NBA franchise. 

Check out our other articles in the 10 People Who Got Rich On Sports Betting series:

Want to read about some of our customers who are on their way to becoming professional sports bettors too? Take a look at some of these videos/articles:

  1. My Value Betting Journey from 1k to 2k

  2. Matias Interview - from 5k to 20k

  3. Jonas Gjelstad Documentary Series - from 10k to 1m

10 PEOPLE WHO GOT RICH ON SPORTS BETTING

Anyone who loves to place a few bets on the weekend has dreamed of turning their hobby into a full-time job. Even more so, turning betting as a full-time job into making millions of dollars, or even billions! For some people, this dream has turned into a reality and we want to tell you all about them. Over ten articles, we are compiling a list of ten people who got seriously rich from sports betting!

Bloom is the owner of EPL side Brighton FC.

Bloom is the owner of EPL side Brighton FC.

Article 1: Tony ‘Lizard’ Bloom

Arguably the UK’s most notorious sports bettor, Tony Bloom, is the owner of Starlizard, a company that describes itself as a betting consultancy.

Starlizard is also the sole adviser for Bloom’s betting syndicate who, every weekend, have £1 million riding on any given football game.

This makes Starlizard the biggest betting syndicate in Britain and it is believed they make roughly £100 million a year, but that would be an average year.

Read more here.

Benham (left) is the owner of Championship side Brentford FC.

Benham (left) is the owner of Championship side Brentford FC.

Article 2: Matthew ‘Moneyball’ Benham

Although Matthew Benham has stated he dislikes the comparison between himself and the movie ‘Moneyball’, let’s be honest, he’s about as close as it gets! 

Benham’s footballing beliefs revolve around KPI’s, statistics and algorithmic philosophy. 

Read more here.

Bob playing at a Poker event. Credit Jayne Furman.

Bob playing at a Poker event. Credit Jayne Furman.

Article 3: Haralabos ‘Bob’ Voulgaris

From the late 1990’s to the early 2000’s, Haralabos Voulgaris (a.k.a. Bob), made betting look easy, exploiting inaccurate odds on NBA points totals.

For five years, Bob made an absurd amount of money with a winning rate of almost 70% at a point in time. 

He found a flaw in the bookies prices where the total points for the first and second half of NBA games were simply half of the predicated game total.

Read more here.

A young Bill Benter! Source: Bill Benter

A young Bill Benter! Source: Bill Benter

Article 4: Bill Benter

Bill Benter is one of only a few who has managed to master the world of betting on Horse Racing. 

In the mid-1980’s, Benter produced an algorithm to beat Hong Kong Horse Racing, and over thirty years later, Bill has amassed nearly $1 US billion. 

For a sport which can produce hundreds and thousands of variables per race, from what a horse ate for breakfast to jockey’s falling off, his success is phenomenal. 

Read more here.

Edward Thorp. Source: Mark Boster Los Angles Times.

Edward Thorp. Source: Mark Boster Los Angles Times.

Article 5: Edward Thorp

Although he doesn’t fit the theme of a sports bettor, it would be rude not to include betting pioneer, Edward Thorp, in our article series.

Edward Thorp was made famous through his book Beat the Dealer and because a casino attempted to kill him!

Thorp brought the phenomenon of card counting to light when his book was released in 1962, selling over 700,000 copies and making it onto the New York Times Bestsellers list. 

Read more here.

Walters heading to court. Source: Bloomberg.

Walters heading to court. Source: Bloomberg.

Article 6: Billy “The Great White Shark” Walters

Billy Walters has been described by odds-makers in Nevada as a Great White Shark, the most dangerous and feared sports bettor in the world. 

For four decades, Walters amassed hundreds of millions of dollars in sports betting profits, mostly on American Football and Basketball.

Unfortunately, his story hasn’t ended well though, as he currently sits in prison after being found guilty of insider trading.

Read more here.

Zeljko spotted! Source: News Limited.

Zeljko spotted! Source: News Limited.

Article 7: ZELJKO ‘THE JOKER’ RANOGAJEC

Zeljko Ranogajec is one of the most successful sports bettors of our time, accruing his billionaire status through casinos, horse racing and Keno jackpots. 

The funny thing is, most people have never heard of ‘The Joker’, who resides in multiple countries, owning an apartment on One Hyde Park, London, where an apartment once sold for a world record sum of over US$170 million.

Zeljko not only turns over $1 billion yearly but he has also sent a betting exchange bankrupt!

Read more here.

Want to read about some of our customers who are on their way to becoming professional sports bettors too? Take a look at some of these videos/articles:

  1. My Value Betting Journey from 1k to 2k

  2. Matias Interview - from 5k to 20k

  3. Jonas Gjelstad Documentary Series - from 10k to 1m

Brentford FC's owner Matthew Benham, the closest thing to 'Moneyball' in football | 10 PEOPLE WHO GOT RICH ON SPORTS BETTING

Matthew ‘Moneyball’ Benham

Although Matthew Benham has stated he dislikes the comparison between himself and the movie ‘Moneyball’, let’s be honest, he’s about as close as it gets! 

Matthew Benham (left) also has an interest Danish club Midtjylland. Credit: Søren Palmelund - The Guardian

Matthew Benham (left) also has an interest Danish club Midtjylland. Credit: Søren Palmelund - The Guardian

Benham’s footballing beliefs revolve around KPI’s, statistics and algorithmic philosophy. 

For example, instead of looking at how many goals a striker scores, he bases his judgements on the number and quality of the chances created by the striker, and how the team perform collectively within the context of the individual’s performance. 

Manager sacked after promotion

His mathematical approach to football was most evident when he sacked former Brentford manager Mark Warburton, along with his assistant manager and sporting director after being promoted to the Championship in 2015.

He believed that competition tables are hugely inaccurate due to the amount of randomness in a competition.

When Borussia Dortmund famously fell into the Bundesliga relegation zone halfway through the 2014/15 season, Benham still had them as the second best team in the league statistically, they were just terribly unlucky.

The Braemar Road stand at Brentford’s home ground, Griffin Park.

The Braemar Road stand at Brentford’s home ground, Griffin Park.

Taking over his childhood love

In 2012, Benham took over Brentford after bailing them out of a £500k financial hole.

Since then he has invested almost £100m into the club, creating everything from academies, and facilities, to a new stadium which is currently being built.

Brentford finished mid-table in the 2018/19 Championship season, but Benham is aware that all the money spent on the club will pay dividends in the future. 

The supporters have fallen in love with Benham over time after many years of success, you’ll often hear a few songs of praise for Benham from the stands.

But how did he get rich?

Similar to Tony Bloom, Benham’s involvement in the football world was only possible due to his success as a sports bettor.

Of course his strategies as a bettor are a secret but his triumphs in the industry are through heavy use of statistical data and modelling. 

He is the owner of betting exchange website Matchbook and betting advisor Smart Odds.

Brentford playing in their 2014/15 League 1 season where they gained promotion to the Championship.

Brentford playing in their 2014/15 League 1 season where they gained promotion to the Championship.

Matchbook is one of the best betting exchange websites in the world, giving Benham further industry knowledge and an understanding of the ‘other side of the fence’.

Smart Odds is the same concept as Tony Bloom’s Starlizard, a statistically-based model providing betting advice for customers and professional bettors. 

Although they don’t bring in the same numbers as Starlizard, it was reported in 2017 that Smart Odds’ revenue for the financial year hit £12m from clients in the UK and overseas.

Check out our other articles in the 10 People Who Got Rich On Sports Betting series:

Want to read about some of our customers who are on their way to becoming professional sports bettors too? Take a look at some of these videos/articles:

  1. My Value Betting Journey from 1k to 2k

  2. Matias Interview - from 5k to 20k

  3. Jonas Gjelstad Documentary Series - from 10k to 1m

How Brighton Football Club owner Tony Bloom got rich on sports betting | 10 People Who Got Rich on Sports Betting

Tony “The Lizard” Bloom

Bloom posing with just a few Brighton supporters.

Bloom posing with just a few Brighton supporters.

Arguably the UK’s most notorious sports bettor, Tony Bloom, is the owner of Starlizard, a company that describes itself as a betting consultancy.

Starlizard is also the sole adviser for Bloom’s betting syndicate who, every weekend, have £1 million riding on any given football game.

This makes Starlizard the biggest betting syndicate in Britain and it is believed they make roughly £100 million a year, but that would be an average year.

Due to the secrecy surrounding the company, little is known about their total earnings, although it’s quite safe to assume it’s in the billions of pounds.

Starlizard’s 160 employees use complex statistical models to generate football odds that are more accurate than those offered by bookmakers.

These ‘sharper’ odds are then sold to their clients so they themselves can beat the market! His much respected advice generates £13.8 million annually from customers. 

Gus Poyet (left) and Bloom (right) celebrating Brighton winning the Division 1 trophy in 2011.

Gus Poyet (left) and Bloom (right) celebrating Brighton winning the Division 1 trophy in 2011.

The real life version of “The Golden Ticket”

Starlizard’s employees sign strict non-disclosure agreements upon joining the company and once they have worked past their ‘probation period’ they are invited to a free stake in Bloom’s syndicate a.k.a. The Golden Ticket!

If his bets are successful, Starlizard’s employees can earn payouts ranging from £100 to £500,000, but if they are not, the pot of which they draw from must be topped up out of their own pockets.

A former staff member who endured a long tenure with Starlizard only recounted one significant period of losses, but across the year they always came out on top.

According to another former employee, you can quite easily make £10,000 every six months.

From gambler to value bettor

It’s quite a stunning record the Brighton & Hove Albion Football club owner has acquired over time considering the associated risk of betting, but it didn’t start out that way for Bloom.

Bloom celebrating more Brighton success.

Bloom celebrating more Brighton success.

Whilst studying mathematics in Manchester, the Brit concedes that he was a hopeless gambler, who thought he was strategic, but he was essentially guessing.

Years later, he realised that if he wanted his hobby to turn into something profitable, he would need to do it properly and form a strategy.

Here was the birth of Starlizard, generating odds internally to identify value bets.

In other words, highlighting instances where bookmakers have under or overestimated the odds on a market. Bloom specialises in Asian Handicap betting, where he looks to exploit inaccurate lines on football matches.

It’s all about turnover

It’s impossible to know how much Bloom stakes on his bets and his overall returns, but it’s quite easy to say it’s at least in the hundreds of millions every year.

Bloom loves himself a Brighton scarf!

Bloom loves himself a Brighton scarf!

According to former employees, Starlizard’s syndicate are looking for a return of 1% to 3%, which means they’re turning over ridiculous sums of money.

To make £100 million on a 3% margin the syndicate would have to be wagering £3.3 billion!

With this sort of money floating around on any given weekend, Bloom has a great effect on the market, highlighting the importance of secrecy within his business.

Check out our other articles in the 10 People Who Got Rich On Sports Betting series:

Want to read about some of our customers who are on their way to becoming professional sports bettors too? Take a look at some of these videos/articles:

  1. My Value Betting Journey from 1k to 2k

  2. Matias Interview - from 5k to 20k

  3. Jonas Gjelstad Documentary Series - from 10k to 1m

Jonas Gjelstad on the Joe Ingram Poker Life Podcast

Jonas Gjelstad aka Liqqa is a longtime HSPLOer on Stars who transitioned from poker into betting and founded Trademate Sports. He won the largest pot Joe Ingram ever played.

You can watch the video on Youtube here where Jonas and Joe discuss poker and betting: 

£10,000 to £1,000,000 in 12 months - The Jonas Gjelstad Story pt. 1

What is it like being a professional sports bettor? 

Jonal Gjelstad

For the ones who don’t know me, my name is Jonas Gjelstad. I’m a Norwegian sports bettor and former professional poker player. I’ve been profiting from sports value betting for a couple of years and this is how it all started.

In January 2015, I started betting on sports with $12,800. During my first month of hard work, I got $58,000 in profits. At the beginning of February, I already had $ 70,000 in my bankroll to bet with. During that month, my stakes were around 600 and 3,000, ending up with a $36,000 profit. After only two months, I have made almost $100,000 only with sports betting.

And then in March, I was almost able to double my profits. I bet for $943,000 and I made a profit of $93,000 with over 10% ROI. In April, I was having my biggest month ever in terms of turnover. I was betting for $1,3 million and I profited $32,000 with a 2.6 percent ROI, which means that I was maybe running about what's expected or a bit below, but it's still a good month considering the average ROI on value betting.

In May, I had a turnover of 763,000 with 2.68 percent ROI and $18,000 profit. Bus as you can tell, my turnover is pretty much half of what it was in April, which will then make sense because most opportunities came only during the first half of the month as most of the seasons are ending in mid-may. Fewer games played, fewer games to bet on.

Jonas Gjelstad 2

During the summer months, I had basically no bets. There were no Euros, there was no World Cup, almost no games to bet on, and that’s known for most sport bettors. So during the summer months, I was betting on some Wimbledon and some lower leagues, for example, Norwegian and Swedish football are on during the summer, but I personally didn't have any success with that. I can also just be due to variance since the number of bets was very low. In June, I had 220 bets and in July, 30 bets and that’s not many.

But then the season started again in August. So I bet for 750,000 and I lost $46,000, leaving me with a negative ROI of 7.23 percent for that month, which can happen. In some of the games, it was annoying to see how they were played out. Even though I felt I was doing everything right, I just happened to be on the wrong side of the variance. You cannot always win, that’s just the way it is.

But then in September, the season started picking up and NFL started to go, a great moment for sport bettors. I tried to figure out how to break down NFL and I bet for over a million. I made over 70K with more than 7% ROI. And then in October, I decided to go big on NFL and just really tried to figure it out, and NBA also started then. During that month, I bet for 2.8 million dollars and I made 150K with less than 6% ROI.

Then, coming up the next month, I bet for six million dollars and I profited over $200,000 with a little less than a 4% return on my money. So, at that point, I didn't even know how much I had in my account, but I had well over half a million dollars.

And then in December, the season was about to end in the NFL, the playoffs were about to start, and then there were much fewer games. Nonetheless, I bet for 5.5 million dollars and I made 400,000 dollars with 7.6% ROI. Throughout that year then, I turned 10k into a bit over a million dollars.

We also filmed a series about my story as a professional sports bettor. Episode 1 documents my rise and transition from the soft books to the Asian markets. Taking my profits from the Soft books and putting in the hours to beat the Asian markets.

I hope you enjoy and don't forget to check out part two, which documents the highs and lows of a professional sports bettor entitled "I Lost £256,000 in one day". You can watch the whole series of 6 episodes on the Trademate Youtube channel.

Cheers!

"I lost $256,000 in a day" Jonas Gjelstad - Professional Sports Bettor - pt 2

So, starting the year 2016, I've now made a million dollars betting on sports in the Asian markets.

I've had the best month in October. I topped it in November, I topped it in December and I felt like there's nothing that could knock me down. I cracked this now, everything is great.

The number of bets I was having was well over 3,000 a month and everything was just amazing.

In January, I bet for 4.4 million dollars and I made 357,000 dollars.

But I want to discuss something that happened on the last day of January that's sort of set me a bit back. During that month, I bet for 4.5 million dollars, profited 326,000 with 7.75 percent, which I was really happy about.

But the night before the last day, I was up 581,000 dollars and I almost run a 16 percent ROI. And then, the last day, I lost 256,000 dollars in one day.

So coming off that last day of January, I started February, which was also a pretty big month. I bet for over 4 million dollars and I lost 347,000 dollars, which is almost 10 percent on average per bet.

But also the number of bets I had in was only 1,200, which compared to all the previous months where I've been rolling at an average of 3k, it was really low.

So again, when having fewer bets, one can expect a higher variance. And considering the amount of money I bet (almost the same as in January with a third of the bets), it didn’t help.

This is something where I think I made a mistake. I should have been a bit more cautious.

The next month, I decided to step down, so I placed 776 bets for 1.5 million dollars, and I had another losing month. I lost 110k which is almost 8% per bet.

Obviously, during this period, I know I was extremely unlucky, but at the same time, I had months where I was running about 10%. So we can say that it evens out in the long run, which is the most important thing to think about. This is what separates the good from the bad bettors.

Everyone is good, everyone is happy, and everyone thinks they're flawless when things are going good. But when things go bad, that's when you can actually learn from your mistakes, and there’s when you need to put in the hard work.

Going on from there, you can see that I lost 110,000. Then I started off April winning some and I upped my bets from 1.5 million to 3.3 million. I placed over 2,000 bets and I made 90,000 with a 3% ROI, which again made me feel like “I'm back at it, this is good”.

In May, last games of the season, betting 4 million and making 327,000 with almost 9% felt just great.

Going into the summer like that, the Euros were going to start and I was feeling good about it because I can't just sit there and think “oh I lost 256,000 dollars in a day, what if that's going to continue happening?”.

This is because I know that things can go the other way around, so obviously made me a bit more aware that.

Now I need to think about the amount I'm betting per game and if I want to have these swings. I'm starting to get to a point in which I'm quite comfortable with my lifestyle.

And at this point, for me, it's much more important to have 1 million than to have 1.5 million or 500,000. So I’d rather lower the swings and have, let's say, 75 percent chance of reaching 1.250 million dollars and a 25% chance of going down to $ 750,000.

In the end of the day it's actually significant money that one could invest in real estate or other safer investment rather than sports betting and get a long-term passive income on it.

Nonetheless, sports betting is by far my highest return of investment. I can flip my money over so many times and still have over 3 percent return on my money for every 90-minute investment which is beyond crazy.

When I tell it to people that are involved in other types of investments like in the stocks market, they don't believe it. For them, it's too good to be true, but it's all about being on the right side and knowing what you're doing because if you don't, then you will keep losing.

I also made a video about this, you can also check out the first video of our series: £10,000 TO £1,000,000 IN 12 MONTHS - THE JONAS GJELSTAD STORY PT. 1

"I want to compete with the best" - Jonas Gjelstad - Professional Sports Bettor - pt3

Money is a tool. Just like a handyman needs a hammer to work. If I don't have money, I don't have any tools.

One of my biggest lessons was that I need to be able to separate working money and spending money because as you move up, the stakes become larger.

Sometimes you’re tempted to think: “oh you know, that's just only like a couple of big blinds, so I’ll just kind of buy that and I'm going to buy that”.

Some people become a bit blind about the money because they're used to having such big swings all the time.

I feel I have always been pretty good to separate what was working money and what was spending money. I feel like I always respected the value of money.

For example, I've never bought a car because I've never needed a car. I've been living in big cities and I've been traveling so much.

Cars decrease in value, so I'm better off just taking Ubers and I tried to put my money into real estate instead of buying a Lamborghini and showing off to everyone.

But I think that when having a significant amount of money. One should take then a bit fewer risks because it's actually enough money to build up something with.

I'm in my twenties and I want to create freedom for myself. I know if I'm going to be the best and competing against the best, I would need money to do so.

I would also need money to be able to create and do things I would like to do later on in life.

I've been having a lot of fun in the summer. I’ve been going to Ibiza, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, some festivals in Norway.

In order to be motivated, you also need to reward yourself. I think that's an important part of the game.

Money can only do so much, money it's a tool to give you freedom. I think it's important to also use that freedom and don't be too caught up in the work.

Obviously, you need to be focused about your work but there's nothing wrong with taking some time off every now and then.

That’s a good opportunity to think of what you can do, how your future is going to be like, and remind yourself what are your goals in life.

Cheers!

Jonas

If you want to, we’ve made a video about this interview. You can watch the whole series of 6 episodes on the Trademate Youtube channel.