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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:
What is it like being a professional sports bettor?
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Episode 4: Follow professional sports bettor Jonas Gjelstad's journey, as he analyses his performance and looks to optimise his results.Read More
Episode 5: Follow professional sports bettor Jonas Gjelstad talks about the misleading marketing of bookmakers.Read More
Episode 6: Follow professional sports bettor Jonas Gjelstad talks about what he would do if he had to start over from the beginning.Read More