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. 

Next week we take a look at Bill Benter, who came up with a model similar to Bob, but for Horse Racing.

Check out Article 1 of 10 People Who Got Rich On Sports Betting series featuring Brighton FC owner Tony ‘Lizard’ Bloom here!

Check out Article 2 of 10 People Who Got Rich On Sports Betting series featuring Brentford FC owner Matthew ‘Moneyball’ Benham here!

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 weeks, 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.

Week 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.

Week 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.

Week 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.

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.

After two weeks of highlighting UK football club owners who got rich on sports betting, we take a turn to the Greek-Canadian Haralabos Voulgaris next week, a man who made his wealth through betting on the NBA.

Check out Article 1 of 10 People Who Got Rich On Sports Betting series featuring Brighton FC owner Tony Bloom here!