In Jonas Gjelstad's bedroom in Bayswater, London, there are two big screens, as well as a laptop. On his desk is a tube of snus and a roll of fifty-pound notes. "Spending money", according to the 26-year-old. It is especially on the weekends it boils here, with football rounds being played throughout Europe.
- On Saturdays and Sundays the workday starts around ten o'clock. It is important to be online when the lineups are released. Usually, I sit and bet until 9 in the evening.
So you are staying put in front of these three-four screens, just interrupted by running to the kitchen to cook some food?
- No, we order food at the door. But we consume a lot of coffee and snus!
Gjelstad has always been keen to bet on football, and recalls that he already started as a four-year-old.
"I hardly knew what I was doing, but I was allowed to bet £ 2,50 on Saturdays.
In his upbringing, he sometimes won 1000-3000 kroner at Norsk Tipping ($100-$400), which was spent on a new bike, PlayStation and games. Gjelstad has always been interested in statistics, which he probably inherited from his father.
"Dad was determined to win based on statistics, he even read statistics on the Lottery numbers - for instance that it was now 32 weeks since the number 28 century had been drawn. Then I just shake my head, because the probability of 28 being drawn the next week does not increase, as a result of it not being drawn this week.
For someone who is fond of numbers and statistics playing poker was an alternative to further education and an engineering degree. But Gjelstad was unable to live a quiet life in his new apartment in his hometown Larvik.
"I was bored out of my wits".
He moved to London and rented an apartment with his poker buddy Felix Stephensen, who in 2014 won $ 5,1 million in the World Series of Poker (WSOP), the world's most prestigious poker tournament. A price, which Stephensen forgot to retrieve.
- Huff. It was a terrible misunderstanding. I got the impression that you could only get the money via bank transfer, Stephensen told the Norwegian newspaper VG at the time.
A big party and a few days later he checked the prize envelope - where it was stated that he needed to pick up the prize money at the casino the following day. Fortunately, he received the $5,1 million the following year. While Stephensen became a multi-millionaire at poker, Jonas Gjelstad became more and more concerned with his childhood hobby, football betting.
Could only bet for £ 10
The Vestfolding knew that there were pages where you could bet on all three possible outcomes of English football matches - home, draw or away - and still make a profit. This was possible because the bookmakers offered different odds on the same game. This made the Larvik boy start looking systematically for odds that were higher than the rest of the market, so called value bets.
"After just a couple of weeks, I was not allowed to play more at Betsson, Unibet, Bet365, Nordicbet and all the other bookmakers that advertise on TV.
What were you thinking then?
- I got pissed off. I had heard that it had happened to others, but it went a lot faster than what I expected.
What kind of messages did you get on the screen?
"For example, if I were to play Manchester United against Manchester City and entered $ 17,200 NOK as my stake, I was told that the maximum bet on this game was only 17 NOK.
Betsson, spokesperson Kim Rud Petersen, claims that such stake limitations are common:
"Like most other companies in the industry, staking limits are applied to games, especially to prevent syndicate and insider betting. The claims that we generally limit winning players are completely wrong and we do not experience many inquiries about this."
Leading football experts and commentators that P3 Documentaries has talked with are saying that they are not allowed to bet anything more than chump change at the largest bookmakers. Norway's foremost expert on Spanish football, Petter Veland, believes it is very demanding to make a living from sports betting.
"Norsk Tipping has a maximum limit, and European online bookmakers will probably limit you before reaching the sums that are necessary to make a living from it," Veland explains. But points out there may be opportunities in the Asian market.
We also asked the other big bookmaker operating in Norway, Unibet, about why the famous TV celebrity and gambler Hallvard Flatland was only allowed to bet 15,30 NOK on football in April.
- I can not comment on individual cases, but questions about stake limitations are not as simple as they are presented in the media and other channels. Our responsibility is to reduce the risk of match-fixing and money laundering, and one way to reduce this risk is to limit stake sizes on games, is the reply from Alexander Westrell, the company's spokesperson. He emphasizes that the company pays back 96 percent of what the customers are betting for.
But surely few think that Hallvard Flatland and Norwegian football experts are part of a betting syndicate?
Jonas Gjelstad had quit school and rented an expensive apartment in London. Suddenly he did not have the opportunity to win larger sums than what kids get in pocket money to buy candy on Saturdays.
When the odds is dropping
In recent weeks, several match-fixing scandals have shaken football Europe. At Kongsvinger, a Bosnian jumped without connection to Norway jumped onto the field before the end of the match, and sprayed linesman Ole Andreas Haukåsen in the face with red pepperspray. Few disagree with TV2s expert Jesper Mathisen, who believes it was about match fixing.
In England, a national team player was recently revealed to have placed a bet on himself being bought by a Premier League club. Troublemaker Joey Barton was banned from all football for one and a half years at the end of April, for placing 1200 bets on football - including that his own team would lose. On the 18th of May, the Swedish top match between IFK Göteborg and AIK was postponed after an AIK player warned that he had been offered a large amount of money and threatened with violence against the family to ensure that AIK would lose the match.
There are strong forces and big money in play on football betting, which can cause big fluctuations in the odds. These are the fluctuations that Jonas Gjelstad makes a living from. When he was not allowed to play for more than chump change at the European bookmakers, Gjelstad turned his eyes to the east - because in Asia there is a huge market for gamblers. But it was still hopeless to keep up with the odds changes from so many different bookmakers, because on Saturday's there are hundreds of matches in the English, German, Italian, Spanish, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Norwegian football leagues. The solution to this problem arrived on a trip to a cabin in Telemark with one of his childhood friends.
"We did not have electricity or the internet at the cabin, so we had to talk to each other. My friend, Martin Skow Røed is the smartest guy I know. He studied Cybernetics Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and believed that it had to be possible to automate the collection of odds.
The two friends started and eventually got the system Trademate Sports. There, users can subscribe at 100 to 400 Euro a month and get an overview of disproportionately high odds.
"I thought we should take back the bookmakers who throw me out. If they do not let me play, what if I bring 10,000 others who can?
The system collects all sorts of odds and compares them to some kind of average in Asia. It is updated several times per minute. When someone bets for hundreds of thousands or millions in Asia, they most likely have better information than other gamblers. Regardless the odds at the bookmakers where the bets are placed will drop. While other bookmakers are slower lowering their odds so that it reflects the rest of the market. When this happens the system finds the odds outliers and makes it possible to exploit them.
Especially when the lineups are released it is important to be ready. Injuries, suspensions and illness usually lead to major odds changes.