We continue our series looking at great professional gamblers of past and present with a look at Billy Walters – who is estimated to have won £200 million gambling.
William “Billy” Walters has said that there is nothing he wouldn’t bet on. To prove it, he’s had a distinguished and varied gambling career for over three decades. Professional gamblers consider him the most successful gambler in the world. He has never had a losing year.
Gambling has made Billy a very rich man. He owns seven homes and his fortune is worth $200 million. But Billy’s life wasn’t always so glamorous or rich. Billy spent his childhood in Mumfordville, Kentucky. Raised by his grandmother, he lived in a house without indoor plumbing. He came by his gambling prowess naturally: his dad was a poker player and his uncle was a professional gambler. While other kids played basketball on the playground, Billy bet on the pro games. Billy lost bets but he never lost the love of the wager.
A Step Ahead of the Game – the Computer Group
In the 1980s he was selling cars in Kentucky but decided to become a bookie. That was an illegal enterprise in Kentucky so he moved to Vegas where gambling is the heart of the culture and the economy. This was at a time before the internet took shape but that didn’t stop Billy from becoming one of the first gamblers to use computers to formulate strategy around bets. He was part of a gambling group called the Computer Group. These innovative gamblers fed all the information they compiled from newspapers and other leads about gambling into a computer. They were so successful, the Vegas authorities thought they were running an illegal gaming operation.
Although Billy may have come by his gambling desire naturally in his DNA, we can trace his success to his love of research. One of his most successful gambling moments came about because he learned that the Golden Nugget Casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey, used an older roulette wheel than other establishments. That wheel had a bias toward paying off on certain numbers. Billy gambled on his research information and won millions from the Golden Nugget in 1986.
Public Information Only
Today, Billy bets so successfully on football and basketball that Vegas is afraid of his bets. He still relies on research but he has sports analysts who help him now with that chore. Despite rumors of insider information, he maintains that he relies on public information for his betting. It’s a pretty sure bet that a lot of the sports intelligence that would help with betting strategy (like injuries, etc.) is available online. He keeps all of his analysts/partners and associates separate. They do not know each other and he doesn’t place his bets personally.
Of course, Billy wouldn’t be much of an inveterate gambler if he limited himself to sports betting. He also bets at the casinos on craps and blackjack and at the horse races. He wins at all of those activities. He says he has a 57% winning ratio. He has, however, made his fortune on sports betting. His super bowl bets alone have garnered him $3.5 million. He also won as much as $4 million on a single casino weekend.
The Power to Move Markets
Walters’ betting sometimes has a big effect on the payoff spread of various games. If he doesn’t like the payoff on the favourite, he will bet on the underdog until the bookies change the spread. Then, he’ll tell his associates to place his bet on the favorite at the margin he wanted. That is a gambler’s gambler.
Billy is so successful at gaming that he has become security conscious as an important part of his business. People try very hard to learn how he does what he does. They want his system. They invade his privacy. So he runs his business from his home via computer network and phone network, using code names to shield his identity. There’s a price to pay for success even for a gambler.
So there you have it – one of the most successful gamblers of all time and certainly a gambler for all occasions – Billy Walters.
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