Few professions have created more stars than sports. In fact, if there’s any group of people close to real-life superheroes, it’s the athletes that play for our favorite teams.
Somewhere in the shadows, another profession involving sports is becoming more intriguing every year: professional bettors.
These risk-takers have given up normal lives to roll the dice and see what comes up. Whether or not you believe that gambling can support a normal life, these people are making it happen.
In this article, I’ll discuss 5 professional sports bettors whose lives you need to hear about.
1 – Parlay Patz
Parlay Patz sounds like the type of nickname you’d give your roommate in college who swears on of these weeks he’s going to hit on that parlay involving every single NFL game. And when Benjamin Tucker “Parlay” Patz found himself on the betting scene at age 22, this may have actually been the case.
His story begins back in 2015 when he joined his first offshore sportsbook at the young age of 18. As his nickname would suggest, he hit on a handful of unbelievable parlay bets. He was able to bring in nearly $1 million dollars in payouts in only a couple of months as a result of these wins.
It turns out the disturbing news was true and transcripts were soon released. The messages did in fact include social media death threats after several big losses hurt Patz’s bankroll.
Things have still not been resolved, but because Patz did turn himself in there is some speculation the judges might go easier on him. In his short time as a pro gambler, he has reached highs and experienced lows that most bettors never get close to during their career.
2 – Billy Walters
On a list of famous sports bettors, it would be criminal to neglect mentioning the person who holds the title of “bet more money successfully” than any human being in history (at least any that someone has on the books).
Upon hearing that, it’s likely that most would think of a sharply-dressed man who enjoys the life of a high-roller on the casino floor. Billy Walters, despite the huge amounts of money that he wagered, was never about any of that.
It’s said that Walters never even placed his own bets, but instead had runners do it for him so he could gamble remotely. Now, there was another reason for this – many Vegas casinos were none too keen on doing business with him. However, it is also true that the disconnection from the emotional side of gambling allowed Walters more time to concentrate on his computer modeling and analysis.
The interesting thing about Walters, aside from the sheer amount of money he’s bet over his career, is the different avenues he’s used to build his fortune. For example, over the course of nearly 40 years he’s bet on the stock market, sports, real estate, and we imagine just about anything else that can be bet on in some legal capacity.
Though I would never recommend someone rely on luck for their income, with Walters it seemed to be much more than simply good fortune that lead to the accumulation of his wealth. All in all, it has been reported that he’s earned nearly $300 million throughout his life.
Unfortunately, like Parlay Patz, Walters wound eventually wind up behind bars. This time, it was for insider trader on Dean Foods stock for which he was given a $10 million fine and a 5-year sentence.
3 – Haralabos Voulgaris
It was in the late 1990s that Haralabos Voulgaris, thankfully called “Bob” in most social circles, was consider the most successful NBA bettor of all time. Though not quite as young as Parlay Patz, he was only 25 at the time when he began throwing around millions of dollars per day on NBA games.
In a sport that is notoriously hard to predict, how did he become so successful? Well, he simply knew where the weaknesses lied in the sportsbooks. For him, it was the halftime scores that provided an opening to make big money. He mentioned that he believed NBA bookmakers used unsophisticated methods to set the odds in that area of the game.
More specifically, he recognized that sportsbooks did not account for the late burst of scoring in the fourth quarter, meaning when they set the halftime lines they simply cut the final total in half, which is a mistake.
Voulgaris would jump all over the predictions and bet the halftime under. And when I say bet, he was wagering tens of millions of dollars. If you’re wondering, yes the sportsbooks did eventually catch on to what was happening and made the necessary changes.
Aside from the simple methodology behind his halftime picks, he also had a knack for picking out the “tells” of certain head coaches in the league. He used this ability to read people to move into a career at the poker table, where he has already won a couple million.
The story of Haralabos Voulgaris does not end in jail like the two previous sports bettors I’ve featured above. It seems he has managed to lead a pretty normal life despite his unusual road to success.
4 – John Price
If there’s a name that just sounds like a sports bettor, it might be John Price. Price, who had an extensive background in the studies of statistics and mathematics, graduated from the prestigious NYU as an educated young man.
He used his wide range of knowledge in all things numbers to develop a very successful sports betting career. While he has never divulged the methods he’s used to win over the years, he has mentioned that there are 22 variables that contribute to determining what makes a good betting option – unfortunately for the rest of us, he won’t reveal more than that.
What sets him apart from others in the industry is that he has taken a diehard approach to value-betting, which quite frankly isn’t used enough with amateur bettors today. Essentially, he disregards his overall winning percentages, and focuses only on the money aspect. One win might bring in more money than five losses costs you, despite the mental discipline it takes to recognize that fact.
That isn’t to say that John wasn’t good at picking winners. He bet a million dollars on the “interception at the one” Patriots Super Bowl XLIX win, and somehow picked the Royals to finish the season as World Series Champs in 2015 – which ended up hitting.
If any young, intelligent, aspiring sports bettors need a role model, John Price is exactly that
5 – Tony the Lizard
When it comes to the ideal life of a sports fan, making millions through gambling and then eventually purchasing a sports franchise sounds like a dream come true. Anthony Grant “Tony the Lizard” Bloom actually made it happen.
Tony got his start in the world of cards, winning a couple million in live tournaments. Then he moved on to sports betting.
He was focused primarily on soccer, and assembled a company that focused solely on making money betting on sports. Because of the company’s strict non-disclosure agreement, hardly anything is known about it.
Despite the secrecy, it has been reported that the winnings of his Starlizard Company has far surpassed a billion dollars. The reason for such a high valuation is simply that he has invested more than a quarter-billion dollars into Brighton and Hove Albion FC, his favorite childhood team…which he now owns.
It’s impossible to know what exactly his net worth sits at today, but many industry experts consider him to be the richest sports bettor in the entire word.
These sports bettors have undoubtedly led some of the most interesting lives imaginable. Many amateurs wish to someday join the ranks of these big time gamblers. The reality is that it probably won’t ever happen, but I guess you never know.
In all cases, remember that your bankroll is not the same as the men above, so be sure to bet inside your means.