Billy Walters is a Las Vegas sports betting icon whose name alone strikes fear in bookmakers. Over the course of 4 decades in professional gambling, he did not have a single year of loss and claimed to be a lifelong 57% winner on his sports bet.
It was more hard work and a successful system that contributed to his success rather than luck.
Of course, he did have his down days before he turned into a professional gambler. It was at the age of 35, ever typical pathological gambler and having gone broke 15 times, before he decided to focus on professional gambling.
The turning point of his career was when he joined the Computer Group. Formed in 1980, they strive to beat bookmakers with the use of computers. The Computer Group calculated the proper spread of the game and when the line differed from that offered by the bookmakers, an opportunity arose.
Then the Computer Group would launch on all cylinders and win big.
This is basically an application of the expected return, with the system looking for lines that are above the fair odds. It is also a form of value betting that is in play today by countless professional sports bettors.
He left the group a few years later and started gambling on his own, with the help of consultants, mathematicians, weather experts and even injury specialists and has achieved huge successes.
A 40-year winning streak is almost unheard of in the gambling industry, but this amazing feat helped Billy Walters become a Las Vegas legend.
He is currently serving a prison term for securities fraud, but that shouldn’t detract from his remarkable success in the betting world. In fact, Walters has been described as the Michael Jordan of the sports betting world. More than one Las Vegas sportsbook oddsmaker has dubbed Walters; “the most dangerous sports bettor in history.”
How’d he go from flat broke to such opulence?
Let’s take a look at 3 principles to his system for making millions. I’ll follow that up with his 10 best practices.
Information Is King
Many sports betting gamblers place their bets without sufficient information on the teams they are betting on. For myself, I could hardly name any players of the team that I wagered on.
As a result, there were times when I missed out on crucial information that will change my judgment on the bet, e.g. team line-up, motivation to win, etc.
Even with a good mathematical system, Walters takes into consideration qualitative factors when making his decisions to bet.
The Importance of Odds
It is not enough to feel that one team will be the winning team.
Another question to ask is if the odds are high enough to reflect the probability of winning?
For a gambler who is relatively good at predicting the winning team (around 51-53 winning percentage), betting at unfavorable odds will still result in overall loss in the long run.
It Is Possible to Win in Gambling
It is impossible for anyone to win for 30 years consecutively based on luck itself. Billy Walters has proved that there are systems that can beat the house and his 7 properties and private jet are probably the best evidence of it.
1 – No Ramen Recipe
Billy Walters didn’t succeed right from day one, in fact he went broke many times. As a younger man he described himself as a gambling addict and compulsive loser.
The hard lessons from losing are a very common experience amongst gamblers who ultimately become very successful.
“I know what every sucker thinks, because I used to be one. I can assure you that every successful gambler I know has been through some monumental failures on his way to getting there.” – Billy Walters
2 – Intel Beats the House Edge
Walters has surrounded himself with sharp minds and employs an array of experts in the roles of consultants, statisticians, mathematicians and computer programmers to help him compile, analyze and ultimately profit from huge troves of information.
Many years ago Walters even employed people to coordinate with the Las Vegas airport cleaning crew to gather used newspapers from all the incoming flights.
A team of readers would then analyze all of this information that most of the linemakers and general public were not aware of. Or they just chose to flat out ignore the valuable information.
3 – Value Is Everything
My absolute favorite Billy Walters quote is this, “If you value something at ten, then you’re a buyer at 8 and a seller at 12.”
But this concept of value is very different to how most bettors operate. They are more likely to bet on their favorite team and will do so without giving enough thought to whether they’re actually getting good value.
‘Bet odds not teams’ is a well-known but under-appreciated betting maxim.
4 – The Bigger the Value the Bigger the Bet
The Walters team produces their own lines and only bet when they are different to the market. Returns are enhanced by their wagering approach since the bigger the discrepancy (ie. the Expected Value or Positive Expectation), the bigger the bet.
This strategy is in line with a money management approach known as the Kelly Criterion.
Walters has incredible confidence in his own numbers and looks to exploit his advantage the most when that estimated edge is the biggest. But success isn’t about making one big bet.
Walters never lets it all ride on one game, instead he spreads out his bankroll across many games where he has a positive expectation
5 – We’re Not Talking Huge Margins
Simply tossing a coin will get you a 50% record betting against the spread. But to be profitable at the standard odds of -110 you need to be hitting at a 52.4% winning percentage.
For all of his work and success, Billy Walters winning strike-rate is a measly 57%, but that’s enough of a margin to create a giant edge on the sportsbooks.
The sheer volume of his bets and the ability to optimize his bankroll management has enabled him to amass hundreds of millions in profits.
6 – There Will Be Drawdown
Billy Walters may win every year but he has plenty of losing days, weeks and even losing months along the way. He understands and allows for variance.
Every successful gambler I have come across knows you must take the good with the bad. Billy Walters is no exception to the rule.
7 – Change Is Inevitable, Look for the Constants
The edge that came from reading all the local small-town newspapers died when the internet arrived. That is just one small example of how almost everything evolves.
“I probably had to reinvent myself 25 times in the last 20 years. If I hadn’t re-invented myself, I would have been out of business. That goes for anyone in any business. There’s going to be constant change of any industry you’re in and if you don’t change with it and you don’t change ahead of it, you become like a dinosaur; you become extinct.” – Billy Walters
So Billy Walters evolves his approach to stay ahead of the game, but he still believes that the fundamentals of gambling success remain the same.
“The game of handicapping sports is really the same game as it was 40 or 50 years ago. It’s much more competitive now, and the numbers are much better than they were in the 80s, but it’s still the same game. It still comes down to evaluating information.” – Billy Walters
8 – Don’t Use Technology as a Crutch
A feel for the market is also exceptionally important.
“The computer whiz kids who are involved in sports today don’t have a clue, I mean a clue, about how to bet their money. They don’t have a feel at all for which way the line is going to move. There is a big difference in knowing how to bet and when to bet your money in sports. It is almost as important as handicapping is.” – Billy Walters
9 – Rose Colored Glasses
“A lot of people have a difficult time stepping back and doing a re-valuation and deciding ‘I was wrong’. A lot of people want to continue on in denial until they’re completely broke.” – Billy Walters
10 – Long-Term Winners do Exist
Billy Walters’ success shows that it is actually possible to succeed in the betting world. It’s not easy, but he is living proof that it is definitely possible.
Billy Walters has certainly made his unique mark on not only Las Vegas, but on the gambling world as a whole.
You may never own a casino or even have your own private jet to whisk you away to exotic tropical getaways. However, you are almost certain to increase your wins and be able to take home more than you brought by following Mr. Walters’ philosophy on sports betting. Gamble on.