Vegas used to be filled with rumours of a man or group of men – nobody really knew the specifics – that was said to be feared by Vegas bookmakers. This team beat the spread in sporting events as a matter of course, and were wealthy beyond comprehension as a result. In the world of sports gambling, these guys had discovered the Holy Grail. They mystery that surrounded these mystery men made them the whole story so much more intriguing.
That was, until the mystery man was unmasked as Billy Walters, a lifelong gambler and successful investor – and a very wealthy one at that.
Walters’ operation was first disclosed in a book called “The Smart Money” – By Michael Konik. In the book a pseudonym was used for Walters, and the author accounts his experiences running money around Vegas for Walters, betting with the aid of cell phones and walkie talkies, and subsequently getting banned when the sportsbooks discover that the teams and games he is betting are a bit fishy. Understandable, when these games are the hottest syndicate games bet all around Vegas by Walters and his teams of “runners”.
Walters was further introduced to the non-betting public through a story on 60 minutes in January 2011. It is a fascinating interview for both betting and non-betting types, as Walters is a charismatic, raskal type, and 60 minutes do a fantastic job of educating the lay-person in what sportsbetting is and how Walters and his team make money from it.
For sportsbetting fans, this interview is riveting. The seriousness with which Walters and his team attacks sports wagering is impressive and it is clear that huge amounts of money are at stake. Walters moves on his sports teams like a hedge-fund trader moves on a stock at the open of a day’s trading – betting to the house limit when he finds an attractive proposition. The team assembled around this betting operation is vast, runners have codenames and large cash on hand to bet in person at the sportsbook window, and Walters monitors all of these bets and amounts on a computer set-up that has all too many similarities to a hedge-fund manager or a stockbroker at the New York Stock Exchange.
Interestingly, Walters claims that Wall Street types have more to hide and are bigger thieves that those people that he has run into in the gambling world.
Walters was rather secretive about the individuals he has working with him. He claimed to not know the real name of his runners – that may indeed be the case – but he was particularly elusive about the advisors and “brains” behind his brains trust. One individual in particular was a ‘rain-man’ type of intellectual who has an encyclopedic knowledge of college teams and players. Walters reports that this man possessed a brilliant ability to forecast games because of this.
Betting men and women would be well served by watching the interview with Walters, and reading Michael Konik’s “Smart Money”, should they wish to know more about this fascinating character.