Off-the-Pitch

Kichwa: Meet 10 richest sports gamblers in the world…none placed soccer bets!

Only two bettors did not attend college. The rest are university professors, graduates or dropouts

What the f@%k: When Man United recently lost 2-0 to West Ham, local bettors chomeka in milions, yet the richest gamblers don’t place soccer bets.

By Idris ‘Shoes’ Lule

Forget the Kenyans who have wowed us after winning the Mega Jackpot from Sportpesa. There was Samuel Abisai who won Sh221 million in 2016. That is what one of the billionaire gamblers listed here wins in a day! Then there was Gordon Ogada who went home with Sh230 million in 2018. That was our highest prize winning so far, but which is pocket change compared to the high rollers of gambling in the world. Surprisingly, all of them never made their money from betting on whether Manchester United will beat Brighton. All nine except one made their gambling billions betting on horses and poker. One habitué of the gambling tables even managed to trouser home Sh100 million from one round of golf!

Something else.

None of them used guess work . Most used either experience or mathematical formulas and software assisted predictions. Only two did not attend college. The rest are either university professors, graduates or dropouts. Most were majoring in mathematics or the sciences. None was studying agriculture or transport geography.  Gambling is pretty masculine as none in this list is a woman. Big time gamblers are also not in Africa. Here goes…

  1. Bill Benter
Made Sh100 billion from software assisted gambling.

Age: 62

Nationality: Hong Kong based-American

Education: Physics degree from New Case University

Daily wins: Sh200-Sh500 million

Net worth: Sh100 billion

Source: Horse racing

Style: Software assisted gambling

Children: 1

2.Edward E. Thorpe

He reckons life is like reading a novel or running a marathon.

Age: 87

Nationality: American

Education: PhD in Mathematics, University of California, Los Angeles

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Net worth: Sh80 billion (from investing gambling wins in stocks, hedge funds)

Source: Casinos

Style: Software assisted gambling/mathematical formulas

Quote: “Life is like reading a novel or running a marathon. It’s not so much about reaching a goal but rather about the journey itself and the experiences along the way.”

3. Zeljko Ranogajec

He uses mathematical formulas to win horse racing bets.

Nationality: Ausie-born Croat

Education: University of Tasmania law dropout 

Net worth: Sh80 billion (from investing gambling wins in stocks, hedge funds)

Source: Casinos/horse racing

Style: Mathematical formulas/photographic memory

Notable wins: Sh700 million horse racing jackpot in 1994/Sh4.4 billion in three years to 2008.

Disposition: Recluse.

4. Andrew Black

He co-founded England’s largest bet exchange market.

Age: 56

Nationality: British

Education: University of Exeter computer science drop out (after being expelled for spending more time with bookies than lecturers)

Beginnings: Bet Sh2, 800 on a horse and won Sh3.5 million in 1992.

Net worth: Sh28 billion (from co-founding Betfair in 1998, England’s largest bet exchange market which was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2010)

Source: horse racing/betting exchange

Style: Mathematical formulas/Experience

Career: Got his first hob stacking shelves at 26

Family: Sir Cyril Black, his grandpa, was an anti-gambling politician

Quote: “I wanted to achieve something in business. I was unshakable in my belief that something would work out, but I didn’t know what it would be.”

5. Billy Walters

One of the richest gamblers who never attended school.

Age: 73

Nationality: American

Education: None

Net worth: Sh20 billion 

Daily wins: Sh200 million

Source: Sports betting syndicate

Style: Analytics

Notable wins: Sh40 million for a hole-in-one and Sh100 million in a single round of golf.

Notable loses: Sh100 million in a single night at a casino.  

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6. Patrik Antonius

Wanted to be a professional tennis player.

           Age: 38

Nationality: Spanish based Finn

Education: Helsinki Polytechnic

Dream career: Pro tennis

Beginnings: Turned Sh20, 000 into Sh200, 000 in one month

Annual wins: Sh700 million

Net worth: Sh20 billion

Source: Online poker

Style: Experience

Notable wins: Sh100 million in one night in 2012

Notable loses: Sh50 million in one poker night

7.Phil Ivey

Learnt gambling on grandfather’s knee.

Age: 42

Nationality: American

Education: Taught stud poker by his guka aged eight

Career trajectory: Turned Pro at 20. Has won more World Series Poker than any other player in history

Net worth: Sh10 billion

Source: Table/online poker

Style: Advantage gambling/Game Theory

Notable wins: Sh1.9 billion in online poker in 2011

Notable loses: Was deniedSh1.2 billion casino win for using ‘unorthodox tricks’50 million in one poker night.

8. Tony Bloom

He owns the Albion FC in England.

Age: 49

Nationality: British Jew

Education: Degree in Mathematics, University of Manchester 

 Net worth: Sh10 billion annually (from investing poker wins in real estate, gambling websites and the Albion soccer club).

Source: Poker/online betting odds/soccer gambling syndicate

Style: Statistical models

Notable wins: Sh60 million poker championship in 2009

Quote: “Poker gives you a good grounding in lots of things, including reading situations and reading people and making tough decisions. Those skills can be used in business and certainly in running a football club.”

9. Ray Bitar

Won Sh600, 000 in one night at the poker tables.

 Age: 47

Nationality: American

Education: High school graduate. Never had desire to attend college 

Beginnings: Playing poker at 12, trading in shares at 16

Family: Dad ran away when he was still in nappies

 Net worth: Sh4 billion

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Source: Co-founding Full Tilt Poker, the world’s second largest online poker gambling site.

Style: Experience

Notable wins: Sh600, 000 in one night at the poker tables

Notable loses: Being indicted on money laundering, bank fraud and illegal gambling in 2011 when Full Tilt Poker was shut by US authorities, assets frozen. He surrendered everything to escape a 65 year jail term in 2013.

10. Jonathan Duhamel

He authored poker book, Final Table, in 2012

Age: 32

Nationality: Canadian

Education: University of Quebec, Business Administration and Finance 

First job: Picking strawberries

 Net worth: Sh3.2 billion

Source: Professional poker

Style: Observation/Experience

Notable wins: Sh800 million Word Series of Poker championship in 2010

Family: An aircraft mechanic dad, bank teller mum

Hustle: Authored poker book, Final Table, in 2012

Sources: Forbes, ESN, Bestcasinosites and millionaire mob.

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