Billy Walters Sports Betting Bio
William “Billy” Walters is one of the world’s most famous sports bettors, and he’s probably the world’s most famous person to not have a Wikipedia page. This latter point speaks to the former in a fairly profound way, as much of Walters’ career was necessarily predicated on secrecy. After all, a guy who can single-handedly wipe out a casino’s entire quarter with legal sports betting needs to stay in the background. The more shadows the better. Billy Walters was never one for the spotlight.
How Did Billy Walters Get Started?
Billy Walters got his start at an early age. When he was nine years old, the native Kentuckian took his paper route money to a local store, betting the owner that the Yankees would beat the Dodgers to win the 1955 World Series. The Dodgers won, and Billy lost all his hard-earned newspaper cash. Of course, as the son of a professional poker player, the loss didn’t make much of a negative impact. Neither did his losing his home in bad bets some 15 times over the course of his young adulthood. It caused a divorce or two, but it never caused him to divorce himself from his true love: the thrill of gambling and sports betting. Meanwhile, Walters continued to make ends meet by working at a used car dealership. Naturally, he was also running an illegal bookmaking service out of the back. He finally moved to Las Vegas after being found out and fined $1000.
Billy Walters Lands In Sin City
Las Vegas turned out to be a perfect fit for Billy Walters. While it brought its share of headaches re wiseguys and feds, Las Vegas also allowed Walters to finally establish himself as a gambling powerhouse. He started his own betting network, and he gradually grew his business into a multi-million-dollar annual earner. His methods remain closely guarded, but it is public knowledge that Walters was one of the first professional sports bettors to use advanced computer analysis and modeling to help identify trends and predict future athletic outcomes.
The Computer Group, formed in Las Vegas in 1980, was one of the best-known early statistical analysis companies to address the potential of marrying computers to sports betting. Unsurprisingly, member Billy Walters was front and center, using the Group’s software to inform his wagers. And it worked pretty well. Including the few years before The Computer Group helped cultivate his general approach, Billy Walters rode this burgeoning statistical approach to a 39-year winning streak.
Las Vegas Bans Billy Walters From Sin City
It certainly didn’t take 39 years for Billy Walters’ winning ways to get the attention of the casinos and sportsbooks he was beating into the dirt with such alarming regularity. Almost immediately, Walters was disallowed entrance to and action in those casinos, meaning that his days of betting in person and by name came to an end. Billy Walters was a household name on the Las Vegas Strip, and that name was toxic.
In order to continue making his living, Walters started placing bets through his employees and associates. These bettors would remain on site at various casinos and wait to receive phone calls from Walters, informing them where and when and how much to wager. His private company, ACME Group Trading, would pay these “gofers” a hefty $1200 a week to sit around at casinos boozing by the pool until their phones rang, at which point they’d answer, get their instructions, and place Walters’ bets. Good work if you can get it.
Walters rarely met any of these people, but he always got his money.
Billy Walters’ Biggest Wins
As arguably the most successful sports bettor of all time, Billy Walters has an extensive (but mostly hidden) portfolio of big wins. It’s widely known that he once made $400,000 on a single hole of golf and over $1 million on a single round. He banked $3.5 million on Super Bowl XLIV. (I mean, really now, who in their right mind would pick the New Orleans Aints over a prime Peyton’s Indianapolis Colts?)
But that’s nothing. Not really. Walters’ biggest bets are the ones he takes every day. Through ACME Group Trading, Walters would bet up to $2 million per week on the NFL. This high-rolling arrangement allowed Walters to regularly rake in a yearly income of $15 million on sports betting alone.
Billy Walters’ Biggest Losses
As good as he was, Billy Walters didn’t always win. That million bucks he won on a round of golf? He lost it all before bed time at the blackjack table. No big winner ever sustains any long-term success without also being a big loser here and there. The true genius of Waters, though, was that he often lost significant sums of money on purpose.
Why? See, most of Walters’ wheelhouse was NFL betting, and professional football games typically have fairly tight spreads. One of Walters’ ploys was to move large sums on underdogs ahead of time, forcing the bookmaker to close the odds. Then, Walters would simply bet even more money on the favorite to cover. You can’t use that technique without having a whole lot of cash to risk, but it’s a valid and effective gambit. (Indeed, Walters quickly discovered that this idea works especially well with lesser-known, second- and third-tier college football teams, where spreads are usually much larger and quite a bit easier to manipulate with a comparative modicum of money.)
Billy Walters’ Final Bet?
On July 27, 2017, Billy Walters was sentenced to five years in federal prison and fined up to $10 million for his alleged role in an insider trading case. Walters reportedly benefited from non-public information on Dean Foods Co. stock from 2008 to 2014, netting some $32 million in profit while avoiding a further combined loss of around $11 million. For that $43 million, the federal government finally nailed a guy they’d been chasing for almost four decades.
Walters maintains his innocence in the case, claiming confidence in his legal defense. “If I would have made a bet it, I would have lost,” said Walters on the eventual outcome of his trial, before finishing with the revelation that “I just did lose the biggest bet of my life.”
But this is Billy Walters we’re talking about here, and Billy Walters never lingers on a loss. Billy Walters always moves on to the next big bet:
He is appealing the sentence.
You can watch the 60 minutes interview with Billy Walters on youtube here.