Billy Walters – The Warren Buffett of Sports Betting Markets

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.

What is a Circled Game Mean in a Sports Betting Event?

Visitors to Las Vegas or online sportsbooks may come across some games on the betting board that will have special rules attached in the betting. Such games will be circled on the betting board. A red box means that the line is “circled” and subject to reduced betting limits.

Often time’s sportsbooks will circle games on the betting board due to injuries to impact players. NFL teams competing on Sunday’s must submit their injury reports on Friday and provide updates on Saturday. In recent years the NFL adopted a rule forcing teams to disclose on Wednesday through Friday who missed practice and who had limited work during practice. The best practice for sports betting professionals would be to browse individual team websites that post the injury and practice information about the health of their players.

The injury reports have been very accurate in recent years because the NFL wants to protect the integrity of the league because inside information on injuries could be exploited. So teams have been very forthcoming about the health of their players. Injuries to impact players like the starting quarterback, running back and impact wide receivers will cause Las Vegas and online sportsbook to circle the game on the sports betting board until their status come game time is determined. Sharp sports bettors follow the best practice of shopping individual sports books to shop for the odds that are best set on the side they want to bet on.

Sometimes Las Vegas or online sportsbooks may miss important injury information on teams and a smart bettor may bet into a good betting number that favors the bettor. Professional gamblers look for knee, foot and ankle injuries to running backs. A running back who is not 100% healthy and playing with ankle, foot or knee injuries will see their average yards per carry often fall well below their average. This puts the offense in second and third and long situations or what is known as obvious passing situations. Defenses who know the pass is coming can adjust into pass coverage creating less space for the wide receivers to run routes making a pass completion by the quarterback much more difficult which raises the possibility of a turnover. With a capable back up running back it is often better for a team to not play a running back that sports ankle, knee or foot injuries. Many professional sports bettors will look to play against a team who is starting an impact running back who is playing with an ankle, foot or knee injury.

If inclement weather is forecasted for the site of an outdoor game a sportsbook will circle the game and bettors will have betting limits reduced on the game up until about an hour until game time. Wind can factor greatly in the passing game and the best practice for professional sports bettors will look to play under in college and pro football if the betting line has not already been bet down. There are times when the professional has the inclement weather information before the Las Vegas or online sportsbook and this is a scenario when they make advantage bets.

Many sports bettors will find NBA games circled on the Las Vegas or online sports betting board. Often times an NBA team will report a mild ailment from a player in their rotation and list them as questionable or doubtful. Smart betting professionals will tune into NBA team’s pregame show 30 minutes prior to the start of the game to get specific injury information about teams impact players on their rotation. In the NBA if an impact player is lost to injury the replacement player will often step up and the team will have point spread success in the first game the team plays without their impact player in the lineup.

A line may be circled when factors other than game play (e.g., injuries or weather conditions) could affect the outcome of the game. As many bookmakers don’t have enough information on the game and can’t accurately balance the action as it comes in, circled lines can’t be added to a parlay. Some online or Las Vegas sportsbooks may have too much action on one side of the game and even with a line move they cant attract action on the other team. Most sportsbook business models are set to attempt to balance trade on all games and protect their bottom line. Most sportsbooks try to attempt to have all of their lines un-circled. The red box may be removed closer to the start of the game.