Gambling comes in all shapes and sizes and for years many have tried to beat the odds.
An illustrious team of MIT students managed to crack the code for blackjack years ago but when it came to sports betting especially horse racing it seemed to be a near impossible task.
One gambler, Bill Benter, managed to defy the odds and write a powerful algorithm that couldn’t lose on the track.
With his successful horseracing algorithm he managed to rake in billions of dollars and now he has finally chose to speak up.
How one man managed to do the impossible!
Bill Benter was born and raised in Pleasant Hills, Pittsburgh. From the start he was someone a parent could be proud off, an Eagle Scout, a keen learner and a responsible man. In college he began to study physics and with much freedom from his parents he was able to travel the world. After he left school he boarded a
Greyhound bus on a journey to play cards in Las Vegas.
One of his many inspirations was math Professor Edward Thorp who wrote the book Beat the Dealer in 1962. The book was all about overcoming the house edge’s advantage in blackjack. Thorp as many would know was the inventor of the system referred to as card counting.
Benter’s blackjack journey was a long and successful one but was ended when he got added to the Griffin Book. Being blacklisted by many casinos it was nearly impossible for him and his partners to play at any Vegas casinos.
This lead to the search of playing other games which is where his journey and success with horse racing began. Alan Woods, Benter’s partner, knew how big the horse-betting pools were in Asia, as well as that the biggest pool was run by the Hong Kong Jockey Club.
Early on in the game Benter realized that he would have to make bets with a profit margin that would be greater than the clubs percent cut. He started absorbing all information on horse racing including possible systems to use. Unfortunately not many of the sources contained math that prove results.
In his search for viable information he came across an academic paper titled ‘Searching for Positive Returns at the Track: A Multinomial Logit Model for Handicapping Horse Races’. The paper discussed all the variables that needed to be factored in to successfully predict the outcome of horse races. It has to be said that the authors weren’t sure if money could be made from the theory and didn’t do a lot to find out either.
Benter on the other hand was a man on a mission, he taught himself advanced statistic and learned to write software. Woods did his part by flying to Hong Kong and sending back stacks of yearbooks containing all the racing information for thousands of races. It took nine months to develop the code and complete his study on regressions. It was only in September 1985 that he flew to Hong Kong with his three bulky IBM computers to test his theory and meet his partner.
Things weren’t successful from the start and through years spent betting on the horse races in Hong Kong, Benter continued to perfect his system and his algorithm.
Not for the money but to prove a point
In a recent interview Benter revealed that his dedication to finding an algorithm that will beat the odds was not for the money but rather to prove that anything is possible. Some might say the gambler is trying to be humble but Benter says it was never about the money.
This statement was proven late 2001 when he and Alan Woods managed to win the biggest jackpot ever seen on a single bet called the Triple Trio. The algorithm worked, they won $16 million but chose against collecting the money as they thought it would be ‘unsporting’. Instead Benter and Woods locked away the pink slips to the biggest wins in their careers in a safe. It was to become a prize they would never claim.
He admitted that his operations have made close to a billion dollars overall over the years but a lot of the money has gone to partners in the US and Hong Kong.
Benter continues to bet on horses and enjoys watching the odds change continuously. He revealed that he is still amazed at being able to win. He also admitted that he still continues to tinker with his model and modify it.
Benter proved that dedication, an eagerness to learn and determination to do the impossible can make anything possible.