Nearly every avid gambler has, at one point, wished they had a system that would allow them to beat the odds and continuously rake in serious money. Naturally, a few bright minds have done just that. William “Bill” Benter, an American professional gambler who developed his own betting system and “earned” millions of dollars throughout his gambling career.
Benter was always drawn to games of chance and saw “cracking their code” as a unique challenge that could, one day, make him rich. He wasn’t about to settle for teaching or a similar day job with an exceptional talent for mathematics. Instead, he hit the casinos, hoping to cash in on his knowledge.
He started small, counting cards in Vegas while playing blackjack. However, Benter soon realized that card counting wasn’t nearly as accurate and lucrative as initially hoped. After coming across the book “Beat the Dealer” by Edward O. Thorp, his skills improved, and Benter started winning a lot more often.
However, casinos always frowned upon card counting, making it nigh impossible for Benter to make a career out of playing blackjack. Since he wasn’t exactly warmly welcomed by casinos in Vegas, he did the only thing logical — switched his attention to horse racing.
Benter Never Gambled
Moving from blackjack to horse racing, Bill Benter made a transition from gambling into the world of sports betting, so to speak. However, the truth of the matter is that Benter technically never gambled. Instead, he calculated the probabilities and “invested” money on the outcomes most likely to bring him a significant return on his investments.
Admittedly, in the context of card counting, it may appear as though we’re glorifying a rather straightforward technique. However, keeping track of all four suites simultaneously is a lot more difficult than it sounds. However, when we look at how Bill Benter approached horse racing, we must acknowledge his approach’s brilliance.
As one would expect of a mathematical genius, Benter didn’t pick the horses to bet on based on a hunch. Instead, he developed computer software that utilized sixteen independent variables to run simulations of the races beforehand and predict them rather successfully.
The initial variables included past results, each horse’s current form, the time of the race, the jockeys, and similar factors that may impact the outcome. All this information was publicly available, so all Benter had to develop software that would crunch the data.
At first, there were some ups and downs. He opted for the racetracks of Hong Kong since the world-famous Happy Valley regularly hosted a plethora of races to bet on. That said, Benter didn’t “strike gold” with the first version of the software. In fact, he even went bankrupt at one point and had to return to the U.S. to seek financial aid.
How Did He Do It?
Despite the initial failures, Benter never wavered. Upon returning to his homeland, he invested commendable efforts into perfecting his software. The second iteration included 130 different variables. This time around, even stuff like preferred terrain and weather conditions played a role in his calculations.
Another crucial factor, and possibly the reason for Benter’s success, was the fact that he also took into account the “prices” of each bet compared to their potential payouts. Comparing the model estimates with the market estimates (the odds the racetracks assigned to each horse) allowed Benter to boost his method’s profitability drastically.
This economical approach, which views every race as a miniature stock market of sorts, highlights the disproportion between the odds and the likelihood of any particular horse winning. It’s precisely the instances when the software shows reasonably high winning percentages while the market severely underestimates a horse that proves to be most lucrative.
For example, if the odds provided by the racetrack on a particular horse are 8:1 and the software shows an above-average likelihood of that horse winning, Benter would hire a team of people to place multiple bets on it.
What Benter did was merely exploit one weakness of the market — the same that had previously led him to bankruptcy. When bookies come up with the odds, they usually only consider past performance and the current form of the horses. As Benter found out the hard way, relying on too few variables doesn’t paint an accurate picture.
This approach turned out to be much more successful, so much so that Benter would bring home anywhere from $5–$10 million a day.
Now That’s Professional Gambling!
Like most professional poker players, Benter combined his innate talent with commendable dedication and managed to hone his prediction skills to a point where he’s almost guaranteed to win every time. That made him one of the best professional players and one of the richest gamblers to date.
He successfully utilized this approach for many years, testifying that his Happy Valley success wasn’t a fluke. Apart from Hong Kong, the model proved extremely lucrative in other Asian countries and back home in the United States.
Although Benter never disclosed exactly how much money he had won, he reported an approximate 24% profit each time he bet. Many people familiar with the story believe that Bill Benter’s net worth surpasses a billion dollars!
To address the elephant in the room — it’s highly unlikely anyone will be able to follow in Benter’s footsteps. It’s not that he was secretive about his methods. It’s just that recreating his success requires a specific set of skills, extensive mathematical knowledge, software engineering experience, and a lifetime of dedication.
Another hurdle, as Benter himself noted, is the advancement of technology. With it, the market predictions are becoming more and more accurate, so even if you had access to the exact software he used, there would be far fewer opportunities to profit from the discrepancies. So even if you won just as often, it would take you a lot more time to earn enough to come even close to Bill Benter’s net worth.
We’re not saying it’s impossible to become the next Benter but bear in mind that he spent several years developing the system, and during that time, even went bankrupt. Still, that’s what it takes to “beat the odds” and turn gambling from a fun pastime into a wildly profitable profession.
Where’s Benter Now?
Although Bill Benter’s net worth remains undisclosed, it’s safe to say that he has won more money on the racetracks than he could spend in ten lifetimes. Naturally, he eventually decided to quit “gambling” and turned his attention to helping those in need.
A philanthropist that he is, Bill Benter formed the Benter Foundation and is actively aiding charities and similar organizations worldwide. He also poured a decent chunk of his wealth into politics over the years, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to Democratic candidates.
He has also joined a Rotary Club in Hong Kong to help establish peace between China and the neighboring countries. In his honor, the University of Hong Kong created a scholarship program, rewarding students who excel in applied mathematics.
Bill Benter remains one of the most iconic people in the world of gambling and sports betting. We’re convinced tales of his success will be told for generations to come.
What People Commonly Ask About Bill Benter
Who is the best horse racing handicapper?
Well, that depends on how you define the word “best.” Still, Benter’s results speak for themselves. He is definitely the one that profited the most from horse racing handicapping.
What is the best bet in horse racing?
Since there is no surefire way to guarantee your bet will be successful, it comes down to personal preference. Some people will tell you that the safest bet is the best, while others will say that it’s best to bet on high odds where there’s a reasonable chance of the outcome occurring.
If you’re looking for a specific bet suggestion, you could try the each-way bet. It comprises two separate bets — half your total stake on the horse winning, half on it on placing. If the horse you opted for ends up being victorious, you win both bets.
How do you pick a winning horse?
As you have seen, picking based only on variables such as the horse’s past results and current form doesn’t seem to be the best choice. However, unless you’re planning on spending several years developing a system similar to Benter’s, all you can do is follow your hunch and pray, Lady Luck is on your side.
Can you make money from horse racing?
As you have read in the article, the man has literally become a billionaire solely off of betting on horse racing. However, he’s one in a billion (pardon the pun). If you approach gambling or sports betting as a way of making money, you’re far more likely to end up squandering your entire life savings.