Famous Sports Bettors
Gaining notoriety through successful, or maybe even unsuccessful, betting at in-person and online sportsbooks in the US is a natural consequence of the industry. Sports betting is, by nature, a profession where the cream rises to the top given a large enough sample size. The famous sports bettors discussed in this section range from ex-sports stars who are famous for betting on sports, to sports betting industrialists, to ex-sports bettors turned talking heads. Basically, there are so many ways to take your career outside success at sports betting, and there are many examples of famous sports bettors.
The most successful sports bettors might be people you’ve heard of, like Michael Jordan or Pete Rose, or they might be people you might not have heard of, like Tony Bloom and Haralabos Voulgaris. The range of outcomes when discussing famous sports bettors is pretty large. The purpose of this page is not just to get you familiar with the industry, but to provide some context for who people know are, and some examples of how integrated sports betting is with sports as a whole.
Who Are The Most Famous Sports Bettors?
Pete Rose is, perhaps, the most famous person known for his betting. Rose was famously banned from baseball after being discovered betting on games his team participated in. Rose is one of the best players to ever set foot on the diamond, and still holds the major league record for career hits. Rose remains banned from the Major League Baseball Hall Of Fame for his actions but has recently applied for reinstatement, which would allow him to be elected to the Hall.
The most famous basketball player of all time was a notorious gambler, often staying out late before playoff games to gamble. Jordan is not an analytics-driven gambling mogul like many others on this list, instead preferring to gamble for the sport of it, for the pure competition. Jordan, the greatest basketball player ever, is not the greatest sports bettor ever, but he doesn’t have to be to make money – he already has it.
Bloom is one of the most successful sports bettors on the planet – we think. Bloom has been secretive about how he earned his money, but what is known is that he used a sports gambling company to earn some part of it, perhaps a significant part. Bloom has made so much money sports betting that he bought his childhood soccer team, Brighton & Hove Albion FC, and has pumped enough money into them that they earned a promotion to the top flight of English football, the Premier League.
Haralabos Voulgaris, also known as Haralabob, is probably the best known and most successful basketball bettor of the 21st century. Haralabob made millions and millions of dollars betting on basketball, taking advantage of coaches' tendencies, but also of sportsbook inefficiencies. Basically, what he noticed was that sportsbooks at the time tended to split half over/under lines, which meant that the over/under for the second half of basketball games was simply ½ of the overall over/under. This did not account for the way in which basketball games are played – scoring ratchets up in the last half. Unfortunately, the sportsbooks have noticed and adjusted, but not before Haralabob made enough money to move to a tax haven.
Parlay Patz’s name speaks for itself. Ben Patz got famous in 2019 for, what else, winning some incredibly unlikely parlay bets. Parlay bets are generally regarded as something of a fool’s game, but the payouts can be incredible, and they were in Patz’s case, as he made over a million dollars betting parlays in 2019. Pats gained fame as a sports bettor, but swiftly made a fool of himself, threatening players online when he lost bets. He eventually went to jail for this behavior when it escalated past the point of being reasonable.
Jimmy the Greek
Jimmy the Greek is most famous for being the guy who made sports betting mainstream, the guy who put sports betting on television. He’s a big part of the reason that people talk about sports betting the way they do currently – he put it in pop culture. Basically, Jimmy was a celebrity handicapper, who spent his days telling people what bets were good and what various lines were. Jimmy was eventually fired for saying some derogatory things about minorities, but his legacy lives on, as troubled as it is.
Money Mayweather is famous not only as an undefeated boxer with a uniquely troubling style but also as a classic “lay-the-favorite” style sports bettor. Money puts his money to work for him, placing large wagers on heavy favorites. As a man who is accustomed to both being the heavy favorite and winning as the heavy favorite, the strategy makes a lot of sense.
James Holzhauer brought a good name to sports bettors everywhere when he went on an incredible run on the TV game show Jeopardy, becoming by all accounts the second greatest player of the game, behind Ken Jennings. There was a competition to determine the true GOAT, held between Jennings, Holzhauer and multiple tournament champion Brad Rutter that, unfortunately for James, put him below Jennings in the official count, but nonetheless Holzhauer has been stellar as a Jeopardy contestant and self-identified as a professional sports bettor before he was on the show.
The Round Mound of Rebound is one of the most famous sports bettors on the planet at the moment, although he is mostly famous for being wrong on TV. The Chuckster, famously one of the nicest celebrities around, has a weakness for gambling, and it sure has been a weakness recently. He put 100 grand on the Portland Trail Blazers to win the Western Conference in 2020 and they finished under .500. Sir Charles also famously gambled on his golf games against Michael Jordan back when he was a player.
How Do Professional Sports Bettors Make Money?
Professional sports betters make money by placing smart wagers, by betting intelligently, and, sometimes, by being lucky. Generally, they do business at various sportsbooks, including some online sportsbooks located overseas, as well as with those in Las Vegas, and now in states with legal sports betting. They tend to find the best lines that they can exploit, and then ruthlessly do so. When these high-profile sports bettors are about to lay their action, they cannot just anonymously do so. Oftentimes, their wagers are so high-priced that a sportsbook manager must approve the transaction before they can potentially collect.
Sports Betting Quotes
“I want people to understand, gambling is not a bad thing if you do it within the framework of what it’s meant to be, which is fun and entertaining.”
“The house doesn’t beat the player. It just gives him an opportunity to beat himself.”
Nick the Greek
“A gambler never makes the same mistake twice. It’s usually three or more times.”
Terrence “VP Pappy” Murphy