Monday, January 17, 2011

Brief comments on the Billy Walters 60 Minutes appearance

I don't think the 60 Minutes piece that aired last night broke any ground for those who have remotely followed the remarkable career of Billy Walters.  However, it was probably noteworthy for the majority of viewers who likely know little if anything about white-collar pro gamblers - those who have nothing to do with organized crime and who treat sports betting as a legitimate profession.  This small and exclusive crowd (of which Walters is by far the most consequential) employs sound business practices, including (as referenced last night) recruiting the best workforce possible, which usually means some combination of statisticians, handicappers, and a trusted coterie of movers and runners who must jump at a moment's notice to place (often large) bets at the desired number (betting line/point spread).  These are precisely the types of individuals I have spent two-plus years researching, including a focus on pro gambler/mover Jimmy Battista, who worked with/for several of the world's heavy hitters.  [Re: white-collar pro gamblers, also see, for example, my post re: Joseph "Joe Vito" Mastronardo.]

Other items that rang true in re: the sociology of big-time betting in the 60 Minutes piece were: the use of Don Best (this was the interactive site Billy Walters was viewing during the segment to track dozens of betting line moves in real time), which is a necessity for anyone who wishes to bet seriously; and the manipulation of betting lines by pro gamblers to obtain a more favorite line/point spread.  Regarding this latter point, this is precisely why it is risky to try and copy the bets of sharp bettors like Walters.  That is, even if one was somehow privy to his bets, it is impossible to know if this is the "right" side, or if this is a "head fake" or "phony bet" to get the sucker money to follow and eventually force sportsbooks to change the line to a number Walters or another sharp plans on betting heavily on the other side.  I have embedded an online version of the segment below, but don't know how long this will be available (my apologies for the slightly irregular manner in which this runs in a blog):