Successful Sports Bettors and What You Can Learn From Them

We’re sure you’ve heard lots of stories in your life about people who make a living out of sports betting.

Imagine making enough money to live on from your extensive knowledge of a sport you love. There are few who can deny that would be a pretty sweet existence!

While there are all sorts of new ways to bet and new technologies allowing you to get an edge in sports betting, the best way to learn how to win consistently is to find out how those who do win consistently manage it.

We decided to find out all we could about successful sports bettors who have either made a fortune or who consistently make money by betting on sports. Both these types of people fit the bill of successful sports bettors.

First, let’s take a look at some examples. After that, let’s explore what they do that sets them apart from those who ultimately lose money.

Five Remarkable Sports Bettors and Their Incredible Wins

Here are five examples of sports bettors who have won big.

Adrian Hayward

How many times have you had a strong intuition or gut feeling about what would happen next in a game, but ignored it, only to kick yourself later when your intuition turned out to be right?

Whether or not you consider yourself to be a particularly superstitious person, this next story is definitely freaky.

Adrian Hayward, a soccer fan and sports bettor, decided to follow through on his intuition when he had a literal dream that Liverpool superstar Xabi Alonso scored a goal from his own half.

Hayward walked into a Paddy Power betting shop and placed a £200 bet that sometime during the course of the season, his dream would become reality. Paddy Power gave him 125-1 odds, and probably laughed at him on the way out the door.

They weren’t laughing for long, though, as Hayward’s dream came true in an FA Cup match against Luton Town. As Luton put everything on the line to desperately try to score an equalizer, Alonso noticed their keeper out of the net and scored a blinder from his own half.

Now it was Hayward’s turn to laugh as he banked £25,000 for having the courage to believe in his dream and back it.

While this is a highly unusual and unlikely scenario, sports bettors the world over will probably recognize that undeniable feeling of just knowing. Perhaps it’s a good idea to back it, after all.

In a brief interview with the BBC Mr. Hayward said

“I’ve never placed such a large bet before. I just had a feeling about it.”

He claims to have watched the match in person and screamed “Shoot!” at the television before the epic goal was scored.

So, was it something mysterious which told Mr. Hayward what would happen, premonition style? Not exactly.

“I’ve been a Liverpool fan for 26 years and I noticed last season that Alonso attempted shooting from his own half quite a few times,” he elaborated.

Nothing mysterious there, then, just good old-fashioned intuition based on experience!

Nick Newlife

In any sort of money-making venture, whether it be business or sports betting, it’s often said that getting in early is the key. This next story is certainly an example of that.

In 2003, Nick Newlife witnessed Roger Federer win his first Wimbledon title and decided that he had witnessed an incredible talent. He believed in Federer enough to bet £1520 on the rising talent winning 6 further Wimbledon titles and was given odds of 66-1 on it.

If you’re a tennis fan, you probably already know that the bet paid off, and that Federer is one of the most incredible tennis players to ever live. However, this story has a bittersweet ending.

Newlife sadly died before he got to see his punt pay off to the tune of £101,840.

While that may be the sort of event that would fit nicely into the Alanis Morissette song “Ironic,” the story ultimately has a happier ending in which Newlife left the winning bet slip to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam.

Sometimes it really does pay to be bold, and perhaps fortune really does favor the brave. Either way, Nick Newlife must have been a decent bloke as well as a brave one!

Sadly, since Mr. Newlife died before his bet came good, nobody ever got to interview him and ask him exactly what it was that prompted him to make such a bet. Since he was also a bachelor, there are no close family members to give us a clue, either.

This one will have to remain a mystery.

Fred Craggs

When you reach the age of 60 and haven’t particularly had any major luck in life, you could be forgiven for thinking it’s probably never going to happen.

Fred Craggs, however, was not one for giving up. He decided to place a £0.50 wager on an 8-horse accumulator to celebrate his 60th birthday.

Admitting that he picked his horses because he liked their names, rather than trying to take credit for being able to sift through historical data and pick winners, Mr. Craggs probably thought it was just another bet he would likely lose. The odds were 2,000,000-1, after all.

Nothing could have been further from the truth. In an astonishing stroke of luck, all 8 horses won their races and Mr. Craggs took home a tidy £1,000,000 from his £0.50 stake.

What a way to officially enter your golden years, eh?! Mr. Craggs, however, remained stoic about the win. He told The Mirror in a brief interview,

“I felt a dull sense of excitement about the win. I wasn’t jumping about. It was more, ‘Gosh, I’ve won.”

He even complained that he could have won £1,4000,000, except that bookie William Hill capped his win at £1,000,000, stating that “a million isn’t what it used to be.”

Come on Mr. Craggs, cheer up, count what you’ve got, and enjoy it!

Mick Gibbs

There are very few people in the world who possess enough knowledge on a given sport or subject to be called an “oracle,” but Mick Gibbs, a roofer from England, might be one of them.

Now, a lot of people may say that a lucky bet is simply lucky, but when someone gets multiple football accumulator bets right over the years, earning a fortune in the process, you have to begin to wonder if something else is going on.

Gibbs first won £157,000 from a £2.50 bet in 1999, when he correctly predicted the outcome of 9 different games all across Europe.

That may be written off as a fluke, but Gibbs wasn’t done yet. A little while later, in 2001, he correctly predicted the results of 15 games, culminating in the Champions League final match in which Bayern Munich beat Valencia in a nail-biting penalty shootout.

Gibbs received a payout of £500,000 from that £0.30 accumulator bet and happily survived the penalty shootout without having a nervous breakdown, which says a lot about him.

Gibbs proves that either sports betting is at least partially skill-based, or that some people are a heck of a lot luckier than the rest of us.

If you’re still willing to believe Gibbs was simply extremely fortunate, the next sports betting success story may change your mind.

Nobody has ever heard from Gibbs since, so it’s impossible to say exactly how he managed to win such large bets twice.

Billy Walters

Every subculture has its heroes to look up to, and in the world of sports betting, Billy Walters is king.

Proving once and for all that successful sports betting involves skill and isn’t the result of blind chance, Walters walked away from professional poker and made millions as a full-time sports bettor.

When asked about how he made millions betting on sports, Walters claimed that analyzing the data and using business style risk-reward models was the key.

In other words, he treated sports betting as a professional business endeavor, rather than a casual hobby.

Walters has made many legendary bets, but his most infamous punt was a $3,500,000 bet on the New Orleans Saints to beat the Indianapolis Colts at the Super Bowl in 2010.

The exact amount he won has never been fully revealed, but it’s publicly known that the Saints were the underdogs by quite a long way, and speculation puts the likely figure in the tens of millions.

Walters has become somewhat of a controversial figure in his later years, but nobody disputes his status as the greatest sports bettor of all time. He proves beyond a doubt that there’s a lot more than luck involved in making money by sports betting.

Walters avoids publicity and is an intensely private person, but he did one interview with 60 Minutes. He told them

“I’ve had losing weeks, I’ve had losing months…but never a losing year.”

That’s a remarkable feat, to say the least! You can watch a part of that 60 Minutes interview below. Unfortunately we were unable to find the full interview on YouTube.

Billy Walters – Further Info

There’s something mysterious about the elusive Billy Walters, so we did a little digging to develop a better picture of the man behind the legend.

Walters was born in rural Kentucky and raised by his grandmother. She didn’t seem to keep too much of an eye on him because he started hustling in pool halls by the time he was 13. By the time he was 15, he was winning $4,000 a time.

Eventually, he moved to Vegas after being convicted of operating as an illegal bookmaker in Kentucky.

When in Vegas, he formed a sports syndicate called the Computer Corp. which based its bets on massive volumes of data stored on computers. It was so successful that Walters was indicted 4 times over the years on charges ranging from money laundering to illegal betting.

None of it stuck, though, and Walters went on to make tens of millions, building a fearsome reputation with bookmakers across the world.

After his hugely successful sports betting career, Walters started trading stocks and was eventually sentenced to 5 years in prison for insider trading in a scheme in which he allegedly made $43,000,000 in insider trades. He was 71 years old at the beginning of his sentence in October 2017.

Walters maintains that sports betting is more legitimate than stock trading.

“I met some pretty bad guys on Wall Street,” he said, “they’d steal the Lord’s supper.”

What Walters will do when he gets out of prison (if he lives to see it) nobody knows. It’s a pretty safe bet that he’ll continue to gamble, though!

Tips for Success from Sports Betting Pros

Over the years, we’ve met and talked to all sorts of sports bettors, from the fed up and unlucky watching the horses in smoke-filled European betting shops, to the high-rollers riding around in limousines and staying in penthouses in Las Vegas.

They’ve all had something to teach about sports betting. So, we’ve boiled down that advice and created this list of sports betting tips for you. Hopefully, at least some of these will increase your success rate.

Form Is a Real Thing

Some people dismiss the concept of “form” in betting as nothing more than looking for a pattern in an ocean of randomness. Yet, the most successful sports bettors we have met all believe in it. Form is a team, player, or athlete on fire.

Form is particularly important to consider when betting on horse racing or football (either kind). Look for teams or athletes on form by checking out their last few races, fights, or matches.

Bets on the Underdog Pay Best

There’s a whole world going on in the inner lives of competitive athletes which we won’t even pretend to understand here. That said, there’s definitely a correlation between the underdog and some degree of success.

This is particularly true in fighting sports, where one strike can change everything. If an underdog has long enough odds to make the risk worth it, then place a small bet on them winning. It will pay off more often than you might think.

Experts Get Most of the Money

It’s better to be an expert in one sport, with the knowledge to make informed betting picks than to be someone who jumps around and bets on a little of everything.

Someone who has watched UFC fights for 10 years and knows each fighter’s stats by heart is much more likely to pick a winner than someone who occasionally watches big events. It pays to be an expert, and in sports, it can be seriously fun to become one.

Don’t Let Emotion Govern Decisions

Few bets made on the basis of wishful thinking ever come good. If the soccer team you bet on goes 4-0 down by half-time and you have a chance to cash out and save yourself from losing the lot, it’s a good idea to take that option.

The simple facts dictate that a recovery from 4 goals down is highly unlikely. Anyway, that small amount you save could be used to place another winning bet.

Learn from Sports History

It’s the age of the internet, and there are unbelievable archives of data available for free online. There are even professional sports bettors who compile their own databases and have computer programs custom-made to spot patterns.

While this might be taking it a bit far for the average Joe, you can still spend some time looking through historical stats to get a feel for what’s likely to happen.

Trust Intuitive Urges

This might sound like it contradicts the earlier point about not letting emotions govern decisions, but intuition and emotion are two different things.

Some of the best bets ever have been made because the punter felt a sort of premonition, and countless regrets come from not following these hunches when they come. This one defies all logical explanation, but there’s no doubt that premonitions exist in sports betting.

A Few Words Before the Final Bell

There’s no doubt that there’s a certain element of luck involved in sports betting success. Nobody (that we know of) possesses a crystal ball or artificially intelligent supercomputer with the ability to pick winners every time.

Having said that, there are definitely ways to improve your chances of winning. The tips above should be a good start. Experience will be the second element needed to improve your sports betting success ratio.

Could you be the next successful sports bettor the rest of us read about? There’s only one way to find out. We wish you the best of luck!