If you’ve ever won a ton on the gee gees, there’s a good chance that you felt pretty darn pleased with yourself – however, you’ve got a fair way to go to match Pittsburgh native, Bill Benter, who netted a billion dollars from betting on horse racing.
A chance meeting
At the age of 22, Bill Benter was a university drop out working a night shift at a McDonalds in Las Vegas. That would all change after a chance meeting with Alan Woods, the leader of an Australian card counting team. An audacious gambler, Woods would boast about his exploits, including sneaking past Manila airport security with $10,000 stashed in his underwear. Within weeks, Bill Benter began working for Alan Woods and was soon making upwards of $80,000 per year from card counting. The team’s activities, however, did not escape the attention of casino security and, in 1984, the entire team was blacklisted from most of the venues in Las Vegas.
And they’re off
While many would choose to cut their losses and move on, Benter clearly had a taste for the high rolling lifestyle and, soon, he turned his attention to Hong Kong horse racing. After studying horse racing for nine months, Bill Benter moved to Hong Kong – taking Alan Woods with him – and began to gamble using an algorithm that Benter had created. Unfortunately, the odds weren’t with the duo and, after an argument following a loss of $120,000, the two went their separate ways and Benter spent two years in Atlantic City where he worked on improving his model – but that wasn’t the end of Bill Benter’s Hong Kong adventures.
Betting on good causes
In 1988, Benter returned to Hong Kong, armed with his new and improved gambling model which was based on the idea that the possibility of bad luck would diminish along with increased betting volume. In 1990, he was able to further refine his model when the Hong Kong Jockey Club made the decision to make their betting odds publicly available – and Benter was off and running. By 1997, Benter and his team had won in excess of $50 million – resulting in a ban from betting in casino online through computers and phones.
Always one for innovation, Benter then circumvented the system by inventing a strategy whereby he would turn blank slips into betting slips, which would then be fed into a betting terminal. Bill Benter and his team would continue with this strategy until 2001 when, in an act of philanthropy, Benter placed one last bet on the Triple Trio and would leave his $118 million unclaimed as he knew that club policy was to give any unclaimed winnings to charity. Today, Bill Benter still bets on the horses but is more focused on his charity work through the Benter Foundation which supports a number of causes in the health, education and arts industries.