Billy Walters on building a betting empire

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Imagine walking into a sportsbook to place a bet with $50,000 that isn’t yours. The money is the second-most important thing you’ve got. The first is the line on the bet you’re supposed to make. The third is the beeper in your pocket signifying that you are always on call for a boss that works 365 days a year.

The man making the call? Legendary sports bettor Billy Walters, who had teams of “runners”, people that he used to place the bets in the sportsbooks so that he could stay on top of the latest line moves and information to lead the biggest betting circle in the history of the industry.

Brent Musburger sat down with the “GOAT of Sports Betting” for a one-on-one conversation in advance of Walters’ book, Gambler: Secrets of a Life at Risk, co-written by best-selling author Armen Keteyian. This VSiN exclusive interview details how Walters built his betting empire, his relationship with Phil Mickelson and an insider trading conviction that ultimately led to prison time.

How did Walters build a betting empire? Hard work was certainly at the heart of it, as he noted his 4:30 a.m. alarm in the fall to be ready to bet when the books opened up for business.

“In the fall, you’ve got all those college football games on Saturday, you got the totals, you got the halftimes, you got the moneylines, you’ve got all the football games, you’ve got the NBA, you’ve got the NFL the next day. So, you’ve gotta make a lot of prices and you’ve gotta go out and bet all those games and you’ve gotta get the right price. And then, you gotta do the accounting, that’s all gotta be done before you go to bed. And then you gotta pay or collect. So, yeah, it’s a full-time job.”

 

How did Billy get all that money and all those bets down?

“I had a ballroom full of people. We had people all over the country and they had ballrooms of people. There were thousands of people involved. We’d go out with an order on a game and I’d be on the phone and I’d have people that work for me and other people on the phone. And they have people on the phone. And I would say, ‘Okay, we’re gonna play Kentucky -5. It’s an open order, bet all that you can bet.’ And then they’d get certain people on the phone, people we had on certain rotations. And then I’d say, ‘Go!’ and then everybody had four or five people they had a responsibility for. You had to call and give them the order. Some people you bet, some people you just gave the order to and they went and bet other people. Every 45 seconds to a minute, I’d come up with another team. This went on throughout the entire time.”

Throughout this interview, you’ll learn more about Billy’s well-oiled betting machine, the hardships and adversity he endured, whether or not he is still betting on games and a tease about the book and the impact it will have on sports bettors eager to learn from the greatest bettor of all-time.