Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Alan Woods

Alan Woods
The most successful horse bettor of all-time and the richest gambler ever. 
That's the life of a true billionaire playboy.

Born in Australia in 1945, Alan Woods, as a child, has a passion for bridge and was gifted with brillance and aptitude for mathematics, which fascinated him.  But it wasn't until his 30s that gambling took a major part of his life.  In the late 70s, Alan Woods was a mathematician working as an actuary, he learned to count cards at blackjack then became a pro gambler travelling casinos around the world for three years.

In 1982, tired of the risky business of blackjack card counting, Allan Woods headed to Hong Kong, China with fellow card-counters, Bill Benter and their Vegas friend Walter Simmons.  As Woods would say:  "The beginning were nightmarish" but the trio finally devised a software program that gave them the edge in horse racing.  After losing their $150 000 bankroll in the first two years.  He had his first successful year in 1986-1987, winning $100 000.  Years later, all three of them were multimillionaires.

And for the next twenty years, he and his team of computer wizards, racing analysts, accountants and money runners rocked the Hong Kong Jockey Club's world. 

He was strictly a number guy.  He had not been on a racetrack for over twenty-five years.  His job ressembled more that of an accountant and computer programmer.  For him, it was all about statistics, numbers, and computer calculations.  His advice to someone who wanna be a pro gambler would be: "Don't do it unless you want to be a computer programmer."

Most remembered as an horse bettor extraordinaire, Alan Woods was a great all-around gambler.  He has been a world-class bridge player, a sports bettor, a globetrotting blackjack player, and a stock market speculator.  Horse betting was his main job and the stock market was were he did his "gambling".  In the late 90s, he took a $100 millions plunge when he attempted to short the NASDAQ stock market index just weeks before the dot.com bubble burst.  Bad timing!  Sixty days later he would have been a multi-billionaire.

Passed away on January 28, 2008, at 62 years old from an appendiceal cancer.  Allan Woods, aka Mr Huge, built an estimated fortune of $670 million before his death.  Which make him the world's greatest horse racing handicapper.

P.S. (Kid, stay in school!  As you can see, mathematics and computer skills are always a must for anyone who want to succeed as an investor and/or a gambler.)
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Monday, May 30, 2011

Jesse Livermore

Jesse Livermore
Stock Operator Extraordinaire

Born in 1877 and died in 1940, Jesse Livermore is the greatest trader / speculator who ever lived.  At his peak in 1929, Jesse Livermore was worth more than $100 millions.  He would have been richer than Bill Gates in today's money.  An unseen feat for a self-taugh / self-made stock and commodities trader who ONLY TRADED HIS OWN MONEY, not Other People Money like today investment's superstars.  With Bernard Baruch, he was one of the original trend followers.

Loner, individualist, suffering from severe episodes of depression, probably bipolar disorders who eventually took his life, Jesse Livermore made and lost four colossal fortunes during his lifetime.  Make two of his fortunes during stock market crashes periods, in 1907 and 1929, short-selling stocks.  Which earned him $3 millions in 1907 and $100 millions in 1929.  While everyone was losing their shirt, the astute Jesse Livermore was on top of the world!

Unlike Warren Buffett, Livermore was living the life.  At his peak, he owned a series of mansions in several countries, each fully staffed with servants, a fleet of limousines and Rolls Royce cars (my favorites), yatchs, and regularly threw lavish parties.

Now, here are some investment wisdoms from Jesse Livermore.  
- Emotional control (crucial and vital for any trader and gambler)
- Knowledge of economics and fondamentals
- Trade with the trends (Buy in a bull market and short in a bear market)
- Don't trade when there is no clear opportunities.
- Patience.  Let your profits run.
- Trade the leading stocks in each sector.
- Don't average down a losing position.
- Add to winning positions.
And in my view, the most important...
- Experience.  Learn from your mistakes.

"Wall Street never changes, the pockets change, the suckers change, the stocks change, but Wall Street never changes, because human nature never changes."  - Jesse Livermore

"Successful traders always follow the line of least resistance. Follow the trend. The trend is your friend." - Jesse Livermore

"It never was my thinking that made the big money for me. It always was my sitting." - Jesse Livermore

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Billy Walters

Billy Walters
"Do like Billy Walters and bet on yourself!"

Billy Walters is an excellent all-around professional gambler.  He started gambling at 5 years old and never stopped.  He is known as the greatest and richest sports bettor in the world.  Claiming a lifelong 57% winning percentage on his sports bets.  In 1986, Billy Walters won $3.8 million at the roulette exploiting the flaw of an old wheel at the Golden Nugget casino in Atlantic City.  Winning $3.5 million on 2010 Superbowl and $400 000 on a single golf hole.

But things wasn't always that perfect for Billy Walters.  Before making the big jump in Las Vegas to become a full-time pro gambler.  At 35 years old, Billy Walters was the typical pathological gambler/loser.  He was broke, owing money to several bookmakers, couldn't command any credit, into his third marriage, a ill son...  Despite being a very successful used-car dealer, making between $400 000 to $500 000 a year, he was penniless.  Gambling away all his profits.

No matter what regular job he got in the past, in his mind, he always been a professional gambler - pool, gin rummy, poker, blackjack, roulette, golf, horses, whatever...  But it all changed when in 1982, he moved to Vegas and focused all his efforts into being a professional gambler.  After being broke fifteen times, as he said, he started to focus, went on a 30-year winning streak as a sports bettor, and became a success story.

Thankx to his sports betting expertise, the once dirt poor boy from Kentucky now worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  He owns 7 homes around the world (one of his house worth $29 millions), 8 car dealerships, owns and operates 9 golf courses, shopping centers, commercial properties, a $20 million private jet, and a team of sports consultants and programmers who work for him in his gigantic office located in his Clark County area's grand estate.  And on a normal day, he can gamble an easy $2 million which is enough to move the line and change the odds. 

In a good year, he can rake $15 millions from gambling, which account for only 20% of his revenues.  So if $15 millions represents 20% of his yearly revenue.  We can conclude that he rake $75 millions a year, most of it via real estate.  Not bad for a degenarate gambler!

That's the American Dream! 



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Friday, May 27, 2011

Titanic Thompson

Titanic Thompson

Titanic Thompson is another well-rounded gambler who bet titanic sums of money on everything.
Born Alvin Clarence Thomas in 1892, nicknamed "Titanic" for the size of his bet or because he sinks everybody, not sure.  He make his living by the road, traveling the country with his golf clubs, a .45 revolver, and a suitcase full of cash.  Winning and losing millions of dollars (an estimated 10 millions dollars) playing cards, golf, dice, horses, pool, horseshoes, and any kind of "proposition bets" you could think of.  He married five underage women and killed five men in self-defense.  What a crazy life!

Hustler, cheater, liar, card shark, con man, dice manipulator as long as he could get the edge.  Titanic Thompson is known as one of the best proposition bettors who ever lived, some said he was "golf's greatest hustler", and many think he is the Greatest Gambler of All-Time. 

Thompson was a self-taught ambidextrous golfer blessed with extraordinary eyesight, hand-eye coordination, and athletic abilities.  He was good enough to turn pro but it didn't sound interesting since the top pro golfers of the era only make $30 000 a year.  And Titanic Thompson could make that much in one week hustling rich country club players.   

The high-roller who out-smarted the smartest, died penniless at age 82, on May 19, 1974, from a stroke in a retirement house.  Hustling till the end, social security checks of other residents were found in his room. 

The man became a legend.  Fictional gambler Sky Masterson from Damon Ruyon's Broadway play and movie "Guys and Dolls" was modeled on him.