Like many of the highest stakes gamblers in the world, Tony Bloom owes much of his success to a combination of computer and mathematical based betting, as well as business savvy.
Bloom is the owner of Brighton & Hove Albion, a UK Football Club who are now in the Premier League. His gambling feats, however, are what has helped make a name for himself and earn him the nickname ‘The Lizard.’
Bloom was born in 1970 and grew up in Brighton, which is about an hour south of London. Like many youngsters, he was introduced to punting by his grandfather, who enjoyed having a bet on the greyhounds. While his grandfather was a casual punter at best, Bloom had bigger ideas.
He attended private school and was always a strong student in mathematics. While just a teenager and underage at the time, he started visiting local betting shops in the surrounding towns to bet on sports. He was three years shy of being able to bet legally in the UK, but managed to acquire a fake ID.
After high school, Bloom went on to study Mathematics at Manchester University, where he continued to bet on sports. Even after school, when he had a job at Ernst and Young, he continued to casually bet on sports on the side and managed to build up a 20,000-pound bankroll. Around that time he started working as an options trader, but he had only been trading for around six months when he decided to leave and pursue punting full-time.
Unfortunately for Bloom, one of his first bets as a pro was a 5,000-pound loss on England vs the West Indies in 1994. However, he had enough success to catch the attention of the bookmakers at Victor Chandler. Bloom was approached to set up their Asian betting operations and it marked a huge turning point in his career.
Bloom was one of the first people outside of Asia to take a keen interest in how Asian handicapping works. Unlike traditional bookmaking odds, teams are given goal advantages or disadvantages, depending on their likelihood of winning the match.
Over many years Bloom crunched the numbers on these matches and travelled all around Asia and the world. There is a rumour that suggests Bloom told his employers at Victor Chandler to favour France in the 1998 World Cup Final. France ultimately beat Brazil to claim the title, which is said to have been a huge win for the company.
Online Gambling Revolution
Buoyed by his success at Victor Chandler, Bloom went on to found his own company in 2002. Premier Bet was one of the first to take bets online using the Asian handicapping system. The business was a success and he ultimately sold it a few years later.
Around that same time, Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker, and the online poker boom had begun in a big way. Bloom took his money from the sale of Premier Bet and started two online poker sites, Tribeca Tables and St Minver. He sold them at a tidy yet undisclosed profit.
Bloom himself is an avid poker player, although his interest is simply down to pure pleasure. He is a regular on the high stakes poker circuit and has taken on many of the best pros in the world. His ice-cold style earned him the nickname, “The Lizard”, which he has taken a liking to.
In 2006, Bloom took his poker nickname and his newly acquired bankroll and setup a new venture. For years Bloom had operated as a bookie, however this time he was going to be the one placing the bets.
StarLizard is both a betting advisory and betting syndicate, one that operates more like a hedge fund. They use mathematical models to gain an edge on football. Bloom loved English football and he had spent years betting on it himself. The company specialises in betting on the Asian handicap market.
It distributes what it believes (based on it’s modelling) will be the most likely scoreline in a number of different matches each week. The information is so good it has been suggested that this earns the company about AUD$25 million each year.
Along with the betting advisory, Bloom also operates a betting syndicate. The bulk of the funds in the syndicate are his own, however it’s also open to outsiders – if you have 2 million pounds to put in. Employees are also able to share in the syndicate as a kind of bonus after they have been with the company for many years.
StarLizard was one of the first companies to run its gambling operation like a hedge fund. It has more than 150 employees who watch matches, crunch numbers and churn out stats – predominantly on football and of course place bets.
It’s estimated that Bloom is now worth well into the billions of dollars, however that is unconfirmed. Regardless, his betting and mathematical nous certainly can’t be questioned. Bloom is yet another example of the power mathematics and computers have had in the betting world in the last three decades.