Like many of the biggest 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 Premier League club Brighton & Hove Albion. His gambling feats, however, are how he made a name for himself – as well as a lot of money!
Tony Bloom was born in 1970 and grew up in Brighton, which is about an hour south of London. 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, he started visiting local betting shops in the surrounding towns to bet on sports. He started when he was three years shy of being able to bet legally in the UK, but got by with a fake ID.
After high school, Bloom studied mathematics at Manchester University and continued to bet on sports. His first full-time job was at Ernst and Young, as he continued to casually bet on sports on the side and managed to build up a 20,000-pound bankroll. He started working as an options trader, but had only been trading for around six months when he decided to leave and pursue punting full-time.
Bloom had enough success to catch the attention of the bookmakers at Victor Chandler. He was approached to set up their Asian betting operations and it marked a huge turning point in his career.
Tony Bloom the bookmaker
Tony Bloom was one of the first people outside of Asia to take a keen interest in Asian handicapping – a form of spread betting where handicaps range from one-quarter goal to several goals. Over many years Bloom crunched the numbers on these markets and travelled all around Asia and the world. Bloom’s most famous win as a bookie came when he told his employers at Victor Chandler to favour an unfancied France in the 1998 World Cup Final. France beat Brazil to claim the title, which is said to have been a huge win for the company.
The online gambling revolution
Buoyed by his success at Victor Chandler, Bloom founded 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 sold it a few years later.
Around that same time, Chris Moneymaker won the World Series of Poker, and online poker took off 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 later sold them both for a tidy yet undisclosed profit.
Bloom himself is an avid poker player, although he plays simply for pleasure. He’s 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.
In 2006, Bloom took his poker nickname and his huge bankroll to set up a new venture. For years Bloom had operated as a bookie. Now he wanted to play on the other side of the fence.
StarLizard is both a betting advisory and betting syndicate, and operates more like a hedge fund, using mathematical models to gain an edge on football. Bloom loves English football and he had spent years betting on it himself, so it was the natural focus for his business. The company specialises in betting on the Asian handicap market.
StarLizard distributes what it believes will be the most likely scoreline in a number of different matches each week. The modelling is so accurate that it’s been suggested it 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 to put in. Employees are also able to share in the syndicate 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, churn out stats and place bets – predominantly on football.
It’s estimated that Bloom’s personal wealth is now well into the billions.
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