The best football gambler in the world is hiring
His statistical model beats the bookies most weeks
Do you want a job making loads of money?
The Iceworks building in Camden is an unremarkable one, though inside it’s kitted out with perks. There is a free gym and sauna; there is a kitchen with free food; there is a games room with table football and darts. Iceworks has a box at Stamford Bridge and other top Premier League clubs.
This is Starlizard, a secretive football betting syndicate run by Tony “The Lizard” Bloom, one of the most successful gamblers in betting history. According to an investigation by Business Insider, Starlizard makes anywhere between £20 to a £100 million a year. They often have £1 million riding on the outcome of a single game. And they’re hiring right now.
Starlizard does not take its own bets – it’s easier to think of it as a “betting consultancy”: the company creates detailed and intuitive statistical models that can create better odds than those offered by bookies. The company will then sell these odds to its customers to help them to make better bets and consequently make more money.
The company has rich clients – and helps them to get richer. The top tier uses Starlizard’s odds to identify “value” bets — these occasions when regular market has misjudged a team (under- or over-estimating them). Here the ratio of risk to reward ratio is firmly in the favour of the person making the bet.
So how do they do it? As a former employee told Business Insider:
Every aspect of football that you could think of was taken into consideration. I guess that’s why they’re so good at what they do. The weather, morale, anyone related to the club, [they] would be analysed under the microscope. It was pretty impressive.
There are four teams: one for generating data, one for using that data to create the odds, one that bets according to those odds, and one that places bets for their clients with bookmakers who are based in the Far East.
In the Camden office there are around 30 football “researchers” who generate internal data. They watch matches and note down details like goal scoring opportunities or shots on target. A former employee explains:
If a game was 0-0 but the home team had missed a penalty, the best scoreline to go back into a predictive model would be something like 0.8. If a team missed a penalty and had, say, 2 shots where they hit the woodwork, they probably deserved to win.
However, they do more than just watch football: the use contacts from journalism and sport. They look for details on morale, form, team sheets, and training.
This data is used in a complicated statistical computer model, that has been built by another team called the “quants” – the computer nerds you’d expect to find in investment banks. They build and maintain an algorithm that pulls in the data and orders it by its significance.
Starlizard’s founder Tony “The Lizard” Bloom generates most of the money that the company bets (his nickname allegedly comes from his conduct on the poker table). One pundit – Keith Sobey, who run a London sports-betting academy, told the Wall Street Journal in 2010 called him “probably the most successful soccer bettor in the world.”
Former Starlizard staff don’t earn the top dollar that The Lizard does. Betters will earn between £25,000 and £40,000 depending on their role, which is roughy in-line with what they’d earn at a bookies. “Quants” get what they would have made at a bank.
On the other hand, pass probation and they might be in line for the big bucks (eventually). According to former employees, at this point employees are summoned to the finance director Adam Franks’ office and offered a stake in Bloom’s syndicate, which pays out winnings twice a year. It’s a multi-million pound pot, and pay-outs are rumoured to range from less than £100 to more than £500,000.
These select Starlizard staff don’t need to pay to join – the winnings are doled out like a bonus. A ‘bonus’ bonus – as winnings generated through gambling are tax exempt from tax under UK law.
Polish that CV and look up your AS Level statistics notes.