Bet on horses long enough, and you’re going to lose, regardless of your system. That is unless you’re Bill Benter. Benter has made nearly $1 billion using math skills to develop an effective horse betting system.
With the Preakness Stakes fast approaching, horse betting is at the forefront of the sports betting world. And no discussion on equine betting is complete without mentioning William “Bill“ Benter, an Eagle Scout, world traveler, Pittsburgh native, and a man known in Hong Kong as the God of Horses.
For Benter, developing a horse betting system came naturally. “I find the real business world to be a lot more difficult than horse racing,” Benter said in a 2018 interview with Bloomberg. “I’m kind of a one-trick pony.”
Oregon gamblers can place a bet on the Preakness at Grants Pass Downs or any of the 11 off-track betting sites throughout the state. Or, even easier is to check out the TVG app from the comfort of your home. TVG is specifically designed for horse betting and will be happy to take your bets in Oregon.
Heading into the big race at Pimlico Race Course, here are the favorites to win the race:
- Epicenter: 6-5
- Early Voting: 7-2
- Secret Oath: 9-2
- Simplification: 6-1
- Creative Minister: 10-1
From Vegas to Hong Kong: How Benter found his magic
Make no mistake: Bill Benter is a smart man. He studied physics in college before leaving university to travel the world, eventually ending up in Vegas in the early ’80s at 22 years old.
His inspiration? Benter fell in love…with a book. To be exact, Beat the Dealer, a 1962 a relatively well-known tome by mathematics professor named Edward Thorp. Long story short, Benter frequented the blackjack tables and eventually made fast friends with legendary Australian card counter Alan Woods.
While the gig was profitable, casinos eventually wised up to the Woods gang, earning Benter a ban from Vegas casinos. It turns out that being shunned by Vegas was precisely what Benter needed.
Banning Benter from Vegas made him turn his ambitious, albeit nerdy, sights on Hong Kong, arguably the horse betting world’s epicenter. At the time, Hong Kong’s two tracks, Happy Valley and Sha Tin, were pulling in a handle that was more than that of the entire United States, according to Bloomberg.
In other words, Benter was in the middle of a gold mine and just needed the right tool to become fantastically wealthy.
He found his tool in the most mundane way: a 1986 academic study that examined how a certain betting model could produce results at the track. Two researchers from the University of Alberta (Canada) went deep into the numbers.
They concluded: “Can a horse race wagering system involving win betting yield positive returns? Given this paper’s results, there appears to be some room for some optimism.”
Translation: Yeah, we think we figured out how you can make money on horse betting, but we’re not sure. Though the researchers may not have been sure, Benter was.
Benter becomes the God of horses
Hand a Ferrari key to a Formula 1 racer, and they’ll know exactly what to do. Hand a mathematical model to a math genius who bets on horses? He’ll know exactly what to do, too.
Benter pored over the study, wrestled with its ideas, and came up with his betting system. It wasn’t just a ploy, either. Whereas radio ads may bombard you with bettors who’ve claimed they cracked the code, Benter’s system was legit.
He laid out the math and probabilities in a 17-page paper published in 1994. He used his betting results from the past five years in Hong Kong as evidence. And he showed that the more races he bet on, the more success he had.
“The question; ‘Can a system beat the races?’ can surely be answered in the affirmative,” Benter wrote at the end of his paper. “The author’s experience has shown that at least at some times, at some tracks, a statistically derived fundamental handicapping model can achieve a significant positive expectation.”
In plain English, Benter said, “My data-based model works in specific situations.”
And what does “works” mean? For Benter, it meant around $800 million, according to interviews with friends and employees Bloomberg conducted in advance of its 2018 interview.
Can you beat the Preakness with the Benter betting system?
In short, no.
You can’t download an app based on Benter’s math that spits out calculations of which horses to bet on and how much to bet. You’ve got to have a ton of brain and computer power.
“In the future, computer handicappers may become more numerous, or one of the racing publications may start publishing competent computer rating of the horses, either of which will likely cause the market to become efficient to such predictions,” Benter wrote in his paper. “The profits have gone, and will go, to those who are ‘in action’ first with sophisticated models.”
So, unless you have a sophisticated horse betting model that you can decipher well enough to make the right bets at the right time, you aren’t going to be the next Bill Benter.