Pony dashing is something like a religion in Hong Kong, whose residents wager more than any other person on Earth. Their basilica is Happy Valley Racecourse, whose verdant oval track and floodlit stands are ringed around evening time by one of the game’s most stupendous perspectives: neon skyscrapers and slick heaps of elevated structures, a group of stars of enlightened windows, and past them, lavish slopes outlined in the dimness.
On the night of Nov. 6, 2001, all of Hong Kong was talking about the greatest jackpot the city had ever observed: at any rate HK$100 million (at that point about $13 million) for the champ of a solitary wager called the Triple Trio. The bet is similar to a trifecta of trifectas; it expects players to anticipate the main three ponies, in any request, in three distinct warms.
In excess of 10 million mixes are conceivable. At the point when nobody picks accurately, the prize cash turns over to the following arrangement of races.
That refreshing November night, the pot had gone unclaimed multiple times over. Around a million people placed a wager—equal to 1 of every seven-city inhabitants.
Instructions to Make a Billion Dollars on Horse Racing
At Happy Valley’s ground level, young ladies in lager tents passed frothy pitchers to snickering ex-pats, while the nearby Chinese, for whom gambling is an increasingly genuine issue, grasped dashing papers and hung over the handrails. At the split of the starter’s gun, the broadcaster’s voice rang out over amplifiers: “The last leg of the Triple Trio,” he yelled in Australian-highlighted English, “and away they go!”
As the pack roared around the last curve, two ponies built ahead. “It’s Mascot Treasure a length in front, yet Bobo Duck is gunning him down,” said the commentator, voice rising.
“Bobo Duck in front. Mascot retaliating!” The group thundered as the riders raced over the end goal. Bobo Duck edged Mascot Treasure, and Frat Rat came in third.
Over the street from Happy Valley, 27 stories up, two Americans sat in a rich office, disregarding a live feed of the activity that played mutely on a TV screen. The main sound was the murmur of twelve PCs.
Bill Benter and a partner named Paul Coladonato had their eyes fixed on a bank of three screens, which showed a network of wagers their calculation had made on the race—51,381 taking all things together.
Benter and Coladonato looked as a software content sifted through the losing wagers, each in turn until there were 36 lines left on the screens. Thirty-five of their wagers had effectively called the finishers in two of the races, fitting the bill for an incidental award. Also, one bet had effectively anticipated each of the nine ponies.
It wasn’t promptly clear the amount they’d made, so the two Americans endeavored some back-of-the-envelope math until the official profit flashed on TV eight minutes after the fact. Benter and Coladonato had won a jackpot of $16 million. Benter tallied the zeros to ensure, at that point, went to his partner.
“We can’t gather this—can we?” he inquired. “It would be unsporting. We’d feel terrible about ourselves.” Coladonato concurred they proved unable.
On a close-by table, pink betting slips were masterminded in a clean heap. The two men looked over them, detaching three slips that contained every one of the 36 winning lines. They gazed at the bits of paper for quite a while.
At that point, they presented, chuckling, for a photograph—two expert speculators with the greatest prize of their professions, one they could never guarantee—and secured the tickets a safe. Not a problem, Benter figured. They could make it back, and the sky is the limit from there, over the remainder of the hustling season.
Veteran card sharks realize you can’t beat the ponies. There are such a large number of factors and an excessive number of potential results. Leaders break a leg. Racers fall.
Champion purebloods choose, for no evident explanation, that they’re essentially not in the mind-set. The American sportswriter Roger Kahn once called the game “vivified roulette.”
Play for a considerable length of time, and disappointment isn’t simply likely, however inescapable—so the knowledge goes. “On the off chance that you wager on ponies, you will lose,” says Warwick Bartlett, who runs Global Betting and Gaming Consultants and has gone through years concentrating the business.
Imagine a scenario where that wasn’t valid. Imagine a scenario where there was one individual who planned a framework that ensured a benefit. One individual who’d made right around a billion dollars, and who’d never recounted to his story—as of recently?
In September, after a long crusade to contact him through companions and associates, I got an email from Benter. “I have been maintaining a strategic distance from you, as you may have induced,” he composed.
“The explanation is basically that I am awkward in the spotlight commonly.” He included, “None of us need to urge more individuals to get into the game!” But in October, he consented to a progression of meetings in his office in downtown Pittsburgh.
The elegant space—the main two stories of a Carnegie Steel-time building—is outfitted with 4-foot-tall Chinese containers and a marble fireplace, with clearing perspectives on the Monongahela River and cargo trains thundering past.
Benter, 61, strolls with a slight stoop. He resembles a college teacher, his wavy hair and facial hair streaked with dim, and talks in a soft, somewhat Kermit-y voice. He revealed to me he’d been driven just somewhat by cash—and I trusted him. With his knowledge, he could have gotten more extravagant quicker working in money.
Benter needed to overcome horse online sports betting not on the grounds that it was hard, but since it was said to be outlandish. At the point when he split it, he effectively maintained a strategic distance from recognition, outside the mysterious band of nerds and untouchables who involve his picked field.
Some of what follows depend on his memories, yet for each situation where it’s been conceivable to substantiate occasions and figures, they’ve looked at in interviews with many people, just as in books, court records, and different reports. Just a single thing Benter ever disclosed to me ended up being false. It was at the start of our discussions when he said he didn’t think I’d discover anything intriguing to expound on in his vocation.