The Gambler Who Cracked Horse-Racing With A Few Lines of Code

When I was asked to write something about my role model, I thought for a while but since I never had any thought of deciding my role model, I decided to write about a man who’s story amazed me and also inspired me to go out of currently laid social norms and fills my heart with passion towards using coding to solve real world challenges.

So gear up ladies and gentleman, here I am introducing you to William Benter popularly known as Bill Benter to the gambling world, considered by many as the most successful gambler in the history of gambling.

It was a nice calm evening of Nov. 6, 2001, all of Hong Kong was talking about the biggest jackpot the city had ever seen, at least HK$100 million (then about $13 million) for the winner of a single bet called the Triple Trio. The wager is a little like a trifecta of trifectas; it requires players to predict the top three horses, in any order, in three different heats. More than 10 million combinations are possible. When no one picks correctly, the prize money rolls over to the next set of races. That balmy November night, the pot had gone unclaimed six times over. About a million people placed a bet — equivalent to 1 in 7 city residents.

And you guessed it correctly, it was our guy Bill, not the Gates, the Bill Benter who had won it, but surprising fact is he never went to claim it after winning, leaving it to be distributed among the poor.

“Gambling, has always been the domain of wise guys from the wrong side of the track.”

-Bill Benter

Now the curiosity emerges, how did he do it ? Let’s dive into the amazing story of it.

Benter was a too well-known face in casinos, so he decided to take on a form of gambling that allowed him to stay away from them, leaving him with no choice but to start gambling on horse-racing. Through hours of working on perfecting his work, Benter was able to develop a software program that assessed sixteen individual variables that could affect the horses, jockeys, and trainers of a race that could ultimately have an impact its outcome.

Using these results, Benter and his team created their own prices and probabilities, which they used to make bets that were usually always accurate. Benter was always looking for ways to improve his software, adding more variables to improve his bets. His latest updated software analyzed over 130 different variables and it took a deeper look into the prices of different bets to see where he has the most potential to make the most money.

Benter had hired a team of professionals to place bets for him, strategically having them place bets mere seconds before the last bets can be accepted. On average, he brought home $5-$10 million in a single day at the racetrack. His success started on the racetracks of Hong Kong, and that’s where he met his future wife, Vivian.

While Benter started out examining only 16 variables for each horse in a race, it is now alleged that his software scored horses on 130 different handicapping factors.

More than any other industry, Horse Racing is based on emotion and feelings, people place bets based on everything from the horse’s name to tips from a friend. Nowhere more than the notoriously superstitious Hong Kong race-tracks, William Benter used computer logic to beat the system, and make millions!

So this was a story of a genius who used computer code to solve the once thought impossible. This guy is an inspiration to me and a lot others like me, he is someone who symbols the extent of mathematical and logical reasoning used to solve really complex problems and also making a lavishly huge bank account too ;)

Product Engineer @ Gojek

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