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According to his account in The Smart Money, Michael Konik began his career as a big winner by placing football and basketball bets for a fellow named Rick "Big Daddy" Matthews. Konik's arrangement entitled him to ten percent of what Matthews won. When Matthews lost, he took the hit himself.
If you're suspicious of that story, who can blame you? Whoever heard of a genuine "can't lose" proposition? But Konik maintains that Rick Matthews was able to operate that way because he was so sure that over the long run, he would win. The primary source of his confidence was a computer program that crunched enough numbers well enough to give Matthews the edge over the bookmakers who published the point spreads each week. Konik writes that the information Matthews developed was so good that he could not only beat the betting lines, he could beat the bookie's ten percent charge on each wager his runners made on his behalf.
After working as one of "Big Daddy's" runners for three years, Konik put together a syndicate of his own which was, he says, similarly successful. He might still be in the sports betting business today if he hadn't decided that he "wanted to interact with nice people again, people who don't care about moving the line and buying half a point."
It is in the nature of the gambling trade to exaggerate, so when Konik, who is back to making his living as a writer, maintains that he made millions of dollars betting on games, skepticism is probably appropriate. Still, he deserves credit for discussing the mechanics of sports betting in comprehensible terms. That's not to suggest readers will necessarily be tempted to quit their day jobs and take up residence in a Vegas hotel with a sports book off the lobby, but it's kind of fun to feel one has been let in on some of the secrets of the wise guys.
This program aired on January 31, 2007. The audio for this program is not available.
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