ESPN tells story of Pro NBA bettor

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Every sports gambler believes he has an edge. From thinking their ability to assess stats in the local newspaper is superior to the next man, or that their spreadsheets with game scores and spread history will be a key to predicting future matches: There are a million systems and even more dreams dashed from gamblers who almost struck it big. Well, a guy named Bob Voulgaris did.

ESPN: Meet the world's top NBA Gambler

"A specialist in the NBA, his sports gambling success was almost completely the result of a kind of studied perspicacity, born of a talent for pattern recognition and the stamina to watch uncountable hours of televised basketball. In betting parlance, the man could suss out an edge -- and in 2002, he discovered one that would line his pockets for years. It all had to do with how most bookmakers set their halftime totals, the predicted number of points scored in each half of the game. Each half, of course, is its own discrete period of play, and the fourth quarters of close games can end in elongated foul-clogged stretches of free throws, timeouts, fast play and, hence, a burst of scoring. But incredibly, bookmakers at the time didn’t account for this fact; they simply arrived at a total for the full game and cut that figure roughly down the middle, assigning some 50 percent of the points to the first half and 50 percent to the second."

Unfortunately Voulgaris' system inevitably crashed and burned. He lost more than a third of his betting bankroll in the 2003-04 NBA season and later gave much more back to the bookmakers as he chased his monumental losses.

While Voulgaris found success with his NBA halftime system, sportsbooks adjusted their lines to take into account his approach. The same adjustments have been made in the NFL with respect to conventional "Wong teasers" — exotic bets that had previously been a cash cow for sophisticated bettors who understood how to use them.

Sports bettors must continually reevaluate their perceived edge and understand that short term results can very easily turn into long term losses.

SBR has created a forum for educated sports betting and handicapping discussion: The Handicapper Think Tank. Players are welcome to share ideas and strategies for their shared goal of beating their sportsbook.

Follow on twitter. SBR has been the leading online sportsbook industry watchdog since 1999. Players in need of assistance should submit a sportsbook complaint form. Players with general questions may also contact by writing to

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