Professional Sports Bettors – How to Wager Like a Sports Betting Pro

Professional sports bettors have been able to do something most of us dream about. They all turned a hobby into an extremely lucrative career. But, with multi-million dollar wins also comes the danger of multi-million dollar losses. But how does someone become a full-time all-star sports bettor? What are their secrets? And most importantly, who are these sports betting professionals and how did they gain their fame? Our experts take a look and also offer tips to help you become a pro at any online sportsbook

What is a Professional Sports Bettor?

If you’re logging onto your favorite online sportsbook and placing a few bets every weekend, you are probably not a pro. But, all sports bettors have to start somewhere, right? 

A professional sports bettor is someone who makes a living betting on sports. That usually means doing intensive research, creating expert betting models, and in some cases, curating weekly picks for their fanbases. 

In most cases, the most high-profile professional sports betting icons have a solid grasp on bankroll management and use a specific betting system, such as arbitrage betting or middling, to amass their fortunes. Others have created perfect models that allow them to create double-digit team parlays or find value in overlooked markets. A keen eye for detail is crucial when a bettor wants to turn pro. 

The Top Pro Sports Bettors of All Time

We all know the names of the best NFL players to step onto the court or the greatest NFL icons to own the gridiron, but who are the top pro sports bettors of all time? Our experts have compiled the ultimate list of successful sports bettors and why you should know them!

Billy Walters

BIll Walters

Billy Walters began his sports betting career at the age of nine when he took the money he made on his paper route and bet it on the New York Yankees to beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1955 World Series. For some bettors, a loss on their first wager might have deterred them from starting a betting career, but Walters was hooked regardless of the Dodgers win in seven games. 

In the 1980s, Walters joined the Computer Group, which uses computers to analyze potential sports outcomes. Over the following 39 years, Walters had a 30-year winning streak and only tallied one losing year. Some of Walters’ biggest wins include a $3.5 million payout from the New Orleans Saints victory in Super Bowl XLIV and a $2.2 million win thanks to USC beating Michigan in the 2007 Rose Bowl. But College Football and the NFL bets are not how most sports fans may have heard of Walters. That would be thanks to his connection with one of the world’s best golfers.

In his memoir, “Gambler: Secrets From a Life at Risk,” Walters reveals that former PGA Tour legend Phil Mickelson bet more than $1 billion from 2010 to 2014, accruing losses of around $100 million. One of those instances was the 39th Ryder Cup, in which Mickelson called Walters hoping to place a $400,000 bet on the U.S. Team. The only problem with that wager is that Mickelson was on that U.S. Team, which eventually lost the Ryder Cup to Europe.

Steve Fezzik

Steve Fezzik

A Chess Candidate Master, later a Fellow in the Society Of Actuaries, and the Vice President for a Major Los Angeles Insurance Company from 1995-2001, Steve Fezzik has quite the resume. However, the real crowning achievement in Fezzik’s career is being considered the best NFL sports betting tournament player in the world.

In the 1990s, Fezzik would spend his weekends betting on football in Nevada, eventually making more on Saturday and Sunday than at his regular 9-to-5. After a decade of interstate betting success, Fezzik moved to Las Vegas in 2001, quickly becoming a superstar, winning six major sports betting tournaments, totaling nearly $1 million over the next decade.

In two of those sports betting tournaments, the 2008 and 2009 Las Vegas Hilton SuperConest, Fezzik beat out 300+ entrants to win back-to-back titles in what is commonly referred to as the World Series of Sports Betting. To this day, Fezzik is the only two-time winner.

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Marco D’Angelo

Marco D'Angelo

While most professional bettors on our list got their start in sports betting, Marco D’Angelo earned a name for himself at the racetrack. Using his horse betting acumen, D’Angelo could easily pivot to sports betting, where he found great success. 

But that success didn’t come without some bumps along the way. Initially, D’Angelo failed to make a splash with his sports bets, leading him to create his own betting strategy. Using his percentage-based system, D’Angelo has become a font of betting knowledge for amateur bettors with a track record of success. 

Gadoon “Spanky” Kyrollos

Spanky Kyrollos

From one high-stakes profession to another, Gadoon “Spanky” Kyrollos left a high-pressure Stock Market career for one in sports betting and never looked back. The Rutgers alum has since become one of the biggest names in the sports betting industry thanks partly to his website,

The idea was simple: create a website that crawls other sites with sportsbook odds and finds discrepancies. These discrepancies can then be used to help bettors place wagers on the best lines and also help understand what oddsmakers see in each contest. The idea is brilliant, and it helped launch Kyrollos into the stratosphere. “I always say I’m a computer scientist disguised as a sports bettor,” he said to the Las Vegas Review-Journal in 2023. “I’m all about building software to be able to make life easier, and Spank Odds is one of them.”

Kyrollos built his career and bankroll off two strategies: middling and arbitrage betting. Middling is a strategy where a bettor places bets on both sides of a game at different lines, creating the opportunity to cash in both wagers. Arbitrage betting, also known as scalping, is based on betting on both sides of a game at plus prices with different sportsbooks for guaranteed profit. The entire strategy is based on identifying the house edge by line shopping point spreads and then making your betting decisions by taking advantage of that research.

Teddy “Covers” Sevransky

Teddy Sevransky

Six years after graduating from the University of Michigan, Teddy Sevransky, better known as Teddy Covers, moved to Las Vegas to become a full-time sports bettor. While other professional bettors on this list may have kept a lot of their success private, Sevransky has been a prominent figure in the sports betting world, primarily through the media. 

Sevransky’s writing has been featured in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Boston Globe, Las Vegas Review-Journal, and Playboy magazine, while his TV highlights include CBS This Morning, CNBC, and PBS, to name a few. Bettors can also see Teddy Covers in action in the documentary “Life on the Line,” following Sevransky and other professional bettors maneuvering Las Vegas sportsbooks.

Sevransky is still an active pro bettor today. Teddy can be found selling picks to casual bettors on his website, where you can pay for more advanced advice, as well as offering odds analysis, shopping lines, and free picks on his YouTube channel.

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Haralabos “Bob” Voulgaris

Haralabos Lougaris

The only professional sports bettor on our list who owns a Spanish soccer club, Haralabos “Bob” Voulgaris has one of the most interesting non-sports betting resumes. Born in Canada to Greek immigrants, Voulgaris rose to notoriety betting on a single sport: the NBA. That’s it. Nothing else. No college football, no PGA Tour, no March Madness. The NBA was Voulgaris’ forte.

After graduating college, Voulgaris placed a single bet that changed his life. Bob took his life savings, $70,000, and placed it on the Los Angeles Lakers to win the 1999/2000 NBA Championship. That bet would prove successful, and Voulgaris would cash in his bet slip for almost 500,000. Over a decade later, ESPN would call Voulgaris the World’s “Top NBA Gambler.”

A savant when it came to poker and NBA betting, Voulgaris’s intensive research and keen eye for invisible advantages caught the attention of NBA owner and billionaire Mark Cuban. In 2018, the Dallas Mavericks hired Voulgaris as Director of Quantitative Research and Development. However, his stint with the Mavs would only last so a few years as a rift with Luka Doncic would eventually lead to his departure from the franchise.

Ben Patz

Ben Patz

Ben “Parlay” Patz has been in the headlines these past few years, but not for good reasons. The famed parlay builder, known for massive payouts on double-digit team parlays, got into hot water after threatening DMs were sent from Patz to players ranging from Pepperdine basketball players to Atlanta Braves team members. Patz would receive a sentence of 36 months probation and was barred from any sports betting activities. 

Patz is somewhat of a cautionary tale of how being a pro sports bettor is about the long game, not the short-term successes. While Patz may be well-known for the negative side of his betting activities, there’s hope that he can return to the industry and make a positive change. 

Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder

Jimmy "The Greek" Snyder

Jimmy “the Greek” Snyder made a name for himself as a betting analyst and a commentator on The NFL Today in the 1980s. Snyder started betting almost 40 years prior when he bet $10,000 on the 1948 presidential election. Snyder claims to have bet on Truman, who had 17-1 odds, all because of his opponent’s mustache. According to Snyder, Dewey didn’t stand a chance because “American women didn’t trust men with a mustache.”

As a TV commentator, Snyder made the NFL Today appointment TV, as his picks were always well-researched and had a fantastic success rate. In a way, Snyder is partially responsible for bringing sports betting analysis into the mainstream, using his platform to bring betting concepts to the masses.

The Best Celebrity Sports Bettors of All Time

While the aforementioned professionals are regarded as the best, they aren’t the most famous names you’ll hear in a sportsbook. That distinction belongs to the following group of stars who have made sports betting their second career after making millions as professional athletes. But does success in a sport always translate into success at a sportsbook? We’ve already taken a look at the winnings and losing of Phil Mickelson’s big bets, but which professional athletes attempted to become professional gamblers?

Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather

Floyd Mayweather made his name by going undefeated in the ring and by betting hundreds of millions of dollars on sports. After all, you don’t earn the nickname “Money” by losing bets. 

Mayweather’s bet slip has featured some big names across the years, both in the ring, on the court, and the field. The boxing legend has won multiple millions betting on the Super Bowl and college games, reportedly making $1 million on Marcus Mariota’s Oregon Ducks during a midseason Pac-12 college football meetup with the Arizona Wildcats. Mayweather has also been known to roll his winnings into other bets immediately. Mayweather once took his college basketball winnings from a successful March Madness run and put it onto a fighter he believed in. After all, if you’re acing your college basketball bets in March, you might as well ride the hot hand.

However, the one thing Mayweather has made the most money betting on? Himself. Floyd Mayweather has made upwards of $750 million betting on himself to win in the ring. 

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Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan

Michael Jordan’s love of gambling is well-documented. Air Jordan loved a good wager, whether it was during his career, on the golf course, or even in the Chicago Bulls’ locker room ahead of basketball games. 

In 1993, when rumors of his gambling became widespread, Jordan took to the airwaves in an interview with Ahmad Rashad and put himself on the record. According to his Airness, MJ didn’t have a gambling problem; he had a “competition problem.” That “competition problem” led Jordan to rack up a debt of $300,000 from wagers made on the golf course. 

In the documentary series, “The Last Dance” which chronicled Michael Jordan’s career with Chicago, as well as his foray into Major League Baseball and the final season of the Jordan Bulls, Michael can be seen “pitching pennies” with security guard John Michael Wozniak. Although Wozniak beat Jordan (and hit MJ’s iconic shrug pose too), it’s unclear whether or not Michael could win back his money in the end. It just goes to show that even the most successful bettors lose now and then!

Pete Rose

Pete Rose

Shoeless Joe Jackson and Pete Rose are probably the two names most sports fans think of when it comes to betting on baseball. While Jackson was banned from the sport for life following the Black Sox Scandal that saw them throw the World Series, Rose lost even more once his betting allegations surfaced. 

Pete Rose, the all-time hit leader in MLB history, was banned for life after it was revealed that he regularly bet on games he managed. At the time of the MLB’s investigation, Rose denied betting on baseball but did admit to betting on horse racing, basketball, and football. The Dowd Report, which outlined MLB’s findings from their Rose investigation, found that admission to be untruthful. The report noted that Rose bet on 52 Reds games, with an average daily wager of $10,000. To Rose’s credit, the Dowd Report noted a lack of evidence that he bet against the Reds while managing them. 

In recent years, the public perception around Pete Rose’s lifetime ban has flipped, with more fans calling for his recognition. As for Rose’s role in the legal sports betting industry? He’s never been more involved. It was the Cincinnati Reds legend himself who placed the first legal sports bet in Ohio. 

Wayne Rooney

Wayne Rooney

Only two men have scored more Premier League goals than Wayne Rooney. So it comes as no surprise that Rooney also loved scoring off the pitch, thanks to a love of sports betting. “I was a young lad who’d just come into a lot of money,” Rooney would say years after his United playing days were over. Noting a tone of free time with little else to do, Rooney would place bets from his hotel room over the phone. 

“It was easy to place bets by phone. It didn’t feel like real money,” the English legend said. “It wasn’t like I had to go into a bookie’s and put bets where there are limits.” 

Those early losses piled up and soon Rooney began emotively betting, something he now speaks out on. Rooney has taken part in multiple responsible gambling initiatives, even with sportsbook operators who were sponsors of the football clubs he played on! He may not have been our list’s most successful sports bettor, but he’s one of the biggest names.

Charles Barkley

Charles Barkley

Michael Jordan wasn’t the only NBA legend with a penchant for betting in the 1990s. Charles Barkley, the “Round Mound of Rebound” began betting on sports in the 1980s when he was a member of the Phoenix Suns. 

While we don’t know what his sport of choice was (his alma mater is well-known for its college football prowess), we do know that Barkley lost more than $1 million in a single day on multiple occasions. So, although he’s a professional sports analyst, this NBA star might not be a professional gambler from whom to take sports betting tips.

Professional Sports Betting Secrets and Tips

Each of the biggest sports bettors we’ve featured has their weapon of choice when determining their wagers. These tips and secrets don’t come easy, but they can lead to success once implemented. Here are a few sports betting tips and secrets our experts have extracted from researching our professional gambling icons.

Effective Bankroll Management

The best sports bettors understand that the only game that matters is the bankroll numbers game. Without a growing bankroll, bettors can assume they aren’t getting the wins they need from their bets. After all, if you’re breaking even you haven’t begun to start winning.

This is where bankroll management comes in. Knowing the precise amount to wager when placing bets to ensure your bankroll grows is something all of our pro bettors understand. It’s never about the game you’re betting on, it’s about making sure you’re money is growing with every win.

In-Depth Research Ahead of Time

If you’re a bettor who enjoys betting on one set of odds of one game with an offshore sportsbook, you’ll still be doing a fair amount of research ahead of time. But all sporting events have their own set of variables, and each one may contain a nugget of insight into how things will shake out.

The very basic idea of this concept is looking at a player or team’s home and away splits. Some basketball players play better with certain teammates or hit certain metrics when coming off the bench. Some teams cannot play in cold weather. This research can help you read a point spread better or lead you to better player props. This type of game information can be the difference between winning by one point or losing by 20.

Discipline and Separating Your Mind From Your Money

Week 5 in the NFL season shouldn’t feel like the Super Bowl to bettors. The key to keeping a clear head about the money you’re wagering and your betting strategy. Your research and strategy should lead your betting odds selection, not emotion. This is the main pitfall for bettors. If you want to become a pro, you need to come to terms with the fact that this is your livelihood and you’re self-employed, so you need to stay disciplined and keep your heart out of your bet slip.

Responsible Gambling

Betting on anything is obviously risky; even the pros know that. After all, not all of us have multi-million dollar contracts to fall back on. If your betting habits become overwhelming, know that you’re not alone and there are resources out there that can help. Responsible gambling is the key to a positive wagering experience!

We recommend contacting the National Problem Gambling Helpline at 1-800-GAMBLER if your betting gets out of hand. You can also find more information by visiting the official website or speaking to customer support at your preferred betting site!

Related Sports Betting Guides

Professional Sports Bettor FAQs

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About ReadWrite’s Editorial Process

The ReadWrite Editorial policy involves closely monitoring the tech industry for major developments, new product launches, AI breakthroughs, video game releases and other newsworthy events. Editors assign relevant stories to staff writers or freelance contributors with expertise in each particular topic area. Before publication, articles go through a rigorous round of editing for accuracy, clarity, and to ensure adherence to ReadWrite's style guidelines.

Gavin Beech
iGaming Expert

Gavin is an expert gambling writer who works as one of the chief content producers for ReadWrite. He has been covering online gambling and sports betting for over 15 years, having written for the Racing Post,, and others. Now based in London, Gavin is a big sports fan, particularly when it comes to horse racing, soccer and cricket, and is also a keen frequenter of the Sheephaven Bay in Camden.

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