The story of the "Hong Kong Quantitative Horse Racing Hedge Fund Billionaire", Bill Benter, is an interesting one. I'd originally intended just to read the recent Bloomberg review published on May 3 and his general story, but I've gone down a wormhole. This guy is supposedly one of, if not the most, successful gambler of all time.
Benter was a geeky mathematician who dropped out of college in the 70s to go play cards in Vegas after reading Edward Thorp's classic card counting guide Beat the Dealer. From making $3 an hour at 7/11, running multiple card counting operations over the US, and ultimately creating an algorithmic model that accounted for statistical variations in Hong Kong horse races, this man has led an interesting life to say the least. It is said that his gambling syndicate made him a billionaire - remains unconfirmed so who knows-. He has remained a relatively unknown figure despite his crazy career.
I thought an extremely interesting part about Bill Benter's story, particularly in the Bloomberg article (link at end of post), was the difference in Hong Kong gambling and US. I have never been a big gambler, but in my experience and knowledge of how gambling works in the states is that it's the house against the gambler. As of the time that Benter operated in Hong Kong (80s-mid 2000s) , the Hong Kong Jockey Club operated as the 'casino', but the proceeds went to charities and actually made up somewhere around 10% of Hong Kong's annual tax revenue. Makes a lot of sense to me, but seeing as the casino's in the US operate differently I doubt that format will ever be seen in the US.
What are your thoughts on this article and gambling in general? There's always a strong link between gambling and finance, Edward Thorp said "Wall Street is the biggest casino of them all". Thoughts?
Linked a few articles below and a book I just purchased by Edward Thorp titled "A Man for All Markets" about his success in both gambling and his progression into finance. Description -
"Thorp ushered in the era of quantitative finance we live in today. Along the way, the so-called godfather of the quants played bridge with Warren Buffett, crossed swords with a young Rudy Giuliani, detected the Bernie Madoff scheme, and, to beat the game of roulette, invented, with Claude Shannon, the world's first wearable computer."