Is the world’s richest gambler super smart or just plain lucky?

Alycia Gondocs

Experienced casino writer

Dec 19, 2023

Last edited



Rising to the highest echelons of sports betting and making a fortune out of it cannot be reduced to mere luck. It actually requires a combination of several factors, one of which is a degree of intelligence, or at least the use of some mathematics and software. This article reveals all the essential aspects of William Benter’s successful horse racing betting model.

Who is William Benter?

William Benter is a Pennsylvania-born professional gambler who made a name for himself betting on horse racing. He came up with one of the most revolutionary computer programs that took the market by storm.

His story does not start here, however, as his gambling potential goes as far back as his university days. After getting a degree in physics in 1977, he went straight to Las Vegas to put his skills to use. His science background came in very handy as he started with card counting, before moving on from the blackjack tables to other casino games as he improved his methods and strategies. 

How did William Benter get into horse racing?

William Benter had a physics background and met a fellow gambler, Alan Woods, who had a similar goal but specialized in a very different market. Woods was an expert in horse racing, and together, they made a perfect tag team. 

While most horse racing bettors place their wagers driven by emotions, the odd betting tip and other intangible factors like a horse’s name, Benter was banking on software. The same program was earning him millions of dollars annually. 

William Benter’s horse racing model 

In 1984, Benter and Woods left the US for Hong Kong, where they put Benter’s model to the test. This computer program could determine horse race winners based on several factors. The software required inputs such as variables for every horse, track, jockey and trainer. 

Benter realized that to succeed in this endeavor, he needed to have a sound understanding of horse racing. He schooled himself at the Gambler’s Book Club and the University of Nevada. It was in the university’s collection on gaming that he found exactly what he had been searching for in the pages of an academic paper.

The paper discussed regression analysis and other forecasting tools as they related to horse racing. The author suggested that the accuracy of a horse race’s prediction depends on the number of variables and the fineness of the weightings. After absorbing these ideas, Benter decided to master statistics and learn how to write software.

In these early days of personal computing, Benter took his time to create a software program that would one day revolutionize the horse racing market.

The initial fall 

In 1986, Benter and his partner hit the Hong Kong racetrack to test the model and lost $120,000 of their $150,000 stake. After this setback, the duo had to separate to recoup their losses. Benter went to Las Vegas and Woods went to South Korea. When they reunited in Hong Kong a few months later, Benter unsuccessful and Woods successful, the latter wanted new terms to their contract. Their strong opinions would eventually spell the end of their partnership. To be safe, Benter introduced a line of code that would force-stop the program after a given period.

Benter then went to Atlantic City and was able to make money at the blackjack table. He assembled a team of card counters, and in the span of two years, he had earned a sizable sum. During this time, Benter was still working on his analytical model. By September 1988, he could float himself again, so he returned to Hong Kong.

The perfection of Benter’s model 

In the midst of all the uncertainties surrounding the model, the only thing certain was that the quality of the predictions was dependent on the inputs. 

The idea soon struck him to take into account the Jockey Club’s available odds. Having his machine refine these public odds was the game-changer that won him millions of dollars upon the completion of his successful computer program. 


With his use of technical data and analysis, Benter’s success story on the horse racing tracks has changed the perception of gambling. Through math lectures at universities and a published academic paper laying out his system, Benter has inspired a new generation of high-tech gamblers. After all, luck can land you a massive win once or twice randomly. However, it doesn’t last as long or run as consistently as seen in the case of William Benter.

Alycia Gondocs

Experienced casino writer


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