The most dangerous sports bettor in Nevada

Last night 60 Minutes presented a rare interview with Vegas legend Billy Walters, who’s made hundreds of millions of dollars as a sports gambler. Walters poured some of that profit into Enron, WorldCom and Tyco stock in the 90s and says he “got swindled” out of it when those stocks collapsed. He still holds a grudge.  “His disdain for Wall Street is one of the reasons Billy Walters agreed to talk to us,” says CBS’s Lara Logan, who appears quite enamored throughout by Walters’ big stakes.

Here’s the full video, after an intro and a disclaimer-heavy Viagra ad:

The best part of the segment is toward the end, when Wagner demonstrates how he manipulates a spread by placing phony bids on the other side. He may still be mad at Wall Street, but with his data gathering, team of analysts and this maneuver he resembles nothing so much as a big prop trading desk or hedge fund disguising a planned buy (or attempting to lower the price) by dangling a sell order over the market first:

What’s unique about Walters is that when he doesn’t like the line, he can sometimes force the bookmakers to change it.
“We’re gonna work on this a little bit. This number’s gotten a little away from us,” Walters observed, looking at data on a monitor.
In that instance, Walters thought the favorite was going to win, but he didn’t like the line. So he bet on the underdog.
“Okay, we’re gonna phony a game up here. We’re going to play 539,” he said.
Bookmakers need the same amount of money on both sides of the game, so they respond to Walters’ bet by lowering the line to attract more money on the favorite. That’s when Walters springs into action and instructs his partners to simultaneously make an even bigger bet on the favorite.