The Iceworks building looks quite inconspicuous to the untrained eye, perhaps appearing to be an architectural firm or a building filled with investment bankers. The reflective windows that face the streets of Camden Town are sure not to reveal any of the secrets that lay beyond them – yet a few who are familiar with the company will know that it is the top-secret headquarters of speculated billionaire and Brighton & Hove Albion chairman, Tony Bloom.
Bloom is the greatest football gambler in the world and amongst the most successful gamblers of all time. When the name Tony Bloom comes to mind, so does the phrase; The man, the myth, the legend. It is hard to put this man’s success on paper – not only because of how much of it there is but also because Bloom is a very private person. Not only is it unknown exactly what goes on behind the doors of Starlizard, but Bloom’s net worth is also a huge mystery. It is speculated that his fortune goes well into the billions but despite this, he fails to appear on any rich lists due to his surreptitiousness.
Tony’s greatest achievement is his uber-successful company, Starlizard. Starlizard is a secretive football betting syndicate that was founded and run by Tony Bloom himself. Unlike most companies that make their living from gamblers, Starlizard does not accept bets – instead, they have a team of some of the greatest minds who spend countless hours on research in order to determine which teams will win, thus then acting as somewhat of a betting consultancy agency. This service brings in anything between £20 to a £100 million a year.
Who is Tony Bloom?
Anthony Grant “Tony” Bloom was born in 1970 in the popular seaside town of Brighton, Sussex. As a young boy of around the age of 8 or 9, Tony Bloom was already fascinated with the concept of gambling and told reporters that he and his mates use to visit local arcades and use their pocket money to play on the fruit machines – which is just a British term that is used to describe slot machines.
Tony Bloom was educated at the beautiful and prestigious Lancing College, a private school that costs around £23,000 a year per pupil. The school was founded in 1848 and has been known to educate several successful men and women, including playwright Sir David Hare, the famous novelist Evelyn Waugh who was the great-great grandson of the Scottish judge Lord Cockburn, and Sinclair Beecham, the co-founder of food chain Prêt a Manger.
At the boarding and day school, Lancing College which was centered around an astounding 50-meter chapel to which attendance was compulsory for all students, a half-hour drive was needed to get to the town of Brighton. According to former cricket captain, Mike Atherton, when Tony Bloom was only 15, he used to visit the town and make use of his fake ID to obtain access to betting shops. At this time, Tony Bloom was three years below the legal age of sports betting – which did not seem to stop him.
After graduating from Lancing College, Tony Bloom obtained his degree in mathematics from Manchester University. During his years at MU he continued gambling but confessed that he was not very good at it and while at the time he believed that he made use of strategy, he was in fact only guessing.
After graduating, Tony Bloom got a job at Ernst and Young (now known simply as EY), a multinational accounting firm which is headquartered in London. At this stage of his life, his gambling became more serious and by the time he left Ernst and Young in 1993, he managed to earn a bankroll of £20,000 from sports betting.
Tony Bloom was working as a trader for 6 months when he made the decision to become a professional gambler at the young age of 23. He spent most of his time betting on football and cricket, and while most of his bets resulted in winning, he experienced quite a tough loss in 1994 when he put £5,000 on the England vs. West Indies test match and lost.
However, he must have been doing something right since he caught the attention of bookmaker Victor Chandler. Chandler offered him a job in the late 1990’s where he was to set up an international betting operation. Tony Bloom accepted the opportunity and was on his way to being introduced to the Asian market where he would make millions.
Tony Bloom has always enjoyed betting for pleasure – not only for work. In the early 2000’s he made quite the name for himself as a tough, high-stakes poker player. According to Poker News, Tony Bloom is the 15th most successful live poker player (this list does not include online poker players). Up to date, Tony Bloom has won more than$3 million at poker tournaments. He was given the nickname; The Lizard for his particular form, at the poker table. His fellow players stated that he had to be cold-blooded in order to make such tough decisions in the way he did.
Despite his formidable form at the poker table, Tony Bloom is quite the family man. He is happily married to his lovely wife Linda. They met in 2006 and 18 months later they tied the knot. She was born in Australia and has a successful career as a psychologist. Linda gave birth to their first son in 2008, who turned 8 this year. Tony and his family divide their times between staying Australia and North London.
Tony Bloom’s Success
While Tony Bloom was successful before he started working with Victor Chandler, his real success only began after he learned the Asian markets. In Asia, sports betting is huge. They make use of a system called Asian handicap when gambling on football. The system known as Asian handicap originated in Indonesia, and its aim is to give the underdog a theoretical advantage, thus evening the playing field.
With Tony Bloom’s extensive mathematical knowledge, he came up with effective handicaps and had great success in setting up an Asian betting operation for Victor Chandler. In 2009, Tony Bloom told the Argus that he was one of the first non-Asian people to take an interest in the Asian handicap system and he made a great effort in understanding every aspect of it. Tony Bloom spent 7 months working in Asia and then another 3 years after that working the Gibraltar.
Tony Bloom experienced a pivotal moment not only at Victor Chandler’s operation but in his life when the 1998 Football World Cup took place. The tournament was hosted by France and in the final match, it was the hosting team against Brazil. Tony Bloom convinced Chandler’s management to bet all the winnings to date on France, being confident that they will beat Brazil and take the World Cup. Tony Bloom has always been one to believe that in order to win big one has to risk big. Thankfully the risk of Bloom and Victor Chandler’s management paid off since on Sunday, June 12, 1998, France beat Brazil with a staggering win of 3-0. That moment has been referred to as the founding moment of Tony Bloom’s career and while nobody knows exactly how much money Tony Bloom or Chandler won that match, but we can only imagine that it was a life changing amount. Soon after this victory, Chandler’s operation became BetVictor, one of the most popular online gambling operations in the UK.
In 2002, at the age of 32, Tony Bloom set out to create a new company, Premier Bet, an early online bookmarker that accepted bets into the Asian handicap system. Tony Bloom has never been one to sit back and let others do the work – perhaps this is the secret to his success. There have been several reports by Tony Bloom’s former and current employees that not only is he a good boss but he works extremely hard and is always found doing research and investing time into his business.
Three years later in 2005, Tony Bloom sold Premier Bet to Interactive gaming for a total of £1.2 million. It wasn’t long before the 2000’s were kind to him again, bringing him, even more, success. Tony Bloom assisted in the setting up of two more major online poker sites, St Minver and Tribeca Tables. Both these sites were sold in the mid-2000’s and together they were worth around $204 million. Once again we have no idea how much Tony Bloom made from the deals but it is sure to have contributed to his wealth.
In 2006, Tony Bloom set up his own company – Starlizard. The company name is inspired by his nickname The Lizard, which he received for his cold-blooded decision-making skills at the poker table. The company decided to advise on bets rather than the usual course and taking bets. Starlizard functions as a consultancy firm, offering proprietary odds analysis to wealthy clients who wish to treat bets as smart investments rather than betting tons of money on a whim. Starlizard makes use of mathematics, extensive research and other valuable tools to generate accurate winning odds which their high-roller clients can then use to make well-informed, statistical value bets. Value bets are bets placed on a team or outcome that has been underestimated or overestimated by the retail bookmaking market. These bets result in the ratio of risk-reward to be swayed in the favour of the bettor.
In 2006 Michael Atherton published a book called Gambling: A Story of Triumph and Disaster. In this book, he stated that Tony Bloom had an addictive personality. Tony Bloom responded to this saying that he when he was attending university and became more serious about gambling, he made the conscious decision to become fiercely disciplined. He said that he gambled because he enjoyed it, but he wanted to go about it properly so that he would win. Like most university students, Tony Bloom did not want to waste his money. It is clear that Bloom is no gambling addict, it is simply his passion and his talent. Anybody who has knowledge or experience with addicts will know that if Tony Bloom was an addict, it is highly unlikely that he would have had so much success in the field.
Tony Bloom in the Gambling Industry
At this point, it is clear that Tony Bloom has made quite a name for himself in the gambling industry. Tony Bloom dabbled in gambling while he was attending Manchester University and managed to earn a bankroll of £20,000 after graduation when he was working at Ernst and Young. With Tony Bloom’s mathematical degree he had an edge in the gambling industry and thus quit his day job as a trader and officially set out to become a professional gambler at the age of 23.
Tony Bloom started by betting mainly on football and cricket – the two most popular sports in the UK. At one point, Bloom lost £5,000 while betting on the 1994England v West Indies cricket test match. This was the lowest point in his gambling career at that point. While he wouldn’t even notice a £5,000 loss now, 22 years ago, when he was just starting out, it was quite the blow.
Tony Bloom told Atherton that he believes in betting aggressively, and sometimes in order to win big, one needs to risk losing. Therefore, despite the setback that the loss of the cricket test match brought him, Tony Bloom had far more wins in his gambling career than he did losses.
In the late 1990’s when he caught the attention of Victor Chandler, he took the first major step towards his astonishing success. Working for Chandler and setting up the international betting operation, opened up a whole new world for Tony Bloom. The Asian markets were where he would make a name for himself.
Sports betting and gambling is a big deal in Asia. However, it operates quite differently in the Asian gambling market where they make use of a system that is known as the Asian handicap.
Asian handicap originated in Indonesia and the system is meant to even the playing field for all the teams by providing the Underdog with a theoretical goal advantage.
With Tony Bloom’s mathematical history he was able to achieve great success with the Asian handicap system. The Asian handicap system basically brings advantage to the weaker team. For instance, if the favourite team were to have a +3 handicap then they would have to win by 3 goals in order for them to be the winning team bet-wise. The odds of the Asian handicap system is given in decimal form instead of in fraction form. It is clear why Tony Bloom did so well with the Asian system and his knowledge of mathematics.
However, this is a very finely tuned system that takes things like injuries and other factors into account. The system also makes payouts far more complicated than it would be with regular gambling. But all in all, the Asian handicap system revolves around the number of goals that is scored by each team.
However, you need to understand that even if the favourite team were to win by 2 – 0 they would technically lose due to the +3 handicap. So often times, when making use of the Asian handicap system it would be better to bet on the Underdog.
Tony Bloom’s experience great success when setting up the Asian betting operation for Victor Chandler. By making use of his mathematical qualification and extensive knowledge to work out the statistics involved, he was able to come up with effective handicaps.
Tony Bloom’s Road to Riches
What really helped Tony Bloom establish himself in the gambling industry was being one of the first non-Asian people to show a real interest in the Asian handicap system. He worked in Thailand for 7 months before he spent 3 years in Gibraltar. With all the time he spent gaining experience, crunching stats and keeping up with all the new developments in gambling, he was able to teach himself more about the overall gambling industry.
Another great moment for Tony Bloom and his career in the gaming industry was in 1998 when the France World Cup finals were taking place on Sunday 12th June. At this point, Tony Bloom was well acquainted with Victor Chandler’s operations and management so when he predicted a French win over Brazil in the final football match, he convinced Chandler’s management team to bet everything they had on the French football team. Luckily for Tony Bloom, the French had a 3 – 0 victory over the Brazilian team, earning both Candler and Bloom a fantastic reward.
Not only did this help to establish Tony Bloom in the gambling industry, but it also raised his personal funds extensively. As previously mentioned, nobody is quite sure how much Chandler’s operation or Bloom made out of this successful gambling endeavour, but we do know that it was a substantial amount.
The French win has been described as the founding moment in Tony Bloom’s career as a remarkable gambler and businessman. Not long after this event, Victor Chandler’s betting operation became BetVictor – a company that is now known as one of the UK’s most popular online gambling brands.
In 2002, after experiencing great success with Victor Chandler International betting operation, Tony Bloom setup Premier Bet. Premier bet was an online bookmaker that accepted bets under the Asian handicap system. 3 years later interactive gaming bought the business for 1.2 million.
When online gambling became more popular in the 2000’s, Tony Bloom was asked to help set up two more sites. Together with the reputation, he has built for himself and his mathematical genius, everybody in the gambling industry wanted a piece of him. At the point, he was just entering his 30’s and he was already a well-known name amongst gamblers all over the world.
The site Tony Bloom was asked to help set up was TriBeCa tables and St Minver. Both these websites sold within the mid-2000’s. Though we do not know how much Tony Bloom made out of the endeavour, the deals were performance linked and its estimated worth was up to $204 million dollars combined. Once again Tony Bloom has made his mark in the gambling industry along with the expansion of his ever-growing bank account.
Even though it was his job, Tony Bloom often gambled for pleasure. Gambling was without a doubt his greatest hobby. In the early 2002’s Bloom made a name for himself in the gambling industry and soon he was known as a tough high-stakes poker player to everybody who mattered.
At this point the proper gambling side poker news had it been to the list of successful live poker players. Tony Bloom appeared 15th on this prestigious list and anybody who did not yet know his name, now did. He earned his place on the above-mentioned list after having won $3.3 million at tournaments at that point.
His fellow poker players dubbed him with the nickname “The Lizard” due to his form at the poker table. They said that he had to be cold-blooded in order to make such tough decisions in such an ice cool way.
Tony Bloom really contributed to the poker industry when he opened a new company called Starlizard in 2006. The company’s aim was to advise on bets rather than taking bets. Starlizard functions as a consultancy firm, offering proprietary odds analysis to wealthy clients who wish to treat bets as smart, calculated investments that are statistically backed. Starlizard makes use of mathematics, extensive research and other valuable tools to generate accurate winning odds which their high-roller clients can then use to make well-informed, statistical value bets. Value bets are bets placed on a team or outcome that has been underestimated or overestimated by the retail bookmaking market. These bets result in the ratio of risk-reward to be swayed in the favour of the bettor. Once again Tony Bloom has added to the world of gambling and to his own personal success.
Celebrity television presenter and poker player, Victoria Coren called Tony Bloom a poker phenomenon. She stated that if his tournament winnings were divided by the number of tournaments that he has played, Tony Bloom would most likely be the biggest winner in the world.
In 2005, Tony Bloom challenged Daniel Negreanu, a professional Canadian poker player who has won six World Series of Poker, to a head-to-head game with a pot of $500,000. The game lasted a total of 5 hours after which Tony Bloom lost and walked away with his characteristic calm.
How it all started for Tony Bloom
As much as we would like to say that Tony Bloom is one of the luckiest men alive, sometimes it is more than that. Looking at Tony Blooms’ success, it is clear that he has managed to achieve one thing after the other, but we simply cannot sum it up to plain luck. Tony Bloom worked hard and studied even harder to become the math whiz that he is today. With his mathematical knowledge and his devotion, Tony Bloom built himself up to where he is today. But how did it all start for the best football gambler in the world?
One might say that it all started when he was a little kid playing on the fruit machines of West Street. Or perhaps it started when he was 15 and he used a fake ID to get into betting shops because he was 3 years below the legal gambling age. Or maybe it was when he decided to become disciplined while attending Manchester University, so that he would not lose all his money or when he managed to earn a bankroll of £20,000 from sports betting while working a day job at Ernst and Young. There are so many moments in Tony Bloom’s life where you could say it all started, but essentially it all began for Tony Bloom when he was approached by Victor Chandler. Yes, the day he made the decision to quit his day job and become a professional gambler without a doubt contributed to everything he is today. But when Chandler asked Tony Bloom to set up his betting operation Bloom discovered his favourite part of the gambling industry, the thing that would shape the rest of his career – the Asian Handicap System.
He spent over a half a year in Asia, learning all there is to know about the Asian handicap system and it soon became the essence of everything in his future including Starlizard and the majority of his wealth.
Tony Bloom’s Star Lizard Company
Tony Bloom set up his new company Starlizard in 2006. Clearly, he was quite fond of his given nickname “The Lizard”, since he used it as the basis for the name of his mega-successful company.
Starlizard moved away from taking bets and shifted towards rather advising on them. The company acts as a consultancy agency that offers proprietary odds analysis to wealthy clients who are looking to make intelligent and informed high-stakes bets. These gamblers use Starlizard’s internally generated odds in order to identify value bets — Value bets are bets placed on a team or outcome that has been underestimated or overestimated by the retail bookmaking market. These bets result in the ratio of risk-reward to be swayed in the favour of the bettor.
Starlizard specializes in estimates that are custom-made for the Asian handicap market by calculating the most likely score line for any given football match. This is critical, as the handicap rests on the favourite team scoring a particular number of goals rather than the regular approach where if your score more than the other team, you win. This consultancy service produces revenue of more than £13 million a year in fees from uber-wealthy clients.
Starlizard helped pioneer a new, corporate approach to professional gambling, more closely resembling a hedge fund or an investment bank than a bookmaker.
The company consists of 160 workers. Some of these employees have just graduated university, while other are in their mid-40s. There is great diversity when it comes to age, race, and gender. The only this Starlizard need from their employees is a head for statistics a and flawless understanding of the betting market.
Employees who work at Starlizard say that the environment is professional and organized and when it comes to Tony Bloom, most employees describe him using the word “nice” While it does not sound like the warmest working environment, it is a building filled with mathematical minds researching sports betting and statistics so we can hardly expect it to be Disney World.
The company consists of four teams that each do their own part in the generation of statistics and odds. There is a team that is responsible for the generation of data, while the next team has the task of transforming the data that is generated by the first team into odds, then the third has the task of deciding which bets to take based on the given odds, and finally the fourth team handles the placing of the bets with bookmakers in Asia on behalf of Starlizard clients.
The Camden Town office employs over two dozen employees who are known as football researchers. It is their responsibility to generate internal data. This is done by watching countless football matches and recording various aspects of each match, including shots on target and goal scoring opportunities. These employees require skills in many areas of research, but they also need extensive knowledge of football – luckily this is not a rare skill in the UK.
A former Starlizard employee said that if the score of a football game standing on was 0 – 0, but the team playing on their home field had missed a penalty, the best score line that would be used to go back into a prophetic model would be along the lines of 0.8. If either one of the teams had missed a penalty and had something along the lines of two shots where they hit the frame of the goal, it is most likely that that team would deserve to win.
These football researchers do more than sitting around watching sports, they are always on top of everything football related and they need a list of solid and useful football contacts so that they always know what is going on where. These contacts include journalists, lead experts and if one of them were able to add an insider with one of the teams to that list, it would be like hitting the jackpot. They need to get as close to the action as humanly possible and they are always busy trying to get more information, including team sheets, form, morale and training.
These employees are expected to take every possible factor into account. They need to look at the weather, people related to the club, the morale of the team and the individual team members. Every single aspect of football needs to be taken into consideration.
Once all the necessary data has been generated, the Starlizard researchers insert it into a device that was created by the computer geniuses of the company. This device is a highly complex statistical computer model and the computer geniuses are known as the Quants.
The Quants do not work in the Iceworks building in Camden Town, but rather in a separate office that is located in Exeter in Devon, England. They spend all their time building, updating and maintaining the Starlizard algorithm. The algorithm is responsible for pulling together all the various data points and deciding what the right weighting is for each of them.
Former Starlizard employees say that alterations are constantly being made to the computer model. It utilizes statistical models in order to make accurate predictions of each possible score line’s likelihood. The computer model then generates the most accurate handicap for the match at hand.
After the necessary odds have been generated at the Exeter office, it is communicated to the Camden office. Once the odds are received there, a qualified team of roughly 20 people takes over and reviews the odds. This team is responsible for identifying mispriced bets that can be found within the retail market, based on the internal odds of the teams and decide on exactly how much to bet on behalf of Tony Bloom and other clients that make use of their services.
This is where the fourth team takes over – the bet places. When a client makes use of the services offered by Starlizard, they get more than the predicted odds, they receive access to all their gambling contacts. These are contacts that they most likely wouldn’t be able to reach on their own, as they form part of the Asian markets, which include countries like Indonesia, Thailand, and China. The odds that are generated by Starlizard, cater specifically to these Asian markets, but if you do not know the right people, it can be nearly impossible to access Asian bookmakers. Luckily for Tony Bloom, the time he spent in Asia, studying the Asian handicap system, resulted in a list of valuable contacts.
Despite his extensive involvement in the company, Tony Bloom is not listed as a director of Starlizard. The listed directors of Starlizard are Steven Edery, Marc Sugarman, and Adam Franks. Steven Edery has been described as Tony Bloom’s right-hand man, while Marc Sugarman is a former Citigroup equity analyst who is on Brighton’s board along with Bloom, and lastly, Adam Franks is a chartered accountant who studied with Tony Bloom at Manchester University. Franks is the finance director for all of Bloom’s businesses. It is clear that Bloom employed these 3 men because he knew them and he is able to trust them. Along with being able to trust them, Bloom probably chose people close to him to appear as the official directors, so that he could still run his own company without the need to list himself as the man in charge of paperwork. According to an insider, Tony Bloom definitely runs Starlizard and he even has an apartment in the Starlizard building in Camden. So, the fact that Tony Bloom is not listed as the director of his own company, should not fool anybody – he could not be more involved.
Not only is he involved in the management of Starlizard, but he is also his own company’s biggest client. Tony Bloom created a gambling syndicate in 2006 that consists of him and a group of associates with whom he is close with. This gambling syndicate pool all their money together and then make high-stakes bets on sports. This way the pot is bigger and thus if they win, so are their winnings. It is believed that Tony Bloom contributes the largest part of the gambling syndicate’s bankroll. Bloom and his gambling syndicate is without a doubt Starlizard’s biggest client. Several insiders have stated the company spends most of their time and resources on Tony Bloom and his gambling syndicate.
In many ways, Starlizard is Bloom’s gambling money manager. Tony Bloom probably set up the company for that exact reason. He needed a team of highly qualified individuals to do the necessary calculations and crunch the stats so that he would be able to invest his money in the right bets. If there were any doubts that Tony Bloom was involved in the company now, it has to be doused. Starlizard is the roots of Tony Bloom’s gambling success after 2006 so we can only imagine how on top of the company he stays.
Conclusion On Tony Bloom’s Success
Tony Bloom is clearly a very talented and hardworking man who took the step that most people would never dare take, and he made his passion and hobby, his full-time job. He has experienced great success in the gambling industry, becoming more than just a fantastic professional gambler, but also an accomplished businessman. He is currently 46 years old, he is a speculated billionaire (and a confirmed multi-millionaire) and the greatest football gambler in the world.
Yes, Tony “The Lizard” Bloom is a very accomplished man. But if anybody would ask him what his greatest accomplishment is, he would say it is his family. Tony is more than a gambler or a speculated billionaire, he is a family man. This is a role that most people in his industry has failed to play with the devotion and care that Tony has.
When we think about Tony Bloom it definitely seems like he has accomplished everything that he could have possibly ever wanted. But who knows? Perhaps there is still a World Series of Poker championship in his future.