Notes & Quotes: Gambler by Billy Walters

The following are my favorite quotes from Billy Walters's Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk:

  1. My philosophy on life is simple: You come into this world with nothing, and you leave with nothing. So seize every opportunity to leave a legacy that might inspire others to make the most of their time on earth. At the end of the day, there are two people you can't bullshit--yourself and your maker. You will be judged by the way you've lived and by whether you've followed your servant's heart.
  2. I had no battle plan, other than a determination to prove my worth to anyone who figured me a failure based on my clothes or country accent. My answer to the doubters and bullies was to get up every morning, throw the blinders on, and charge like Billy the bull. Head down, horns up, taking on the world, willing to go as hard and as far as needed to defend my dignity.
  3. Gambling was simply a way of life in Kentucky. My friends bet on a daily basis as naturally as they ate supper. We played cards, shot pool, pitched pennies, shot dice, and wagered on racehorses and sports. Basically, we'd bet on anything that moved. We never gave a thought to gambling being immoral or illegal.
  4. I learned early on that the auto business was different from factory work because of all the downtime. The secret to success in car sales was to stay busy 100 percent of the time. If there weren't potential buyers milling around, the other salesmen would goof off in the office by chewing the fat, playing cards, or reading magazines. I also learned something that would become a hallmark of my business career--the more information you accumulate, the more opportunities you create.
  5. When matching up, my game plan was simple: one way or another I needed to get my opponent to agree to higher stakes than he was comfortable playing for. I wanted their ass puckered so tight you couldn't pound a flax seed up it. The tighter they were wound, I figured, the worse they would play.
  6. Gamblers do win, and some can win for a period of time. Almost every one of them, however, eventually will lose.
  7. You have to hold people accountable in this game. If beards got a sense that you were not atop your game, they would steal from you every chance they could.
  8. From a pure financial standpoint, Desert Pines was one of my worst-performing investments. But it still stands as one of my proudest accomplishments.
  9. I want to say up front: I'm sharing details about my system. Your model can be what you want it to be. But there are bedrock principles of sports wagering that are important to know regardless of the specific system you use or the size of your wagers.
  10. You generally must pay an additional 10 percent to make the bet. So a $100 wager will cost you $110. This is called the "juice" or the "vig", from the Russian/Yiddish word vigorish. Because you have to pay that extra $10, it means you'll need to win 52.38 percent of the time to break even.
  11. Being a good handicapper is, of course, essential to being a winning sports bettor.
  12. Handicapping alone won't guarantee maximum success. It's only a part of my three-pronged plan; betting strategy and money management also are essential.
  13. Ideally, you should not risk any more than 1 to 3 percent of your bankroll on any single bet.
  14. Just being one of the guys came naturally to me. That's the way Grandmother raised me. It was "Yes sir" and "No sir" to guards and officials alike. Whatever street cred I earned on the inside was due to keeping my eyes open and my mouth shut. I waited my turn and didn't stand out. At the same time, I never backed down. In the end, I was just another con.
  15. Bootstrappers share common traits, among them discipline, focus, and the ability to bounce back from failure.
  16. Prison makes that course correction in your life. It puts everything in perspective, reminding you of the many things you otherwise took for granted and the things that actually matter.
  17. As it stands today, prisons are breeding grounds for generations of criminals. Fathers and mothers who come out of prison with no hope cannot offer hope to their children. But those who learn trades and support their families are far more likely to raise children who have a greater vision for their lives.