The Computer Group: data –> success

The most famous sports betting group is undoubtedly (ok maybe arguably) the Computer Group. No doubt the original data scientists in the sports betting game. The Computer Group made incredible amounts of money with many believing they would rake in $10-15 million per season. One of their members is believed to have made an estimated fortune in the hundred of millions of dollar range.

So what did they do to get so darn rich? How did they beat the sportsbooks? Michael Kent, one of the founders of Computer Group, created the first successful program for handicapping basketball and football games. Together with his brother, the Kent’s collected statistical data about every team to put all that info into his computer and update the program.

Sounds familiar. Anyways…

Success was not easily found until later in his life when he met his Computer Group partners. The doctor, Dr. Mindlin and Billy Walters helped Michael and his brother with a network to help lower their transaction costs at the various betting spots. The group finally fine-tuned their approach, data driven model and ultimately won.

In 1983, it is believed Computer Group was earning almost $1 million in a week of college football. Achieving a win rate of over 60% and earning close to $15 million in one season, the Computer Group is a legend of this game and something to take note of. They paved the path for the rest of us showing us what is possible with a little bit of number crunching.

Let’s learn from history as if often the best approach in life. So what can we learn from the Computer Group or what are our takeaways from their story

  1. Winning percentage doesn’t necessarily make you a big winner. Computer Group boasted a 60% win rate and made millions of dollars. Stop seeking such a high win rate – it may be a trap anyways (more in a future post). Learn how to achieve the greatest expected value – something explained with data and examples in our course over at
  2. Data and stats rule the day once again. The history of Sports Bettors is littered with millions of dollars and large players. However, most of the legends all have one thing in common… DATA. They almost all use historical data and software to help them find predictions, trends and value in their betting approach. They take risks like professionals… and are rewarded as such.

Finally, I want to present this classic photo of Billy Walters. some of you may know him as the guy that Phil Mickelson got into some murky waters with.. but this photo is iconic and every gambler’s dream. Sit there analyzing the games and data while watching them live.. what a legend (and view and man cave).

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