The Man (Me) Behind The Sharp Plays Curtain
I am constantly asked about my story, so here’s a quick snapshot. I got my first computer as a kid in the late 80’s. A Tandy Color Computer 2 (picture). I was fascinated by writing programs in Basic (a programming language). I loved playing video games on the computer, and especially… casino games. Back in the 80’s, computer casino games were pretty rudimentary. Still, it was a lot of fun! The first program I wrote on my own was a text version of blackjack in Basic. I am pretty sure it didn’t abide by the standard win expectation and randomness calculations, but hey it was cool! The Tandy Color Computer 2 had a software cartridge slot on the side, no disks. I remember imagining cash coming out of that slot when I won at blackjack, just like an ATM. Who would have thought that less than a decade later online gambling would be born… providing essentially that same type of service.
Fast forward to graduating high school. To get me set for college, one of my graduation gifts was a new computer that came with a 56K modem. I could now go online! The “World Wide Web” became a “thing” only a few months before. In my surfing around the Internet, I stumbled onto the first online gambling site I ever saw. It was called the Acropolis Casino at AcropolisCasino.com. I immediately signed up for an account using my debit card. My dream of being able to bet/win real money through software on my computer was now a reality. I lost about $50 on the Acropolis Casino software, but fell in love with online gambling. As I was typing this webpage I thought, “I should see whatever happened to AcropolisCasino.com.” I hadn’t visited the site since the late 90’s. It appears that Acropolis Casino closed up shop by 2000. Guess my $50 didn’t help. I checked, and the domain name was available, so I thought what the hell?!? It was the first “.com” I ever placed a bet on, I want to own it. So, now I do! If you visit AcropolisCasino.com it forwards you to my Twitter page. I love it!
After my exciting, but losing experience with Acropolis Casino, I did my best to get involved in the online gambling business. Most of the online gambling companies in the 90’s were run by American bookies who headed offshore. None of them knew what the hell they were doing when it came to programming or web design. I thought, “I love this business, let me reach out to every online gambling company I can find and see if I can work for them.” Typical pie in the sky idea for a college kid. I searched to find every online gambling website I could and sent each of them an email. Eventually, two shops replied. One was from a small-time bookmaker in the UK, and the other was World Sports Exchange. At this time, WSEX.com was the largest sportsbook offshore. I think their design and programming would stand the test of time today. The software was simple, easy and incredibly effective. For a little nostalgia to those who remember WSEX, ahead are some screenshots I found from back in 1999! Can’t believe it’s twenty years later! Here was the landing page (picture), next is the main site once you clicked through the landing page (picture) and here was a page with the NBA lines for the day (picture). Another basic, yet incredibly efficient setup was the teaser and parlay platform (picture). Then of course the WSEX futures markets which traded shares of the various teams (picture). No sportsbook since has been able to replicate the quality of WSEX’s futures and in-play, contract based, trading markets. WSEX markets allowed you to buy and sell shares at any time during the season or even during an event. You could buy shares of the Lakers expecting them to go on a run, the price of Lakers stock would increase and you could sell your position a few days or a couple weeks later, long before the end of the season. Not sure who was going to win the World Series, but you knew it wasn’t going to be the Mets. You could sell short the Mets. How about golf? You could buy Tiger Woods at the start of the tournament, he has a good round, you could immediately sell your shares in Woods and move the money into shares of another player, or simply cash-out. Awesome stuff for a bettor! One of the best memories in my entire career was being a market maker for Sunday Night Baseball at WSEX! The ability to buy, sell, sell short and enter/exit positions during a game was seamless and innovative. I was making markets at WSEX until 2003.
In 2003, I decided to start my own company providing services to offshore “gaming” operators and developers. I’ll get a little vague at this point in the story due to the sensitive nature of the work. Suffice it to say, my business and network of clients grew in the years that followed. My company worked in various capacities with most of the top offshore shops through the years. A few years ago I sold my company and semi-retired from the business. Today, I continue to consult for several of the premiere shops and maintain contacts throughout the industry.
The Sharp Plays is dedicated to my aunt…
My aunt passed away recently. She was like a mom to me…always there no matter what I needed. In high school, when I struggled with math problems involving ratios (yes, I had trouble with math), it was my aunt who helped me to understand. It was my aunt who built up a love of math in me. So yeah, without her I likely would not have had the career I have had in gambling. My aunt supported me wholeheartedly when I told her I wanted to break into the gaming business. She was also there to help me through my failures, to keep me pushing forward. My aunt was a big sports fan too. Every year I would watch the opening rounds of the NCAA tournament with her. It was a tradition. While she enjoyed college basketball, she was THE BIGGEST football fan I have ever known…man or woman. My aunt was best known however as a teacher. She taught in a city school and was a favorite among students. I cannot tell you how many times I’d be out with my aunt and someone would run up to hug her. It would be one of her old students excited to see her again. Her former students were eager to tell her what they were up to, and what she did for them. I already knew she was special, but it was awesome to witness what she meant to so many people. One of the many ways we keep her spirit alive is through an annual scholarship which I started in her name, and for the benefit of multiple students each year in her school district. She shaped many lives in positive ways, myself included! I would not have made it where I am today without her. ❤️
My Personal Plays on Twitter
I am often asked how I come up with my personal plays that I release on Twitter. While I have been a gambler since I was a kid, I wasn’t necessarily a good one. Computers and mathematics became the key. My selections are derived from my algorithms and my personal feelings for a bet. Goes all the way back to the days of writing line generation programs on the TI-82 graphing calculator (picture) and in Excel. Thankfully my programs perform a lot better today. I don’t handicap because I know I won’t be able to assess a game like a computer and sports betting is really just numbers. The line is generated by calculated expectations and public perceptions. Given those are just quantified in numbers and summed up in a final number (the line/odds), shouldn’t then mathematics be able to dissect that number and find edges? I believed so. Therefore I let the computer handle the work for me. When my programs come up with big overlays combined with some “other” information, I post it up on Twitter as a personal play. I am quite proud of my record. I don’t post a lot of plays as I am very selective. However, in what I have posted the past 9 years (June 2011), my Personal Play record is 192-126 for 60.4% and +59.0 units. Every one of my Personal Plays are released free of charge on Twitter!