Monday, January 28, 2008

Alan Woods

An inexhaustible good nature is one of the most precious gifts of heaven, spreading itself like oil over the troubled sea of thought, and keeping the mind smooth and equable in the roughest weather. Washington Irving

Most would describe Alan Woods as the world’s most successful horse gambler. He died Saturday night at the age of 62.

He started as a math whiz, trying to win at games. He figured early on in life that counting cards gave him an edge, so he learned it. Later he figured that the pari-mutuel game was beatable, so he learned that. He thought the stock market was beatable, so he learned that. He was truly a remarkable guy.

He started playing Hong Kong in the mid-1980’s. Like most who start, he lost. But the wheels went in motion – there was a fixed number of horses who race meets there (around 1200), there was little funny stuff with drugs or form changes, very few trainer changes and no horses off claim. He thought that he could build a database of all those horses, get programming, build an odds line, and roll. That he did.

It is said he won over $150M in Hong Kong, and recently his handle was 2 or 3 percent of the entire Honk Kong pool. It is reported that his net worth at the time of his death was $600 million US.

I think no one can say he did not live life as he wanted to; and didn’t much care what people thought. From an article here:

,,,,,,it could have just as easily stemmed from his racing riches: $1.5 million, earned in a single session, is where Woods's idea of a good day begins.

He keeps himself holed up in an air-conditioned apartment where the view is sprawling, a pool table dominates the living room, and a downstairs TV spans 48 inches. "I don't leave this apartment during the day, except to go swimming in the rooftop pool, because it's too hot and humid. If I need something from the market, I get my maid or girlfriend to shop for me," says Woods, adding that he prefers to eat dinner in front of the television or computer and that his leisure time is fairly regimented. "I like going to the seedy girlie bars in Makati [an upscale neighborhood of Manila, where hookers are a main attraction for some Westerners]. I go out only a few nights per month, but on those nights, I tend to come home with two girls, or, usually, more."

He was helpful to other gamblers. He posted at the odd time. Jeff from jcapper who we talk about on the blog said “he taught me to work harder”, another said “he was one of us”. Personally, he taught me that winning was important, picking winners wasn’t.

His signature on is the start of this piece. It says it pretty nicely – it appeared he enjoyed life; and had it in perspective, which is difficult in the gambling lifestyle.

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