In the past 18 months identical twins Gavin and Alex Walker made nearly £400,000 without even getting up off their sofa.
They don’t work in the City. They don’t deal eyeball-peelingly strong coke. They never spend the 45 minutes between 6.30 and 7.15 exhaustedly tapping the snooze button because they can’t face another wretched standing-all-the-way-to-Liverpool-Street tube journey.
In fact, as Alex, 23, happily told me, they often forget what day it is because every day feels “like a weekend.”
The two-floor penthouse apartment off Old Street they rent is spacious and tasteful. Floor to ceiling windows and a fifty inch plasma dominate their living area, on the kitchen table the £200 Pioneer decks fit the room like a tux on Bond. The bedrooms have ensuites and enormous double beds and the upstairs roof terrace has a masterful view of the city, still glittering through the inky rain.
Gavin and Alex can afford all this because they have a genius and a flair for betting on football matches. It’s what pays for the roof terrace and the decks and their good haircuts and cool clothes.
Together they spend every day watching football, placing bets and making thousands of pounds. Alex said: “If you’d told me this was going to happen two years ago I would never have believed you.”
So I asked Gavin to tell me how it did.
What did you do before you became professional gamblers?
I studied Building and Surveying at Reading, a lot of construction stuff.
We grew up on a farm in Wiltshire. It was a nice place to grow up, a happy childhood. School was fine, neither of us were very academic but we weren’t stupid either – just mediocre [laughs].
How did the betting start?
It was at uni, first year. Alex joined a Facebook group about betting. He started getting tips and making money.
At that stage we were both gambling on our own like most people do at uni, putting down accumulators and things like that.
Then we decided to put our money together and gamble together so we could bet on more matches. If I was at a lecture, Alex could be at home watching a match and putting more money on. We split the money half way and it meant we wouldn’t miss any games.
Was there a moment when you realised “Fuck, we’re good at this”?
Once you start making a long term profit. It took two years for us to get experience and start making good money.
At uni we started making £1,000 a week. I left uni and got a job as a graduate building surveyor and then I was working there for a year. I made my entire yearly salary (£17k) in a week I knew it was the moment to start gambling full time, probably time to quit the job.
Alex was still at uni at this point, after a year out in industry.
We only bet on football. The main thing we do is single bets – no accumulators or doubles or anything like that, every bet we do is in play. It’s much easier to judge the outcome of the game that way.
How many games do you watch a day?
About four or five a day, every day. I liked watching football before we started and I guess I still like it now, maybe a little less than before. It never gets boring because the stakes get higher and higher, the feeling is still electric.
How did you explain you were going full time to your parents?
Obviously they weren’t too keen on me quitting my job to do this. But we could show them how we’d made a persistent profit over the course of a year – I think they believed in us and believed we’d be alright. We had £70,000 tucked away in case the entire thing went wrong so they knew there was that back up.
Once you quit the job what happened next?
I was living at home, saving up to come to London. Most of our mates from uni were here and we wanted to link up with them. London has so much going on compared to anywhere else in the country, we had to come here.
It must be difficult maintaining normal friendships when you’re watching five football matches a day?
Yeah it can be hard. But the good thing about it is – we don’t actually have to do it if we don’t want to, it’s not like doing a nine to five job. If we want to see our mates we can leave it all, put it down and not think about it.
What do you spend the money on?
I have much better clothes now [laughs]. The place we’re renting in Old Street costs about £3,500 a month including bills, so that’s where a lot of it goes — it’s pretty expensive.
Does being careful with your money make you a better gambler?
Yeah I think so, there’s a lot of people out there who look to profit from gambling who have no idea what they are doing. As soon as they make any kind of profit they blow it all straight away. This leaves them with less of a stake and more chance of losing everything.
This all sounds like it must take a lot out of you emotionally. There must be so many anxious moments every day.
It is stressful. We don’t have days off if things go wrong. We just keep going, keep backing the teams we think will do well. We once lost £40,000 in a day, during the U17 World Cup. It wasn’t good.
How can people make the money that you and Alex have made?
There are a couple things you should do. Firstly, always bet in play. Never put accumulators on or anything like that, you should be putting single bets on.
If you want to make a long term profit it’s all about value betting. You need to look for games that are priced wrong and take advantage of it. If you flip a coin there’s a 50/50 chance you’ll get heads or tails. What we do when we bet is try to find a coin toss where the odds of each flip are 60/40 instead. If you keep taking that bet, you’ll make money long term.
Finding the games which are priced wrong comes from experience and research. Once you start making money it becomes easier to make more money.
Do you see yourselves doing this for much longer? How sustainable is it?
Gambling keeps getting bigger – it’s everywhere. You can’t walk down the street or turn a television on without seeing an advert for it. The best gamblers are shrewder than ever before, making more money than ever before. Something might change in the industry in the near future.
We want to go into property development – it’s something we’ve started thinking about now that we have a pot of money.