Today we are interviewing the legendary handicapper Jon Price who's already secured his place in history as one of the best sports handicappers of all time. Jon Price started off as a reclusive and underground handicapper who's ability to pick sports winners quickly gained him acclaim around the sports world and put him on the same level as all time great sports gamblers like Jimmy the Greek & Billy Walters. If it wasn't for Jon's low-key lifestyle, 60 Minutes, ESPN, and Cigar Aficionado would have featured him over the years. After being pushed for years by many Sharps and Insiders around the industry, Jon came out of his shell and started to deliver his predictions to the public via the handicapping site SportsInformationtraders.com. (This article was originally published February 2015)
Robert Carlson shares his interview with the legend Jon Price below:
Robert: How did you get started picking games?
Jon Price: "It started when I was young, of course, and I just always had an affinity for sports, and math, among other subjects… I've been studying practical mathematics and stats obsessively for as long as I can remember. I think it was around age 14 or so, I started connecting those dots and correlating mathematics with sports. It started with just football, but then I quickly branched out once I began seeing some correlations between my various formulas and the games. It didn't take long for me to get hooked."
Robert: Is it true that certain Las Vegas books fear you?
Jon Price: "The easy answer would be yes but the action these books take on a daily basis is beyond my biggest wager of $1 million dollars, which I won by the way. Anyway, the odds-makers and Cantor gaming risk does such a great job of hedging their internal risks with the wagers they take on. The experts there come from Wall Street and they know how to manage their risk by moving lines accordingly with the incoming wagers so that they don't have much to worry about with the vigorish. As long as there is enough action on a game than they don't fret when I make my wagers. Though, obviously I don't make bets the same way the general public makes its bets. I don't just stroll into a casino with $1 million in a briefcase or something… No, I usually have to get approval from the back office and follow a little different procedure for anything above a few hundred thousand on a single game. There are much more complex strategies that I implement that have worked until the books started to take notice and adjust. So it’s a cat and mouse game when they know they can take away your edge they will certainly try do so.
Robert: Another industry Sharp, Mike Wise said about you, "Jon's the hardest working and sharpest handicapper the gaming industry has ever seen." ‘Pretty strong statement from a fellow world-class picker… For someone who still maintains the low-key lifestyle that you do, how do you react to that?
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Jon Price: "[Laughing] Well that's very humbling to hear that from someone like Mike. Mike is arguably one of the best basketball pickers this generation has seen, but truth be told, I don't let that kind of stuff get to my head. I'm not your typical handicapper… First of all, I'm one of the few top pickers who actually plays their own picks. I think that's something my clients have come to appreciate, is that I stand behind my plays. When you lose, I lose, too. Good thing we win a lot more than we lose. But I don't do this for the money. I've already won enough from sports gambling to last me a few lifetimes… See that picture above? That’s a Hawker small private 8 seater jet. I’m not as humble as some may say but enjoy the perks of a “private” lifestyle paid for by sports betting. I do this for the challenge. Every time Vegas puts out a line on a game, I take that as a personal challenge. So I start crunching the numbers, basically to show them they're wrong. And once I have my line also known as Delta, I'll compare it to theirs, and that's where I get the value for any particular bet. If the odds of winning are high enough then I move forward with the wager based on the strength of the number. There are more in depth hedges and second half wagers that only one other notable capper has ever figured out (hat tip to Bob Voulgauris for being the only other handicapper to help break the Vegas books with my assistance).
Robert: You often mention crunching the numbers, and connecting math to sports. How does math play a part in your picks?
Jon Price: "Well it does more than play a part, Robert. Math, variable data, psychology, and probability is what it all comes down to. Just like many players have found a variable or trend that they like to latch onto, well this is very similar but on a much, much larger scale. I'm not going to bore you with variable data and statistics, but simply, I've found the 22 variables which have the strongest correlation to predicting the outcome of any given game. I'm not predicting the future here, I'm just identifying the data that routinely has the largest correlation to an outcome, and acting on the distinguished, favorable odds of probability."
Robert: Many view you as the anti-handicapper. Because of your humble attitude and unique approach. What truth do you see in that?
Jon Price: "I'm not a big fan of the spotlight, and I'm even less of a fan of the term, "Handicapper." This latest generation of pickers and touts have just ruined the title. It used to take skill and documented results to earn that title… Now anyone who has an opinion on sports picks thinks they're a world-renowned handicapper. They're in it for the money, not for the sport. Like I said, I've made my money. I'm still a player at heart and I'm in it to win it. I would never give out a play that I'm not personally betting on, myself. I'd like to see other handicappers do that!"
Robert: The LV Sportsbook Commission has your career winning percentage at 63%. The highest among documented players. For someone as humble as yourself, how does that make you feel?
Jon Price: "Not very good, Rob, considering the real number is higher than that. Somebody needs to tell them to update their records [Laughing]. There are many instances where I fall behind with my initial pick but notice an edge or favorable line movement and hammer the book for the second half and come out profitable. In other instances I wait for the dumb money (sometimes my money placed by other runners of mine) and they move the line in my favor and then its go time. Percentages do not matter to me it’s the bottom line number and that number is substantial over my lifetime. I'm constantly trying to improve on my overall record not for the money but because in life you always want to be improving and striving to be the Michael Jordan of your era. This is all I do, this is my passion in life… I pick sports winners. People tell me I'm pretty damn good at it. Maybe I'll start to believe them once I hit 70%. For my career, that is. I've already hit 70% for a season a few times, but when I hit 70% for my career percentage, sure, then maybe I'll believe the hype."
Throughout our interview, I couldn't help but feeling I was talking to more of a college professor than a world famous sports handicapper. Even though he's been a professional sports picker for well over a decade, he never grew a taste for the spotlight and often displaces a lot of the praise the industry has had for him. If not for his intent to keep his low-key lifestyle, Jon Price would have been featured all over the news and in the publications where you read about the touts that wish they could be as good as Jon Price really is. Even though he may seem humble in person, his record is anything but that.