Actor Ashton Kutcher claimed to have been the "front of the largest national sports-betting syndicate in America" in an Esquire Magazine article earlier this year.
Billy Walters, considered to be the most successful professional sport bettor ever and head of the largest syndicate in the nation, had no comment, when reached by phone.
But here is the big surprise. Kutcher's story actually checks out in Vegas.
The 35-year-old actor told Esquire he spent half of a college football season
placing bets for a syndicate. Kutcher came off as knowledgeable about sports
betting in the interview, describing how the syndicate pinpointed statistical
anomalies and took advantage of point-spread movement.
"We were clearing, like, $750,000 in four weeks of college football. It was
pretty fun. Then they caught on," Kutcher said in the Esquire article. "The
hypothesis had been that the house would just assume that I was a dumb actor
with a lot of money who liked football."
A former Las Vegas sports book manager told The Linemakers on Sporting News
that he was very familiar with Kutcher's sports betting in the early 2000s, the
same time frame chronicled by author Michael Konik in "The Smart Money: How the
World's Best Sports Bettors Beat the Bookies out of Millions."
"They thought they had a sucker on the hook, then he won $800,000 in four
weeks," said the ex-bookie, who asked to remain anonymous. "They had to shut him
Many believe Kutcher is one of the characters in Konik's highly-acclaimed
book that details the author's time working for Rick "Big Daddy" Matthews, a
gambler described as, "the world's smartest sports bettor and the mastermind
behind the Brain Trust, a shadowy group of gamblers known for their expertise in
beating the Vegas line."
It's widely believed, but never publicly acknowledged, that "Big Daddy"
Matthews is Walters, a reclusive Las Vegas businessman with a reported net worth
in the hundreds of millions.
"My book 'The Smart Money' is a non-fiction memoir that includes an
explanatory note about honoring privacy," Konik wrote in an email to The
Linemakers. "I have no further comment."
Celebrities like Bruce Willis, Floyd Mayweather, Phil Mickelson and poker pro
Phil Ivey have all been rumored to have been a part of Walters' syndicate at one
time or another. Willis is also rumored to be one of the characters in "Smart
Money," as is current Linemakers' analyst Richie Baccellieri.
Baccellieri was a sports book manager at Caesars Palace in the mid-to late
1990s and is rumored to be the character "Stevie The Pencil" in "Smart
Baccellieri would not comment on his or Kutcher's inclusion in the book.
The idea behind having a celebrity make the wagers is that their high-profile
status and large bankroll tend to give them special treatment in a casino
compared to a regular Joe or someone labeled as a professional bettor.
Kutcher's days in Vegas seem to be curtailed. Norm Clarke, celebrity
columnist for the Las Vegas Review-Journal, told The Linemakers on Sporting News
that he had not heard of any regular sightings of Kutcher in at least the last
"That's somebody that I would hear about," Clarke said. "I would be surprised
if he was coming over that often and we weren't hearing something. I just don't
think of him as much of a regular."
By: David Purdum
Tags: Ashton Kutcher, Billy Walters, Bruce Willis, Phil Mickelson Floyd Mayweather