Harken back to the poker boom years. One of the more articulate and interesting personalities was Haralabos “Bob” Voulgaris (or @Haralabob on the Twitters).
Haralabob made an early World Poker Tour final table (the 2005 LA Poker Classic, finishing second) back when making a WPT final table meant constant airtime on the Travel Channel. He had a popular show on Poker Road. He finished fourth in the 2017 World Series of Poker $111,111 One Drop event (cashing for over $1.1M).
Now, a semi-regular guest on the Bill Simmons podcast, he’s renowned as one of the best NBA bettors in the world.
Good news for sportsbooks though: as first dropped in a Woj Bomb (along with Zach Lowe), Haralabos won’t be making line-shifting NBA wagers anymore, as he’s landed a front-office job with the Dallas Mavericks:
ESPN reporting with @Zachlowe_NBA: In another example of the league's changing attitudes on gambling, the Dallas Mavericks are hiring former NBA bettor Bob Voulgaris (@Haralabob) as Director of Quantitative Research and Development.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) October 5, 2018
Shifting attitudes towards sports bettors
With over 144,000 Twitter followers and an even larger audience from Simmons’ podcasts, Voulgaris has helped intellectualize sports betting for the masses.
He’s not the public’s stereotypical image of a cigar-chomping sharp. He’s meticulously researched the sport, built proprietary data around all facets of the game, and became one of the most successful NBA bettors. He also watches NBA games like he’s the overbearing sports dad over every single player in the league. Voulgaris estimates he views at least one quarter of 85-90% of all NBA games.
In that sense, it makes all of the sense in the world that a forward-thinker like Mark Cuban would hire Voulgaris as his Director of Quantitative Research and Development for the Mavs.
Cuban wants to use Voulgaris as a “strategic thinker who will help examine on-court strategy in big-picture ways.” As an advisor for Sportradar, Cuban is also a data nerd too. Also like Cuban, Voulgaris has spoken out on Simmons’ podcast on NBA refs. The bigger question is: why didn’t this happen sooner?
This will continue being an interesting time for the sports betting world. Gamblers got sophisticated (and respected) and have been using data to launch start-ups and land front-office sports jobs. It’s a testament to the power of data and information. And to the shifting attitudes towards what it means to be a sports bettor.