It was a gamble in its own right for Kenneth Huber to try to mount a 165-inch TV in his basement office. It’s actually a three-by-three grid of 55-inch 4k computer monitors, and the first time Huber tried to install them on a $1,500 stand in his suburban Philadelphia home, all nine of the heavy screens cracked. Fortunately, the retailer sent him replacements, and this time he hedged his bet by supplementing the stand with large spacer brackets.
Huber works with betting advice company inplayLIVE and wagers on the NFL, NBA, NHL and college basketball. His desk is about six feet from this wall of screens, on which he can view games in any number of configurations: one game across all of them, one game on top and three across the bottom or as many as 36 games, with four on each monitor.
A tricked-out office with multiple television and computer screens won’t make a sports gambler “sharp,” just as owning a $3,000 set of clubs doesn’t make a scratch golfer. But pro bettors, always seeking an edge, sometimes invest in personal setups so elaborate they rival TV control rooms.
Several such bettors gave The Washington Post a peek via Zoom at their in-home command centers. The gear isn’t cheap, but when you bet for a living, it is tax deductible.
A specialist in “live” betting during games — bets on the next play, drive or score of games that have already started — Huber depends on following the action with as little delay as possible. All nine screens on his monitor grid have hard-wired connections, and next to the grid is a curved 65-inch Samsung TV that receives broadcasts through an HD antenna on Huber’s roof. Over-the-air broadcasts often have lower latency than cable or satellite, he explained, and are far quicker than YouTube TV’s sluggish Sunday Ticket feed.
Both of his parents used to gamble on sports through a neighborhood bookie, and Huber recalls placing his first bet at age 8. He learned computer programming just a few years later to write code that handicapped NFL point totals. After running a business for more than 20 years that provided photography, DJing and other wedding-related services, Huber became a full-time bettor in 2018. His midlife career change wasn’t a tough sell with his family, he said: “I make more now in a year than I used to make in a decade.”
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His operation has come a long way. New Jersey legalized mobile sports betting about a year before Pennsylvania did, so at first Huber would drive across the river to bet at a Garden State McDonald’s, sometimes occupying a booth from noon to midnight. Eventually he bought a house in New Jersey, commuting there on weekends solely to gamble. (He prefers to call himself a “value analyst.”)
For his current setup, Huber built a custom magnetized board that holds his dozen smartphones on his desk, allowing him to bang out bets without needing to open and close sportsbook apps. (Pennsylvania has roughly a dozen licensed sportsbooks, and New Jersey has about twice as many.) He also has two HP laptops and three iPads that he uses to monitor line movement across different sportsbooks and view spreadsheets with his predictive models.
Lately, however, he likes to put some of that information on his wall of screens, side by side with games, so that he’s not “jerking my neck like crazy” day and night, he said.
The setup, he said, cost about $25,000.
“I obviously wouldn’t spend that much for my own personal viewing,” he said. “This is just for work.” Underscoring his point, a home theater with seven leather recliners is one room over.
Michael Riordan, Annapolis
Riordan is one of about 15 people spread across the country who handicap for the Right Angle Sports betting group. They specialize in college basketball and football games, which is why Riordan likes to take in as many games as possible — within reason, he added: It’s only possible to watch so many basketball games at once without feeling dizzy.
His office includes an 85-inch LG with a smaller Roku TV to one side and two Samsung TVs to the other. The Right Angle group mostly bets pregame, rather than live, but when Riordan wagers during games, it’s useful to keep an eye on possible injuries and foul trouble.
On the middle of his desk is a laptop by MSI, which specializes in high processing needed for video games. Riordan likes having the ability to keep dozens of Chrome tabs open without hiccups, displayed across two smaller laptops and one 49-inch curved Samsung monitor. He also has a $370 speaker from Yamaha that he uses to spend hours on conference calls with Right Angle. It’s noise-canceling, allowing him to keep the TV volume on low.
Riordan prefers handicapping. “The betting itself feels like work,” he said, “but I’m not roofing in the summer, so I’m not complaining. That’s the job.”
Jeffrey, Long Beach, Calif.
From a home office looking out on palm trees and the Pacific Ocean, a pro bettor named Jeffrey spends many days this time of year watching college basketball from 5 in the morning until about 10 at night. Online sports betting remains illegal in California, but plenty of offshore sportsbooks take bets no matter where you live.
The bettor, who spoke on the condition that only his first name be used to help him avoid scrutiny from sportsbooks, studies tape like an overworked assistant coach and watches as many live games as possible. On a recent Saturday he had 20 basketball games on at once, with four playing across each of his TVs: an 85-inch Sony and a pair of 50-inch Sonys on either side.
Some pro bettors claim to rarely watch sports, arguing that gambling is a numbers game for which spreadsheets are all that matters. Jeffrey doesn’t see it that way. “You want to put yourself in a position to stumble into something useful,” he explained, offering two recent examples: During halftime of a basketball game between Villanova and Le Moyne, Fox Sports 1 went live to the Le Moyne locker room, where the coach was imploring his players to focus on transition defense. In another game between Tennessee Tech and Tennessee, Jeffrey noticed Tech’s coach waving at his point guard to slow down so he could call plays. “That’s info I wouldn’t get if I wasn’t watching,” Jeffrey said. Both observations led him to successfully bet the under on the second-half point total.
His desk includes a 27-inch Dell computer and a MacBook Pro with two 34-inch LG monitors. On an adjacent desk are four neat stacks of paper, each as tall as a phone book, with his research and notes. “I probably have more paper on my desk than the president does in the Oval Office,” he said.
John Shilling, Charleston, S.C.
A recent move from New York City to Charleston provided an opportunity for John Shilling to build “my dream sports betting home office,” he said. A full-time sports bettor for the past few years, he mostly gambles on golf, and since he rarely bets during rounds, he has no need for a sports bar worth of TVs.
He sits surrounded by a semicircle of screens. To his left is a 24-inch smart TV, which is helpful for keeping tabs on course conditions. Most of his focus is on his computer, spread over three 27-inch monitors — large enough to accommodate two browser windows each. Typically, Shilling uses one screen for an odds aggregator, one for sportsbooks and one for his own Microsoft Excel-based model.
Running a desktop across three oversized monitors creates a heavy processing burden, and Shilling said a “top-of-line” graphics card is “of the utmost importance.” In all, he said, his setup cost about $3,000.
Andrew Pace, Vancouver, B.C.
Sports betting is now legal in more than two-thirds of U.S. states. It also has been legal since 2021 in Canada, where Andrew Pace lives. The founder of inplayLIVE, Pace has been wagering about a decade longer than that. At first, “I wanted to turn my living room into more of a sports bar,” he said, so he bought three TVs on Craigslist.
His setup these days could put some sportsbooks to shame. Pace watches games across nine 46-inch screens mounted on his wall. Like Huber’s setup, Pace’s screens are flush, allowing him to display one game across all 120 inches. For his sunlight-filled office, Pace bought Samsung monitors with glare-resistant matte displays.
The monitors are connected to his computer, allowing him to drag and drop games in whatever configuration he wants. Maximizing “screen real estate,” he said, is important when live betting because game information presented on sportsbooks — such as the score and time remaining — is occasionally off.
His monthly bill for six coaxial cable boxes, high-speed internet and various sports packages adds up to about $700.
Pace’s desk is covered with four MacBook Pro laptops, three iPads and an iMac. Live betting is all about speed, and if a bettor has to open a sportsbook website before wagering, he said, “you probably already lost the line.”
The desk was from online furniture superstore Wayfair, and Pace bought his leather chair at Costco — nothing fancier than necessary. This is a place of business, after all.