We couldn’t go through the whole series of 10 People Who Got Rich on Sports Betting without mentioning our own, Jonas Gjelstad.
Along with his friend Martin, Jonas is a co-founder of Trademate Sports.
Over his time, he’s also been a very successful poker player and sports bettor, profiting nearly $1 million from value betting in one year.
But there is no real surprise that this is where Gjelstad’s life has taken him, after he started betting on football at just four years of age!
"I hardly knew what I was doing, but I was allowed to bet £2.50 on Saturdays,” Jonas said.
Jonas sometimes won between $100-$400, which he would spend on things like Playstation games and new bikes, but his father was not as successful when it came to the gambling world.
"Dad was determined to win based on statistics, he even read statistics on the Lottery numbers - for instance that it was now 32 weeks since the number 28 century had been drawn. I just shook my head, because the probability of 28 being drawn the next week does not increase as a result of it not being drawn this week,” he said.
At the age of nineteen, Gjelstad’s next step in life was taking on the world of poker.
He moved from Norway to Thailand, in a bid to make it as a professional poker player.
"I did not want to be an engineer and work for others, get a fixed annual income, get married and buy a station waggon in my late 20's. It seemed cooler to go my own way, which gambling makes possible if you do it right,” said Gjelstad.
During his year away from home he excelled as a poker player, but he decided to move back home and buy an apartment in Larvik, Norway.
Poker is a game that 10-15 Norwegians make a good living from, according to Jonas, but he still dabbles in poker and his current total earnings sit at $499,342!
He also came 3rd in the 2017 Caribbean Poker Party Festival, winning $450,000, along with winning the largest pot Joe Ingram ever played ($91,200), and he holds the title of the Norwegian No-Limit Hold'em HeadsUp Poker Championship.
Jonas soon became bored of his new life in Larvik and decided to move to London with this poker friend Felix Stephensen, who won $5.1 million in the 2014 World Series of Poker (WSOP), a prize which he forgot to retrieve!
After days of partying, Stephensen checked the prize envelope, which stated that he needed to pick up his winnings the following day.
Luckily, he was sent his prize money the following year.
Jonas and Felix were living amongst some of the world’s biggest celebrities in a relatively quiet residential area between Notting Hill and Oxford Street.
Both Tony Blair and Winston Churchill used to live there.
Along with Sting, Blur's Damon Albarn, Suede's Brett Anderson, actor Keira Knightley, as well as fashion designer and Beatles child Stella McCartney.
While Felix was enjoying his successes in the field of poker, at this point in his life, Jonas had decided to devote his time and money to football betting.
Gjelstad started his sports betting career by finding value bets, in other words, odds that were higher than the Asian market.
After just a couple of weeks of betting, Jonas was already limited by multiple bookies, which severely affected his ability to place large stakes on trades.
“It happened a lot faster than I expected,” said Jonas.
"For example, if I were to play Manchester United against Manchester City and entered 17,200 NOK as my stake, I was told that the maximum bet on this game was only 17 NOK.”
Now renting an expensive apartment in London and without the ability to make any serious money, along with his friend Martin, Gjelstad came up with his most genius idea yet; Trademate Sports.
He and Martin first thought of the concept in a cabin in Telemark, Norway.
"We did not have electricity or the internet at the cabin, so we had to talk to each other. Martin is the smartest guy I know. He studied Cybernetics Engineering at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU) and believed that it had to be possible to automate the collection of odds,” he said.
The Trademate Sports software allowed Jonas to take advantage of bookmakers who were too slow to drop their odds, thus gaining an edge over the bookies.
“The other day Messi was banned from playing for Argentina. Then I bet on a home win or draw to Bolivia and won at a much higher odds than what the odds were when the game started,” Gjelstad said.
Since this day, Jonas has never looked back, profiting over a million dollars from value betting.
In his bedroom, there are two big screens, as well as a laptop.
On his desk is a tube of snus and coffee, his main two snacks during the weekend.
The weekends are when he’s trading the most, with football rounds being played all throughout Europe.
He starts work at around ten o'clock, but he usually doesn’t finish until nine in the evening, ordering food to the door.
Jonas’ largest win came in the 2014 Soccer World Cup.
Norsk Tipping, the major Norwegian bookie, offered 60 in odds on the Netherlands winning exactly 3-2 vs. Australia.
While the rest of the market was at 34-38 in odds, he put down $1000 and cashed out $60,000.
At this time he was living with Felix, who also bet $1000 on the game.
Felix spent part of his winnings on a ticket to the WSOP event!
Although Jonas has had some massive wins, as any professional sports bettor knows, you have some massive loses too!
Recently, on New Years Day, he lost $120,000!
"It was annoying, especially because I had a birthday the next day. It might not be ideal to play the day after New Year's Eve,” said Gjelstad.
But don’t worry, he’s had worse days.
Years ago, once again in January, he lost a staggering $256,000 on the 31st of the month!
Funny enough, he’d done so well during that month that he still finished January well on top.
Only in his mid-late twenties, Gjelstad still lives the life of a professional sports bettor in London.
“You have to almost always be available and updated 24/7. But at the same time you can get far by paying attention during the weekends, one has to try to live a normal life as well,” said Gjelstad, who has spent time travelling the world recently.
Overall, he loves his life, but of course there is always skepticism over his profession.
“When people ask me what I do and I answer poker/betting, people are either critical and refuse to believe that it is something you can earn money on, or they love it! Either way, it leads to a 20-30 minute conversation. So sometimes I have said that I am an accountant to avoid further questions,” he said.
Like a lot of professional sports bettors, Jonas likens betting to everything else in life; research, research and research.
Billy Walters is the perfect example, he became the first professional bettor whose strategy was strictly based on data analysis.
“The return on investment is on average two percent (sports betting). The difference from other investments is that you can bet and earn these two percentages every single day!” said Gjelstad.
Click here for our documentary series on Jonas.
Click here to read Jonas’ interview with Norway’s largest news channel.
Check out our other articles in the 10 People Who Got Rich On Sports Betting series:
Want to read about some of our customers who are on their way to becoming professional sports bettors too? Take a look at some of these videos/articles:
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