Poker millionnaire Tony Bloom may have made one of his safest bets in Premier League Brighton

  • Owner of Brighton & Hove Albion made millions from gambling
  • Club have returned to top flight after 34 years

Self-made millionaire and professional gambler Tony Bloom has shot into the spotlight after his life’s biggest gamble paid off.

The shy poker pro invested in his beloved English football club, Brighton & Hove Albion in 2009. After around £250 million and eight years of hard work, he has seen his club make its first step into the Premier League – with a stadium and a team to be proud of.

Brighton have not been part of the top division in 34 years, so it is a welcome return to the top flight for fans of the team.

The famously private man has broken his silence to introduce himself to reporters and fans, and to give a little insight into the man who turned around an ailing local football club and brought it back to its former glory.

Poker pro known from World Series circuit

Though Tony ‘The Lizard’ Bloom has placed eleven times at World Series events, he has never come away with a bracelet.

That said, he is a regular face and well-known in London and in Vegas. He has performed well on the World Poker Tour, making it to the final table in 2006.

His first top prize was won at the Australasian Poker Championship. To date, the 47-year-old entrepreneur has gained around $3,500,000 in career earnings, according to poker database Hendon Mob.

He also made his fortune through gambling, using his winnings to establish Starlizard – a betting advisory agency offering consultancy for sizeable sports wagers.

The trading board for bets also acts as a syndicate for exclusive, anonymous high rollers who use the services to find optimal lines and maximize their revenue.

Due to the secretive nature of the company and also Bloom’s very private personal life, his net worth remains a much-debated mystery.

‘Biggest gamble’ looks to have paid off

Tony Bloom is a long time fan of Brighton & Hove Albion, so the struggling local club seemed an obvious place to invest his wealth. On purchasing the club in 2009, he poured £93 million into ground improvements, appointed respected manager Gus Poyet and secured a promotion for his team – all in the hope of securing a place in the Premier League, along with the financial benefits and other opportunities that go with it.

In total, the value of Bloom’s investment in his club totals close to £250 million ($322 million) – making this his largest ‘gamble’ to date.

However, that gamble has paid off. In the 2016/17 season, Brighton managed to go 18 games without a defeat and racked up 93 points. They avoided the play-offs and joined Newcastle in the automatic promotion spots, opening the door to top flight football – and potential revenues per season of £200 million. Though the team lost to league favorites Manchester City during the opening weekend, they put in a decent performance and gave the division’s most expensive team a run for its money. If they can turn up like that for the rest of their games, the club could become a regular feature of the Premier League.

So will Bloom be gambling even more of his money on the club? Staying up in the Premier League is notoriously difficult without competitive spending, although Leicester City proved in 2015/16 that anything’s possible by winning the league.

The chairman says he is not planning a spending spree any time soon, so Brighton will have to hope their luck holds out. “We have to strengthen, that goes without saying, but we’re not looking to spend huge amounts,” said Bloom.

“We’ll do things on a gradual basis as we have done.”

It looks as if Mr Bloom’s coolness at the poker table might serve him well in a potentially rollercoaster, nerve-shredding season.

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