Caption – Brighton Pier where Bloom got his start
Brighton’s hugely popular owner-cum-entrepreneur Tony Bloom has been named in the top 100 of England’s most successful poker players of all-time. The rankings, which are based on all-time winnings, see Bloom placed at a more than respectable 23rd, earning $3.53m since starting out his poker journey way back in the early 2000s. He finds himself in good company on the list, with iconic poker professionals such as Barny Boatman, Neil Channing and Liv Boeree also in and around the top 20.
It all started for Bloom in his younger years when he spent days down on the city’s seafront, indulging in many of the arcade’s slot machines. His grandfather also had a tremendous passion for betting too, both on sport and the tables. Bloom subsequently kick-started his fortune in the world of cards and he is no stranger to a plethora of casino games, with a maths degree giving him the aptitude for strategic table games like blackjack too.
From Las Vegas to ‘Down Under’: Bloom’s global poker career
Bloom’s love affair with poker started as far back as the mid-90s, when he appeared at a string of World Series of Poker (WSOP) events in Las Vegas in 1994 and 1995, as well as several live No-Limit Hold’em and Seven Card Stud events at live poker rooms in central London. His first serious cash came in 2004 at a poker tournament in Melbourne, Australia, taking home a cool AU$426,500. A year later, Bloom would take first place in a £5,000-entry event in London, scooping £200,000 in prize money.
Australia proved to be kind to Bloom throughout his poker playing days, racking up several five and six-figure paydays at events in Melbourne. His most significant being the 2011 Aussie Millions event, where he finished runner-up and bagged AU$975,000. Bloom’s sojourns into poker tournaments have no doubt been few and far between since his involvement with Brighton & Hove Albion in 2009. In the last five years, Bloom has only appeared twice at WSOP events in Las Vegas, suggesting that the Seagulls are now his full-time occupation, alongside his additional venture called Starlizard, which is a notorious sports betting platform.
The name of his Starlizard sports betting company is based upon his nickname at the poker tables – ‘The Lizard’ – due to his cool nature in pressurised situations. One of his compatriots always said that alligator blood flowed through his veins, leading to the now-synonymous nickname. Bloom is something of an elusive character. He regularly shuns the limelight and is rarely interviewed by the media. In a rare interview back in 2011, Bloom described poker as a game that “gives you a good grounding in lots of things” for the business world. This included “reading situations”, as well as “people” and “making tough decisions”.
Life away from the poker tables
As he’s stepped away from the world of poker in recent years, Bloom has increasingly split his time between the Amex Stadium – closing deals for the likes of Adam Lallana – and his Starlizard offices in North London. At the time of writing, his sports betting company is considered the biggest football betting syndicate in the UK and one of the most analytical on the planet. Previous reports have suggested that his Starlizard outfit rakes in around £100m a year in average profits, employing over 160 staff to develop and utilise the company’s own statistical modelling to determine the best value odds with the leading bookmakers.
These more ‘accurate’ or ‘genuine’ pre-match prices are then made available to Starlizard’s clients, who can take advantage of mispriced or undervalued odds with the leading sportsbooks. As a self-titled ‘betting consultancy’, Starlizard has developed a big yet mysterious reputation for having some of the sharpest betting minds in the world of football. Bloom’s passion to be the best and outwit his opponents at the poker tables has certainly rubbed off on his Starlizard employees. Aside from an encyclopaedic knowledge of poker maths, Bloom’s analytical nature has surely cemented his name in the ‘Hall of Fame’ of the sports betting industry too.