Paul Krishnamurty makes a living by consistently winning big money on political bets.
His website, politicalgambler.com, is where he posts his latest gambling tips for people looking to outsmart the bookmakers and make a profit in the political betting markets.
Krishnamurty has enjoyed huge success on both sides of the Atlantic — betting on general elections and leadership contests in the UK and presidential elections in the US.
He has made well over £25,000 (A$44,026) from just a handful of bets this year alone.
Business Insider met up with him this week to discuss the ins and outs of political gambling, his methods, his successes, and what tips he has to share, with an eye on upcoming political events.
“I’ve been a professional gambler for fifteen years,” Paul told BI.
“The political side of it is something that in the last year to 18 months I’ve taken a lot more seriously. Politics is a massive passion of mine — I got a degree in the subject a long time ago.”
Krishnamurty, who is currently the chief analyst at betting company Betfair, has been involved with gambling in some shape or form since his early teens.
“I’ve been involved in gambling since the age of about 12. I was always the school bookie… I made odds for anyone who wanted them. But it wasn’t political, it was sport. Football, golf, horseracing,” he said.
“By the time I was 18 I was working for William Hill, then I was a betting shop manager, which was a pretty rubbish job but it gave me inside knowledge on the subject. I went to university in my twenties to become educated and it was then I decided to merge my knowledge of politics with an expert view on how to gamble and the mathematical side of it.
I laid out my student loan money on the 2001 general election and got it all right.
“I laid out my student loan money on the 2001 general election and got it all right. I correctly backed Iain Duncan Smith at 33/1 long before the [subsequent] Tory leadership election. I realised then there was a real angle here for me.”
The University of Hull graduate has a number of impressive wins to his name. As well as backing Duncan Smith to win the Tory leadership in 2001, he correctly predicted Michael Howard to take over the party in 2003 at 33/1. “It really was a case of free money,” he said.
His favourite win was much more recent, though.
“From a personal pride point of view, Corbyn was my favourite. He was so derided everywhere by highly-paid people. He was laughed at,” he said to BI.
Making money out of Corbyn’s win
Krishnamurty made a profit of over £6,000 from backing Corbyn at 24/1 long before the result of last year’s Labour leadership election was announced. This means the probability of veteran socialist winning the leadership at the time was just 4%. His victory totally stunned most bookmakers.
Unlike most pollsters, Krishnamurty correctly predicted Brits would vote to leave the EU on June 23, picking up another £6,000 prize as a result.
“It was an absolute goldmine on the night,” he said.
Matt Singh, a polling analyst who runs the Number Cruncher Politics blog, told BI last week that predicting the outcome of the EU referendum was one of the hardest challenges of his career. Krishnamurty, though, had no such difficulties.
In all honestly, I’m not poll driven. I’m not saying they’re useless, but they follow a rigid scientific model which can’t always be applied to politics and elections.
“No, it wasn’t that hard at all,” he explained.
“In all honestly, I’m not poll driven. I’m not saying they’re useless, but they follow a rigid scientific model which can’t always be applied to politics and elections. My logic was that at least 80% of people were decided by day one so the job was to deal with the remaining 20%. I just couldn’t see how Remain could get past 55% and from there went on to back Leave.”
According to Krishnamurty, the EU referendum was an illustration of how the mainstream media and pollsters tend to misread the public mood. His own methods involve talking to voters and “measuring the grassroots” as oppose to listening to what experts and commentators are saying.
“One thing which is hugely underestimated in politics is the conversation in the pub, the conversation in the office,” he said.
“The point about Brexit is that the anti-EU argument has been had every day for years — in the press, on the TV, in your average workplace. Most people aren’t that interested in politics but if someone makes a point about immigration or something similar, one person in the office with a large voice will say ‘that’s because of the EU.’
“In this country, the Remain side just hadn’t spoken up. It’s just not a point people were making until this year. That left very few enthusiastic voters on the Remain side and a big turn out for Leave. You really have to measure what’s going on at the grassroots.
“It’s also about understanding the ideological trends in the world. So, to take the example of Corbyn. I backed him last year not because I thought he could be a good leader, but because he was against three candidates who all represented a dated, tired ideology that people who could vote didn’t buy anymore.”
BI met up with Krishnamurty in central London before he flew out to the US to begin work on the US presidential election. He will be visiting the swing states of Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Georgia — places where the how the vote turns out will a big sign of the nation will vote as a whole in November.
“I’ve been heavily backing Clinton from the start. I cannot see Trump being president and I’m not buying into over-exaggerated poll movements,” he said.
“But my big game is predicting the contribution of the electoral college and hedging between markets. State betting only offers limited profits as the hot favourite usually wins. My feeling is that Clinton will get over 330 electoral college votes.” [A candidate needs 270 out of the 538 to win the presidency].
Krishnamurty has already placed bets on events which might not even happen for a number of years.
“I’m always looking for an angle — I’m already betting on the next Labour leader after the winner of this election.
“The person I really like is Clive Lewis… I’m also gonna add to that a couple of Corbynistas — Angela Raynor and Richard Burgon. I think one of those will inherit the party.”
He is not quite as compelled to place early money on the 2020 general election, though. “Whenever it is, is going to be a massive Tory majority. So, I don’t really want to sink any money into it until I at least have a better idea of when it is.”