Phil Mickelson has wagered $1 billion, lost $100 million, new book alleges

Phil Mickelson is at the center of some costly gambling allegations. (Brian Bishop/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Phil Mickelson is at the center of some costly gambling allegations. (Brian Bishop/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Billy Walters holds the reputation of being one of the most controversial and well-heeled sports gamblers in America, and in a new book scheduled for release later this month, he is laying bare his recollections of gambling alongside Phil Mickelson — who apparently matched him in both volume and intensity. Mickelson has bet a total of at least $1 billion, Walters claims, with losses reaching as much as $100 million.

In an excerpt from “Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk” released to Fire Pit Collective, Walters details the way he and Mickelson teamed up to make massive offshore bets, using Mickelson’s name and Walters’ expertise.

“Phil said he had two offshore accounts that would take big action from him,” Walters writes. “In all the decades I’ve worked with partners and beards, Phil had accounts as large as anyone I’d seen. You don’t get those types of accounts without betting millions of dollars.”

Mickelson had the luxury of limits of $400,000 on college and NFL games, and $100,000 on college over/under bets, Walters writes, far in excess of what most gamblers receive. When offshore books recognized Mickelson’s betting patterns as “far more disciplined than usual” thanks to Walters’ input, Mickelson simply switched to another account.

One of the most explosive charges in the excerpt is the suggestion that Mickelson attempted to bet $400,000 on the outcome of the 2012 Ryder Cup. Walters refused to handle the bet, saying Mickelson could destroy his entire reputation.

“You’re seen as a modern-day Arnold Palmer,” Walters says he told Mickelson. “You’d risk all that for this? I want no part of it.”

Mickelson backed down, though Walters concedes he could have placed the bet elsewhere. The U.S. team, which had been leading 10-6 going into Sunday singles, suffered one of the biggest collapses in golf history, losing 14 1/2 to 13 1/2. Mickelson’s loss to Justin Rose was part of the losing effort.

Walters documented what he said were Mickelson’s stunning betting records from 2010 to 2014:

• He bet $110,000 to win $100,000 a total of 1,115 times.

• On 858 occasions, he bet $220,000 to win $200,000. (The sum of those 1,973 gross wagers came to more than $311 million.)

• In 2011 alone, he made 3,154 bets — an average of nearly nine per day.

• On one day in 2011 (June 22), he made 43 bets on major-league baseball games, resulting in $143,500 in losses.

• He made a staggering 7,065 wagers on football, basketball and baseball.

“Based on our relationship and what I’ve since learned from others,” Walters writes, “Phil’s gambling losses approached not $40 million as has been previously reported, but much closer to $100 million. In all, he wagered a total of more than $1 billion during the past three decades.”

Early in 2022, Mickelson found himself a target of criticism when he condemned Saudi Arabia for its human rights record while at the same time advocating the use of their financial resources to upend the PGA Tour. He was suspended from the Tour for several months in early 2022, and soon afterward jumped to LIV Golf for a widely reported signing fee of $200 million.

“Frankly, given Phil’s annual income and net worth at the time, I had no problems with his betting. And still don’t,” Walters writes. “He’s a big-time gambler, and big-time gamblers make big bets. It’s his money to spend how he wants.”

Walters was convicted of insider trading in 2017, served five years in prison, and was sentenced to pay a $10 million fine. Mickelson was not punished in an insider trading case involving Walters, though he did forfeit nearly $1 million in earnings gained through the trade of stocks purchased on tips from Walters. “Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk” is scheduled to go on sale Aug. 23.

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