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Australia's Biggest Punter Zeljko Ranogajec

Ranogajec was born in Hobart, Tasmania in 1961. His parents came to Australia as Croation immigrants.

RanogajecHe studied to be lawyer at the University Of Tasmania but soon realised he was probably always going to be a better punter than a lawyer. His self discovered memory skills allegedly found him banned from the Hobart Wrest Point casino for card counting (where he worked for a short while part-time) and Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast.
Interestingly he met his wife and business partner Shelley Wilson at the Wrest Point Casino where she worked as well. It is understood that these bans made him look seriously at racing and lotteries - not only in Australia but world wide.

His initial bankroll is rumoured to have been just a few hundred dollars which he turned in to a small fortune through what he called 'advantage betting' - card counting at the game of blackjack being one of his major skills. In fact in 2011, he was inducted in to the Blackjack Hall Of Fame as a "professional gambler from Australia and former blackjack professional player".

The Blackjack Hall of Fame is housed at the Barona Casino, in San Diego, California. The Barona Casino awards to each inductee a permanent lifetime complimentaries for full room, food, and beverage, in exchange for each member’s agreement never to play on Barona’s tables.

The casino bans saw him turn his attention to all sorts of other areas. He reportedly won a multi million dollar Keno jackpot at the North Ryde RSL in 1994. Although he bet more than the $7.5 million jackpot that was on offer, he won more than the first prize money by picking up numerous smaller prizes from his multiple entries. This is a great example of the small margins he strives to attain by betting huge amounts at short odds, or, in some cases, simply for the Tote "commission" he gets paid as a prime customer.

It could be argued (and is in many forums) that it is these commissions (or rebates) that greatly disadvantage the smaller punters betting in to the same pools. A TabCorp spokesman stated, in response to media stories, that the corporation "investigated the incidents" and found "no evidence of illegal activity", but reminded that "the offering of tote-odds betting products by corporate bookmakers has inherent pool manipulation risks."

The Herald Sun on May 20 2011 reported that they had "been contacted by several punters angry that one of Australia's biggest professional punters is plonking massive place bets on hot favourites on Tabcorp's SuperTAB to exploit a kickback deal he has with Tote Tasmania. The rebate is as high as 6 or 7 per cent on every dollar bet and works because Tote Tasmania co-mingles with SuperTAB pools. To avoid big losses on the professional punter's horses, costs are being covered by slashing the place odds for punters who have backed other horses."

In 2010, Ranogajec and his Hobart based business partner David Walsh, were reported to have bid for Tote Tasmania when it was being floated as a great privatisation idea by the idea bereft Tasmanian Government before they pulled it off the market in the face of enormous opposition. The Tote was supposedly for sale for $200-300 million and most of the big gambling companies - including Tabcorp, Tattersalls, British firm Ladbrokes and Greek firm Intralot - are believed to have submitted offers.

Ranogajec does not do interviews but "reportedly" employs dozens and dozens of people directly or indirectly to do the form and be "opportunity spotters". It is not known if this true or otherwise. He is also alleged to have an office on the top floor of the Tabcorp Building and at Foxsports headquarters in Pyrmont in Sydney. He also allegedly accounts for about 8% of Tabcorp's annual turnover.

His overall betting operation runs worldwide 24 hours a day, seven days a week. According to "those that know" he chases small margins in pools with a large percentage of "mug money" that swells the pools to bigger than what you would normally expect. By doing this he virtually controls the totes and is one of the reasons why, again according to "those who know", many bigger punters have switched to Betfair and left the totes to the mugs.


An article about him on listed his method of winning partly as:

He hires an army of analysts to conduct computer and video analysis of horse racing and other gambling activities. Betting markets anywhere in the world are selected based on large pools where his team can bet unlimited amounts at the last minute

* For horse racing, numerous factors are taken into account before a decision is made on what to back. Horses are divided into two groups: those who can't run a place, and those who can

* Horses are either eliminated or given a weighting based on their odds. His "value pick" system is geared towards looking for horses that are over the odds based on their percentage chance of winning

* Computers linked to the tote allow his team to bet late, preventing average punters from following his bets

* He is believed to operate on low single digit profit margins

In an article in The Australian, December 34 2011, they wrote:

"AUSTRALIA'S biggest gambler, a reclusive maths wiz who bets more than $1 billion each year, is being examined by the Australian Taxation Office.
Tasmanian-born Zeljko Ranogajec accounts for between 6 and 8 per cent of Tabcorp's $10bn Australian betting turnover and is said by experts to be the world's biggest punter..........Hundreds of bets are queued up in the TAB system and are placed in the final seconds as horses fill the barrier stalls, so that opportunistic betters cannot follow the money as the odds tumble. Win and place bets may fit into his repertoire, but the big money is in the exotics - trifectas (1st, 2nd, 3rd), quartets (the first four placegetters) and quaddies (the winners of four nominated races). These types of bets offer big pools and opportunities for big payouts..................."