High Wire Gambler: The Story of Robert Gorodetsky

Robert Gorodetsky had all the trappings of a young, splashy, super-successful professional gambler. He wore ridiculously expensive Louis Vuitton hoodies, dated a former Miss Utah, traipsed around Las Vegas in limited edition sneakers and even sported a $47,000Hublot wristwatch, not unlike the pricy timepiece given away to a World Poker Tour tournament winner in 2014.

In 2017, Gorodetsky made the classic move of a self-perceived gambling god who is angling to step out of the shadows. Gorodetsky, then 27, cooperated for a celebrated profile in a mainstream publication. In his case, it was a story for USA Today. The article’s writer marveled over his subject’s habit of betting “upwards of $10,000 on games. Winning and losing millions of dollars in what he calls ‘BigRobStyle.’”

A friend boasted about Gorodetsky resting on the cusp of achieving billionaire status and being “the no. 1 entity” in sports betting. But, as it turned out, “losing millions” was the centerpiece of Goroedetsky’s fraudulent career. Last year he was charged with masterminding a sports-betting and investing scheme, though which, according to court documents, he snookered one unfortunate individual out of some $9.6 million. Gorodetskyclaimed that he would add his own funds in order to make investments in the stock market and to place wagers on sporting events. But, in reality, he had no money – until he started stringing along his investor. Then he had plenty.

Last January, the United States District Court of Northern Illinois charged Gorodetsky with wire fraud and filing a false income tax return. Seemingly chastened, the gambler pleaded guilty to both charges. Come March, he is scheduled to be sentenced for his transgressions. He faces up to five years or more behind bars. Citing health reasons – both mental and physical – his lawyer is rallying for home confinement. It seems like the kind of longshot that Gorodetsky relished. “Considering the charges,” a Chicago-based attorney told 888, “I’m confident that he will see the walls of a prison.”

Whatever winds up happening, it is clear that Gorodetsky swung for the fences with his alleged scam. In one instance, he received a cash infusion of around $953,000 and claimed to have grown the sum to $2 million. In reality, it’s alleged, he quickly skimmed some $738,000 to fund his outre lifestyle. Money does not appear to have been invested in the stock market or wagered with any kind of strategy. Amazingly, he somehow convinced his pigeon to plop down an additional $8.7 million exclusively for the purpose of sports betting. Wagers may or may not have been placed. But the millions did not all wind up at Las Vegas betting windows. The criminal complaint against Gorodetsky alleges that he used $2 million of the money for flashy cars, jewelry, luxury travel and nights on the town.

And Gorodetsky was anything but subtle. If you spotted him in Vegas, you’d peg the guy as a stone cold winner, a latter day Phil Ivey or Billy Walters. He bopped through luxury suites at Aria, made oversized sucker bets and wagered so erratically that casino hosts and professional gamblers couldn’t figure out how he kept the cash coming in. Nobody knew that he was simply burning through the money of a well-heeled East Coast ophthalmologist he had bamboozled.

Even the savvy gambling analyst RJ Bell seemed to be in awe of it all. This “story is about two things,” Bell told USA Today. “How amazing what he’s doing is … [and] when does this all end?”

Everybody now knows that it ended with criminal charges for a gregarious, often unshaven man who wore a hat that said GAMBLR, smoked thick cigars and, on Twitter, characterized himself as “Sports betting King.” His obsession with wagering on sports and gambling in casinos – Gorodetsky all but bragged about losing $1 million at blackjack and his casino host happily confirmed it to the newspaper – began when Gorodetsky was a middle-school student near Chicago. By high school, he was booking sports bets, playing poker, and getting suspended for, according to court documents, “setting up a gambling hall in high school.”

He barely graduated, dropped out of college after a single semester and at age 20 made his life-changing move: Gorodetskyconvinced a girlfriend’s father to invest in his stock-trading and sports-handicapping skills. Somehow, he successfully portrayed himself as a wizard of both Wall Street and Las Vegas. After turning 21, Gorodetsky moved to Sin City and aimed to make a name for himself as a sports bettor. Rather than doing it through serious analysis and the utilization of astat-crunching computer program, Gorodetsky launched Twitter and Instagram pages that hyped his gambling prowess. Social-media showed his winning sportsbook tickets but not a lot of the losers. Somehow, Gorodetsky kept the now ex-girlfriend’s father on the hook.

According to court documents, he made a credible case by creating documents that showed their bankroll growing precipitously. It didn’t hurt that Gorodetsky talked a world-class game and possessed overloads of chutzpa. “The thing that gives me the edge is there’s no fear of losing,” he told USA Today. When he does lose, he added, “You’re going to see me here the next day. We’re going to be in the game.”

Gorodetskyalso seemed to have luck on his side – at least once. Miraculously, he won a six-figure college football parlay bet when USA Today’s reporter was on hand to witness it. The newspaper showed him acing the wager – “That’s game, bitch,” he declared as the clock ticked down – and making his way to Aria’s high-limit blackjack room for kudos and high-fives from dealers.

Once settled in at the cocktail lounge there, Gorodetsky showed off Instagram photos and told tales out of school. Mixed in with shots of Gorodetskyalongside hot chicks was a pic of him buddied up with New York Giants star receiver Odell Beckham Jr. Then he talked about loaning Beckham $10,000 so he could play blackjack (the NFL pro reportedly won at cards and repaid Gorodetsky). More critically, Gorodetsky “showed what he said was a text message from Beckham indicating an interest in betting $20,000 on a baseball game.”

Gorodetsky acknowledged that the wager never happened. Beckham’s agent told the newspaper that Beckham did not know Gorodetsky. According to a court filing, following the USA Today story, Gorodetsky, was backed off by casinos and “became the subject of investigations by the Nevada Gaming Commission and the FBI.”

It is unclear why this happened but Gorodetsky appeared to take it in stride. Soon after, he told Reno Gazette Journal, “I’m banned for life basically from Vegas. My life is over basically but nothing I can do.”

Charges were levied against Gorodetsky approximately one year later. The former girlfriend’s father, who had been bankrolling Gorodetsky, appears to be cooperating with authorities.

As for the would-be “Sports betting King,” he copped his plea to charges of wire fraud and filing a false tax return. The former is associated with Gorodetsky receiving millions-of-dollars in wire-transfers that were requested under false pretenses. The latter stems from Gorodetsky declaring income of only $10,520 in 2016 when he actually received more than $2.5 million from his benefactor. His punishment will be decided this coming March.

The government thinks his behavior was criminal. Gorodetsky’s lawyer makes the claim that his client was delusional. But, in the USA Today story, while awaiting the outcome of his $100,000 parlay, Gorodetsky may have made it all too clear that he understood the shallowness of his skills as a prognosticator and recognized that he could never earn the kinds of profits he claimed to be reaping. “I can’t name one [expletive] player on the field,” he told the reporter. “I can’t name a quarterback. I can’t name anybody.”