Every Friday, we choose an alum who has been making headlines—for better or for worse.
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2/11/11: Rufus Peabody ’08

Your kid’s obsessed with sports statistics? No worries. He can grow up to be a vote-counting guru or Freakonomics-style author. Or—as in the case of Rufus Peabody ’08—a Las Vegas–based professional sports gambler.

An econ major at Yale, Peabody wrote his senior thesis on inefficiencies in the baseball betting market. Last fall, with thesis adviser and School of Management professor Cade Massey, he produced a weekly NFL ranking that was published by the Wall Street Journal.

But nothing compares to the Super Bowl. Last year, Peabody and his three partners placed $1 million in bets and raked in some $200,000 profit. “Knowing my partners and me have a million dollars riding on it,” he says in a phone interview, “makes watching the Super Bowl a lot less fun.”

Especially when this week’s million-dollar investment returned only 3 percent, deriving largely from exotic “proposition” wagers. (Peabody’s favorite: he bet more than $20,000 that Green Bay running back Brandon Jackson would rush for less than 10.5 yards. Jackson didn’t get a single carry.)

After “at least” 150 hours of preparatory number-crunching, Peabody’s $7,500 share represents about $50 an hour. Not bad. But the weekend’s big payday had nothing to do with the Steelers or the Packers.

“I spent about an hour on a golf tournament,” Peabody says, “and we made $40,000 or $50,000.”

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