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Stephen Muturi, 31, one of Kenya’s serial winners of big cash

STEPHEN MUTURI, 31, has become one of Kenya’s serial winners of big cash from betting sites, who have made a career out of PREDICTING outcome of games and often striking it lucky. CHARLES THUKU caught up with him

Sh2.4 million is not pocket change to an ordinary Kenyan, in a country where ‘hustler’ is the common label for many youth. But for a 31-year-old Nairobi entrepreneur, Stephen Muturi, the idea of rifling through a neat bundle of one-foot thick banknotes that make up Sh2.4 million does not break a smile on his face.

He is used to handling big cash won from just thumbing the Qwerty keyboard on his phone to bet on matches. Muturi has become one of Kenya’s serial winners of big cash from betting sites, who have made a career out of reading possible outcome of games and often striking it lucky.

They are not the bad-luck-destined gamblers in Kenny Rogers’ classic The Gambler, whose only hope is to die on the street. If Kenny Rogers’ gambler had made a life out of reading people’s faces, these latter-day game-betting wizards are making a lucrative living out of reading prospects of matches, guessing correctly who the winner would be and spreading the risk thinly.

So successful have some become that when Muturi bagged Sh2.4 million in the Betway jackpot last week, it was all in a day’s work and he did not even call media and friends to scream about his luck. He has become a real estate dealer, courtesy of his frequent winnings, but nonetheless thanks God for increasing his earnings, saying it takes more than just luck.

Muturi, who started betting in 2015 after being introduced to the pastime by a friend, says in his first venture with Betway, he bagged Sh500,000 followed by Sh50,000. He later tried his hand with Betin, where he won Sh113,000, nothing much to write home about, given his rising portfolio.

Riches Chase Riches Muturi’s story is yet to reach the level of success of another betting enthusiast Gordon Ogada, who won a cool Sh232 million, courtesy of SportPesa two months ago. A serial winner like Muturi, Ogada received the windfall and barely 24 hours later, won another Sh200,000.

Despite losing some bets, Ogada has won almost Sh1 million since winning the mouth-watering SportPesa Mega Jackpot. And as if to lend credence to the saying success cannot be measured by strength nor brains, Ogada won himself Sh41,000 in betting while having a meal in a restaurant in Umoja Estate.

Talk of riches chasing more riches. Muturi rejoined Betway after it upgraded its offers by introducing a Jackpot Double chance where one can place a wager in home and away matches.

“I moved from one betting firm to another and, surprisingly, I always won, which gave me the confidence to continue betting,” says the budding millionaire. Muturi then tried a hand in SportPesa, arguably the biggest and most popular betting platform in the country.

He says it’s pure luck, and it involves hard work as well. The secret according to the frequent winner, lies in intensive research on teams before placing a bet, and checking on history and performance. “I look for every nook and cranny about the teams I bet on, I study their leagues, their coaches…

Many things matter, like home or away games, I even check the weather of where the game is, it affects matches. Then I pray to seek divine intervention before placing a bet,” says Muturi.

In SportPesa, Muturi has won close to Sh1 million since he started betting on the site. Stanley Irungu, an engineer by profession, does most of the research, while Stephen Muturi, an entrepreneur, is the risk taker. This relationship has helped them in betting and in their real state business by providing interest-free funds.

SECRET TO WINNING

Muturi may sound like a spend-thrift, but he readily offers that he uses anything from Sh50,000 and Sh400,000 to place bets. “There was a time I used Sh400,000 on betting and lost, but that did not break my heart. There are times I use as little as Sh100 and still strike it rich,” says the father of three.

The Betway Sh2.4 million was Muturi and Irungu’s best bet so far, but not the highest cumulatively. He was escorted by his business partner Irungu to receive the cheque from the Betway Kenya offices on Galana Plaza and the pair looked the part, sparkling smart but unassuming, as if it was all in the line of their duty.

The pair say they use most of their winnings as investment in their real estate business in Kitengela that has since grown to employ more than 80 people. Muturi lauds the Betway system for frequent upgrades that he says have continually improved customer experience.

He says: “In 2016, the system only allowed me to place bets on match results as opposed to the current multi-line selection options which give us more choices on each Jackpot.” Although Muturi believes in placing large bets for big returns, he advises Kenyans not to emulate blindly, but to only bet on money they can afford to lose, and to take time to research.

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