Private Investor: The one way to make money from a poker game

Sometimes you buy shares for very odd reasons. I recall buying some shares in an outfit named
Sportingbet.com a couple of years ago, because I met someone who worked for it who told me all about this exciting new venture and I have to say I was very intrigued by the operation.

Sometimes you buy shares for very odd reasons. I recall buying some shares in an outfit named Sportingbet.com a couple of years ago, because I met someone who worked for it who told me all about this exciting new venture and I have to say I was very intrigued by the operation.

If the name isn't a clue, let me enlighten you as to its main line of business: online gambling. Those with an ethical disposition should turn away now. I didn't put much into it, watched it collapse in the great dot. com disaster and didn't bother selling the shares because it was hardly worth it. They were, mentally, written off - until now.

I recently ran into the chap who worked at Sportingbet, and who has since moved on. He pointed out that the shares have been doing rather well lately - so I checked and, yes, indeed they have almost doubled in value since I bought them (at 100p, and they are approaching 200p now) and are up ten-fold on their nadir.

A few interesting things have been happening to this stock. It has had its .com suffix amputated, an occupational injury for companies in this sector; it has bought an American concern named Paradise Poker; and it has been the subject of much takeover speculation and bullish comments from City folk. So my early faith in Sportingbet has been repaid, although it is a rather different animal from the one I initially invested in. Indeed, I have read that it is the biggest online gambling website in the world, which I found rather hard to believe.

However, you can never lose, I have found, by investing in vice. I was a very satisfied investor in the William Hill float and greatly regret jettisoning those shares. The brewers have rarely let me down. Virtue has its own rewards, so they say, but, evidently, so does human vice. So, on the strength of all this, I have topped up my holding in Sportingbet in the hope that it will double again, although the recent very strong run may not be sustained for long.

Poker is the sort of fad that can quickly become an obsession. In the old days, as far as I can see, to get a game of poker going you had to have a group of wise-cracking, hard-bitten cronies like Phil Silvers or Walter Matthau, a bloke with a visor dealing the cards, a bottle of bourbon and an understanding wife who'll make the guys some pastrami-on- rye sandwiches.

Now all you need is a computer. Just think of the potential. You can play cards all day and all night at home or when you're supposed to be working. Doesn't appeal to me, but there's evidently an appetite for it. It has already taken off in the States, and, as we all know, that means it'll be over here before too long. Sportingbet must still have some more growth potential, especially as it is trading on quite a modest prospective PE ratio of about 15. I've even thought of a new slogan for them: "Sportingbet; the global player you've never heard of."

Elsewhere, it's the same old story. Sensible stocks such as Tesco, Vodafone, AG Barr and Shell and the long-term money going into the JPMF Indian Investment Trust showed steady progress in 2004, and should again underpin the wilder bits of the portfolio in 2005. And there is none wilder than Matrix Communications.

I have to stress that I have no connection with the firm whatsoever; it's just a fairly blind punt recommended by a friend unconnected with the City. In fact, he got the idea from the Investors Chronicle, so it's been open secret for a time. Matrix Communications jumped by a quarter on Christmas Eve - a nice little present - and has edged ahead since. It's now up 47 per cent on when I bought it in November. What an exciting time - almost as thrilling as a game of online poker. Just think what it'd be like if the bulls came back to the market.

s.o'grady@independent.co.uk

Independent Partners; request a free guide on NISAs from Hargreaves Lansdown

Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor and the Dalek meet
tvReview: Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
Arts and Entertainment
books
Sport
Diego Costa
footballEverton 3 Chelsea 6: Diego Costa double has manager purring
Life and Style
3D printed bump keys can access almost any lock
gadgets + techSoftware needs photo of lock and not much more
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Inside the gallery at Frederick Bremer School in Walthamstow
tvSimon Usborne goes behind the scenes to watch the latest series
Life and Style
Silvia says of her famous creation: 'I never stopped wearing it. Because I like to wear things when they are off the radar'
fashionThe fashion house celebrated fifteen years of the punchy pouch with a weighty tome
Arts and Entertainment
Gregg Wallace in Summer's Supermarket Secrets
tv All of this year's 15 contestants have now been named
News
i100Steve Carell selling chicken, Tina Fey selling saving accounts and Steve Colbert selling, um...
Life and Style
A picture taken on January 12, 2011 shows sex shops at the Paris district of Pigalle.
newsThe industry's trade body issued the moratorium on Friday
Arts and Entertainment
Could we see Iain back in the Bake Off tent next week?
tv Contestant teased Newsnight viewers on potential reappearance
News
i100
News
The slice of Prince Charles and Princess Diana's wedding cake and the original box from 29 July 1981
newsPiece of Charles and Diana's wedding cake sold at auction in US
Voices
The Ukip leader has consistently refused to be drawn on where he would mount an attempt to secure a parliamentary seat
voicesNigel Farage: Those who predicted we would lose momentum heading into the 2015 election are going to have to think again
Arts and Entertainment
Cara Delevingne made her acting debut in Anna Karenina in 2012
film Cara Delevingne 'in talks' to star in Zoolander sequel
Finacial products from our partners
Property search
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Money & Business

    Law Costs

    Highly Attractive Salary: Austen Lloyd: BRISTOL - This is a very unusual law c...

    Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF, BGP, Multicast, WAN)

    £35000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, CCNA, Linux, OSPF,...

    DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, Linux, Shell, Bash)

    £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: DevOps Engineer (Systems Administration, L...

    Data Scientist (SQL, PHP, RSPSS, CPLEX, SARS, AI) - London

    £60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: A prestigious leading professiona...

    Day In a Page

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek review: A classic sci-fi adventure with all the spectacle of a blockbuster

    A fresh take on an old foe

    Doctor Who Into the Dalek more than compensated for last week's nonsensical offering
    Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

    The phoney war is over

    Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

    The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

    Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
    From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

    After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

    Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

    Salomé: A head for seduction

    Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
    From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

    British Library celebrates all things Gothic

    Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
    The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

    Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

    The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

    In search of Caribbean soul food

    Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
    11 best face powders

    11 best face powders

    Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
    England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

    Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
    Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

    They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
    Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

    Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

    Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
    Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

    Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

    The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference