Blair Hull: The world’s greatest investors

Legendary investor Blair Hull made a series of very successful trades based on his reading of market sentiment.


Blair Hull became a professional blackjack player

Born in California in 1942, Blair Hull left school at 16 to work in a factory, before joining the army to fight in the Vietnam War. After getting a maths degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara, an MBA from Santa Clara University and doing a short executive course at Harvard Business School, he became a professional blackjack player.

Hull used his winnings to buy a seat on the Pacific Stock Exchange, later founding Hull Trading Company in 1985. After selling up in 1999, he managed his own money and became involved in politics, losing a Senate primary to Barack Obama in 2004.

What was his strategy?

He, and later his company, would then immediately execute a series of trades to exploit this temporary mispricing. Hull would supplement the strategy with occasional big bets on the direction of the market, going against market sentiment. The strategy was hugely profitable: by 1985 Hull was wealthy enough to invest $1m in founding HTC. The company was worth $25m when he sold it 14 years later.

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What was his best investment?

Sensing the panic was out of control, Hull aggressively started buying up futures in the MMI, one of the few indices still trading. This proved to be the bottom of the crisis, netting him millions when the market recovered. Hull also made money from a similar contrarian approach at the start of the Gulf war in 1990.

What other advice does he have for investors?

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri