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7 Crazy Gambling Wins Gambling – the game of risks.
Through ups and downs – highs and lows – gambling attracts a massive fan base across the world – being one of the ultimate “underground non contact sports”. Whether it’s wagers on the game, dice on the board or lottery numbers on a ticket – there’s winners and losers each and every day. These seven stories recount some of the biggest and craziest wins of all time – proving that even the game of chance can come with a happy ending.
Starting off at number seven – the gambling, record-breaking, craps-playing granny. A New Jersey grandmother named Patricia Demauro literally broke all odds on a particularly lucrative evening at the casino in May of 2009. Craps – an especially complicated game with an intimidating amount of variables – is notorious for bleeding players out of their cold, hard cash.
Having only played craps one other time in her life, Demauro proceeded to roll a pair of dice 154 continuous times without ever throwing a seven – a feat that comes with the staggering odds of 1 in 1.56 trillion! Although her actual winnings have never been officially disclosed, having only bought in for $10 – one can assume that even the most conservative of betting patterns would return over 50 times that. Moving along to number six, this master of all things Blackjack wields some impressive skills. 48 year old racetrack manager and regulator Don Johnson, like our number seven, had one insane night at the casino – but this time, things were a little more premeditated.
Due to the financial crisis of 2008, casinos started to become desperate to attract and entice high roller gamblers into their establishment. Seeing an opportunity, Johnson made offers to play blackjack at the highest stakes at the Tropicana casino. Negotiating several changes to the standard casino blackjack rules, he was able to gain a mathematical edge over the house – pulling in a cool 1.2 million dollars his first time and returning to do the same to several more, grossing an estimated $15.1 million dollars total! This team figured out how to beat the rules – but in a different way, coming in at number five. Legally pulling in millions of dollars and effectively beating the system, the MIT blackjack team is one of the most famous examples of Las Vegas earnings in a more colorful than usual way. Formed in the early 1990s, this group of technical students devised the formula behind card counting, a technique that reveals whether the upcoming cards in a hand will be high or low.
By working as a team, a few members would count the cards of a game and signal counts to a third member – betting big exclusively at high count tables. Other members of the group would distract the dealer with huge bets of their own, ignoring the count to roughly break even. Using this formulaic way of playing – they’ve secured a place of infamy – inspiring multiple television specials, documentaries, essays and even a motion picture, loosely based around the events.
Coming in at number four– a literally out of this world wager with impressive foresight. Writing to the respected British wagering company William Hill in 1964, a man named David Threlfall asked for the odds that a man would walk on the moon within the span of seven years.
The representatives offered him some pretty astonishing odds in return – 1,000 to one. Putting a rather farfetched idea at the time to the wind, Threlfall placed a £10 bet, wagering that ” . . .
a man, woman, or child from any nation on Earth being on the Moon or any other planet, star, or heavenly body of comparable distance from the Earth before January 1971.” and patiently waited. Of course, he proved to be right – and Threlfall received a £10,000 check on the spot while viewing the landing. Looking back to the seventies – this gamblin’ man comes in at number three. Thomas Austin Preston – often referred to as “Amarillo Slim” for both the city he hailed from AND his petite waistline – made a living by being a notorious risk taker, intent on taking every bet he could with an edge in his favor. Initially learning how to hustle pool in Texas – his brash accomplishments include being a prize-winning card shark (he won the World Series of Poker in 1974) and a highly skilled pool shark – but his real prize was a swindled ping pong match against tennis player Bobby Riggs.
Stating that Amarillo would supply the paddles (while Riggs was welcome to choose either), the wager was set for $10,000. To the surprise of Riggs the paddles presented were large iron skillets. Secretly practicing on cooking skillets for months, his surprise caveat allowed him to win the match with a clear and creatively effective show stopping move.
This lucky dreamer turned $50 into $40 million – landing at number two on our list. Archie Karas, a Greek immigrant, grew up in the city of Antypata on the Greek island of Kefallonia in near poverty. Leaving his home in Greece at the young age of fifteen, Karas came to Las Vegas with $50, borrowing $10,000 from a friend at Binion’s Horseshoe casino for a game of high stakes Razz. Just three hours later, he had earned enough money to repay the loan WITH 50 percent interest and plenty more to continue playing. Continuing his nearly impossible streak for almost three years – he eventually amassed $40 million dollars in earnings – becoming one of the world’s most successful gamblers of all time.
And finally, an impressive (and celebrity) finale to our list – the ever imitable Sean Connery at # one. Growing up gambling – even accompanying his father on gambling runs as a youngster – the former Bond has a rich history in the art of the bet. Back in 1963, Connery visited an Italian casino located in the Alps. Stepping up to the roulette wheel – he placed his money on 17, missing until his third roll. Leaving his winnings there, the 35-1 wager hit once more – and then another two times. Against odds of 50,000 to one – he cleared over 17 million Lire which adjusts to over £163,000 in today’s economy.
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Yo, yo, yo, what’s goin’ on everybody? Alex Pandrea here, back with another video. In this week’s video, we are going to do a question and answer. Now, a few weeks ago, probably even a month ago, I posted on my Instagram a photo asking you to ask me questions.
I already did one in the past on another YouTube video, but there were so many questions that I did wanna get to more, so I did another post. The problem with that was that I posted, and then I forgot to do the video. So, this is the long lost, but not forgotten, question and answer. Let’s go. (up-tempo hip hop beat) Okay, so people ask me what I do in my spare time.
I don’t have a lot of spare time. I do run two companies, one magic and playing card company, as you may know, and one that you may not know is a travel company. But I do have a passion for photography, videography, all of that. So, today in my free time, not only are we shooting this vlog, but we’re also doing a photoshoot with the one and only Cristina Crown. If you don’t know Cristina Crown, please check on her Instagram.
I take all her photos, make her look lovely not that she doesn’t already, but we’re gonna go do that, show you a little behind the scenes, so you can kinda see what I do during my day. ♪ Remember when you told me you believe in something ♪ ♪ And you said you’re done pretending ♪ ♪ That fate is patient ♪ ♪ Summer’s end, and you feel that this is your beginning ♪ ♪ Well, colors fade but it’s okay ♪ ♪ There is good in changes ♪ (up-tempo hip hop beat) – Alright, so now we finished the photoshoot, and I’m with Beau in Central Park, walkin’ around. We’re gonna go to one of my favorite spots in Central Park and answer a few more questions. Have you ever been up to this rock?
– Never in my life. – We’re here, it’s my favorite. This is not your first time in Central Park. – It is. – For real?
– Yep. – If you go to Wollman Rink in Central Park, there is a hill, like a rock, that you climb up here, and the view is pretty nice from the top. (birds chirping) So a lot of people come up here for photos and things like that. Let’s find a quiet spot to answer some questions.
So you get this view. Pretty nice. You want some photos? – Photo!
– I’m so tired of taking photos. Okay let’s go with, “What’s the biggest mistake magicians make?” In my opinion, here let me set this down here. So my opinion on this, sit down. Come join me, have a beer. Looks like we don’t have beer, do we have beer?
We don’t have beer. Join me, but not in the shot, I just meant sit down. I’m kidding, come back here! Jesus!
No, I’m actually not. You’ve been on enough of these. – [Beau] Want me to get out of it again?
– No, come back. Come back! – I’m wearing out my ass on these rocks. – Okay, no, but seriously I need to be alone for this shot. (laughs) Okay, so my opinion, what mistake magicians make most. I think that a lot of the times magicians feel that, there’s a certain arrogance and an I’m too good for everything feeling when you learn magic and you astonish people and make people laugh, and they tell you oh my God, you’re the best, and you’re awesome and all of this.
It really does get to our head. And the problem with that is that you stop learning, you think you’re very good from the start because you can do a double lift and get the crowd jumping up and down. And because of that, the passion dwindles, and you don’t feel the need to actively go out, perform, and make yourself better. That’s a very narrow-minded way of thinking and I think it could be dangerous to your persona, to your performance, to your overall becoming a good magician. There are so many terrible magicians out there, and the reason that they’re terrible is because they don’t put the time and effort to go out, perform, get better, think to themselves, hey, I’m not good right now, what can I do to improve?
Enough with the egos and enough with thinking that what you do is sufficient enough. I don’t think at any point in magic or in anything else you should be satisfied and say, “okay, I’m good now.” And look, I’ll be honest, I used to do that myself. When I was in high school I wasn’t very popular and I used to do magic, and then all of the sudden I was the best thing that happened in that high school.
I had friends, and there were girls, and the teachers loved me, and I got away with skipping class and things like that all for magic. Then I just thought to myself, hey look, I’m too good for people. And I was obviously very young. But nonetheless, then I stopped showing magic to people when they asked, “hey, “can you do a trick?” No no no. I had this arrogance to me, and I realized over time that this did not help me at all.
It did not help me improve magic, it did not help me become a better person, it did not help me meet new people. So then moving forward, I started doing it to everybody, and you don’t know how many people you’re going to meet, come across that will influence you or you influence them. Relationships, connections, all of that stuff, it all starts with you taking a step back, realizing you’re not the best at everything and there’s always room for improvement. And always have the passion to learn, learn some more, and then when you’re done learning keep learning. (up-tempo hip hop beat) – [Alex] Thank you very much.
Ice-cold beer, cheers! And let’s answer some more questions, ready? – Let’s do it. – [Alex] This one says, “What is your favorite “beginner gambling demonstration?”
So I have a deck of cards here, and I’m gonna show you. (up-tempo hip hop beat) – [Alex] Okay so for this you need four aces on the top of the deck, and all you have to do throughout this routine is two things, retain the aces on the top and the productions. First to retain the aces on the top this is what I do. I’m gonna do, not a false shuffle, but I’m gonna shuffle and retain at least four cards while I shuffle so you know the aces are on top the whole time. It doesn’t matter which way that you shuffle, whether it’s the right or the left, but one two three four at least get retained, okay?
Yes, you can do maybe like a Zarrow shuffle at this point, but that’s not necessary as long as you retain the top four cards. So that’s step number one. Another thing is to do an up the ladder cut, I like this a lot.
So it looks like this from the back, the way you do this is you cut and you move the bottom to the top holding a break, and then you move the top one back to the top and outjog it, sidejog it rather, this way. And I take the bottom packet from the right hand packet and we’re gonna continue moving it to the top, like this. And then move this one here and retain it outjogged, or sidejogged. Bottom, top, bottom, top. And you can do that until there’s one card left, but I just do it a few times so I go one, and then boom, boom, boom. All right?
And that’s another false shuffle, and it still retains the top cards. So the top four cards are retained. Now for the productions. First production is as follows, I’m going to cut maybe one third of the deck, like that, take the middle packet out, and this is a false cut, it’s a false three-packet cut. Gonna take the middle out as I move the bottom, I leave the bottom in the middle, leave the top here as I turn this over.
All right? So that’s gonna look like this. One, two, turn it over, show. This goes on top of this, this goes on top of this, but remember, this is the top packet with the aces so you wanna hold the break.
Hold the break, as I come back, square everything up, and maybe another up the ladder cut here just once. Right now you have three aces on top ready to be produced. The second way I do it is with this production, I’m gonna slip cut and kick the card out. So in slow motion, you’re gonna do a slip cut like that, right first finger kicks this card out in a spinny motion and it’s gonna twirl off the third finger, middle finger.
So that looks like this in speed, and you give it a little kick, like that. That’s number two. And then again, maybe a shuffle retaining the last two aces, push flush, so from here I do a top shot, pick up the deck, and one card gets shot into my right hand. Boom, and now I do a kick cut false cut onto the table so it looks like this. One, kick cut again, hold the break, this goes onto the table, this goes onto the table, this goes onto the table.
And now I like to get it wrong, so I’m going to produce a card that’s not the ace. So maybe something from the middle. Maybe off a dribble, maybe off a spring and then you do this, and I’ll do any color change that changes this card for the top card.
So the one that I think I did was duck change, so boom, and it changes, or you can do like a twirl change, or you can do a snap change kind of thing. Whatever is better for you. And you have all four aces, so I like it ’cause it’s a nice escalation. The first one is pretty easy with a cut, you can cut to it, then you’ve shot it out, then you’ve shot it out with one hand, and then last but not least you did a color change. So that is the four ace production, now one thing that I’m not gonna show you but I think it’s really cool and something to keep in mind for taking it further, because this channel is all about teaching you the basics, giving you the knowledge, and giving you the inspiration to go out and put your own touches on it and build your own routines off the back of something simple like this, that I would show you. So the question was, the gambling demonstration.
So what I would do is produce maybe a four of a kind, like nines, or the eights, or a random one, and then at the end change them to the four aces. So that’s your task to figure out how you would do that, so you produce the four eights for example. You say look, one two three four, but you know what’s better than the eights. Turn them over, snap your fingers, all four aces. And that’s a very nice, easy gambling demonstration.
Doesn’t take too much practice, you don’t need to do false deals and false shuffles and all that. You’re just retaining top stock, and you’re producing by your favorite means. And it escalates.
Cool. All right, so one tip before I go further with this video. Hotel lobbies. We snuck into this hotel lobby, empty room, usually hotels are nice for filming so if you ever want to film anything and be in a place where it looks nice and there’s no people around ’cause New York City is the worst to film in, I hate having people around with crying kids and yelling, people with taxis honking at you.
It’s a pain to shoot here in New York, but hotel lobbies, that’s a secret tip. “What was it like being at the Dive of Death special?” Oh, wow, so I’m assuming you asked this question ’cause you saw the interview that I did with David Blaine there. This was probably ten years ago at this point, maybe a little bit less, nine, eight years ago.
David Blaine Dive of Death, I was there for the whole three days or whatever it was, until 4 o’clock in the morning each day, and I interviewed him at one point and I forgot exactly what it was for, but I had long hair, I was holding something that looked like a microphone, I’m pretty sure it wasn’t a microphone, it might have been my phone. But did you see the interview, do you remember that interview? So it’s a funny interview, I had like long hair, and I had a very concerned look on my face, I was worried for David at that point. I’ll put the clip in here, you’ll watch the Youtube video tomorrow, right?
You’re subscribed to me, right? – [Beau] Yeah, yeah. – Don’t give me that look, I’m gonna check right now if you’re subscribed. Come on, Beau, come on! Done.
Speaking of subscriptions, if you haven’t subscribed already please hit that subscribe button. We’re so close to 50 thousand, we just reached 40. (arguing) I was just talking about, I just found a nice place that people aren’t screaming and the first thing that happens is people start screaming. Why do people have to scream? (arguing continues) And we’re on the road to 50 thousand, so once we get to 50, I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but we’re gonna celebrate, we’re gonna give away decks and stuff.
I don’t know. (laughs) All right, so let’s roll the clip on the David Blaine interview, me and my long hair, really looking forward to the comments. Be nice.
– How are you holding up, it’s been almost two hours, three hours? – Three hours. – You’re going for 60, how are you holding up? – It’s been difficult, as far as keeping this going, but this is a good one, bro.
– I can’t wait for myself. – This is a good one, friends. – [Cameraman] Can you tell us anything about the bullet catch from yesterday? – I don’t think I could ever top it in my entire life. – Really.
Is it going to be airing in the special? – Yes, it will. And I can tell you that I could never ever top it, unfortunately. It’s not possible.
– [Cameraman] Well, we’re gonna look forward to that. – Everybody’s gonna be looking forward to seeing that Wednesday — – You’re gonna flip out when you see it. But everybody remember it’s just an illusion.
(laughs) – [Cameraman] And we’re gonna touch in with you over the next couple days, we’ll be stopping by and making up dates with ya. – Hope everything is good, and you get through this — – Will you show me your simple switch later? – [Cameraman] There you go. – Of course, man, of course. – All right, good.
– Cool, man. – Take it easy, guys. (up-tempo hip hop beat) (up-tempo hip hop beat) – All right, so we had a beer, taught some tricks, answered some questions. Let’s get down to a few more before this battery dies, because it’s blinking on us right now.
“Which sleight took you the longest to learn?” The anti-faro, by far. Back when I started doing it, I read it from Genii magazine, I believe it was, and I wanted to get it perfect. I had no application for it, I don’t know why I wanted to get it perfect, but I spent a whole semester in school, about six months, every day an hour on the train, an hour coming back from school, looking into the reflection in the window, in the glass, doing an anti-faro. People thought I was crazy, but after six months I started to get it perfect.
It starts off from the middles, and it goes further and further until you get the top and bottom perfectly. Now you do not need a perfect anti-faro, you can do it very sloppily and still have very good applications for it. So anti-faro is one of my favorite moves and it was the hardest one to learn. (up-tempo hip hop beat) – All right, last question, top three favorite magicians. I’ll give this one to you first.
– Me? – What would you say? – David Blaine, Dynamo, and, jeez, probably Calen Morelli, I think, definitely. Oh, Alex Pandrea, obviously. Why would it be anyone else.
– (sighs) For me, Darren Brown, I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Best performer that we’ve seen this generation. So Darren Brown, Guy Hollingworth, best with cards. Smoothest, most elegant with a deck of cards, I really look up to him, and Drawing Room Deceptions is my favorite book in all of magic. Hmm, third favorite magician I would have to say maybe David Williamson, because I think he has the full package.
He’s so good with a deck of cards, and sleights and everything, he’s funny, he knows how to entertain a crowd, he knows how to be in front of people without hesitation and knowing exactly what to say, how to say it, and how to perform everything perfectly. So you know, it’s really about the full package. You could be a good sleight of hand artist, but not know how to perform. You could be very funny and entertaining, but your magic sucks. So how do they feel in your presence, and make sure your magic isn’t sh*t. That’s a tip for that, I don’t know how we got into that, but those are my three favorite magicians, and that’s his.
Anyone who has played a claw machine can relate to the experience of having the claw perfectly positioned only to see it weakly graze the prize before pulling back up. “No Man!” It may seem like the machine isn’t even trying.
And well… “It is not your imagination, those claw machines are rigged!” There are a couple of beloved stuffed animals that I have that are from a claw machine, a koala and a bear. That is Vox.com writer, Phil Edwards. “I looked at the instruction guides for a few of the biggest claw games out there. Take for example, the manual for Black Tie Toys advanced crane machine.
If you look at page 8, section subheading Claw Strength you will see a horrifying piece of information.
“Managing profit is made easy. Simply input the coin value, the average value of the merchandise, and the profit level. The machine will automatically calculate when to send full strength to the claw.”
Alright, so if it cost 50 cents to play the game, and the prize inside cost 7 dollars. To make a profit of 50% full power will be sent to the claw only about once every 21 games or so. That sucks. They also randomize that winning game within a range so that players can’t predict when exactly it will happen. And you might notice a subheading that says “dropping skill” they can program the machine to make you think you almost won. They taunt you with it.
You see the stuffed animal flying in the air. And then it drops it. And that just ruins everything. So, most of the time claw machines are more like slot machines, than like skeeball or wack-a-mole. “Who’s in charge here!” “The claw!”
The question of whether claw machines are a game of skill or chance goes back decades. The earlier versions back in the 1930s had very little element of skill and were marketed as highly profitable for their owners. This was the depression era and people were desperate for ways to get money moving.
During a crackdown on organzied crime in the 1950s federal law classified claw machines as gambling devices and prohibited the transporation of them across state lines. After those laws were relaxed in the 1970s newer claw machines from Europe and Asia spread throughout the United States. They actually started calling them “skill cranes” because the joystick gave players more precise control. But owners had increasing control over profits as well. And they’ve been met with a patchwork of state and local laws and regulations.
If machine operators want to make that claw really really unfair against the players, there’s not a lot stopping them. Most of the regulations focus on the prize size, not the strength of the claw. That’s a reason that you might see fewer of the “win a free iPad” claw machines or “win a free iPhone” claw machines around. And more of just old fashioned stuffed animals.
It’s great if players know what they are up against. Especially since sites like Youtube have enabled claw machine enthusiast to broadcast their victories. Like this guy. “I’m Matt Magnone. Join me as I venture out and win as much crap as I can from claw machines!”
My best outcome of this is not that all the claw machines go away. Since I first wrote this article, I’ve spent a dollar on claw machines… and I’ve lost. All I want for people to know is that they are not the problem. The claw machine is the problem.