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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