Famous Casino Winners
Everyone who goes to the casino will have a story about that one time where they hit it big, and they’ll be willing to tell you it pretty much until the death of the universe. But there are stories and then there are stories, some of the people who’ve won it big at the casino have the kind of stories that are worth hearing on repeat. Working with Paddy Power casino, we’ve picked a few of the more popular games and got stories of the big winners who really owned that game.
Ever since Edward Thorp wrote the book on card counting, casinos have been desperately keeping an eye on anyone playing a hand of blackjack who looks particularly good at maths. In 1980, a group of students from MIT became famous as a gaggle of Blackjack geniuses who all had a handle on card counting and (with the help of Bill Kaplan) wound up making it big. Of course, eventually the casinos noticed that all of their big winners were coming from the same town and after some bans, the team dissolved in the 90’s. But what it took a whole team of geniuses to achieve was done single-handedly by one man 2011. Don Johnson won about $15 Million in 6 months and he didn’t even need to card count! No, he just negotiated the rules of the casinos so he had such a sizeable advantage that he could win even without having to card count. Much like the MIT students, Don is not exactly welcomed when he goes to a casino now.
There are plenty of stories of people who placed crazy bets on Roulette. That guy who bet all his possessions on one spin was pretty amazing (Ashely Revell was his name, he went on to start a company called Poker UTD which was less lucky and went under in 2012). Two names really stand out in the world of famous roulette players, one for his win and one for being Sean goddamn Connery. The actor who played James Bond did one of the most James Bond things imaginable when, after losing twice, he placed his bet on 17 and it came in. What’s so shocking about that? He doubled down and bet on 17 again. Which also came up. Still no impressed? What if I told you he did it again and it came up for a third time? For anyone who’s curious, the odds of that are at least 50,000:1. What could be more impressive than that? Well, it involves a man called Charles Deville Wells who managed to beat the casino at Monte Carlo so often that there was a song written about him. Charles Well is “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo” and the fact that he was a professional con man was, oddly, not all that relevant to his roulette wins. Or at least, Monte Carlo didn’t think so. He bought a boat with the winnings.
There’s a few potential candidates here but there’s really only one Poker Player who deserves fame for having luck that’s even more random than most of the games. Archie Karras rolled up to Vegas fresh off a losing streak that cost him $2 Million in Los Angeles and after a friend spotted him $10,000 he settled in to play Razz. The crucial thing here is Razz relies on having the lowest hand and given how his luck was going, Archie was pretty confident he’d get that. He did. He then played a lot of other poker games and… won all of those. Then he played against some serious poker players, the real sharks and… he beat them too. Archie wound up on a gigantic hot streak no matter what game he played but, eventually, he started to lose so he took a break. Then he came back and… lost some more. His fortune dwindled and dwindled. This would make a great story about the perils of gambling except he then borrowed $40,000 and won $1 Million a couple of weeks later. Because Archie Karras’ has a distinctly different view of pattern recognition and probability to the rest of us and I, for one, would most definitely spot him a couple quid if he was feeling lucky.