There have been characters who have stood out from the crowd ever since the first bet was placed. Some of the most famous gamblers have incredible, almost unbelievable stories attributed to the. Many of those stories have been exaggerated over the years, but the majority are completely true
Kerry Packer: One Of Australia’s Most Famous Gamblers
Australia’s own Kerry Packer kicks off our most famous gamblers list. Packer passed away on Boxing Day 2005 aged 68-years-old but lived a colourful life before then.
Packer had a love for cricket only surpassed by his love of money! Being a billionaire made it easy for him to have more than the occasional flutter. Reports of Packer losing A$20 million playing baccarat were never confirmed or denied. Nor were rumours of winning similar amounts at MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
One trip to Vegas saw Packer confronted by a loud-mouthed Texan who bragged he was worth $100 million. Packer took out a coin and offered to toss him for his entire net worth!
He wasn’t only about gambling because he had a generous side to him too. Packer paid off a cocktail waitresses mortgage, for instance.
His legacy lives on through Crown Resorts, Australia’s biggest casino. Quite ironic really.
Most Famous Gamblers: The Man Who Broke The Back At Monte Carlo
His family called him Charles Wells but you may know him as The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo. Wells was an extremely intelligent man and inventor born in the UK in 1841.
Wells achieved a degree in engineering at a top university but always looked for an easier way to make money. He fleeced £19,000 (£1.9 million in today’s money) from people investing in a non-existent railway project. Wells used this money to fund a lavish lifestyle and his gambling habit.
One of many trips to Monte Carlo saw him enjoy unbelievable luck at the roulette table. His luck turned him into one of the world’s most famous gamblers. The Monte Carlo Casino ran with a 100,000 francs float back then. A black cloth was placed on the table and the game stopped while funds were replenished if that float was lost.
This happened only five times and by five different people in the history of the casino. Wells broke it several times, up to ten times! The casino thought Wells was cheating because of his criminal past. He wasn’t, he just got ridiculously lucky using the Martingale system!
Amarillo Slim: Master of the Prop Bet
The late Amarillo Slim is arguably the number one in the most famous gamblers of all time. The eccentric Texan was a good poker player and won four World Series of Poker bracelets. His prop bets are a thing of legend, topping his fame for his poker prowess.
Slim played poker against President Richard Nixon and the drug baron Pablo Escobar. He even claimed to have beaten Larry Flynt for $1.7 million, although Flynt denied it.
Two of Slim’s most famous bets involved table tennis. He challenged tennis champion, Bobby Riggs, to a game but Slim chose the bats. Slim practised for months using iron skillets to play. He defeated Riggs! Slim later repeated the bet against a Taiwanese table tennis champion, this time using empty Coca-Cola bottles!
His place in the most famous gamblers list was confirmed when he beat the prize racehorse Seabiscuit in a race. Slim bet big money he could beat the horse in a race over 100 yards if he chose the course. He selected a 50-yard course so the horse had to slow and turn around. Slim sprinted to victory by the time the horse had turned!
Slim’s later life was marred with controversy and allegations, but he’s still deserving on the list of the world’s most famous gamblers.
The MIT Blackjack Team
The MIT Blackjack Team won millions of dollars over a 20-year period. It was made up of from a group of students who learned the art of card counting. Almost every casino in the U.S. banned them because they became so proficient in counting cards. The team won at a rate of $162.50 per hour at one stage and the team spanned up to 50 blackjack players.
Counting cards is an art form but one that’s obsolete. Casinos now use automatic shufflers so the counters don’t have a chance to be accurate. The fact the MIT team took advantage of lax rules and did it without cheating makes them worthy of a place in the most famous gamblers ever.