The Most Famous Gamblers of the World

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Gambling has always attracted individuals with a taste for risk and a flair for strategy. Throughout history, some gamblers have become legendary for their skills, audacity, and often their incredible wins or dramatic losses. Here’s a look at some of the most famous gamblers in the world.

1. Phil Ivey

Known as one of the greatest poker players of all time, Phil Ivey has won ten World Series of Poker (WSOP) bracelets and a World Poker Tour title. His success at the poker table, combined with his enigmatic personality, has made him a legend in the gambling world.

Notable Achievements:

  • Ten WSOP bracelets
  • Over $30 million in live tournament winnings
  • Known as the “Tiger Woods of Poker”

2. Edward Thorp

Edward Thorp is a mathematics professor, hedge fund manager, and author, best known for applying his mathematical skills to blackjack. His book “Beat the Dealer,” published in 1962, was the first to prove mathematically that blackjack could be beaten by card counting.

Notable Achievements:

  • Developed the first scientifically proven card counting system for blackjack
  • Successfully applied his system in casinos, leading to significant wins
  • Influenced the field of quantitative finance

3. Archie Karas

Archie Karas is famous for “The Run,” the longest and most successful documented winning streak in gambling history. Starting with just $50 in 1992, Karas turned it into $40 million over three years, playing high-stakes poker and dice games in Las Vegas.

Notable Achievements:

  • Turned $50 into $40 million in Las Vegas
  • Known for his fearless high-stakes gambling
  • Experienced dramatic losses, eventually losing most of his fortune

4. Billy Walters

Billy Walters is considered one of the most successful sports bettors in history. Walters reportedly won millions of dollars over several decades by placing bets on various sports, utilizing computer algorithms and insider information.

Notable Achievements:

  • Consistently successful sports betting career spanning several decades
  • Utilized advanced data analysis and betting strategies
  • Faced legal issues, including a conviction for insider trading

5. Stu Ungar

Stu Ungar was a professional poker and gin rummy player, often regarded as one of the greatest poker players ever. Ungar won the World Series of Poker Main Event three times and was known for his incredible card-playing skills and sharp intellect.

Notable Achievements:

  • Three-time WSOP Main Event champion
  • Won over $30 million in poker tournaments
  • Known for his photographic memory and exceptional card skills

6. Kerry Packer

Kerry Packer was an Australian media tycoon and one of the world’s richest men. Packer was also known for his high-stakes gambling, often betting millions of dollars in a single night. He was a formidable presence in casinos, where his wins and losses became legendary.

Notable Achievements:

  • Won and lost millions in a single gambling session
  • Known for tipping casino staff generously
  • Left a lasting legacy in both business and gambling circles

7. Doyle Brunson

Doyle Brunson, often referred to as “Texas Dolly,” is a legendary poker player with a career spanning over 50 years. He has won ten WSOP bracelets and is a two-time WSOP Main Event champion. His book “Super/System” is considered one of the most influential poker strategy books ever written.

Notable Achievements:

  • Ten WSOP bracelets
  • Author of the seminal poker strategy book “Super/System”
  • Inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame

8. Chris Moneymaker

Chris Moneymaker is credited with sparking the poker boom in the early 2000s. An amateur player, Moneymaker won the 2003 WSOP Main Event after qualifying through a $39 online satellite tournament. His victory demonstrated that anyone could win big in poker.

Notable Achievements:

  • Won the 2003 WSOP Main Event
  • Inspired the “Moneymaker Effect,” leading to a surge in poker popularity
  • Became a global ambassador for poker

9. Don Johnson

Don Johnson is known for his extraordinary winning streak in Atlantic City casinos between 2010 and 2011, where he won over $15 million playing blackjack. Johnson negotiated special rules with the casinos that significantly increased his chances of winning.

Notable Achievements:

  • Won over $15 million in blackjack in Atlantic City
  • Used strategic negotiation to secure favorable playing conditions
  • Became a legend in the world of high-stakes blackjack

10. Zeljko Ranogajec

Zeljko Ranogajec is an Australian professional gambler and one of the most successful bettors in history. Known for his expertise in horse racing, Ranogajec reportedly bets billions annually and employs a team of analysts to help with his betting strategies.

Notable Achievements:

  • Bets billions of dollars annually on horse racing
  • Utilizes sophisticated betting strategies and data analysis
  • Known as one of the world’s most successful professional gamblers

Additional Notable Gamblers

Nick Dandolos:  Another gambler coming from Greece was Nick Dandolos aka Nick the Greek. This man was born in 1883 in a wealthy family. He moved to Chicago where he lived with family money. As soon as he moved in Montreal, Nick started with gambling activity. Nick chose to play on horse racing competitions which brought him a significant amount of money. He passed various winning and losing phases and became popular as one of the stubborn players.

Brian Molony:  Brian Molony entered the gambling world with great malversation. He stole $10 million from employees in Canadian Imperial Bank and spent it to regular visits to casinos in Atlantic City. Brian was arrested for his cheating activity in 1982 but we still remember his creative ideas to embezzle his employees. Just the day before the capture, Brain marked $1 million loss at the casino. He spent more than two years in prison.

Wild Bill Hickok:  Hickok was not only a famous gambler but also popular gunfighter. He used to play poker and became a member of Poker Hall of fame. One day in 1876 Hickok was playing poker with his back to the salon door. The man called McCall killed him with a shot in the head. It is still a puzzle why McCall killed Hickok. However, there are the stories about potential grudge as McCall lost from him.

These famous gamblers have made their mark in history through their extraordinary skills, audacity, and sometimes sheer luck. Their stories not only highlight the highs and lows of gambling but also the strategic thinking and risk-taking that can lead to remarkable successes. Whether through poker, blackjack, sports betting, or other forms of gambling, these individuals have become legends in their own right.

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