Legendary Casino Gamblers

By on July 3, 2013

There are many stories form history about people who have won huge amounts of money in casinos. They’re invariably ripping yarns whether or not they owe more to legend than fact. And most of us love such stories in the same way that we love to hear about “clean” bank robberies in which no-one got hurt and the perpetrators outsmarted the banks.

What’s missing from the casino stories and legendary winners are the online winners. Yes, we can read about people who have enjoyed an individual big win – but the legendary “lucky streak” gamblers have yet to surface in the online age. It’s surely only a matter of time though – and if you’re an online high roller, then I recommend this casino site for online games. But for the time being, we have to rely on the history of real casinos for the legends – and here are a few…

Perhaps the most famous of all gambling wins owes more to the hit song from almost a century ago that was written about him. The so-called “Man Who Broke the Bank in Monte Carlo” was a song written about an Englishman who did just that. He achieved his remarkable feat by finding a glitch in a Monte Carlo roulette wheel. The man was one Joseph Jagger – an engineer in a textile mill who, incidentally, is thought to be a distant relative of Rolling Stones frontman, Mick Jagger.

This particular Mr Jagger was born in 1830. He was fascinated by roulette from an early age and his occupation made him a mechanical expert. He was particularly interested in the potential for imperfections in roulette wheels. In 1873, he secretly paid six people to watch the performance of six roulette tables in the “Beaux Arts” Monte Carlo casino. The results gave him just what he was looking for; one of the tables wasn’t perfect. Over time, it favoured certain numbers and so it was at this table that Joseph steadily gambled. Over the next few days he won a large amount of money based on the table’s imperfect probabilities – so the casino switched the tables around.

It didn’t take too long for Joseph to work out what had happened, though, and the gambler found the table again and won more than two million francs.

He then left his job, invested his winnings, and became the legendary “man who broke the bank at Monte Carlo”.

A more recent legend is that of the “suitcase-man” who came to the Binions Casino in Las Vegas in 1980 with a suitcase full of cash to place a big bet. This was William Lee Bergstrom of Austin, Texas. He had resolved to test Binion’s claim that it could take any casino bet, regardless of size. Bergstrom had $777k with which he bet “Don’t Pass line” at craps. He managed to double his stake and left the casino. But he was back soon after, this time winning a $590k bet, then again sometime later when he won a further $190k, followed by another $90k. The last time he turned up, he bet $1m, but this time, he lost. Tragically, the fearless Texan gambler killed himself at a Vegas Strip hotel weeks later.

One of the most extraordinary winning gambling streaks, though, went to Archie Karas; a Greek immigrant had one of the greatest winning runs in Vegas history during the early 90s, and gambling with his borrowed stake of $10k.

He beat 15 of the world’s top poker players in a competition then started to play craps where he won another fortune. By the time his run had finished, Archie was ahead by more than $17m at the Horseshoe Casino; not bad for a night’s work!

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