Sports betting and casino games combine the thrills of risk-taking with the fun of an unexpected windfall. Sometimes, however, the windfall is enough to take your breath away. Here’s our round-up of some record-breaking wins in several different forms of gambling.
The Suitcase Man Cleans Up
In 1980, the Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas was running a promotion in which they guaranteed to double a player’s first bet. In walked William Lee Bergstrom with two suitcases; one empty, the other containing $777,000. He put it all on the Don’t Pass line at a Craps table, matched by the casino, and quadrupled his money with one throw of the dice. He then had the sense to drive away, with both his suitcases stuffed with cash.
In for a Penny, or $4.5-million
It’s not only high rollers who win big in casinos. Playing penny slots on the progressive Wheel of Fortune in Caesar’s Palace in 2014, one lucky punter scooped an amazing $4,526,288.12 on a winning spin.
The Two-Million to One Outsider
In 2008, Yorkshire punter Fred Craggs turned 60. He celebrated with a 50-pence accumulator bet, picking eight rank outsiders as his winning horses. They were such outsiders, that the accumulator odds settled on an unbelievable 2,000,000-to-1. When all eight horses came in as he’d predicted, Craggs pocketed a cool one million pounds.
Big Money On the Go
The largest recorded casino win on a mobile device to date was in 2016, when a player identified only as D.P. won a progressive jackpot at Zodiac Casino. The player deposited just one Euro, for a return equal to $8.8-million.
Megabucks Precedes Tragedy
Cynthia Jay was working as a cocktail waitress at the Monte Carlo in Vegas in 2000, when she tried her luck on the Megabucks lottery machine, a progressive jackpot that had rolled over several times. Her life changed when she won more than $34-million, at the time the biggest jackpot Megabucks had ever paid. In a cruel twist seven weeks later, a drunk driver slammed into her car, killing her sister, and leaving Cynthia in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.
Cool Millions Won in Scandinavia
Perhaps the biggest win to date in an online casino was scooped by a Finnish man in his 40s, who placed a bet of just 25c on PAF Scandinavia’s Mega Fortune progressive jackpot lottery. His numbers came up, translating to a win of around $24-million.
One-Man Blackjack Ace
Unlike the MIT Blackjack Team, made famous by the film 21, Don Johnson was a solo Blackjack operator. He didn’t cheat or count cards, either, although he did use his high-roller status to negotiate favourable house rules with the casinos he played at in 2011, to give him an extra edge.
Using nothing but that advantage, he then played textbook Blackjack for hours, expertly translating that edge into a winning betting strategy. He took a total of $15-million from three casinos in six months, although he’s no longer welcome in any of them.
The Longest Streak of Beginner’s Luck Ever
In 2009, New Jersey grandmother Patricio Demauro decided to try her luck at Craps for only the second time in her life. She did so at the Borgato in Atlantic City, and was pleased when her first roll won, so she rolled again.
That roll won as well, so she kept rolling. It was the start of 154 consecutive winning throws, a Craps world record. Demauro never revealed exactly how much she pocketed after her phenomenal winning streak, but she started with a $10 buy-in. Even using the most conservative betting strategy, the accumulated total she walked away with must have been staggering.