Gambling and casinos have been a part of US history for decades, and the country has a brilliant range of physical casinos, racing venues, and online casinos where huge sums of money can be won.
While most people like you and I are content with merely spending a little at online casinos and trying for that jackpot prize, there are some individuals who have made a living from gambling and have been incredibly successful. In this article, we’ll look at seven of the most successful casino players in US history⎯enjoy!
1. Edward Thorp
Edward Thorp was from a past generation of gamblers. PCs and modern technology were simply not available, so jackpot games at Skycity Casino, modern video slots, and even online gambling were not an option. He was a math professor and actually wrote a book on how to mathematically beat the house edge on card games like blackjack by employing card counting techniques.
He put his writing into practice and used a $10k bankroll loaned by a friend to win a further $11k at casinos in Las Vegas, Reno, and Lake Tahoe. While that doesn’t sound like much, just remember that in the 1960s, that would have been the equivalent of much more!
By today’s standards and regulations, the techniques he used would be considered illegal⎯for example, he wore disguises so he wouldn’t be recognized by the casino staff and thrown out!
2. Phil Ivey
You can find Phil Ivey on various WSOP stat pages, and this legend has won 10 WSPO bracelets and is renowned for his poker skill. Many people call him one of the greatest gamblers of all time and while poker is his main foray, he has also won heaps of money with other casino games.
For example, in 2011, Ivey went on a Baccarat playing spree and won $11 million in casinos and private rooms in London. The only downside to this gambler is that he has been associated with edge-sorting schemes, which casinos absolutely hate.
3. Chris Moneymaker
I had to do a little extra fact-checking about this guy to make sure that his last name was real. You simply can’t make it up! But yes, Chris Moneymaker is his real name and he is a successful poker player⎯having won the World Series of Poker in 2003.
What makes his win even more impressive is that he got entry to the tournament online and only paid $86 for the entry fee. Who else can say that they have turned $86 into $2.5 million? To this day, the legendary Moneymaker continues to play poker and has won around $3.5 million in prize money.
4. Doyle Brunson
Doyle Brunson’s nickname is the Texas Dolly, and he supposedly invented the card game Texas Hold ’Em, but this has never been proven for sure.
Regardless, the Texas Dolly is known as a legendary poker player and has won an incredible 10 World Series of Poker bracelets, which is an accomplishment that only three other people have achieved.
His casino skills have resulted in him writing various books, the most notable being Super/System, which was one of the first books relating to poker strategy in the 1970s.
5. Don Johnson
Blackjack has an average RTP (return to player percentage) of around 99%, therefore, you shouldn’t really make a profit by playing it long-term. Don Johnson obviously never got this memo and is one of the most successful blackjack players of all time.
It is estimated he has won $15 million playing this classic card game, and what’s more impressive is that he didn’t use any card-counting techniques! He made a run in Atlantic City between 2011 and 2012 and this became the stuff of legend that movies could be made about!
6. Phil Hellmuth
While online gambling and poker aren’t really seen as ways to invest your money, some people have done this and used the profits to make lucrative careers. One such person is Phil Hellmuth, otherwise known as the Poker Brat.
Hellmuth has won an unbelievable 17 World Series of Poker bracelets and he is incredibly fun to watch. While most poker players try to keep it cool and refrain from showing emotions, Phil does the opposite and is always animated. He wrote the highly educational poker book Play Poker Like the Pros, which is brilliant if you want to learn poker strategy.
How do Your Casino Skills Match Up to These Legends?
I hope you have found this list interesting, and you can see the ridiculous sums of money that people have managed to rack up playing in poker tournaments and casinos. Although it’s not always possible to beat the house, it can be done⎯you just need the right combination of skill and luck, and it also helps if you have an absolutely astounding surname, like Moneymaker!