While professional gamblers are known for raking in the big bucks while playing casino games, what fascinates us all are those incredible stories of average people who have managed to beat the odds and win some life-changing rewards. Numerous individuals have won big while playing casino games, and here are some of the most inspiring and shocking tales of the biggest gambling wins in history.

Gambling on Female First

Gambling on Female First

Megabucks Tragedy

Cynthia Jay was a cocktail waitress working at the Monte Carlo Casino in Las Vegas when her life changed drastically. In 2000, Jay was out celebrating her future mother-in-law’s birthday when she decided to try her luck at the Megabucks slot machine. She tried a few times, and on her ninth pull, Jay won a whopping $34,959,458.56, which was a record-breaking sum at that time.

But jay’s happiness was short-lived as just seven weeks later, a drunk driver slammed into her car, resulting in the death of Jay’s sister and leaving Cynthia paralysed from the chest down. Instead of enjoying her riches with her new husband, Cynthia is confined to a wheelchair and unable to feed herself. The drunk driver, Clarke Morse, received a minimum of 28 years in prison for his crime. This sad twist of fate had Cynthia state that she would give the winnings back if she could walk again or get her sister back.

MIT Students Use Math to Beat the System

Card counting has been used to beat the system for decades and is illegal at basically every casino in the world. If a dealer suspects a player may be counting cards, the player may be asked to leave the casino immediately. However, a group of enterprising MIT students managed to put their heads together to beat the system. A few members would count cards while a third member exclusively at high count tables. Additional members would distract the dealers by making huge bets themselves, ignoring the count and just breaking even. The team won millions this way and even formed an investment company just to handle their bankroll.

Moon Landing Bet

David Threlfall wrote to renowned British wagering company William Hill in 1964, asking for odds that a man would walk on the moon within the following seven years. The odds he received – 1 000:1. These unbelievable odds caused Threlfall to place a £10. Much to his astonishment, the space race progressed in the next few years and success for Threlfall seemed highly likely. Some individuals even offer to buy Threfall’s ticket for a fraction of the payoff, but he refused to sell.  When it did eventually happen, and Neil Armstrong planted his foot on the moon, Threlfall received his £10,000 check on the spot.  You can read about William Hill and other top rated online casinos in the UK at Casino Pros.

Blackjack Boss

Don Johnson is one of the most infamous names in the gambling circuit. Johnson didn’t count cards or get lucky; instead, he negotiated his way to get special rules that would give him an edge over the casino. First, he visited casinos with favourable house rules and played at tables using the most decks. He also chose tables that allowed him to split four separate hands instead of the usual one hand. He picked dealers who stop drawing once their hand totalled 17 and stuck to tables where he could double his bet. This strategy worked wonders and Johnson enjoyed some success. But the biggest factor that gave him the leading edge was a guaranteed payback that he negotiated with casinos. Johnson arranged a massive 20% payback, which is almost double the regular amount of 10% offered to high rollers.  What’s more, Johnson negotiated the right to bet up to $25 000 a hand, which worked in his favour since he had the edge over the house.

Thanks to his shrewd tactics, Johnson was able to win $15 million from three casinos in just six months, although it has also gotten him banned from many Atlantic City and Las Vegas casinos.

Breaking the Bank At Monte Carlo

“Breaking the bank” is a term used in the casino industry when a player is winning every chip on the table. This is indeed an extraordinary feat. In 1891, Charles Deville Wells managed to break the bank at Monte Carlo when he won $500 000 in one evening.  But Wells was a cheater and took investors for £400 to use to spend in Monte Carlo. While there, Wells tried his hand at the roulette table and by a twist of fate, managed to win over a million francs during an 11-hour marathon. Wells gained notoriety among gambling circles, but soon his luck ran out, and he lost all his money back in Monte Carlo. He was also arrested in England and served eight years for fraud, was arrested twice more, and died pennilessly.

Believing in Family

While most grandparents think their grandchildren are simply the best, Peter Edwards decided to place his money on it. After seeing his three-year-old grandson handle a foot ball, Edwards bet £50 that he would one day play for the Welsh National Football team. The odds of him winning were set at 2500:1. However, in 2013, when Wales played Belgium in the World Cup Qualifier, who should make his debut than 16-year-old Harry Wilson, Peter Edwards’ grandson and youngest person to represent Wales in a national game. Wilson’s appearance in the game meant that Edwards’ 13-year investment earned him a tidy £125 000.

Beginner’s Luck at the Craps Table

Craps can be one of the most intimidating casino games around because there are so many betting options and your game can quickly go pear-shaped if you do not know what you are doing. So it came as a surprise when grandmother Patricia Demauro decided to take advantage of so-called beginner’s luck and try her hand at the Craps table at the Borgata in Atlantic City in 2009. This was only the second time Demauro had played the game and won a jaw-dropping 154 consecutive throws. While Demauro never revealed how much she actually won, it can only be a big amount since she bought in at $10.

James Bond’s Roulette


We all know  Sean Connery for his acting credibility, including his role as the super suave James Bond. But did you know that Connery grew up gambling? During a 1963 trip to Italy, Connery stepped up to the Roulette wheel and bet on 17. It missed the first and second time, but he hit 17 on his third roll. He left his winnings there for another three rounds, and incredibly, 17 came in for the third time in a row. After the third 17, Connery promptly collected his winnings and left.

Ping Pong Bet

Thomas Austin Preston, also known as Amarillo Slim, was always up for a good bet, as long as he thought he had an edge. He would hustle folks around Texas before moving to Las Vegas and soon became a card shark and winning the World Series of Poker in 1974. What made him infamous in betting circles was the unorthodox bets he placed – the most notable being his ping-pong battle with Bobby Riggs. Bobby Riggs was a 1939 Wimbledon Champion who defeated the leading female player Margaret Court at age 55, then suddenly lost to the lower-ranking Billie Jean King. Many believed that he threw the second match. This piqued the interest of Slim, who arranged a ping-pong match between the two. The only condition – Slim would provide the saddles for both players. The wager was placed for $10 000. On the day of the match, Slim rocked up with his chosen paddles – cooking skillets. Little did Riggs know, Slim was practising on skillets for months. The final score was 21-8 to Slim.

Massive $40 million Win

Archie Karas is a name known in the gambling industry for doing the impossible – hitting the greatest hot streak in the history of gambling in 1992. Karas drove into Las Vegas with just $50 in his pocket and left with a massive $40 million. Karas had recently experienced a massive loss of $2 million in a Los Angeles high stakes poker game. He ran into a friend at the Binion’s Horseshoe casino who spotted him $10 000 to play at high-stakes games of Razz. With luck on his side Karas played the game, and just three hours later he managed to pay his casino debt plus 50% interest and had more money to play with. This lucky streak didn’t end there and continued for the next three years where Karas amassed a total of $40 million. Karas’ luck did eventually run out, and he lost all his money playing Craps, Baccarat and Poker. That didn’t stop Karas from taking, even more, chances as he borrowed $40 000 just three weeks later and won $1 million.

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