Biggest Casino Winners, Biggest Online Casino Wins and Largest Jackpots

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Just imagine you are sitting in your armchair, wearing your pajamas, clicking a few buttons and all of a sudden being a million dollars richer than a few hours ago. I wish someone made a video of the reactions of those who had this happen to them when they decided to join and play in online casinos.

Biggest Casino Wins and Winners

While online gambling undoubtedly involves the risk of losing all the money you’re willing to bet, there are cases when the payout is 100.000 times more than the wager placed.

These are the most notable cases of lucky winning streaks and skillful advantage gambling in history.

1., Name: Archie Karas Amount: $ 50 to $ 40 million Date:1990s
What happened:

Karas drove to Vegas with $50 in his wallet, which he turned to $17 million playing poker and pool. It all started at Binion’s Horseshoe in 1992, he started gambling and went on a hot streak.

Many gamblers and professional poker players seen Archie Karas play with stakes never seen before. Karas ended up winning $17,000,000.

Karas continued to beat many top players, from Doyle Brunson to Puggy Pearson to Johnny Moss. Many top players would not play him simply because his stakes were too high. The only player to beat Karas during his run was Johnny Chan, who beat him for $900,000 after losing to Karas the first two games.

The poker action for Karas had mostly dried up due to his reputation and stakes. He turned to dice rolling for $100,000 on one roll and playing high-stakes pool.

Transporting money became a hassle for Karas as he was moving several millions of dollars in his car every day. He carried a gun with him at all times and would often have his brother and casino security guards escort him. At one point, Karas had won all of the Binion’s casino’s $5000 chips, which were the highest denomination of chips at the time. By the end of his winning streak he had won a fortune peaking at $46 million.

By mid-1995, Karas lost all of his money in a period of three weeks. He lost $20 million playing dice and then lost the $2 million he won from Chip Reese back to him. Following these losses he switched to baccarat and lost another $17 million, for a total of $30 million. With $12 million left and needing a break from gambling, he returned to Greece. When he came back to Las Vegas, he went back to the Horseshoe shooting dice and playing baccarat at $300,000 per bet, and in less than a month, lost all but his last million.
With his last million, he went to the Bicycle Club and played Johnny Chan in a $1,000,000 freeze out event. This time, Chan was also backed by Lyle Berman and both took turns playing Karas. He preferred playing the both of them instead of just Chan, as he felt Chan was a tougher opponent. Karas won and doubled his money, only to lose it all at dice and baccarat, betting at the highest limits in just a few days.

2., Name: Edward Thorp Amount: millions of dollars over years Date: 1960s
What happened:

Thorp is the father of card counting. Not only was he successful using it in real-world situations, he was the one who invented the original system. A mathematics professor who possessed a master’s degree in physics and a doctorate degree in mathematics, he clearly had above-average intelligence.

As an adult in the early 60s, Thorp knew next to nothing about casino games and the world of gambling. But when a friend, Claude Shannon, brought him and his wife to Las Vegas he became interested in blackjack, and after playing the game a number of times became convinced that there was a mathematical way in which the player could gain an advantage.

He studied the game in a systematic method and exhaustively examined every facet of the game. Using a computer owned by the university he taught at, he simulated billions of blackjack hands to delve even further into the mathematics of the game. This computer was so massive it filled an entire room, yet it was less powerful than today’s laptops. Through his calculations and observations he created his system which “accounted for the variations in those (cards) that remained after certain hands were dealt”. Basically, he realized that smaller cards were more advantageous for the dealer and when they left the deck, advantage shifted in the player’s favor so they should bet more. Concurrently, larger cards were more advantageous to the player and when they left the deck the advantage shifted to the house, or dealer, so less money should be bet. Using this method Thorp calculated that the player could own a 1% to 5% advantage over the house.

Thorp and Shannon hit the casinos and would return with their pockets filled with cash. One typical weekend would net $70,000 in today’s money. The gambling industry was no match for Thorp’s flawless execution of his card counting method. After all, card counting did not yet exist to them so they had no idea what was happening. Thorp drew the attention of casino bosses when he began winning unusually high sums and most were convinced he was cheating. They intensely watched him play and studied videotapes of his play, but they could see nothing nefarious occurring. Before long, some casinos asked Thorp to leave because he was simply winning too much, yet they still did not know how he was doing so.

In 1962 Thorp wrote his book “Beat the Dealer” which detailed his card counting “ten count system” and became an instant hit as well as a modern-day classic. With its sales he amassed a pretty handsome fortune. In 1966 he wrote a second edition which expanded on the intricacies of the system. It’s interesting to note that the sudden explosion in card counting worked in favor of the casinos since many people attempting to do it just couldn’t pull it off as effectively as Thorp did. However, his findings and methods have been the basis for every card counting system following, including that of the aforementioned MIT team’s.

Following his gambling exploits, Thorp applied his mathematical genius to the stock market and made a huge fortune in securities and hedge funds. Due to his dominance over the casinos and revolutionary thinking, Thorp was one of the first seven inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.

3., Name: M.I.T. Blackjack team Amount: $ 5 million in a few years Date: 1990s
What happened:

Beginning as an after-school club meeting in campus classrooms at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the mid 90s, this team came into inception when these brilliant students decided to use statistic-based systems to beat the game of blackjack. They would subsequently assail casinos for years following.

The initial core of students and accepted associates then went on a recruiting campaign and even put up flyers around campus. Applicants were given tests so only the most suitable ones were chosen in the end, then they were thoroughly trained in the system. The system was card counting which, if done correctly, can give the player a slight yet substantial edge. The idea was not new, and thousands had tried their hand at it previously, but the MIT team really took it to a new level.

They created casino mock-ups and environments and took a team-based approach. This complex arrangement of having a team minimized the chance of being caught, maximized opportunities, and disguised the betting patterns that are inherent to all card counters. Casinos were experienced in identifying counters and making their time there miserable, but it would be extremely difficult for them to do so if the team masked their activity well enough. Hours upon grueling hours were spent perfecting the system and each member had to pass a tedious and demanding battery of tests before they were allowed to enter live casino play.

They began in underground card games to reassure themselves that their calculations and methods would transfer to real-life conditions. When they were sure, they acquired financial backing from anonymous investors and created their own corporation named Strategic Investments. With a bankroll of hundreds of thousands of dollars they then invaded Vegas casinos. Their impact was even greater than expected with returns far exceeding their goals. In one weekend alone they accrued $400,000 in winnings.

Heat in time began to hamper the team and they were forced to move to smaller, sometimes unsavory casinos. Eventually they travelled to European countries but their reputation followed them there as well. After more than one brush with the law the original members quit the team. New students joined but casinos all over the globe knew about MIT students and yearbook photos from the school were downloaded to a shared database. This effectively ended the team’s reign.

In all, it was reported that over the span of just a few years the team amassed a profit of over $5 million, and has also become a legendary entity in pop culture.

4., Name: Dominic LoRiggio Amount: $ 500,000 Date:still ongoing
What happened:

“The Man With The Golden Arm” and “The Dominator” are LoRiggio’s nicknames. Through years of practice, hours at a time, LoRiggio learned “controlled shooting” which is a technique of getting the rolls you needs in the game of craps when you need them.

The method involves setting the dice a certain way, gripping them precisely, tossing them so they stay together in the air, then having them land as gently as possible against the back wall of the craps table. He began with fellow dice control aficionados as the team known as Rosebud, and together they were the first to attack the Vegas strip with their specialized way of shooting. To this day, many still think that controlling the dice is impossible, but “The Dominator” says he is able to do so through simple physics.

LoRiggio eventually left the group because he felt their steadfast adherence to conservative betting was restraining him from making serious money. He teamed up with famous gambler and writer Frank Scoblete, and using controlled shooting they have claimed to have won thousands of dollars at various casinos. Although nothing LoRiggio has ever done is illegal, thanks in large part to him many casinos now identify controlled shooters and will force them to shoot the dice using different mechanics. LoRiggio now conducts dice throwing classes so if anyone wants to learn how to win thousands of dollars in the casinos with a lot of practice, sign up!

5., Name: Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayos Amount: over a million dollar Date:1990s
What happened:

Garcia-Pelayo of Spain was initially a record producer but proved to not be very successful in that endeavor. As a result, he decided to devote all his energies to his passion, roulette, and became the first person to successfully exploit wheel bias in the 90s.

Others had suggested the idea of wheel bias but had never taken advantage of it in a casino situation. Wheel bias is the belief that not all roulette wheels are perfectly random, and that each individual wheel is unique in that certain numbers are more likely to drop than others. This aberration was a result of wheels being ever so slightly off level or because of other minute inaccurate measurements such as tiny differences in pocket sizes, or the way the wheel’s gears worked.

He began in casinos in Spain by tediously staring at a specific wheel for thousands of spins, recording his results, then analyzing them with a computer. He also recruited his 5 children to help record results. Before he bet a cent, he did many observation sessions on the same wheel. When he felt it was time to bet on the wheel’s “hot numbers” he swung a 5% house edge to a 15% player’s edge and raked in the cash. When he began to feel heat he found a new casino and did the process over again. When every casino in Spain knew who he was he took his method to the United States and Las Vegas where he continued to profit. When he became just too well-known by casinos around the world he retired with an estimated $1.5 million in the bank. One casino sued to recover their losses but Spain’s Supreme Court ruled in Garcia-Pelayo’s favor saying that all he did was use “ingenuity and computer techniques. That’s all”.

6., Name: Mike Ashley Amount: $1.6 million Date: 2008
What happened:

The fourth largest casino win came from a man who was already famous, and sat down at Fifty London Casino roulette table, just for fun. Mike Ashley, owner of the Newcastle United Football Club, wanted to be noticed by the individuals in the casino. As if owning a football club does not bring enough attention. Well when Mike made his bet, he became noticed because he won himself 1.6 million dollars. In a true winner’s fashion, he thanked the dealer after he collected his winnings, and left the casino. In 2011 however, he lost £1 million in 2 hours at a casino it is reported.

7., Name: Charlie Wells Amount: 1 million francs ( in today’s money, more than $ 15 million) million Date: 1891
What happened:

In July 1891 Wells went to Monte Carlo with £4,000 that he had defrauded from investors in a bogus invention, a “musical jump rope.” In an eleven-hour session Wells ‘broke the bank’ twelve times, winning a million francs. At one stage he won 23 times out of 30 successive spins of the wheel. Wells returned to Monte Carlo in November of that year and won again. During this session he made another million francs in three days, including successful bets on the number five for five consecutive turns. Despite hiring private detectives the Casino never discovered Wells’s system; Wells later admitted it was just a lucky streak. Some say that his system was the high-risk Martingale (roulette system), doubling the stake to make up losses. Some also say that his system was a variation of the D’Alembert system using the analogy of a swinging pendulum to determine whether to bet on black or red. However, Wells could not have used either of these systems as they are both easy to detect and despite hiring private detectives, the Casino never discovered Wells’s system. The origin of the name “Martingale” is in dispute. Many gambling writers believe it is a bastardization of the name “Martingale” and that it was named after Henry Martingale, an English Casino owner in the 1700s who is reputed to urge losing punters to “double ‘em up” with their wagers.

Biggest Online Casino Wins and Largest Jackpots

Since the advent of online gambling and the introduction of progressive jackpots million dollar wins happen every week in the world of online gambling.
However, some bigger wins receive more publicity than others. Here are a few of the biggest recent online jackpot wins and winners.

Elmer Sherwin – Won $5 million. Then won $21 million!

Mega-Millions is the lottery game, but Megabucks is the casino slot name. The Megabucks progressive slot has paid out millions of dollars, dated back to 1989. Since then Elmer Sherwin won five million dollars in 1989, and he tried his luck again. In 2005 he won twenty-one million dollars making him a mega-millionaire. The odds of hitting the jackpot on this machine are one in fifty million, but Elmer beat the odds.

“Peter” biggest online casino winner – $23 million: A gentleman named only as ‘Peter’ won the biggest ever progressive jackpot online.

The largest jackpot payout in an online slot machine game is €17,861,813 (£15,143,600, $22,974,400), won by the anonymous player in Finland, playing the ‘Mega Fortune’ game on, on 20th January 2013.

‘Mega Fortune’ is a progressive slot accumulator that is operated by Net Entertainment and offered for play on several leading online casinos, including The winner was a 47 year old Finnish male who bet €0.25 to scoop the record breaking jackpot prize.

Georgios M. recently joined the ranks of the biggest ever progressive jackpot winner with $ 8.67 million. This mild mannered, softly spoken man recently won €6.3 million playing the Mega Moolah progressive jackpot slot at River Belle Online Casino. Listen to a short snippet of the call – Georgios could not believe that this was for real.

Gamble responsibly, see you at the casinos!


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