Successful Gamblers and Their Winnings

Successful Gamblers and Their Winnings

There are many reasons people enjoy gambling – the fun of playing the games, the thrills of the games but mainly, of course, it’s the idea of winning big money. And there are some out there that have had some very impressive successes!

Gambling is always a risky pastime. Ultimately, the house has the edge – and they will always win in the end. But every now and then, there is someone that defies the odds and walks away quids in – whether it’s from sports betting, poker or bank-busting IGT slots in the US. Here are some of the biggest success stories from the US gambling scene.

Edward Thorp

This is the man who wrote the book on how to count cards – so of course he’s a successful gambler. This was the person who mathematically proved that it was possible to beat the house edge when playing Blackjack – you simply need to track the ratio of high and low cards that are left in the deck.

He used this technique in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas. Starting with a $10,000 bankroll, he won $11,000 in the first weekend. He also started going in disguise so casinos wouldn’t recognise him and ban him. As well as blackjack, he was also successful at roulette, backgammon and roulette. Some of the techniques he used for success are now illegal… he was too successful!

Billy Walters

Billy Walters is commonly considered to be one of the most successful sports bettors in Las Vegas. He has been on a winning streak for about 30 years… so long that it can’t simply be accredited to pure luck.

This is a real rags-to-riches tale. Growing up in Kentucky, he was orphaned at the age of two and had a poor upbringing brought up by his grandmother. However, he managed to make money from sports betting and put his money into several businesses.

Sadly, things didn’t go great all the time. He ended up being sent to prison for five years for insider trading.

Phil Ivey

Poker is a game that has produced many superb players and, having won 10 WSOP bracelets, Phil Ivey has to be in the running for one of the best of all time. The list of poker tournaments he has won goes on for too long to even mention.

However, there’s more. Back in 2012, he won over $11 million playing baccarat but the casino refused to pay out. Why? Because he was accused of ‘edge sorting’… which Ivey simply called taking advantage of the imperfection of the playing cards being used. This problem also arose when he played at the Borgata. After a lengthy court case, it was ruled that edge sorting is cheating. However, we are sure he’ll have a new scheme soon!

Chris Moneymaker

If you have the last name ‘Moneymaker’, you have got to be good at gambling right? Well, he actually was. He won the WSOP Main Event in 2003 after winning an entry online. This story led to a huge boom in players taking up online poker, hoping to replicate the Moneymaker. He has even written a book on how he managed to turn $40 into $2.5 million… which may be of interest to many (who cares that he actually spent $86 entering the tournament… let’s not let facts get in the way of a good title!).

He still plays poker and keeps on winning. To date, he has won over $3.5 in total.


There are many other success stories – and every single one of them gives us hope that one day it might be us. We read stories of players spending $0.25 and winning millions on a progressive jackpot game – or those that put $10 on an accumulator… and their luck is in. Often, the casino will walk away the winner but sometimes, every now and then, it is the player who walks away with a big smile on their face and a big bulge in their bank account.

About the author


Miller Willson

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