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Many casino gamblers become excited when winning a decent payout, either at slots, table games, or sports betting. In some cases, it consists of luck, while others use specific strategies. There are a few people that have taken on the house with a certain level of skill, making millions and reaching fame worldwide.
In this article, we list the five richest casino players of all time.
Many punters look up to Billy Walters as the wealthiest gambler in the sports betting industry, with an estimated net worth of $500mil in 2021. Despite his imprisonment in 2017 for insider training, the imposed $10mil fine was tiny in relation to all the properties he owns. It was his brilliance in basketball and football gambling that led to his success.
Growing up in Kentucky as an orphan, Walters established the Computer Group in 1980. The company analysed sports events and outcomes, creating hundreds of statistics to see if there was a pattern. He only suffered one year of losses, with a thirty-year winning streak behind his name.
He doesn’t always place bets himself, though. Walters has a few celebrity friends that he asks to wager on his behalf. Today, he owns a $20mil private jet and seven homes in different places worldwide.
Walters was set to have seven years in prison until the 14 of February, 2022. However, with the COVID-19 outbreak posing a threat to his health, he was released in May 2020 and is spending his remaining confinement at home in Carlsbad, California.
Stepping into the world of poker, Chris Moneymaker’s net worth sits at $16mil. He started his walk into fame when he won the 2003 main event for the World Series of Poker (WSOP). He entered the tournament with $40 and left as the victor with $2.5mil, which is quite an impressive sum.
Moneymaker, a name that says it all, continues to play poker to this day. Born in 1975 in Atlanta, Georgia, his German last name is Nurmacher. The reason the family changed their surname in America is that they were in the business of making silver and gold coins.
The name suited Chris well as he went to win more poker competitions and rake in more money. News media went on to call his winning streak the ‘Moneymaker Effect’, a title that has since stuck with him. He went on to publish an autobiography about his massive win at WSOP in 2003 with the title ‘Moneymaker: How an Amateur Poker Player turned $40 into $2.5 Million at the World Series of Poker’.
Here are some other highlights from his poker career:
Also known as The Joker, Zeljko Ranogajec is renowned for making millions playing blackjack. A report in the Financial Review Rich List 2019 stated his net worth at $600mil, a claim that has yet to be confirmed. Ranogajec is more private about his gambling career, making it challenging for many news publications to scoop any updates on him.
Born on 22 May 1961 in Australia, Ranogajec started playing blackjack in Aussie casinos later in life. Interestingly enough, he pulled out of university to pursue gambling when he realised how good he was at it. The casinos also observed his blackjack prowess, which led to all betting establishments banning him from entry.
Not allowing them to thwart him, Ranogajec turned to horse racing. He quickly developed a formula for determining which horse was more likely to win. It didn’t take him long to start winning millions of USD again.
Another famous WSOP winner is Doyle Brunson, whose net worth is around $80mil. Born in 1933 in Longworth, Texas, he’s been in the poker scene for more than fifty years. He also has a keen interest in sports, being a basketball player for an All-State Texas team.
Brunson studied at Hardin-Simmons University and was about to form part of the Minneapolis Lakers when an unexpected knee injury took away the opportunity. This incident caused him to concentrate more on his poker skills. After making more in one day playing the card game than his first month at work, he quit the commercial industry for a career in gambling.
He was alone in his pursuits. Brunson and his friend went on a poker-playing spree, spending nights in illegal competitions which organised crime units put together. Believing he could do better, Brunson tried his poker skills at Las Vegas where he lost everything.
Brunson decided at that point that he wanted to go solo. Leaving his friend, he entered every WSOP from that point onwards. Since then, he’s won two WSOP events and ten Championship bracelets. He also authored the books ‘Super/System’ and ‘Super/System 2’, with many industry leaders considering him a poker subject matter expert.
Edward Thorp was a mathematics professor when he entered the gambling world. Visiting a casino for the first time, he saw the blackjack table and studied it before playing. Using his affinity for maths, he would become the ‘Father of Card Counting.’ He discovered the significance of noticing how many low and high cards the dealer played, which affected how the gambler should play the hand.
Card counting was an unknown term at that time since Thorp was first to invent the notion. Casinos were left bewildered as they saw him win millions during his first few months. In the same way that Thorp has studied the cards, they analyzed him to see how he was doing it.
Unable to uncover his secrets, the casino managers asked him to leave whenever he amassed profits. He wrote the book ‘Beat the Dealer: A Winning Strategy for the Game of Twenty-One’ which became a massive success. However, no one who read the title has been able to reach the same achievement in winning millions from blackjack.
His penchant for using maths for profit didn’t end with gambling. Thorp also trades in stock, which has led to further success. His net worth stands at about $800mil.
The list above reflects gamblers that have taken on the odds with a specific skill set and managed to walk away wealthy. Many players attempt to replicate those results, with only a few achieving that outcome. While several others have gained millions through gambling, the five above are the most inspirational.