There are two main things to go for in a casino. Big winnings, which is what everyone always looks for and the adrenaline rush that comes just before the joy or the shock. No one likes the shock though, not even the high rollers to whom most losses are only a drop in the ocean. However, some people win big, and their stories are what keep people streaming back into Vegas every weekend. A trip to a casino can change your life forever, giving you a whole new look from a small stake. We have already learned about ten of the biggest casino losses, now let’s look at the 10 greatest wins in casinos ever…
Karas’ fame reads like a comic book. One thing is clear, though; he was the most typical gambler of all time. He came to Las Vegas in 1992 with $50 to bet with on high stakes poker. He then went on the longest recorded winning streak of any gambler amassing a whopping $40 million fortune. During his glory days, Karas beat almost every poker player in the world at the time, becoming the best.
He then switched to the baccarat, which is always known to be unfair, and he lost $30 million while at it within three weeks. He then switched to dice, where he also lost his remaining fortune, taking him back to where he started. He then got arrested several times for cheating leading to the conclusion that maybe his winnings were not legitimate after all.
Karry Packer surely lived a full life in all aspects of gambling. He was once the richest man in Australia with billions to his name, and with it, he gambled generously. He made both the biggest losses and biggest wins of any gambler on both sides of the Atlantic. While in Vegas in 1997, Packer made an estimated 20 to 40 million cleaning up the MGM casino.
His favourite sport was the baccarat, although it is alleged that he also played the blackjack, an alleged six hands each time for $200,000 each. Packer was also generous; He tipped the dealer $1 million. Packer’s luck didn’t last forever, though. He lost nearly $30 million in London less than two years later. He is one of the most legendary and free-spirited gamblers in Vegas history.
You know that story; You are in Vegas for a holiday, things get boring, so you decide to get some adrenaline rush at the slot machines then instead of the Jackpot, you lose your holiday stash and go back home. Well, it doesn’t always end like that. The odds of winning the Megabucks jackpot are nearly 17 million to 1, but in March 2003, the 25-year-old software engineer from LA, spent a casual $20 to win it all. He wanted his name kept a secret after bagging $39 million, one of the biggest jackpots ever won in Vegas, although his riches sold him out. He opted for annual checks of $1.5 million for 25 years instead of a one-time payout, which got him covered until retirement at the least.
Don Johnson and Archies Karas have nearly similar gambling tales, although Johnson has managed to stay on the over $1 million side of the risky career. He was famous for breaking casinos in Atlantic city and getting managers fired, including the managers of Tropicana and Borgata, where he won a combined total of $11 million. He was also banned from all Caesars casinos around the world after denting the casino’s entire monthly revenue. His combined winnings that year were an estimated $20 million turning him into one of the biggest winners of Atlantic city.
The Mystery Old Woman
Patience can pay big in casinos, but only if you are not losing your net worth every time the wheel spins. The woman placed a few pennies in the wheel of fortune at the Palace Station in Las Vegas and won her first big pay of $680,000. Normally, when you get that, you go home because the machine doesn’t tend to look nicely twice at the same person, but the pensioner had the faith that other people wouldn’t have. She continued “investing” her winnings at the same fortune wheel until she won the Jackpot a few weeks later. Her cents earned her over $20 million, adding her to this list.
Elmer Sherwin died in 2007 after going down as the luckiest WWII veteran in American history. It is not clear whether he was a regular gambler, but Sherwin won his first Jackpot at the age of 84 after spinning the slots at the Mirage casino in Las Vegas. In 2005, Sherwin, then 92 years old, decided to pop the slots again at the Cannery Casino, and this time, he was in for a huge win. He won $21 million and opted to have all of it paid to him because; well, he was 92. He was also very generous and spent most of his winnings on charity, helping the victims of Hurricane Katrina. He died two years later.
Pensioners make some of the biggest winners at casinos. In March 2002, Johanna Huendi, a 74-year-old pensioner from California, was on her way to Bally’s for breakfast when she decided to try her luck at the Megabucks slot machine. She spent $170, meaning she was really serious about her luck, and sure enough, one of her bets got her a breakfast in the casino’s VIP room since as she won $22 million.
People always crave the Jackpot as they figure out a gazillion of ambitions they will accomplish once those many zeros land in their accounts, but they don’t always end up accomplishing them. Actually, if Tippin’s case is anything to go by, you are better off continuing to live your life normally, with or without winning a jackpot. He was a postal worker when he came to Vegas in 1996, played with $9 at a Megabucks slot, and won an $11 million jackpot.
He changed his life in the opposite direction, spending most of it on useless lavish trips, women, and drugs, and a few years later, he was back to scrapping for a living. He even wrote a whole book about his adventures as a short-term millionaire, and most of it is regrets.
The MIT Blackjack Team
Who said you can’t blackjack your way to riches after MIT? There have been many successful blackjack teams over the years, but the MIT one that was born to the leadership of the mathematics genius Bill Kaplan in 1980 was by far the best. They picked and trained students who were good at Mathematics, taking them through tough classes before presenting them at Blackjack tables in casinos all over the world.
A team of three would cooperate in card counting to spread their winnings so that the dealer didn’t throw out one of them. There are no clear details of how much they won, even from the movie 21, that was based on their story. However, considering, all members of the team are now millionaires, they must have won at least $50 million between 1980 and the late 90s when the team was dissolved.
The story of the Megabucks curse is one of the saddest in big wins history, but it was still a win. Before the mystery engineer, Cynthia Jay was the lucky holder of the title of the biggest winner of the Nevada Megabucks jackpot. She was working as a waitress before her windfall came in 2,000 while she was in Las Vegas with her fiancé. She won $35 million at the slot and went ahead to marry her good-luck charm husband. However, nine weeks later, while planning her dream trip around the world, a drunk driver drove into her car, killing her sister and paralyzing her from the chest downwards. She is now disabled and never got the chance to enjoy her dream life.