Everyone’s had the odd flutter, but what if you put everything on the line? With Mark Wahlberg’s ‘The Gambler’ hitting cinemas, here are the some of betting’s biggest winners and losers.
Now in his sixties, in 1992 the Greek-American embarked on what became known as “The Run”. Heading to Las Vegas with just $50, he embarked on what is generally considered to be known as the longest winning streak in history.
In the first six months, that $50 had become $17 million after Karas scored big playing pool and poker. Starting off at the Mirage casino, he went to what was then called Binion’s Horseshoe. At one point, he owned all of Binion’s $5000 chips and carried a gun with him – along with mountains of cash – at all times. By the beginning of 1995, he was worth a staggering $40 million.
It didn’t last long. Convinced he was on a streak that couldn’t be broken, he carried betting on baccarat and craps and lost his millions in three weeks.
How would you feel if you lost $204 million in a single year? Now you get a sense of what Watanabe felt after he did just that in 2007. Having made his money running a party favour business in Nebraska, Watanabe took it to the Rio and Caesar’s Palace casinos in Vegas, where he promptly lost it.
Part of the problem was clearly his ability – he was not known to be the most skillful gambler. But a subsequent civil lawsuit, in which Watanabe accused the casinos of letting him bet while intoxicated continues to run and run.
It’s one thing to bet everything you own on a single spin of the roulette wheel, it’s quite another to do it in front of television cameras. That’s what Brit Revell did in 2004 when he sold all his possessions, including his clothes and gambled it all on red.
After getting rid of everything he had (which was worth around £89,000), he headed to Vegas, followed by a Sky camera crew, who filmed the moment for a reality show called ‘Double Or Nothing’. Luckily for Ashley, the ball landed on 7 red and he doubled his money. He used the funds to set up an online poker company.
Captain Matthew Webb
Webb was something of a legend during his life, becoming the first man to swim the English Channel in 1875. Having become a national hero, he set out to do an even more dangerous feat, swimming across the Niagara Rapids from Canada to America in 1883.
He gambled on success and would have won $2000 had he done so. Unfortunately, despite surviving for two minutes, he got sucked under and his body was discovered four days later.
Some people have all the luck. In 1989, Vegas resident Sherwin, then 72, was playing the Megabucks slot machine on the opening night of The Mirage casino. About 10 hours later, he struck gold, winning the $4.6million jackpot.
Was that enough for him? No. In 2005, while playing the same kind of machine at the Cannery casino, he won again – this time to the tune of $21 million. At the age of 92, who knows what he spent it on.
Tottenham Hotspur fan
It’s all very well loving your football team, but there are limits. One ardent fan was watching his beloved Spurs play Manchester United on 29 September 2001 and he was happy, with Tottenham leading 3-0.
Apparently trying to impress his girlfriend, he bet his mortgage on Spurs winning the game. In what must have been a blood-curdling few minutes, United came back to win 5-3 and the gent lost his house.
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