History’s most famous players of games of chance became famous for various reasons. Some are remembered because they won big, others because they lost big, and yet others simply because of whom they were.
This list of five of the most famous players includes a grandmother who won millions, a roulette player who doubled his life savings, a man who lost more than $40 million in a few weeks, an English King, and the man who invented the sandwich. It doesn’t seem to matter what your background is or who you are, you could become famous in gambling circles for a multitude of reasons.
Gloria McKenzie Lotto Win
84-year-old grandmother Gloria McKenzie made gambling history in May 2013 when she became the US Powerball’s largest single winner. This lottery regularly pays out huge sums of money and many players take a gamble on the hope that in the next draw, it could be their lucky day.
Gloria bought her lucky ticket in a supermarket, after the customer standing in front of her in the queue let her go first, more than likely simply being polite due to her age. McKenzie’s ticket beat odds of 1 in 175 million to win her an incredible $590 million and she became another Powerball instant millionaire.
Ashley Revell’s Roulette Win
2004 was a mixed year for Briton Ashley Revell. After going broke, he sold everything he owned, and visited a casino in Las Vegas.
There, he placed a bet of $135 000 on red. The wheel was spun, the ball was dropped in, and it eventually settled in a red seven pocket, which just about doubled Revell’s bet. The incredibly lucky player set up an online poker room with his winnings and the media followed his every move for awhile there after, but he hasn’t repeated his winning bet since.
Greek-American resident of Las Vegas, Archie Karas, is famous for a lifetime of unbelievable winning and losing streaks. Karas built up a bankroll of more than $2 million playing poker.
He had $50 left by December 1992. Undeterred, Karas went to Vegas and played poker and dice games. By 1995, his bankroll sat at $40 million; a huge sum that he lost in a few weeks to poker, dice, and baccarat. He managed to recoup some of his winnings and is still one of the more wealthy players around.
King Henry VIII
King Henry VIII was one of England’s most famous monarchs. Larger than life, he is perhaps best remembered for church, government, and tax reforms, support of Renaissance art and literature, and an expansive building programme.
However, the king is also remembered as an avid, albeit not very capable, player of card and dice games. A two-year-long losing streak at cards saw him lose £3,250, and persistent rumour has it that he once lost the bells of old St Paul’s Cathedral in a bet.
John Montagu, 4th Earl of Sandwich
John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich, lived a busy and colourful life. However, he is not remembered for being a Postmaster General, the Northern Department’s Secretary of State, or the First Lord of the Admiralty.
Instead, he is remembered for inventing the sandwich. While it exact circumstances are unclear, some such as the writer Pierre-Jean Grosley suggested that the earl was a dedicated but talkative player who did not like to interrupt his game or conversation with formal meals.
Rather, Montagu would ask his servants to bring him a slice of salt beef between two slices of toasted bread. The habit caught on among his card-playing friends, who started asking the servants for the same as Sandwich.