Have you ever spun the reels on a slot machine in hopes of finally seeing those five cherries lined up and scooping up the jackpot? You can debate whether gambling is a game of pure luck or a matter of research and tactics, but most people just want to live the life of the lucky devils who managed to become the richest gamblers out there.
We hereby present our list of five chosen ones. We bring their life stories, tactics (if they employed any in the first place), winnings, and net worth. We will cover those who got rich in brick-and-mortar casinos as well as online venues at the same time. Before you dive in, don’t forget that gambling shouldn’t be your get-rich-quick scheme and that even though the thrill and anticipation can feel amazing, responsible gambling must come first.
Bill Benter – Blackjack Hall-of-Famer
Net worth: $1 billion
Whatever “Richest gamblers of all time” list you pick, you’ll find Bil Benter’s name at the top. You just can’t miss this card-counting mathematics genius. He used his skills to count cards to win at blackjack, earning enormous amounts of cash. Benter was banned from most casinos in Las Vegas once he got busted after seven years of bringing the house down.
After this initial run, Benter moved to Hong Kong, Asia, and turned to horse betting. Together with another successful gambler, the late Alan Woods, he developed computer software that enables punters to predict the outcomes of horse races. Bill Benter and his net worth are a subject of much speculation. It is estimated that he cashes in $100 million per year, with total assets of around $1 billion.
Tony Bloom – the Uncrowned King of Poker
Net worth: $1.7 billion
Statistics say that 11% of Britons aged between 11 and 16 gamble, and Tony “The Lizard” Bloom was no exception. He started gambling as a child, wagering his pocket money to spin the reels of fruit machines. Allegedly, when he was 15, he used a fake ID to be able to bet. Tony is one of the best sports bettors in the world and a poker mastermind. However, his wealth of $1.7 billion comes from his numerous business ventures, not only gambling prowess.
Bloom is the owner of Starlizard, a gambling consultancy company, which earns millions of pounds annually by making exceedingly precise football odds and selling them to punters. Other than that, he is chairman of the Brighton & Hove Albion football club and a majority shareholder of the Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, a football club from Belgium. Bloom created several gambling sites and even made a final appearance on the World Poker Tour.
Edward Thorp – A Math Genius
Net worth: $800 million
Next on our list is one of the richest gamblers in the US. Who would expect to see an esteemed math professor with a PhD in mathematics from the University of California counting cards in casinos? He might even make you regret skipping math in school, as Edward Thorp has $800 million to his name now, won mostly on blackjack and baccarat.
Thorp is credited with inventing card counting and described his method in his bestseller, “Beat the Dealer.” He was also the first player ever to use a computer simulation for developing gambling strategies. As one of the richest gamblers, Thorp invested his knowledge into the stock market and was one of the seven gamblers introduced into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2002.
Andrew Black – A Professional Gambler
Net Worth: $670 million
An avid bridge player and racehorse owner, Andrew Black had a succession of jobs while gambling on the side. As soon as he earned enough to make a living out of gambling, he quit his job and became one of the most famous professional gamblers in the UK. We don’t blame him – his professional gambler salary and wealth amount to roughly $670 million.
Gambling wasn’t enough to sate his growing appetite, so he decided to test the waters of entrepreneurship and start a software business. As he played bridge with Edward Wrey, Black showed him the prototype gambling software he had programmed. The two then decided to launch Betfair in 2000, which we all know today as one of the biggest betting and gambling platforms in the world.
Zeljko Ranogajec – “The Joker”
Net worth: $450 million
Any list of the world’s richest gamblers would be incomplete without Zeljko Ranogajec. Born in Australia to a family of Croatian immigrants, he intended to study banking, finance, and tax laws at the University of Tasmania. Instead, young Ranogajec dropped out of college to study – and master – blackjack card counting in Australian and Las Vegas casinos. Before he was banned from most of them, he managed to earn fame as “The Joker” and scoop up an astonishing $450 million.
Ranogajec has beaten the odds in horse racing, blackjack, sports betting, and keno. Even though he is one of the richest gamblers who allegedly turns $1 billion in betting revenue annually, he is also a successful businessman who rarely gives interviews and remains largely anonymous despite his riches.
Should we look up to gamblers? Should they be our role models? We understand the temptation, but it’s important to remember that many Brits get involved in problem gambling on the new slot sites popping up all around. However, that’s no reason not to appreciate the skill and adventure intertwined in these real-life success stories.
The richest professional gamblers often come from academic backgrounds and invest time and effort into creating strategies or software, so we can say that their gambling certainly doesn’t rely on just the luck of the draw. Instead, it’s a skill worth honing.