With over 4,800 casinos worldwide and even more online platforms, including an incredible gry casino, there is more than enough room for growth as a gambler. Sports bettor, horse bettor, card counter – you can master any domain as long as you are willing to learn and ready for total commitment.
But there’s a big difference between becoming a professional gambler and becoming one of the goats. Though the actual number is hard to come by, there are at least a hundred thousand punters and only a few dozen truly outstanding players that have written new pages in the history of gambling. Without further ado, let’s remind ourselves of the greatest of all time.
The pioneer of the modern application of probability theory and the author of Beat the Dealer, Edward Thorp is the first gambler ever to harness the smallest correlations of the theory for financial gain. A professor of mathematics at New Mexico State University and the University of California, Thorp used IBM 704 to investigate the probabilities of winning in Blackjack according to the Kelly criterion, a formula guaranteeing a higher winning probability than any other known strategy.
Edward Thorp’s theoretical research model on the probabilities of winning at Blackjack showed excellent results during the tests at brick-and-mortar casinos of Reno, Late Tahoe, and Last Vegas. Having started with a moderate budget of $10,000, the mathematician made a whopping $11,000 in a single weekend and then had to use disguises so as not to be expelled from casinos. In addition to Blackjack, Edward Thorp led a Baccarat team, which also took an upper hand over the casinos.
After becoming a celebrity among gambling aficionados, the card magician wrote the book Beat the Dealer (1966), which sold over 700,000 copies and is still considered an ultimate guide to card counting . Aside from Blackjack and Baccarat, Thorp also tried to beat the odds in Roulette and did win at the time, but only with the help of a wearable computer, a device now forbidden in casinos. One of the first seven members of the Blackjack Hall of Fame, Edward Thorp, 88, is now living in Chicago, Illinois.
The future follower of Edward Thorp, William Benter, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, possessed strong mathematical talents and no less strong desire to make money out of it. Which eventually led him to the Blackjack tables of Las Vegas, where he had been taking advantage of Edward Thorp’s card counting before being banned from Las Vegas casinos in 1984.
But that wasn’t the end of Benter’s career. After the ban, he met like-minded Alan Woods, an expert in horse racing with whom they combined the knowledge of the field and the ability to develop effective computer algorithms for determining the race winners. The algo relied on the statistical model that took into account a set of factors potentially leading to successful predictions. It was tested in numerous racing events to generate about $1 billion for William Benter and his partner.
A member of the Poker Hall of Fame, Thomas Austin Preston Jr., known as Amarillo Slim, was one of the most versatile gamblers the world has ever known. He was a rounder by nature: he did love gambling, but just as much he loved traveling. Preston joined forces with Sailor Roberts and Doyle Brunson to travel across the United States, looking for the best gambling places and introducing Texas Hold’em to them.
Originally a poker player – and the winner of the 1972 World Series of Poker Main event, after which he appeared in several shows, including The Tonight Show, and played in the California Split movie – Amarillo Slim is known for his ability to win proposition bets and the overall tendency for high-risk wagers on horse racing, pool, and table tennis.
All’s well that ends well. The short-term losses and failures are usually a part of the ultimate success of stardom gamblers, but sometimes it’s the other way round – as it was with Archie Karas, a Greek emigrant who run away from home at the age of 15, moved to Los Angeles with $50 in the pocket, made over $2 million on his incredible pool skills, and then lost it all on high-stakes poker. But even after that, he didn’t reconsider his approach but started a three-year gambling run to win over $40 million…and then squander it all within three weeks on dice games and baccarat.
With that, we have to wrap it up. Manage your budget, play responsibly!