A Quintet of Betting Legends
Every player dreams of winning big and making a name for themselves, and some colorful characters have certainly done that over the years. In no particular order, here are five of the most iconic gamblers in history.
One of the true greats of poker, Phil Hellmuth has amassed an astonishing 15 WSOP bracelets (to date) and in 2007 was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. He had a troubled adolescence growing up in Madison, Wisconsin and ended up dropping out of the University of Wisconsin–Madison to pursue a career as a poker player.
It was a risky bet, but it ended up paying off big time. His lifetime winnings exceed $23m and he’s the holder of a number of records, including most WSOP cashes, and most final tables (57). Something of a Texas Hold’em specialist, 13 of his 15 bracelets have come from that game, although he does have over 20 final table appearances with different poker varieties.
Hellmuth is known as the Poker Brat; he’s not always the most serene presence at a table. But he’s certainly one of the most successful.
A quick tip: get your head screwed on right. It’s important to maintain a winning attitude and not be too downhearted if things go ill or get overconfident if you enjoy a lucky streak. Confidence and a balanced approach is the best way to play.
Wild Bill Hickok
Step back in time to the 19th century and you might just bump into James Butler Hickock, better known to modern-day folk as Wild Bill Hickok. He was a man of many lives all packed into less than forty years under the sun. A child of the Old West, during his time he was a soldier and scout, an officer of the law, and a professional gambler. There may be mythological embellishment applied to his life, but the core of who he was is a matter of fact.
During the American Civil War, he spied for the Union and was involved in numerous gunfights as an office of the law. But it was his gambling and his death that have perhaps caught the public’s imagination most vividly. In 1876, he was playing poker when a man by the man of Jack McCall joined him, only to lose heavily. The next day, Hickock was playing again. McCall came in with a gun and shot him in the back of the head, killing him. The hand Hickok was holding (black aces and black eights) has since become known as the dead man’s hand.
If you find yourself holding the dead man’s hand it might be time to cash out. Luckily, it’s never been easier to get paid instantly with instant casino payouts, so if this little list whets your appetite to try your hand at casino games, why not give it a whirl?
Online betting has never been more popular, and one man who rose above the rest to become one of the top three highest-earning poker tournament players of all time is Daniel Negreanu. This talkative Canadian is proof that being friendly and social is no bar to immense success, and for those keen to emulate that success, he’s of the view that there’s never been a better time to learn to play and make money thanks to the assortment of ways to learn (from Twitch live streams to books).
In 2004 Negreanu was named the WSOP Player of the Year, an accolade awarded for the second time in 2013 (so far, he’s the only player to win this title twice). The following year he joined the greats and was inducted into the Poker Hall of Fame. At the time of writing, Negreanu has half a dozen WSOP bracelets to his name, in addition to 45 final table appearances. When it comes to the World Poker Tour, he’s managed to turn nine final table appearances into a pair of titles and has amassed over $42m in prize money during his career.
Besides paying the rent, Negreanu has used his money for charitable purposes, including sending aid to the region of Darfur in Africa.
Nick the Greek
Nikolaos Andreas Dandolos was a Greek with a degree in philosophy and was better known as Nick the Greek. His fortunes waxed and waned with major wins and big losses too. His 1949 series of poker games with Johnny Moss is believed to be the foundation for the modern-day World Series of Poker.
It’s unclear how much Nick the Greek lost in 1949 to Moss, but it was at least a couple of million and prompted his famous line: “Mr. Moss, I have to let you go.” His fortunes were very up and down, flinging him from prosperity to poverty and back again dozens of times, but when the going was good he found the time to give millions to charity.
A quick tip: if you’re playing a game of chance be sure you avoid the gambler’s fallacy. This is a mathematical misconception that assumes that just because an event hasn’t occurred for a while that it’s more likely to occur. It isn’t, and believing it is can lead you down a blind alley of losses. The odds on a roulette wheel showing up red is the same regardless of what the last ten spins were.
Considered by some to be the single best all-round poker player in the world, Phil Ivey is the proud owner of 10 WSOP bracelets (the youngest ever player to reach that number), and he has won the World Poker Tour title. He’s one of several players with the tied record for most bracelets won in a single year (three).
Ivey won over £7m playing Punto Banco in a casino in London in 2012 but was refused the money (excepting his £1m stakes) over allegations of edge-sorting, (observing subtle details to try and work out if a face-down card is high or low). A similar claim has been made against him by a casino in Atlantic City, with court decisions in both the UK and the US going against Ivey.
Those are five of the great gambling players from history, and there are many more interesting characters in the world of betting. If you decide to try your hand betting, always remember to keep a cool head and stay within your means.