5. The Largest Novelty Bet in History
Today you can bet on basically anything - who is going to win American Idol or when we will discover life on Mars. These so called novelty bets can be very entertaining, but very few, if any, professional gamblers are long-term novelty-bet winners.
But in 1989 an unknown Welshman walked in to his local bookie and wagered £30 on a number of events to happen before the year 2000. These were his forecasts and the odds:
Singer Cliff Richards being knighted: 4 to 1
The Irish pop band U2 remaining as a group: 3 to 1
The soap opera Eastenders still being aired on BBC: 5 to 1
Neighbours still being shown on British TV: 5 to 1
Home and Away still being an active TV show: 8 to 1
The odds for all of this to happen were 6,479 to 1, and a couple of days into the new millennium, this lucky Welshman walked down to the local Ladbokes and cashed in £194,400 - the largest novelty bet in history.
4. Ashley Revell Bets Everything on One Spin
In 2004, the young Brit Ashley Revell decided to get rid of everything he owned. He sold his car, stereo, TV, bicycle and even his clothes. Then he emptied his bank account and his poker bankroll. Altogether he managed to scrape together $135,300.
And what to do when you have a bit over 100 grand? Well, as most of us would, Revell travelled to Las Vegas to bet it all on one roulette spin. Below you can see what happened.
3. Johnny Moss Takes on a Fist Fight Bet
Poker Legend Jonny Moss was once standing in a bar talking to a man who claimed that he had never lost a fight in his life. Moss got a proposition from his friends that if he could knock the man out he would get 15 to 1 on his money. It seemed like fair deal. The bet was on and Moss threw a punch at the self-claimed fighting expert.
Naturally it didn't work. All Moss got was a few broken bones and a trip to the hospital. However, when he came out of the infirmary he didn't regret his decision: "15 to 1 was too good to pass up," Moss said.
2. Turning a Social Security Check into $1 Million
In 1995, a less fortunate Las Vegas resident went down to the social security office to cash in a $400 check. His wife had just kicked him out of the house and life wasn't looking too bright. What to do when everything has gone wrong? Well, take the check and head for Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas.
It is said that this man smelled so bad that nobody wanted to be near him, but luckily the cards don't care about odor. Thanks to his unconventional strategy - he didn't follow the basic blackjack strategy whatsoever - he managed to win $1 million.
This could have been a turning point in this man's life, but unfortunately he carried on playing. And as we all know the bank always wins in the long run. In the end he left Treasure Island $400 poorer than he was when he entered the casino.
1. William Lee Bergstrom Bets it All
Casino owner Benny Binion revolutionized gambling in Las Vegas. Before him, casinos just accepted "small" bets and wanted to slowly but steadily capture every player's bankroll. Binion, on the other hand, let his visitors' first bet be their only limit. If you wanted to bet $100,000 on your first blackjack hand that was totally fine, but you couldn't raise the stakes later in the session. This was something William Lee Bergstrom wanted to take advantage of.
On day in the mid 1980s Bergstrom walked into Binion's Horseshoe Casino with a suitcase containing $777,000. He went over to the craps table and bet it all on the Don't Pass Line. He won the bet and this was the staring point of an amazing hot streak.
Bergstrom came back a while later and doubled a $590,000 wager, and later a $190,000 bet and lastly he won another $90,000. Everybody there saw that this was a player playing the rush. Unfortunately, as many casino gamblers throughout history, he didn't know when to stop.
On day he stood in the lobby again - now with a suitcase containing one million dollar. He bet the money and lost. The streak was definitely over. Three months later he decided to raise the stakes once again. Bergstrom wagered what he had left in a game of Russian Roulette. He lost. This time with a deadly outcome.