The 10 Richest Gamblers and How They Succeeded

by David Patterson
11 Oct 2023

Being seasoned in computer science and having surfed the entire software development stack, David has something to say about how it all works. He’s also well aware of the gambling industry's best practices for turning client-customer concepts into workable models. Additionally, David's zest for cryptos makes him precisely that guy whose comprehensive expertise can save you from unnecessary (and costly!) mistakes.

An elegant person dances while dollar bills fly around her
10 richest gamblers today

The gambling world provides players with huge potential winnings and great opportunities. It involves risk, so not everyone is ready to get the wheels rolling. However, you can build your whole capital with the right approach to the game! And I did not come to you empty-handed. I brought proof 😎😎😎 

Today, I will introduce you to 10 famous gamblers who have become idols of the gambling world. They are living proof that the right approach to the game is the path to a rich life and a successful gambling career that YOU deserve too! 

1. Billy Walters: The Sports Betting Titan πŸ’ͺ😎

Billy Walters smiles
Billy Walters is the #1 sports betting professional
  • Born: 1946 (Munfordville, Kentucky)
  • Occupation: Retired professional gambler, entrepreneur
  • Net worth: $250 million

Billy Walters is number one on this list for a reason. He holds the title of being one of the biggest sports bettors in America! This man can be called a true legend, as his winning streak lasted for 30 years. If you call it the world’s best gambler & sports bettor, you definitely would not go wrong with the wording. He is one of the few who created the system that helped him get stable winnings.

At the height of his success, Billy Walters earned an impressive $50 million monthly from sports betting alone! In 39 years of playing, he had only one unprofitable year, which is still legendary luck. At moments when he could end the year in the red, closer to December, he still turned out to be positive, which is more like magic.

The main advice he always gives gamblers is that losing is a lesson you need to learn from that will help you avoid something like this in the future. Surrounding yourself with smart people who can analyze data is equally important.Β To help players achieve the same level of success, he wrote a book called Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk, describing his main strategies in detail!

Billy Walters and his book
Must-read for gamblers; can be accessed for free!

The link I’ve added is a free PDF β€” enjoy!

2. Phil Ivey’s Unbelievable Achievements in Poker πŸƒπŸ…

Phil Ivey plays Poker
Phil Ivey is a Poker legend from California
  • Born: 1977 (Riverside, California)
  • Occupation: Professional Poker player
  • Net worth: At least $125 million

That is the top example of the best gambler in Poker. Phil Ivey made gambling his main income and lived from Poker. I can say that this famous gambler does not just play to win. Poker is his calling, and he confidently developed through life. His gambling career began at 8 when he played games with his grandfather. Around the same time, he began working on his first winning strategies. 

In this case, it is difficult to say that Ivey was lucky because he spent countless hours practicing. Working hard on strategies and tirelessly training, he did everything to ensure that his talent was noticed and the road to big Poker was opened for him.

In 2000, Ivey won his first WSOP bracelet, playing against the legendary Amarillo Slim. The victory of an unknown player over one of the Poker stars of that time gave him fame and public attention. And, of course, contributed to further development with $200K as a sweet bonus! Since then, Ivey has added 6 more WSOP gold bracelets to his collection of 10 bracelets. For 14 years, he won over 10 major Poker tournaments and at least $2054154. That is a fair reward for a lifetime of hard work to me.

3. Zeljko Ranogajec, the Most Famous Advantage Player πŸ’β€β™‚οΈβœ¨

Zeljko Ranogajec in the forest
Surely discusses his huge victories in the gambling world
  • Born: 1961 (Hobart, Tasmania)
  • Occupation: Businessman, professional gambler
  • Net worth: $600 million

Unlike the pioneers on our list, this famous gambler did not focus on only one gambling discipline! He succeeded in such areas as Blackjack, Keno, and betting on horse racing. A diverse range of gambling games demonstrates his versatility and ability to quickly turn the game’s tide in his favor. 

Zeljko devoted himself to gambling and spent almost all his time practicing Blackjack. He even dropped out of the University of New South Wales in Sydney to fully concentrate on it. For him, gambling was the main source of income since he was not particularly interested in getting a job. After he began to be recognized as a talented Blackjack player, Ranogajec decided it was time to expand his horizons. As a result, he tried all the table games and many slots and then discovered Keno, which became his second favorite game. 

Zeljko Ranogajec clarified that passion is his main income booster; therefore, when times became difficult, he looked for other options within his passion. And he succeeded in achieving his goal as he earned millions of dollars and was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame. Playing Keno brought him at least $7.5 million and then he made nearly $10 billion from horse racing, which made him one of the biggest sports bettors in parallel with Billy Walters. 

His main secret was large bets that brought him big winnings, but this does not negate that Zeljko proved himself an outstanding strategist.

4. Edward O. Thorp and His Magical Card-Counting Technique πŸ§‘β€πŸ«πŸ“

Edward O. Thorp at home
Edward O. Thorp’s net worth is stunning!
  • Born: 1932 (Chicago, Illinois)
  • Occupation: Math professor, inventor, best-selling author, hedge-fund manager, gambler
  • Net worth: $800 million

Well, math professors can not only assign boring homework but also teach you how to gamble! He is also called the wizard of mathematics because he was the first to develop the first card-counting system for Blackjack. It was an incredible discovery at that time as he proved that this game is based not only on the player’s luck. With the help of his counting technique, he managed to beat the dealer and the stock market and reach his current capital!

Related articles: Casino Gambling Math: The Cheat Sheet Every Gambler Needs 

However, this is not the only thing that allowed him to get on the list of best gamblers in the world. Joining forces with Claude Shannon (information theory genius), Edward also conquered Roulette. They managed to create the world’s first wearable computer that predicted where a Roulette ball would land by measuring the wheel’s speed and the ball. That gave them an astonishing advantage!

Edward O. Thorp does not keep his strategies secret and has written several books to help more inexperienced players. For example, he describes his moves in detail in his book The Mathematics of Gambling. He has written multiple books on gambling strategy, which is used in many board games, so I can say that this could become a full-fledged training course.Β 

5. Doyle Brunson: A Poker Legend from Texas πŸ₯‡β­

Doyle Brunson during one of his games
Doyle Brunson is another Poker legend that inspires new generations of gamblers
  • Born: 1933 (Longworth, Texas)
  • Occupation: Professional Poker player
  • Net worth: $80 million

That is another world’s best gambler who proved himself in Poker. He is in the Poker Hall of Fame, and only the best can be there. Today, he is retired but has a 60-year career as a successful professional Poker player.Β Doyle was driven to play Poker by the need for money, and he began to learn to play much later than our previous geniuses. He needed to cover his bills, so he was forced to play more regularly to get money. However, he quickly demonstrated his talent in this area and was invited to play a seven-card stud game and got a huge win! This victory opened his eyes to his talent and skills, and thanks to this, he left the company he was working for to become a professional player.

Doyle Brunson was not wrong in choosing his vocation as he became a WSOP main event winner in 60 years and received 10 bracelets! There was even a hand named after him β€” Doyle’s Hand, a 10-2. Fortunately, he also decided not to keep his tricks a secret and wrote several helpful books. For example, his book Super/System is one of the most popular and reveals the secrets of Poker. Like with the previous links, that is the FREE PDF you can download or read online (but I have to say it can be rather overwhelming and complex; plus, the author shares episodes of his life in this book, and strategies are mixed with reminiscence of the past).Β 

6. Kerry Packer β€” The High Roller We Want to Be πŸ€‘

Kerry Packer poses for a photo
Kerry Packer at a social event
  • Born: 1937 (Sydney, New South Wales)
  • Occupation: Media mogul and billionaire
  • Net worth: $6.5 billion

But this is a unique example of the best gambler in the world that can surprise anyone. Just look at Kerry Packer net worth; it will still be difficult to imagine the size of the bets he made! He did not make money by betting in casinos or bookmakers, but he made such huge bets that his only one win could totally ruin someone’s gambling business. For Kerry, betting was a passion, but he never positioned himself as a professional player.

Kerry Packer’s gambling path began after he became rich. It all started when he won several million in 1989 at the newly opened Mirage casino and then made a bet of $100K on behalf of the dealers. He was a frequent guest to Las Vegas, and according to former casino executives there (who wish to remain anonymous), Packer suffered a net loss of no more than $20K. 

In this case, the secret to winning is simple. Kerry made the biggest bets the casino would allow and tended to quit while he was ahead. He gained a reputation on the strip as a hit-and-run player. 

As terrible as it may sound, his death in 2005 brought some relief to gambling houses.

A vintage photo of Kerry Packer
Unfortunately, kidney failure killed this gambling legend

When they heard “Kerry Packer gambler,” they heard their business bursting at the seams. After one of his eight-figure wins, the casino’s quarterly numbers were at the bottom. If some find it difficult to call him the best gambler, he can be called a player who kept the entire gambling industry at bay for many years.

7. Patricia DeMauro, Craps Queen πŸ‘Έ

Patricia DeMauro holding dice
Patricia DeMauro is another inspiration for new generations of gamblers
  • Born: 1968 (Denville, New Jersey)
  • Occupation: Famous craps player
  • Net worth: N/A

The game of craps is based on your luck, and this sweet lady can be called the luckiest in this field. Patricia DeMauro has become known as the grandmother of gamblers. She made the longest dice throw and broke the record for the longest Golden Arm. 

Patricia hit 154 shots in 2009 without losing a game, putting her in a league of her own! That included 25 transmissions in four hours and 18 minutes. That simply could not help but go down in history since its chances of such an outcome were no more than one in 1.56 trillion! Thus, Patricia overtook the previous record holder, Stanley Fujitake, and set a new twenty-year record.

It is unknown exactly what amount Patricia DeMauro won, and Patricia refused to disclose this information. However, since this is not just a big win but a whole achievement, I dare to assume that the winnings were calculated in a thousand or even millions of dollars. Some estimates say her net worth is $180K, but that is only an approximation.

8. Archie Karas and His Winning Streak 😳πŸ’₯

Archie Karas at one of his interviews
Archie Karas, the absolute boss of gambling games
  • Born: 1950 (Antypata, Cephalonia)
  • Occupation: High roller, Poker player
  • Net worth: $40 million

Archie Karas achieved the biggest winning streak of the 90s in Poker and is the “best gambler” whose fame can be called a miracle of luck or the result of long training. Well, I am not here to judge but to tell, so you must draw your conclusions. In any case, it is impossible to deny that he built his capital by playing Poker. 

The reason Karas started playing Poker is a very common one, and that is to make money. He became a skilled player, increasing his bankroll to $2 MILLION but professional players often considered him a weak opponent, creating some obstacles for him. Besides, he once lost all but $50 at high stakes, and instead of stopping, he went to Las Vegas in search of more major games. He started playing at unprecedented rates, winning $1,200,000 and then $3,000,000! As he said, his main secret is that money has ceased to mean anything to him. His main goal is the game itself.Β 

However, is this so? Archie Karas was sentenced to three years probation after he was found guilty of cheating while playing Blackjack. He won over $8K that day. Archie was caught on surveillance cameras marking cards at a Blackjack table in a San Diego casino. In addition, hollowed-out chips were found in his home, which prosecutors believe were used to hide the ink. After that, it is quite understandable when his talent is questioned. 

9. Chris Moneymaker: Another Epic Poker Legend πŸ’«πŸ™Œ

Chris Moneymaker during one of his games
A real Poker star!
  • Born: 1975 (Atlanta, Georgia)
  • Occupation: Professional Poker player
  • Net worth: $18 million

The story of Chris Moneymaker can inspire hundreds of players who want to succeed in Poker. Before entering the list of best gamblers in the world, he did not even begin to build his fortune and was considered an amateur gambler. His name was unknown, and he worked as an ordinary accountant while developing his Poker skills. 

Chris’s passion for gambling began as a child when his father taught him to play Blackjack. Then, he became interested in sports betting and finally came to play Poker. He never made money through gambling and saw it as a hobby until 9/11, when he lost his job. He began to devote more time to Poker and eventually became an experienced player who went unnoticed for a long time. Before his fame, he played only online Poker without catching the eye of those who might notice his talent.

In 2003, Chris made his big move into Poker at a $40 buy-in sub-satellite tournament on PokerStars and won! I can say that this event was the main impetus for his career as a professional Poker player since he took part in the WSOP. In fact, Moneymaker was an unknown newcomer who nevertheless was able to beat professionals, winning $2.5 million and a World Series of Poker bracelet. His victory was revolutionary as he became the first world champion to qualify solely for online Poker. This phenomenon was called the Moneymaker effect.

10. Vanessa Selbst, Poker Empress

Vanessa Selbst during a Poker game
Vanessa Selbst is another gambling queen the gambling community adores
  • Born: 1984 (New York)
  • Occupation: Trader
  • Net worth: At least $6 million

Vanessa Selbst is an example of true determination and persistence in doing what she likes, making her the world’s best gambler. She is the only woman in the Poker world to be ranked #1 on the Global Poker Index and has earned over $11.8 million in live Poker tournament earnings! With her achievements, she completely dispelled the stereotype that Poker is the domain of men (ISTG, these stereotypes must be dead already).

Vanessa Selbst with her wife and their pets at a casino
Vanessa Selbst (on the right) with her wife playing at a casino

Vanessa became interested in Poker quite early, but it is unknown when exactly. Obviously, early enough to enter the professional sphere at 18! She quickly began to show incredible results and got her first six-figure account in 2006. She chose a difficult path as she went straight to live Poker games, where she had to deal with variance and sexism (ah, wonderful society). Nevertheless, despite all the difficulties, she managed to enter the ranks of the Poker elite.

This Poker star managed to snag three World Series of Poker bracelets and become the only gambler to win the same North American Poker Tour main event in a row. She received at least $1.8 million for her stellar performance in France alone! Vanessa also coached for the site DeucesCracked, teaching Poker players.


Each of the above individuals who became famous gamblers or the biggest sports bettors went through a long path of practice or had great luck. I advise you to focus on players who have achieved everything through hard work and practice since luck tends to run out. You can follow the successes of these outstanding players as an example to join their ranks! 

I hope this information was useful to you and you found some inspiration for your next gambling sessions. Have a good game, and I am sure your name will be on my future list of the best casino players and sports bettors in the world! 

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