The Most Influential Gamblers in 2024

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Anyone can win money by gambling. All you need is to take a chance on a slot machine, roulette, or craps game. While you can win in slots through slots, it’s hard to win any casino game consistently. The odds are stacked against you.

In this article, we’ll highlight people who became famous for continuously beating the odds in gambling. According to the New York Times, only 3% of all gamblers win money in the long term. These men did it. 

#1: Billy Walters

Billy Walters is a multimillionaire sports gambler best known for his high-stakes sports bets in Las Vegas. Billy began his adult life as a car salesman in Kentucky. But he also loved gambling.

In fact, the Kentucky native says he started betting as a young boy. By the time he became old enough to bet in Las Vegas, he knew all the ins and outs of sports betting. 

Consequentially, Walters made a fortune betting tens of thousands of dollars for nearly four decades. He made profits in 38 of the 39 years he gambled as a professional.

In the casino space, Walters loved to bet on roulette and poker. He once won $3.8 million from a biased roulette wheel at the Atlantic Club Casino Hotel. He also won the Super Bowl of Poker in 1986.

In sports betting, Walters targeted Major League and college sports games. For example, he bet and won $3.5 million during Super Bowl XLIV. He also won $2.2 million in a game between the University of Southern California and the University of Michigan.

#2: Chris Moneymaker

Chris Moneymaker is best known for winning the 2003 World Series of Poker (WSOP) Main Event after qualifying through an online game. Chris inspired an entire generation of people to play online casino games, more so poker.

After years of success, Chris became a celebrity gambler. He’s regularly invited to celebrity poker events. He also teaches people his winning tips online and in person. He’s even written a book documenting his journey from an amateur online casino player to winning $2.5 million at the WSOP. 

Now, not everyone can have Chris’ luck. But if you love online casinos, read this game guide to find a trustworthy gambling site. Then have fun playing poker, blackjack, roulette, or slots. 

If you end up becoming good at poker, you could play satellite games to try your chance for a spot at the World Series of Poker. 

#3: Edward Thorp

Edward Thorp was a blackjack player who believed in his card-counting skills so much that he documented them in a book. Thorp discovered he could beat casinos through card counting in the 1960s.

He looked for a financier who gave him $10,000 to play with in Las Vegas. He won $11,000 on the first weekend. He won many more times in Vegas, Reno, and Lake Tahoe before he wrote the book, Beat the Dealer.  

Today, Beat the Dealer is one of the most recommended blackjack books in the world. He also wrote the Mathematics of Gambling, A Winning Bet, and Elementary Probability—great books for anyone looking for tips on how to improve their betting skills.

#4: Phil Ivey

Nicknamed the Tiger Woods of Poker, Phil Ivey is a 10-time World Series of Poker bracelet winner. He’s also won one World Poker Tour championship and made it to the final of World Poker Tour games nine times. 

Ivey is best known for his versatility. He’s excellent at Pot Limit Omaha. In fact, Pot Limit won him his first-ever bracelet in 2002.  It also won him over $635,000 in 2005. 

In 2009, Ivey won a WSOP bracelet in No-Limit Omaha. He defeated 147 opponents for this title. In the same year, he won another bracelet in Seven Card Stud, beating a pool of 376 gamblers this time. 

Additionally, Ivey won his eighth WSOP bracelet in H.O.R.S.E. He’s also been to the Main Event finals four times, finishing 10th in 2003. 

#5: The MIT Blackjack Team

It is hard to talk about successful blackjack players and fail to mention the MIT Blackjack team. This group of students worked as a team to win over $10 million from Las Vegas casinos during the 1980s and 1990s.

Back then, casinos shuffled cards manually. This enabled the MIT team to track aces and keep up with shuffled decks. This gave them a 2% to 4% edge over casinos. 

Considering blackjack has a 1% house edge, eliminating this advantage can make you extremely profitable. Indeed, the MIT blackjack team won millions of dollars during their reign. 

The group’s success in blackjack was immortalized in 2008 with a movie called, 21. It features Kevin Spacey as a professional leading the team and Laurence Fishburne as the primary opponent.

#6: Richard Nixon

Although Nixon went down as a controversial president, we can’t deny the fact that he was an influential man. He served as the 37th president of the US for five years before resigning amidst a highly publicized scandal.

His controversies aside, Nixon was an occasional poker player. In one of his many memoirs, the California native disclosed that he funded his first bid in politics using poker winnings

#7: Phil Hellmuth

Phil Hellmuth is one of the best poker players of all time. Born in Wisconsin, Phil began his poker career in the early 1980s. In 1989, he won the World Series of Poker Main Event. He would later win the 2012 World Series of Poker Europe. 

Hellmuth has won a record 17 WSOP bracelets. He’s also won over $29 million in poker, including 15 million won at the WSOP. Hellmuth’s favorite poker game is Texas Hold’em. He’s won 14 of his bracelets in this game. 

Similar to Ivey, Hellmuth doesn’t limit his skills to Hold’em. He’s also excellent in H.O.R.S.E, Omaha, and Seven Card Stud. He also plays online poker sometimes with fellow champion Daniel Negreanu. 

Negreanu is a two-time, poker player of the year award winner. He has won six bracelets and won two World Poker Tour championships. Also, he’s won over $42 million from poker, more than Hellmuth.

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