6 Gambling Wins You Won’t Believe

Gamblers Phil Laak and Frederick Smith

Even on the most mundane and routine of nights, the casino is still a wildly exciting place. When you combine an eccentric, diverse group of individuals and place them in a situation where they might win, or lose, thousands of dollars, the stories write themselves.

The movies have provided several entertaining depictions of what can happen if things get out of hand, but the drama is in no short supply when it comes to real life. In fact, some might even trump what you see on the silver screen.

In this article, I’ll briefly summarize some of the craziest casino stories of all-time.

1 – Grandma or Lady Luck?

Grandmothers are typically known for their cooking, unconditional love, and endless wisdom. One grandmother from New Jersey has a story that will steal the show at the next family party.

Patricia Demauro was visiting Atlantic City’s Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa and decided to try her looks at the craps table. Obviously, avoiding rolling a seven is the name of the game, but how many rolls can you realistically throw without landing on the number that hardcore players refer to simply as “devil”?

If seven is devil, Patricia Demauro is an angel. She successfully went 154 rolls without getting a seven, breaking the world record and literally defying odds. How long are the odds of going 154 rounds without a seven? Try 1 in 1.56 trillion – yes, with a t.

Roulette Winner Patricia Demauro

The next logical question to ask would be how much money she took home after her historic run. In humble granny fashion, she declined to give out the number. However, experts suggest that if she made decent bets, her winnings probably reached the hundreds of thousands. If she was betting as an experienced player, they may have reached a million.

Her celebration should be a lesson to every gambler – she simply relaxed the next two nights, returning to the craps table only as a spectator. She said the expectations were just too high to resume her role as the shooter. I can’t say I blame her.

2 – All In

Would you gamble all the money you had on a single spin of roulette in hopes of doubling your net worth in a matter of seconds? Most gambles have had this thought once or twice, only to have more rational decisions prevail.

British gambler Ashley Revell had a risk tolerance that would shake even the most bullish of investors. In 2004, he sold all of his possessions, clothes included, and wound up with just more than $135,000 to his name…and in his pocket.

Revell’s get-richer-quick scheme involved throwing everything on a single spin at a Las Vegas roulette table located in the Plaza Hotel & Casino. That’s right – $135k, every dollar to his name, on a single spin.

He chose red as the lucky color, and wound up hitting. After doubling his money instantly, he left the dealer with a healthy tip (reportedly around $600), and ran off with his winnings.

Revell decided to reinvest his winnings in a slightly less risky business venture. He started his very own online poker business. Not only that, but his daring move was apparently the inspiration behind the legendary Simon Cowell’s TV game show called, appropriately, “Red or Black?”

If you’re considering making the same move, my only suggestion would be to consult your family beforehand.

3 – Shipping Savior

FedEx is an internationally recognized business with annual earnings in the billions. Though the eventual result was massive success, things weren’t always so certain.

Back in 1971, the company’s founder Frederick Smith had a respectable $4 million and brought in tens of millions more to build his shipping company. His goal was to ship anywhere in the world, which would have been a unique quality 50 years ago.

Unfortunately for Smith, the company was struggling after just three years due to increasing fuel costs along with other expenses associated with such a big operation. Losing more than a million dollars per month, he couldn’t find anyone to loan or invest in his business.

When Smith realized he had just $5,000 left, he knew it was time to make a move. Instead of trying to sell an investor, he took the money to Las Vegas. That weekend he gambled the company’s remaining funds at the blackjack table as a last ditch effort.

By Monday, he had turned that $5,000 into $32,000 which meant they were able to fuel up the planes and stay in business for a few more days. Somehow, these few extra days made all the difference.

Not long after his desperate, but ultimately successful gambling trip, he was able to raise $11 million to really get his business going. A few years later FedEx turned its first profit and never looked back.

Today, FedEx’s worth is nearly $40 billion and Smith’s net worth sits in the billions as well. Talk about playing the long game.

4 – Child’s Play

Real money online poker has opened the door for nearly anyone to make a great deal of money. Even so, an eight-year-old cashing out nearly half a million dollars seems far-fetched.

In 2010, stories began circulating that said Aashish Nanak, an eight-year-old from India, won $500,000 in an online poker tournament.

His story was that of a genius who was first introduced to computers at age three, and presumably mastered them not long after that. Using his uncle’s account, he entered in a tournament that would change his young life forever…or would it?

Reportedly, the poker room he was playing in refused to pay out the winnings on the grounds that the boy wasn’t of legal age to be competing in the first place. Things got a little more complicated when it was revealed that he had previously collected money from the site, in smaller amounts, during previous playing sessions.

A legal battle ensued, and the poker site (which chooses to remain anonymous) blocked his account. Nearly a decade later than the case’s beginning in 2010, the outcome has never been stated publicly.

5 – A Charity Case

Gambling and charity typically don’t go together unless you’re talking about the local church festival. At least that was the case prior to Phil Laak’s unbelievable poker marathon.

Laak decided to try his hand at winning some money for the cancer research-supporting Camp Sunshine Charity by going for the record of “longest poker session in history.” His initial goal was to remain at the poker table at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for 80 hours.

Poker Player Phil Laak

After passing the 80-hour mark he had previously set he decided to keep on going for another 35 hours, finally cashing out after an unprecedented 115 hour run.

If you’re wondering how he made it that long, the answer is not caffeine or stimulants of any kind. He has said that his nutritionist is the one to thank, as his fitness carried him through until the end. Laak even took a short break to do 30 push-ups to win an additional $1,000 for the charity.

As for the most severe discomfort he felt during his run, he simply said his butt got a little itchy.

6 – The Negotiator

If there’s one thing that there’s no point in discussing, it’s the house rules at a casino. Or at least that’s what I thought before I read the story of Don Johnson’s run in 2011.

The first step in his plan was to find casinos with already favorable house rules. Meaning, he chose tables with the best number of decks, those that let him split any good hand into four, and specifically picking dealers who didn’t hit when their hand totaled 17 but also included an ace. Additionally, he only played tables where he could double his bet on any hand.

Gambler Don Johnson in Las Vegas

Johnson also used paybacks, or casino comps, to help fund his playing. He somehow negotiated an unprecedented 20% return if he lost. For example, if he won $100,000, he could keep it all. If he lost $100,000, he would get back $20,000.

Finally, he used his sales skills to get the casinos to allow him to bet up to $25,000 on a single hand, which usually wouldn’t help, but was beneficial given the parameters he had negotiated.

Fast forward six months, and he had collected $15 million from the three casinos which agreed to his terms. To this day he claims he can no longer play in Vegas or Atlantic City. With that being said, I think he’s doing alright.


These wins are proof that it doesn’t take a massive bankroll to win big. Though it is important to mention that these results are certainly not typical.

If you’re considering trying your hand at cashing in after reading these stories, please proceed with caution.