7 Gamblers Who Went Nuts After Losing

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Nobody is happy after a losing gambling session. But most people are at least able to keep their cool after blowing their bankroll.

Unfortunately, other gamblers are sore losers. In fact, some players have gone downright nuts after losing a significant amount of money at casinos in the US.

From lawsuits to murder, certain gamblers now live in infamy due to their actions after losing. Below, you can read about seven people who refused to accept their losses.

1 – Jack McCall

Gambler Jack McCallJack McCall was a buffalo hunter in the Wild West during the late 1800s. He eventually made his way to a gold mining camp outside of Deadwood, South Dakota.

On August 1st, 1876, McCall got extremely drunk at Nuttal and Mann’s saloon in Deadwood. He proceeded to lose a large amount of money to “Wild Bill” Hickok in poker.

Wild Bill was a gentleman about the matter and offered to both loan McCall money and buy him breakfast. McCall begrudgingly accepted, but he was also insulted by the offer.

The same poker game raged on the next day, this time, without McCall. Hickok normally sat with his back to the wall so that he could better protect himself against enemies.

On this day, though, he couldn’t get such a seat. McCall took advantage by walking up and shooting Wild Bill in the back of the head. Hickok died instantly. McCall, meanwhile, made a drunken and unsuccessful getaway attempt.

He was apprehended and tried for murder at the mining camp. McCall argued that he was justified in his actions, because Wild Bill allegedly killed his brother in Kansas. The jury believed him and found him not guilty.

Many associated with the matter were critical of the decision. Some questioned the validity of the mining camp court as well. Nevertheless, McCall was a free man for a while. He was arrested again in Wyoming after bragging about murdering Wild Bill.

Such a retrial would normally be considered double jeopardy. However, Wyoming authorities argued that Deadwood wasn’t officially part of the US court system.

McCall was brought to a federal courtroom in Yankton for a retrial. This time, he was found guilty of murder and hanged three months later at age 24.

2 – Safa Abdulla Al Geabury

Safa Abdulla Al GeaburySafa Al Geabury became notable for his Islamic art collection, which was valued at $1 billion. His clout earned him a large marker at the Ritz Club in 2014.

Al Geabury proceeded to lose £2.2 million in one session at the prestigious London casino. Markers are supposed to work like credit, where gamblers repay any potential losses.

However, Al Geabury simply decided that he wasn’t going to pay. He argued that the Ritz took advantage of his gambling problem and he wasn’t responsible for the losses.

The problem for the Swiss businessman, though, is that he previously signed documents stating that his gambling problem was under control.

The Ritz Club used these documents to win over Justice Simler. The judge also felt that Al Geabury contradicted his own story too many times.

At this point, it seems like the case should’ve been closed and Al Geabury would pay his debt. Only, he still refused to cover the market.

Justice Simler ordered Al Geabury to return to the London courtroom and finish the matter. But the sore loser claimed that he couldn’t afford the trip from Switzerland to the UK.

Simler finally had enough and charged Al Geabury with contempt of court. The latter ended up being sentenced to almost one year in jail as a result.

3 – Terrance Watanabe

Terrance WatanabeTerrance Watanabe made a fortune as the CEO of Oriental Trading. He took over in 1977 and built it to a company that was making hundreds of millions of dollars each year.

In 2000, Watanabe decided to retire and sell his controlling stake in Oriental Trading. Up until this point, the Japanese-American businessman had been completely focused on his company.

Now armed with several hundred million dollars, he decided to start enjoying life. For Watanabe, this enjoyment all began in the casino. He stayed for weeks on end at various Las Vegas casino resorts. Watanabe indulged in everything from illegal drugs to casino games during his visits.

Unlike many high rollers, he didn’t discriminate on what kind of games he played. Watanabe was even willing to play high-stakes slot machines and keno, which both have really high house edges.

He didn’t fare too well on the gambling floor. He lost $120 million dollars in 2017 alone. Watanabe soon blew through the fortune that he earned as head of Oriental Trading. His problems came to a head when he was sued by Caesars Palace for writing $14.75 million in bad checks.

He fought back with a countersuit that blamed Caesars for letting him use drugs on their property. The Nevada Gaming Commission hit the casino with a $225,000 after hearing the allegations.

However, this fine didn’t absolve Watanabe of his debts. He still had to settle out of court with Caesars for an undisclosed amount.

4 – Brad Booth

Brad BoothBrad Booth was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the mid-2000s poker boom. “Yukon” Brad made a fortune in live and also real money online poker.

He also became famous for playing on the TV show High Stakes Poker. His comeuppance was quite notable when considering that he spent years grinding in the remote Yukon Territory.

Booth’s career hit a major roadblock, though, when he was part of the Ultimate Bet cheating scandal. He estimates being cheated out of $2 million by UB consultant Russ Hamilton throughout the mid-2000s.

The losses didn’t end here, though. No longer confident in his game, Booth proceeded to lose another $4 million. He blamed the scandal for causing him to question his skills at every step of the way. Unfortunately, he’d never get any retribution for the cheating incident.

Booth eventually began launching online attacks against Phil Hellmuth, who was once a prominent UB-sponsored player. Yukon Brad claimed that Hellmuth knew more about the scandal than he led on.

Eventually, though, Booth ran into more troubles of his own and had to stop focusing on the past. He was outed by Doug Polk after failing to repay $28,000 from a cash-for-online funds swap.

Booth still grinds in low-stakes cash games in Vegas. However, his reputation is largely ruined as a result of not repaying Polk.

5 – Harry Kakavas

Harry KakavasHarry Kakavas was once a highly successful Australian real estate developer. He amassed millions of dollars by developing homes on Australia’s Gold Coast.

Rather than using these profits to further his business, Kakavas began gambling large amounts of money at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. He wagered an estimated $1.5 billion and lost $20.5 million of this amount during his gambling heyday.

Kakavas chose not to pay up and instead launched a lawsuit. He claimed that the Crown Casino had taken advantage of his gambling addiction.

Kakavas cited the lavish comps that the Crown offered to keep him coming back. For example, they’d send a private jet to pick him up.

The High Court ruled that casinos have no duty to “protect gamblers from themselves.” The court also noted that Kakavas was by no means a special case in terms of compulsive gambling.

6 – Erick Lindgren

Erick LindgrenErick “E-Dog” Lindgren started out with a very successful poker career. He began winning major tournaments just before the boom years (2003-06), including a $1 million prize in the 2002 WPT Partypoker Million III cruise.

The wins kept rolling in for Lindgren. He eventually landed a lucrative sponsorship deal with Full Tilt Poker that reportedly paid him $300,000 per month.

Beneath all of his success, though, was a festering sports betting problem. Lindgren bet and lost millions of dollars on sports. He was able to handle these losses when the Full Tilt checks were rolling in. However, he eventually lost this sponsorship deal after Black Friday (Apr. 15, 2011).

Things quickly spiraled out of control for Lindgren from here. By November 2012, he admittedly couldn’t repay his sports betting debts and entered rehab.

He was also dealing with a lawsuit involving a $4 million loan from Full Tilt. According to Howard Lederer, a former board member of the poker site, he accidentally loaned Lindgren $4 million instead of $2 million.

E-Dog refused to pay, or couldn’t pay, the money back. His inaction and refusal to answer texts regarding the matter prompted the lawsuit.

Lindgren finally filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in 2015. He had less than $50k in assets while owing over $10 million to various creditors.

7 – Stu Ungar

Stu UngarStu Ungar is perhaps the greatest gambler who ever lived. He dominated gin rummy to the point where he couldn’t find a single person willing to take him on in a straight-up game.

“The Kid” instead had to offer major handicaps to draw opponents. For example, he would play each hand from the unfavorable dealer position just to get action.

Ungar transitioned to poker in 1977 following his inability to find decent rummy games. Just a few years later, he won back-to-back WSOP Main Event titles in 1980 and 1981.

Unfortunately, Ungar began using cocaine around this same time. He initially used it to help power through long poker sessions. However, his cocaine usage eventually became a lifelong habit. The Kid also began losing lots of money with sports betting.

He spent most of the 1990s making losing sports wagers and spiraling out of control. Ungar got a break, though, when Billy Baxter staked him in the 1997 WSOP Main Event.

He’d go on to win the 1997 Main Event along with a $1 million prize. He split half of the money with Baxter. Sadly, Ungar went back to his old ways by abusing drugs and losing money through sports betting. He died just one year later due to a heart attack brought on by years of cocaine abuse.


Most of the gamblers on this list were very successful people at one time. Some even managed to conquer gambling itself and win millions of dollars in the process.

Unfortunately, each person discussed here also went mad when they suffered major gambling losses. Jack McCall even resorted to murder after his losing poker session to “Wild” Bill Hickok.

Luckily, nobody else on this list killed anybody. But they did do other shady things, from not paying up to heavily abusing drugs.

Terrance Watanabe and Harry Kakavas both launched lawsuits when they lost. They each tried claiming that the casinos in question took advantage of them. Neither successfully proved their argument and were forced to pay whatever they could as a result.

Despite owning an expensive art collection, Safa Abdulla Al Geabury just flat out refused to pay a large market to the Ritz Club. Al Geabury was stubborn to the point where he spent 10 months in jail on contempt of court charges.

Brad Booth and Erick Lindgren were both highly skilled poker players. However, each lost money to the point where they could no longer pay back backers and creditors. Stu Ungar is the most tragic tale on this list. The three-time WSOP Main Event champ could never kick his sports betting and cocaine habits. The latter eventually cost him his life.

The seven gamblers covered here are definitely among the most famous to lose their wits. Sadly, they won’t be the last.