7 Times Ordinary Gamblers Won Big in the Casino

Pile of Cash and Megabucks Logo With Casino Background

Many people have won big in casinos over the years. However, the same winners are often high rollers or advantage gamblers.

The average person doesn’t have the bankroll to play high stakes. They also don’t possess the skills to earn consistent money like the pros.

Nevertheless, ordinary people can still win big in casinos. Below, you can read about 7 everyday gamblers who toppled the house.

1 – Patricia Demauro

Patricia Demauro holds the record for the most craps rolls without sevening out. In 2009, she performed 154 straight rolls before finally rolling a seven.

No, Demauro isn’t a expert in playing craps who claims to hold the secret to dice control. Instead, she’s a novice gambler who rarely visits casinos.

On that fortunate day in 2009, she we went to the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa with her friend, John Capra. Demauro’s original plan was to play slots while Capra played poker, but she eventually got tired of spinning the reels.

Having only played craps once in her life, Demauro wanted Capra to show her the finer points of the game. Little did she know, she’d set a record-breaking streak in the process.

After Demauro took the dice, she proceeded to roll them again and again. A crowd gathered as she continued producing rolls without crapping out.

The odds of surviving 154 straight rolls without producing a seven are just 1 in 156 trillion. She achieved the impossible while earning herself several hundred thousand dollars in estimated winnings.

2 – Jon Heywood

John Heywood is a former British soldier who lays claim to one of the biggest real money online slots jackpots ever. He won £13.2 million pounds through Microgaming’s Mega Moolah slot in 2015.

At the time, Heywood had just finished a military tour in Afghanistan. Upon returning home, he worked a minimum-wage job and played online slots on the side.

The Brit didn’t have a very large bankroll to play with. In fact, he deposited just £30 before earning what was, at the time, a record-breaking payout.

Wagering just 25p per spin, John triggered Mega Moolah’s bonus round. Then, he defied the odds to earn the “Mega Jackpot” and etch his name in slots lore.

Screenshot of Mega Moolah Slot

Heywood initially thought that his payout was worth £10,000. However, he eventually came to realize that it was actually worth millions of pounds.

Rather than running out and looking for his dream home, Heywood waited until the money was officially his. He continued working has minimum-wage gig until Microgaming deposited the funds into his account.

Since the huge payout, Heywood has paid for his father’s extensive medical expenses and started a home renovation business.

3 – Cynthia Jay-Brennan

In 2000, Cynthia Jay-Brennan won the second-largest slots jackpot in history. She booked a $34.9 million win at the Desert Inn Casino.

A former Las Vegas cocktail waitress, Jay-Brennan was playing IGT’s famed Megabucks slot machine. She quickly landed three Megabucks symbols in the single payline and earned a life-changing amount.

Unfortunately, this payout would prove life-changing in more ways than one. A drunk driver rear-ended Jay-Brennan’s car when she and her sister were driving around Las Vegas.

Her sister died at the scene of the accident. Cynthia survived, but she was paralyzed from the neck down.

Clark Morse, the perpetrator, was a habitual drunk driver who had numerous DUIs on his record. He fled the scene only to be later found sleeping on his mother’s couch.

A Clark County Judge finally put Morse behind bars for life. However, justice didn’t come soon enough for the Jay-Brennans.

4 – Kevin Ripski

Caribbean stud may not be the first game gamblers think of when envisioning seven-figure wins. However, Kevin Ripski proved that this game too can offer serious money.

The Ontario, Canada native visited the Venetian Las Vegas in 2018. He began playing Caribbean stud and making $5 side bets in hopes of winning the Sands Millionaire Progressive jackpot.

Fortune smiled upon him as he received a royal flush. The natural royal netted the Canadian a $1,114,079 jackpot.

Ripski certainly doesn’t use the best strategy for the game. He plays “blind,” meaning he doesn’t look at his hand before betting.

“I let the dealer flip over my cards, so it’s a surprise at the end of the hand,” he said.

While Ripski doesn’t use optimal Caribbean stud strategy, he does the important thing by ensuring he qualifies for the jackpot.

“I always play the bonus bet for the very reason if you hit it and are not playing the bonus, you will regret it for the rest of your life.”

5 – Johanna Huendl

In 2002, Johanna Huendl was on her way to the breakfast buffet at Bally’s Casino Las Vegas. She suddenly got the whim to play a Megabucks machine before eating.

This whim would turn into a life-changing payout. Huendl hit the Megabucks jackpot and collected $22,621,230.

The Vienna, Austria native became motivated to play after seeing another person win a $3,000 payout. Soon thereafter, she’d celebrate a much-bigger prize.

Double Diamond Megabucks Slot Machine

“I looked away from the machine for a moment and when I looked back, the three Megabucks logos had lined up on the payline. I couldn’t believe my eyes!” Huendl exclaimed.

She initially thought that the payout was worth $2 million. Huendl was even more elated after seeing that it was actually worth $22.6 million.

She came to the United States via Austria as a young bride in 1956. The American planned to use a portion of the winnings to visit her native country.

6 – Soraya Lowell

Britain’s Soraya Lowell won a record-breaking bingo payout in 2008. Playing at the Club 3000 bingo hall in Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, she scooped a £1,167,795 payout.

The mother-of-four attended the bingo hall with her neighbor, Agnes O’Neill. She shared the win with O’Neill due to a prearranged pact.

Despite keeping six figures, Lowell stayed at her minimum-wage cleaning job. She simply couldn’t decide what to do with the money and wanted to continue working.

“It’s easy to say what you’re going to do with the money before you win it. But in reality it’s very tough,” Soraya explained at the time.

“I haven’t got the slightest idea what to do with it. I had bought a car just before I won, so I don’t need a new one and I love my house and my neighbors so moving is out of the question.”

Lowell professed to loving her job and not being in a hurry to quit. She also noted that she really liked her coworkers.

Unfortunately, Soraya ran into trouble with tax collectors in 2012. Her local council took her to court over £13,214 in unpaid taxes.

She and her husband also faced bankruptcy after falling behind on their mortgage payments. They had to forfeit a £150,000 home to the Bank of Scotland.

O’Neill didn’t fare any better following her windfall. The 68-year-old passed away in her sleep just two months after collecting her share of the winnings.

7 – Elmer Sherwin

The odds of winning a seven-figure slots jackpot are extremely low to begin with. Therefore, Elmer Sherwin is a rare breed when considering that he won IGT’s Megabucks Jackpot twice.

He’s actually the only person in the game’s history to accomplish this feat. This fact makes sense when considering that the odds of hitting the Megabucks jackpot are just 1 in 50 million.

Sherwin had played casino games ever since he was old enough to enter a gambling establishment. However, he never won much until reaching his sixties.

Retired, he and his wife travelled the United States in a mobile home. They stopped in Las Vegas to visit family and play casino games in 1989.

During this stay, Sherwin began taking $100 a week to Vegas casinos. Despite having such a small weekly bankroll, Elmer struck gold when he hit a $21.2 million prize on Megabucks.

He already defied the 1 in 50 million odds of winning Megabucks top prize once. However, Sherwin did the unthinkable by hitting the big one again.

He collected a $4.6 million payout at Vegas’ Cannery Casino & Hotel in 2005. Elmer was motivated by history more than anything during the second run.

“I wasn’t after the money. I was after the prestige of hitting it twice,” he explained. “Cause I knew no one has done it. Lotteries and things, yeah, but not the Megabucks.”


Everybody dreams of going to the casino and winning a life-changing sum of money. However, the vast majority of players never see this dream come to fruition.

The seven gamblers discussed here achieved the near-impossible and got rich through gambling. Some even managed to hold onto their money afterward and live a life of luxury.

Of course, you should never walk into the casino expecting to leave a millionaire. But if you dream of getting rich through gambling, you can look to these stories for inspiration.