The Most Famous Gamblers in History

The Most Famous Gamblers in History

Humans have been gambling in one form or another for thousands of years. Including everything from gladiator fights to political elections, the range of betting opportunities are often as hilarious as they are bizarre. Given that the industry is such a broad church, this begs the question: who has made their way as history’s most famous, and what did they do to accomplish this notoriety?

Of course, we’re going to have to turn back the clock a bit here: from the Wild West to the groovy sixties, famous faces have been playing hands and pulling their best poker faces for centuries. Furthermore, the popular pastime of online gambling has proved itself to be just as legendary, evolving in many ways over the years, with each change more innovative than the last. For example, the industry has leapt from one technological marker to another quite drastically over the last decade and is now very much accessible to everyone.

However, what we’re interested to know is this: who has numbered among the most famous players to try their hand on the felt?

Not Shaken, Not Stirred

Sean Connery is incredibly famous for being what many people would consider the quintessential Bond. What most people don’t know about him, however, is that he made a name for himself as one of the luckiest gamblers in recent history.

Back in 1963, Connery found himself gambling in a casino within the Italian Alps. Placing a bet on 17, Connery spun and lost. Repeating the same bet, he lost again. The next three bets, however – all on 17, were dead on the money. With odds around 50,000/1, this made Connery notorious at the table, on top of his Bond antics. Good luck to any other Bond trying to match Connery’s stature, both at the casino and on the big screen.

Anyone who plays modern online slots or casino games will know that they run on a mechanism called a random number generator. Each game is given a percentage, known as the return to player or RTP, which is a statistic that shows the amount of a players bets will likely be returned to them over extended play. As well as choosing themes that appeal to them, most people factor in the RTP when choosing a slot – we wonder if Connery was aware of his chances before he laid down his money.

Forget the Burger King

John Montagu played the part of a British statesman and royal. With a long and mixed career in politics and the military, Montagu eventually found his name applied to several islands discovered by Captain James Cook. His most famous feat, however, came from the gambling table.

As the story goes, Montagu was a big fan of gambling, but he hated being interrupted when he had to eat. To combat this cumbersome problem, he is reported to have come up with the idea of placing meat between two pieces of bread. Easy to hold, and easy to eat, this famous food would eventually take a name from his title. As you probably guessed at this point, his title was the Earl of Sandwich. True or not, it makes an incredible story.

Dead Man’s Door

‘Wild’ Bill Hickok made a name for himself in the 1800s as a folk hero of the American Old West. A man of many talents, Bill made his living as an actor, gunfighter, spy, scout, lawman, wagon master, and, among other things, a gambler. If he was around today, his variety of talents might have made him a great YouTuber, albeit of the curmudgeonly old man variety.

Having made many enemies in his life, Wild Bill only liked to gamble if he could do so while seated in a position that let him see the door. One day, he relaxed these rules, playing the odds for one last time. Bill was shot and killed via a single bullet. His hand – two black aces and two black eights – is still known to this very day as a dead man’s hand.

As a pick for the top three, how do you think we did?

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