For most players, Casino games are games of chance, but for others, it is a game of skill. If players edge over the house is so big that they make millions they become gambling legends. We made a list of biggest names in Casino gambling and mysterious winners. If you have any suggestions or ideas on Casino legend’s that you’d like us to write please submit them by visiting our contact us section and sending us an e-mail. We’ll do our best to review your suggestions and have our writers put up an article or series of Casino legend articles in relation to your request.
Edward O. Thorp
The inventor of card counting Edward O. Thorp was born in Chicago, year 1932. He finished a PhD in mathematics from UCLA and worked as a math professor from 1959 till 1977. Thorp was the first to use computer simulation to develop a blackjack strategy with the help of an IBM 704 and devised card-counting schemes to improve players’ odds. He put his calculations to the test in casinos in Reno, Lake Tahoe and Las Vegas, and verified his theory. Having piqued other players’ interest, he wrote “Beat the Dealer” which is considered the first and ultimate guide to card counting used by both amateur and professional players.
While teaching at MIT, Thorp continued his fascination with using mathematics to crack the secrets of gambling. He spent hours observing the various games, and he noted one element that stood above all the others. In a game such as roulette, each spin was independent of one another, which meant that the odds were the same regardless of when or where it was played. Blackjack, however, had odds that varied, as cards being dealt from a deck altered the probability for future hands (at least until the deck was reshuffled).
Around this time, Thorp read an article about blackjack strategy in a statistical journal. This further fanned the flames of interest, and he decided to take his wife on a trip to Las Vegas. While the couple enjoyed modest success at the blackjack table, Thorp left convinced that a perfect system of play existed. All it required was someone to come along and discover it.
To help in his initial efforts, Thorp used two main tools. The first was an IBM 704 computer, which Thorp was able to operate after learning a computer language known as FORTRAN. The second was the Kelly’s criterion, a formula developed in 1956 by J.L. Kelly, Jr. to determine the ideal size of a series of wagers.
As his research intensified, he brought fellow mathematician Claude Shannon on board. Claude and his wife would accompany the Thorps on trips to Vegas, and this led the two men to create the first pocket-sized computer for the purpose of advantage play (which is now illegal under modern-day casino rules).
At the time, a deck of cards wasn't reshuffled after every hand, so it was much easier to keep track of which cards had been played and which remained. This was a major factor in helping Thorp create his system, and casinos later adopted a policy of shuffling after every hand in order to combat would-be card counters.
Following careful research and analysis, Thorp created several strategies that he felt provided the player with a stronger chance of winning. His favorite was known as the 10 Count System
He’s a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame and has developed the “Thorp count” method for backgammon and formed a baccarat syndicate as well. In the 1960s, Thorp started using his knowledge on probability and statistics in the stock market, and he also developed and applied effective hedge fund techniques in the financial markets, making a fortune that is estimated at $800 million.
Phil Ivey is an American professional poker player who has a net worth of $100 million. Phil Ivey was born in Riverside, California, in 1976. His family moved to Roselle, New Jersey when he was just a baby. Phil Ivey is an eight-time winner of the World Series of Poker and has also won the World Poker Tour title. Ivey first became interested in online poker while working at a telemarketing firm in New Jersey. He would play with his co-workers during breaks and after work.
To date, Phil has earned over $19,500,000 in live tournaments. Ivey has won bracelets in the 2002 World Series of Poker, the Pot Limit Omaha, and was in the top 25 in the WSOP Main Event. He beat out 147 players to win his sixth bracelet at the $2500 No-Limit Draw Lowball Event in 2009. He then won the $2500 in the ½ Seven Card Hi-Lo 1/2 Omaha Hi/Lo Competition. In 2010, he took his eighth bracelet at the $3000 H.O.R.S.E. Event. His luck disappeared for a while, and he lost several times at the World Poker Tour, but later ended up with the first prize of $1,596,100 at the L.A. Poker Classic at the Commerce Casino.
He later moved on to the European Poker Masters, making it to the final table and winning the seventh place with a cash prize of $12,538. He has also appeared on the NBC television show, Poker after Dark, where he walked away with $120,000, at the Winner Take’s All "Earphones Please" Tournament but was defeated by Don Cheadle in the "National Heads-Up Poker Championship." He has also appeared on GSN's High Stakes Poker. He played against Andy Beal, (a Texas Billionaire) in Limit Texas Hold'em, teaming up with other players that took turns playing against Andy Beal. They are a team of professional poker players, known as "The Group." After three days, Ivey won over $16 million. Ivey had a contract with the design team of “Full Tilt Poker” and filed a lawsuit claiming that they had breached that contract. Ivey wanted out of his contract and a settlement of $150,000,000 but later withdrew his complaint.
Phil Ivey is a big fan of NBA's Houston Rockets and L.A. Lakers, as well as the NFL's Buffalo Bills. But cheering on his favorites teams is only one of Ivey's hobbies. He also likes to partake in golf. He finished third in the inaugural World Series of Golf. He also enjoys video games, and making a few side bets, in his spare time. He has been known as "The Tiger Woods of Poker," as well as, "No Home Jerome," which was given to him in the early years of his poker playing.
Ivey also has a charitable side, with generous donations to Empowered to Excel, (for underprivileged children,) and as co-founder, (with his mother, Pamela Simmons,) of the Budding Ivey Foundation. This foundation is in memory of his grandfather, Leonard (Bud) Simmons, and was created to give underprivileged children a chance at a good education. Ivey is also involved in programs that help feed the homeless.
Daniel Negreanu is a very accomplished poker player who has won two World Poker Tour championships and six World Series of Poker bracelets. Negreanu has brought home nearly 30 million dollars from various games and tournaments he has competed in, making him number one on Canada's All-Time Money List. Negreanu was recently inducted into the Poker Hall Of Fame of Las Vegas in November 2014 for his long list of accomplishments. He continues to impress us at the tables, and it's obvious that he still has a long career ahead of him.
Early Life: Daniel Negreanu was born on July 26th, 1974. in Toronto, Canada. Daniel Negreanu's parents, Annie and Constantin, immigrated to Canada from Romania in hopes of providing a better life for their children. In high school, Negreanu excelled at mathematics and that helped him to become a better poker player later in life.
When Negreanu was a teenager, he would spend a great deal of time at the local pool halls, playing pool, poker and other various card games. He was known as quite the hustler, taking bets on various sporting events as well.
Negreanu dropped out of high school towards the end of his senior year to start playing poker full-time in local charity casinos. After building up a decent bankroll before his 21st birthday, he headed off to Las Vegas to pursue his dream of becoming a professional poker player. Unfortunately, Negreanu didn't know how to manage his bankroll properly and before he knew it, he was broke and could barely afford to make it back home to Toronto.
Poker Career: He was determined to be the best, dedicating hundreds of hours to studying strategies and playing in various casinos in Canada and the United States. In 1997, he cashed in at three different tournaments, including two games at the World Poker Finals, winning over $50,000. Negreanu was named the best all-around player at Foxwood's World Poker Open for his overall performance.
The following year, upon Negreanu's twenty-third birthday, his career took off. He won the $2,000 Pot Limit Hold'em event at the World Series of Poker, setting the record as the youngest player ever to win a WSOP bracelet. Fans everywhere called him, "Kid Poker." Many people thought it was a fluke, but Negreanu proved them wrong as he now has earned an incredible six WSOP bracelets.
Negreanu arguably had the best year of his poker career in 2004, having landed eleven money finishes at major tournaments, two WPT titles, and his third World Series of Poker bracelet. His total winnings that year were nearly 4.5 million dollars. Due to his accomplishments that year, he was deemed World Series of Poker Player of the Year and Card Player Magazine Player of the Year.
Fans finally started taking notice of this young poker phenomenon, and his fan base grew even larger when PokerStars began to endorse him in 2007. PokerStars is the largest online poker site in the world, and to this day Negreanu is still one of the primary faces that represent the company.
Negreanu regularly plays the "Big Game" in Bobby's Room of the Bellagio casino, Las Vegas, where the limits are $400/$800 or higher. He would tell anyone that the most important strategy he uses during these games is to analyze what hands his opponents play and how talented they are at playing them.
2013. was another fantastic year for Negreanu, as he added two more gold bracelets to his collection and landed money finishes in nearly all of the tournaments he competed in. He was named the 2013 WSOP Player of the Year, the 2013 Bluff Player of the Year, and the 2013 Card Player Magazine Player of the Year in tribute to his success that year.
His most recent accomplishments were taking second place in the 2014. Big One for One Drop tournament, collecting a staggering 8.2 million dollar grand prize and for taking fourth in the Aussie Millions Poker Championship for an additional 1.1 million dollars.
When asked by Bluff Magazine to comment on his thriving poker career, Negreanu replied, "I live by a motto that's pretty simple: don't do anything stupid. I think a lot of pros try to do too much and they're not having enough faith in their system. A lot of guys try to make something happen when it's not necessary. I don't give up. I don't get paranoid or stressed out, I just play."
Tom Dwan's poker career started when he was just 17 years old while playing under the screen-name "Durrrr." He has since gone on to win millions of dollars from competing in various online tournaments, particularly ones that focus on Pot Limit Omaha and No Limit Hold'em.
In addition to playing online, Dwan also has cashed-in at several different World Series of Poker events, although he hasn't won a WSOP bracelet yet. This young, energetic player is a fearless risk-taker who has well-developed strategies and natural talent. We expect to see even more great things from him in the future.
Thomas Dwan Jr. was born July 30th, 1986. in Edison, New Jersey. Dwan began playing online at Paradise Poker using the $50 that his father had given him for his 17th birthday. Dwan started competing in $6 sit-and-go tournaments, and after four months he had accumulated over $15,000.
He was attending Boston University, but he dropped out after one year to focus on playing poker professionally. Dwan was passionate about competing in live tournaments after playing against his friends at college, but until he turned twenty-one, he was limited to tournaments outside of the United States.
At age 19, Dwan finished 12th in the €3,000 No Limit Texas Hold'em Main Event of the European Poker Tour and won $12,000 in prize money. His next significant cash-in was at the 2007 World Poker No Limit Hold'em Championship Event, where he finished 4th and won over $320,000.
In 2008, Dwan made two World Series of Poker final tables, cashing out at over $110,000 and that same year he won an additional $226,000 at the Borgata Winter Open.
While travelling the world to compete in various tournaments, Dwan still excelled at online poker. Soon after opening an account at Full Tilt Poker, Dwan joined six different $100/$200 no-limit tables at the same time and proceeded to win $200,000 in less than an hour. He eventually started playing against the most established online poker players in the world including Phil Ivey, Patrik Antonius and Viktor Blom.
Confident in his skills, Dwan issued a $1,000,000 online challenge open to anyone to play against him for 50,000 hands of No-Limit hold'em or Pot-Limit Omaha. If his opponent was ahead after the hands had been completed, Dwan agreed to give them $1,500,000, but if Dwan were ahead, he would get $500,000.
No one has accepted this particular challenge, but many skilled players wanted to try to beat him because of it. Viktor "Isildur1" Blom challenged Dwan to a week-long online competition of No-Limit Hold'em cash games which resulted in a devastating blow to Blom's career, as he lost almost $5 million.
Luckily the next year, Dwan was able to redeem himself when he finished 2nd at the 2010 WSOP $1,500 No Limit Hold 'em event, winning over $380,000. Dwan also cashed in three different times at the 2011 WSOP, with the most impressive being a 5th place finish in the $10,000 H.O.R.S.E. Championship.
His lifetime tournament winnings surpass $2 million with a good portion of that coming from the WSOP final tables. However, Dwan has yet to win a World Series of Poker bracelet. Below is a diagram showing Dwan's five best achievements at the WSOP events.