Richest Gamblers in the World
A collection of the world richest gamblers. Those gamblers who really made it into the big league. Can you reach their levels of richness?
Not many people realize that some of the world’s wealthiest people amassed their staggering fortunes through gambling. From the pioneering mathematicians Edward O. Thorp and Bill Benter to the fierce sports better Billy Walters, these professional gamblers have been at the cutting edge of developing theories, software and ingenious strategies for manipulating games like poker and blackjack, as well as sports betting. Their legacies live on in the form of iconic books like Thorp’s Beat the Dealer and innovative software programs like Benter’s method for enhancing betting probabilities.
The following list showcases some of the wealthiest names in the gambling business, explaining where they came from and why we should be paying attention to them.
Edward O. Thorp – Pioneer in Blackjack Theory
Known as the “father of card counting”, Edward O. Thorp has amassed an impressive fortune of around $800 million through his pioneering work in the fields of probability theory and blackjack research. He was born in the city of Chicago in 1932, and actually worked as a mathematics professor for several years after receiving his doctorate in math from UCLA. Thorp cleverly used computer simulation methods in order to formulate an unprecedented blackjack strategy that would allow him to amass millions. The essence of his approach lay in card-counting schemes, which drastically improved players’ chances of winning a game of blackjack. Thorp played in casinos around the US, including Las Vegas, Lake Tahoe and Reno, and even published his own book called Beat the Dealer, which functions as a guide to his legendary card-counting method. Few millionaire gamblers can boast such diverse accomplishments.
Bill Benter – Billionaire Software Developer
Considered one of Edward O. Thorp’s protégés, Bill Benter is best known for developing the world’s most successful software for the horse racing market, allowing him to amass his fortune of around $1 billion. Rumor has it that Benter can rake in as much as $10 million in a single race day. Like Thorp, Benter is also considered a mathematics genius, although he completed a degree in physics rather than math. He spent his youth in Las Vegas perfecting his card-counting strategies at blackjack tables with the help of Thorp’s book Beat the Dealer, although he was eventually banned from several Vegas casinos. He thereafter moved to Hong Kong and it was here that he began working on improving betting probabilities for horse racing, leading to the development of his ingenious software design. Today Benter is better known as a philanthropist and does much work in the charity sector.
Billy Walters – the Fiercest Sports Better
Billy Walters has a very different background compared to gamblers like Bill Benter and Edward O. Thorp, having grown up in a poor area of Kentucky and been raised by his grandmother. Walters quickly followed in his father’s and uncle’s footsteps, both of whom were professional poker players, and is known to have placed his first bet by the age of 9. Today his net worth is estimated at around $200 million, while he is said to make around $15 million a year and up to $2 million in a single day. Walters doesn’t shy when it comes to placing sports bets, and is known for spending up to $3.5 million in a single go. His 30-year streak of luck led to him being banned from many Vegas casinos, and for a while Walters had to get others to bet for him. These substitutes included celebrities such as Ashton Kutcher and Bruce Willis. Walters was eventually found guilty of an insider trading scandal worth over $40 million, although his name will always live on in the world of professional gambling.
Zelijko Ranogajec – Wealthiest Gambler in Australia
Born in Australia, the billionaire Australian Zelijko Ranogajec’s unusual name derives from his Croatian immigrant parents. This hugely successful professional gambler is not only known for his blackjack and horse betting, but has managed to translate his gambling into a highly successful business. Ranogajec’s gambling career began during his early 20s, when he dropped out of university in order to take to Australia’s vibrant casino scene. He started playing mainly blackjack, although a prolonged streak of luck led to him being banned from many prominent casinos, forcing him to pursue horse betting instead. In the 1990s Ranogajec received a record win of $7.5 million from this. The gambling professional’s precise net worth remains unknown, and to date he has refused to talk about his career in interviews or expose any personal information. Nevertheless, rumor has it that Ranogajec has amassed well over $1 billion.
Phil Ivey – Champion Online Poker Player
Phil Ivey is known for being the youngest person in the world to have won 10 World Series of Poker bracelets, as well as for his incredible win of nearly $19 million from a single online poker game. Born in California, this poker champion was born for the game, having started playing five-card stud poker when he was just 8 years old. In his teenage years Ivey produced a fake ID card that allowed him to explore some of the biggest casinos in Atlantic City. By the age of 20 Ivey became pro, and he has since then amassed a modest yet impressive fortune of $23.1 million. To date he has won more poker tournaments than nearly anyone in the world, and is regarded as one of the world’s most successful poker players and one of the greatest online cash winners. In 2017 Ivey announced his plans to return to the game.