The world’s 5 richest gamblers
Gambling is a pastime that is enjoyed by many people all around the world. While for most of us it is simply something that we do as way to relax, for others it is a serious business that is a main source of income. For those people, it is a way of life.
With this being the case, it should come as no surprise that there are some seriously wealthy gamblers out there.
In this article, we will look at the world’s richest gamblers. We will also see exactly how they amassed their fortune and what else they have done with their winnings to increase their wealth.
1. Bill Benter | $1 billion ($100 million annually)
William (or Bill) Benter was born in Pennsylvania in 1957. At an early age, he showed a proclivity for mathematics and after just a few years completed a university degree in physics.
Using his skill in mathematics and physics, Bill decided to try and earn a profit quickly by playing a famous Vegas classic—blackjack. Within just seven years, Bill won so much by counting cards on the Las Vegas strip that he was banned from almost all major casinos in the city.
Soon after this, Bill met Alan Wood—another gambler who specialized in horse race betting. The two moved to Hong Kong and began working on analytical software that could predict the outcome of horse races.
The software that came out of this joint venture was years ahead of anything else on the market—gaining the pair a fortune. After the duo quit working together, Bill perfected a new model that is believed to be one of the best in existence.
All in all, Bill is said to have amassed a net worth of $1 billion and is said to earn an additional $100 million per year. Thankfully, he is generous with this money and gives it to various charities in the US and Hong Kong.
2. Edward O. Thorp | $800 million
Born in 1932 in Chicago, Illinois, Edward grew up to be a mathematics professor with a successful career in science and technology. This includes writing a thesis on Compact Linear Operations in Normed Spaces (1958). Not exactly bathroom reading.
Before moving on to helping build the world’s first wearable computer, however, Edward enjoyed a very lucrative career of playing online blackjack casino and baccarat. This was all thanks to his understanding of mathematics and the theory he developed to count cards in blackjack.
This theory, which he later published as a book titled Beat the Market, helped Edward gain a significant net worth. His book, which sold over 700,000 copies and became a New York Times bestseller, also helped boost this fortune.
After using his winnings to play on the stock market, Edward is today estimated to be worth around $800 million. Alongside this huge fortune, he is also a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame and will go down in history as a player who revolutionized the game.
3. Andrew Black | $670 million
Growing up in London, Andrew Black was born in 1963. He dropped out of university and stopped working to care for his brother until his untimely death. Eventually, he began working for a derivatives business while gambling in his spare time.
After realizing he was winning more and more by gambling, Andrew eventually quit his job to pursue gambling full-time. When he realized that the inconsistent income was not quite enough to sustain him, he launched a software company.
While playing a game of bridge with friends, Andrew met Edward Wray and showed him an algorithm he had devised to help determine winners in horse races. Wray was so impressed that he offered Andrew the capital to develop the program more.
A few years later, the duo launched Betfair—the biggest betting exchange in the world. The profits from this (and his occasional gambling) have skyrocketed Andrew’s net worth and he is currently estimated to be worth around $670 million.
4. Zeljko Ranogajec | $429 million
Born in 1961 in Tasmania, Australia, Zeljko showed an interest in mathematics, finance, and business whilst growing up. He eventually began studying these subjects at the University of Tasmania.
While studying, however, Zeljko started counting cards while playing online blackjack at casinos. Things were going so well for him that he soon dropped out of university to pursue full-time gambling.
Zeljko is famed for winning an alleged $7.5 million in a single game of Keno in New South Wales. He also made millions on horse racing and other gambling activities. By 2011, he was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame—and banned from almost all casinos in Australia and the United States.
While he was involved in various gambling enterprises from 2019 onward, today Zeljko is no longer affiliated with any sportsbooks or betting partners. Regardless, he is still said to be worth a staggering $429 million.
5. Billy Walters | $200 million
Billy Walters was born in Kentucky in 1946 and is hailed as one of the most successful sports betters in history—having a winning streak of over 30 years. This gambling career started when he was just nine years old and bet some of his paper route money on sports events.
By the time he turned 22, Billy is said to have already lost $50,000. However, his luck began to turn, and he raked in millions by playing roulette and other games in Vegas. He soon turned back to sports betting and joined the Computer Group, a sports betting company, in the 1980s.
Through this company, Billy began his 30-year winning streak and amassed a fortune by betting on sporting events. This led to a rumoured net worth of $200 million by the time he was jailed for insider trading in 2017. He eventually received a presidential pardon in 2020.
Although making a career out of gambling is certainly not a viable option for most people, the five pros above show that it certainly is possible. They beat the odds—pun fully intended—and attained unbelievable fortunes in the process.
Most professional gamblers, of course, are more likely to make much more modest living wages. And nowadays, especially during the era of COVID, many are doing so remotely without even leaving their house by playing online.
From conventional online casinos to Bitcoin casinos and other types of gambling websites, there are many ways to turn a hobby into a source of income—provided you have the necessary skills and know exactly what your limits are.
Story by Olivia Molcho