The phrase “the house always wins” has always been the unwritten rule for gamblers. But some players have transcended this limitation repeatedly and gone on to make a fortune out of placing bets.
Here’s a list of some professional players who have made a living out of gambling. The list is diverse, as you’ll discover some winnings were gained via sports betting, horse racing, baccarat and many others.
10. Haralabos Voulgaris (sports betting)
When it comes to sports betting, especially in the NBA, Voulgaris is an honorary mention. Better known as Bob, Voulgaris inherited the love for gambling from his father. Bob started betting after high school. He had followed his father down to Las Vegas, where he perfected his skills watching professional bettors at sportsbooks. According to rumors, Bob staked his life savings on the Lakers to win the NBA finals in 2000. He also engaged in several spells at the poker table. His net worth is estimated to be between $500,000 and $2 million.
9. Patrick Antonius (poker)
For Patrick, getting the tables right with his unreadable gaze has earned him the nickname “Cold-blooded Killer.” He started his ride to glory in 2005 when he won $1,046,470 in the Five Diamond WPN NL Hold ’em Tournament. He still moved higher, hitting a cash prize of $3,151,734 at the Super High Roller Bowl China NL Hold ’em Tournament in 2018.
He has gone on to win multiple games and has an impressive net worth of $4 million.
8. Jonathan Duhamel (poker)
This professional poker player from Canada has multiple WSOP bracelets to his name. Jonathan’s highest career win is his victory at the 2010 World Series main event for poker, winning $8,944,310. He holds the record as the first Canadian to win the title. His current net worth is about $32 million.
At the 2011 WSOP, he won more than $40,000 in cash prizes and won the High Roller Event for the European Poker Tour. As a philanthropist, Jonathan has donated more than $100,000 to the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
7. Howard Lederer (poker)
Howard is a professional poker player with two WSOP bracelets and two World Poker Tours in his belt. He has been in eight World Poker appearances, amassing a net worth of $60 million. Together with fellow players Chris Ferguson and Ray Bitar, he co-founded Tiltware, Inc., the company responsible for establishing the Full Tilt Poker online gambling site.
Interestingly, Howard did not start out playing poker. He was more interested in chess at a younger age. However, he switched to poker when he got to New York, and as they say, the rest is history. The pro gambler has served as a commentator on many poker tournaments, co-authored many books on poker and served as a Poker Players’ Alliance board member for five years.
6. Doyle Brunson (poker)
Doyle has played poker professionally for 50 years and has 10 WSOP bracelets to his name, winning four consecutively. He also holds the record for winning $1 million playing poker. He started out playing basketball in a pro league, but a knee injury put an end to his dreams of making it to the NBA. He then looked to poker to pay his medical bills.
After winning more than a month’s salary on a table session, Doyle decided to quit his job and went into poker full-time. At 85, he retired in 2018 and even won $43,963 in his last game. He’s currently worth $75 million.
5. Chris Ferguson (poker)
Like many professional poker players, Chris Ferguson began playing poker in childhood. He won his first-ever World Series in 1995 after competing in many tournaments. Chris goes by the nickname ‘Jesus’ and is well-known for his calm demeanor and calculating nature when playing, practicing with computer simulations he designed.
He currently holds five WSOP bracelets, winning the first one at age 14. Chris is famous for his custom style of throwing cards quick and brisk, as though he’s using them to slice through fruits. He is worth a whopping $80 million.
4. Phil Ivey (poker)
It seems as though poker is the game to play to rake in the big bucks. In reality, poker is largely a game of skill, and this allows expert players the chance to get ahead, as opposed to casino games that are highly dependent on chance. American-born Phil is the richest among the poker professional gamblers playing in a casino. He has a total of over $100 million to his name.
At the age of 38, Phil broke the record for the youngest to win 10 WSOP bracelets and is a World Poker Tour champion with eight successful World Poker series outings. Phil has often been nicknamed the “Tiger Woods of Poker,” winning more than $15 million in live tournaments.
3. Billy Walters (sports betting)
Billy is one of the top gamblers with a grass-to-grace tale. This American makes about $15 million placing bets on sports events like basketball and football. He founded a computer group in 1980, which analyzed sports outcomes to help bettors.
Billy is so successful in betting that he had to employ workers to place wagers on his behalf at one time. All the bets he places are huge, between $3 million to $5 million on average. He once served a five-year jail term for insider trading, but he was pardoned by former US President Donald Trump. His net worth is rumored to be around $200 million.
2. Edward Thorp (blackjack, baccarat)
Edward is often referred to as the godfather of casino card games and has a vast fortune to show for it. Basing his trade on mainly blackjack and baccarat, he has gone on to author several books, including Beat the Dealer, which is regarded as the bible for card counting.
Edward is worth $800 million and has many achievements, including being inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.
1. Zeljko Ranogajec (blackjack, horse racing)
Zeljko is one of the wealthiest gamblers in the world, with a personal fortune of over $1 billion. He started out playing blackjack, using just $600 to gather his wealth. With his personalized style of playing and winning, he has been banned from almost all the casinos he has played at.
He also dabbled in horse racing, wagering high amounts with the aid of his mathematical geniuses in his “Punters Syndicate.” Ranogajec is a private personality, and his estimated net worth only came to light when the government decided to investigate his tax returns.