Gambling wouldn’t nearly be as much as fun if people were confined to only making small and “responsible” bets. Sure, that may be the most prudent way to actually make money from gambling and to actually come home with that money, but it’s safe to say that the folks who truly love to gamble aren’t in it because it’s safe. This is why the high rollers exist. This is why there are countless stories of people who seem to put increasingly insane wagers down on things that seem as likely to happen as them getting struck by lightning twice in one day, but no one ever said that gambling was for the faint of heart, and some people certainly prove that courage can lead to cash. Unfortunately for them, all that courage can lead to a particularly bad beat.
The Tycoon Tosses For It
A wealthy media tycoon by the name of Kelly Packer became came into his money thanks to his keen business sense and possibly some degree of luck, but he became famous for one fateful wager that will always keep him in the hearts and minds of people from all over the world. After over to a fellow gambler and seeing the attention that the man was getting, Packer asked the man of his identity and he found out that he was a Texas oilman and a wealthy one at that, estimating that his net worth was around $100 million. In reply to the man identifying himself, Packer simply replied “Toss you for it”. It was Packer exhibiting what gambling courage truly is, however, the man simply went on his way and left the table.
A Fortune Lost
In one of the most stunning displays of gambling in recent history, Terrance Watanabe, infamously lost $127 million in one year gambling escapade in Las Vegas, Watanabe was a businessman, and logic would dictate that he understood perfectly just what he was doing, and whatever business sense he may have possessed apparently did not translate to gambling luck. Losing in excess of over $100 million is hard enough to pull off in the world of business, and even then it would certainly take more than a year to pull off.
The fact that he lost all that money so quickly is astonishing. The streak itself is incredible not just for the sheer length of it or for the amount of money lost in the process, but because the total amount that was gambled away amounted to the entirety of Watanabe’s fortune. It’s one thing to gamble away millions of dollars if they amount to a mere fraction of your overall wealth, but it’s another thing to lose that much money when it’s all you actually have. Watanabe may not have been successful, but he certainly was a high roller.
Desperation Deals a Lucky Hand
Desperation can do both horrible and amazing things to people, and in the case of Archie Karas, the latter more accurately represents the fate he was dealt when he was whittled down to the last few cents to his name. With virtually no money to his name, Karas, an ex-waiter, borrowed $10,000 from a friend in a last-ditch effort to effectively make something out nothing. He used the money to play poker at the Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas, and what happened next was something that not even Karas could have foreseen.
In one of the unlikeliest winning streaks to have ever been documented in gambling history, Karas would use the money to play against and defeat 15 of some of the world’s best gamblers. That feat alone would have required a bevy of rabbit’s feet just to pull off, but Karas even made the whole thing more improbable when he moved over to the craps table, and promptly kept reeling off win after win. At the end of the night, after all the bets and the winnings counted, Karas had ended up winning over $15 million in one night’s work. Not bad at all for a last resort.
With Life on the Line
Perhaps the greatest amount ever put forth in a wager was made by Captain Matthew Webb. Captain Webb already had a claim to fame by being the first person to swim across the English Channel once upon a time, but finding himself down on his luck he wagered that he could swim across the Niagara Falls for $10,000. Swimming the English Channel on its own, without the any aid of any sophisticated gear, is a feat worthy of great acclaim, but whatever wealth the captain may have gained from this exercise, was not present.
As impressive as his previous accomplishment may have been, the Niagara Falls is an entirely different entity from the one that he had already conquered. The rampaging waters of the waterfalls were significantly more difficult to navigate, and even for someone with as much experience dealing with the elements as Captain Webb, it all became too much to take on. The captain never did end up making it across the Niagara Falls, and perhaps the wager he placed on himself was too much for even him to cash in.
The act alone of placing a wager is already an act of courage unto itself, but to add more onto it by upping the stakes involved is what gives birth to the true high rollers.