Legendary Gamblers List

Contrary to what movies may portray, gamblers aren’t greasy felons running drug cartels from their penthouse suites in private hotel rooms.  Case in point, here are respected gamblers who fly straight.

They’re smooth operators, never sweating when pressure mounts.  You’ll notice they’re reserved, but not distant; talkative, yet not too revealing.  Highly respected gamblers who’ve made their name in worldwide casinos earned said respect by valuing the games they played.  The preceding list of gamblers command as much respect away from their tables as they do when they’re cleaning your pockets.

John Aspinall

British zoo owner, gambling magnate and renowned bookmaker all wrapped into one Delhi-born UK citizen – that’s John Aspinall written into one sentence.  Targeting affluent British businessmen and politicians, Aspinall was known for sending flashy invitations to his gaming realm.

Buying his dilapidated mansion outside Canterbury, an amazing Howler and collecting rhinos amongst other exotic items were often activities you’d find John engaged in when not dabbling with his Clermont Club in London’s Mayfair.  Although unsuccessful, Aspinall ran for Parliament in 1997, three years before his death.  According to New York Times archives, the master of British gambling tables had thirty friends, of which 15 were animals.

Fyodor Dostoevsky

Anyone gambler blessed with the ability to write masterful literature about gambling, and who nails every chapter, deserves respect amongst gambler’s royalty.  So what – he only authored two of the finest books ever – The Brothers Karamazov and Crime and Punishment.

In fact, he finished the latter novel in two days simply so his publisher would advance him money to settle his gambling debts.  Many of his later novels revolved around the psyche of gambling addicts, although traditional poker was Fyodor’s weapon of choice.  Finally, his intriguing book accurately titled ‘The Gambler’ outlines Dostoevsky’s addiction to roulette.

Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo

Failing miserably in record production, Gonzalo devoted what little money and his remaining years remained to revealing bias in roulette.  Known for swinging 5% house odds back into 15% player favor, Spain was Gonzalo’s stomping grounds.  His tenure lasted for nearly two decades, until the local casinos were catching on to his abilities to count cards.  Involving his children to enumerate his statistics, he retired with a paltry $1.5M, although he’ll always be adored for revealing the roulette wheel aberrations often overlooked.

MIT Blackjack Team

Citizens worldwide respect MIT for growing bright young minds into global thought leaders, programmers and engineers.  Would your perception change if told 4 MIT students statistically took down several casinos, raking in $5M over a short span? Using mockups and computerized models, they were able to raid their first casino with roughly $100,000 and walk away with quadruple that in profits.

Even after students left and new teams formed, they continued the tradition started by the first team although evidence isn’t clear whether they’re still operating today.  Even several brushes with law enforcement, trips to Europe and changing guises didn’t deter this savvy young group of casino players.

Edward Thorp

The godfather of card counting.  That pretty much summarizes Thorp’s 1960’s dominant tenure in casino play, although he initially knew nothing about casino games up to that point.  Upon getting blackjack pointers from close friend Claude Shannon, Thorp was instantly addicted to the world of cards.

After systematically studying frequency of cards played, Thorp and Shannon traveled to casinos everywhere, often coming back with $70,000 or more in present-day currency.  His book, “Beat the Dealer”, depicts his ten count system in candid detail; he was quite successful in stock markets and raked in millions through hedge funds by apply his mathematical ingenuities.

Tommy Glenn Carmichael

When your mind isn’t mathematically inclined, you turn to engineering.  Tommy Carmichael, who invented more phenomenal slot cheating equipment than he won in cards, isn’t your quintessential gambling hero.  Having been arrested numerous times, being involved with FBI probes and bilking casinos for thousands in free tokens, you’d probably consider him nefarious. He’s respected for doing what others failed to accomplish – trip slot machines.  Conversely, he’s an inventor of anti-cheating devices these days and helps casinos spot signs of slot machine malarkey.

Casino heroes earn their stripes by rising above house odds, whether they’re unscrupulous throughout the process or not.  People talk about today’s Texas Hold ‘Em champs because the purses are larger; however, never forget those who amassed fortunes working the tables when house odds were nearly bulletproof.

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