A lookback of the biggest ever win in poker, and some of the biggest losses

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“Casino gambling is colorful and dramatic and theatrical.” A quote from business and casino associate Steve Wynn. Gambling is a gateway to chance, delirium and dejection. Win, and you find yourself in dreamland but lose, and it could be catastrophic.
But let’s be honest, bet what you can afford and it’s harmless. Most of us have had at least one bet in the past year. In fact, in the UK in the past, over £7,060,112,026 has been gambled in casinos, whereas avid gamblers have scooped £877,483,786 in winnings, a leeway of just 12%.
On average, £166 a year per a household, is spent on gambling. Most of which is on casino games where the average gamblers tries to win big on something like the progressive jackpot at Europalace rather than skilled games such as poker or blackjack. Many players will chuck minimal amounts in to qualify for sign up offers and bet using that to see if it is there time to win big, but of course some decide to bet big. Australian Media tycoon Kerry Packer was an avid gambler who lost nearly £25million in less than one year, including £19million in a three week period.

Though of course, some punters have got much, much more lucky than Packer did. The biggest poker win ever recorded came in the 2006 World Series of Poker. The total prize pool was a staggering $82,512,162. The top winner, Jamie Gold won a total of $12,000,000. Gold, an American television player and talent agent maintained an extraordinary chip lead from day four of the tournament, outlasting no less than 8,772 fellow gamblers in the process. He defeated professional poker player Paul Wisicka heads-up to earn himself the grand fortune.

Astonishingly, that mega win is still considerably less than what several individuals have gambled, and in turn, lost. On the dark side of gambling, businessman Terrance Watanabe’s losing streak depleted his entire fortune, that he spent more than two decades fortifying. His downfall began in 2007 when he spent the entire year gambling, his Las Vegas binge cost him almost $127million. Unsurprisingly, the mass loss is said to be of one the biggest losing streaks by an individual that Vegas has ever seen.

The second largest win in World Poker came in 2010, the 41st annual series. 22-year-old Canadian Jonathan Duhamel scooped the most prize money, bagging himself almost $9,000,000. Duhamel is one of the youngest ever winners of the World Poker Series, just one year senior of the youngest ever winner, Joe Cada.


A story from rags to riches is perhaps one of the most admirable gambling stories. Greek waiter Archie Karas was penniless when a friend very generously borrowed him $10,000 to play poker. The game took place at the infamous Binion’s Horseshoe, home to casino capital Las Vegas. Unbelievably, Karas’ friend genoristy paid dividens as the former waiter went on to beat not only one, but 15 of the world’s best poker players. Not content with his winnings, he moved onto the craps tables and his winning streak continued. Once he had finished, he had pocketed almost $17,000,000!

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