Think you can beat the odds? If you need a little inspiration, check out some of the most insane casino wins of everyday...and not-so-everyday...people. Then come to Grand Sierra Resort to try your luck. Maybe you’ll have a gambling story to tell, too…..
- Brainy win. MIT mathematics professor Ed Thorp took a giant step out of his comfort zone. In what he considered an “academic exercise,” he field-tested his blackjack algorithm. His consistent winnings quickly made him a pariah at casinos. Turning his talent to stocks, he focused on the securities markets. How much was his gamble worth? In 1998, Thorp reported his personal “investments” annualized a 20 percent rate of return averaged over 28.5 years.
- How to succeed in business. A 49-year-old Illinois business consultant put 10 dollars into a Megabucks machine. He hit the jackpot on the first spin, winning $21,346,952.22. That’s some high yielding consultant work. Where is this lucky man now? We’ll never know, as he wished to keep his identity secret.
- Pack light. Any seasoned traveler leaves space for souvenirs. William Lee Bergstrom (aka “Suitcase Man”) took this savvy travel advice to heart when he walked into a casino with two suitcases. The first suitcase held $777,000 cash (equivalent to about $2.26 million today), which he placed entirely on the Don’t Pass line at a craps table. What about the second suitcase? Though he showed up with it empty, he doubled his money on a single roll and stuffed that second suitcase with his winnings, leaving with $1.5 million
- More than luck. In 2011, a corporate executive and former racetrack manager from Bensalem, Penn., named Don Johnson took home about $15 million playing blackjack at three casinos. This card shark was not counting cards or relying on tricks to get his big casino win. Johnson just played his cards wisely and leveraged casino discounts and incentives.
- Can lightning strike twice? World War II vet Elmer Sherwin was 76 when he won a $4.6 million Megabucks jackpot in 1989. He remained loyal to the slots, still playing once or twice a week when he was not traveling the world on his winnings. After 16 years, he won a second jackpot for $2.1 million. What did he do with all that money? Sherwin gave a lot of it to charity, including to the victims of Hurricane Katrina.
- When winning isn’t everything. In a terrible twist of fate, Las Vegas cocktail waitress Cynthia Jay-Brennan set the record for a Megabucks jackpot in 2000. Though she had big plans for the $34.9 million she won, she was paralyzed in a car accident six weeks later after being struck by a drunk driver.
- What are the chances? Ever wonder what you would do with a big casino win? On March 21, 2003, a 25-year-old software engineer from Los Angeles found out. He topped out previous Megabucks winnings, earning $39.7 million. The odds at the time were one in 16.7 million.
- There’s always a first. Until Nov. 15, 1998, a Megabucks machine had never paid out more than $20 million in winnings. Then a 67-year-old retired flight attendant from Las Vegas mistakenly put in $300 instead of $100. Her mistake tipped the scales, rewarding her with a $27.5 million win.
- Not by bread alone. Stopping by to play on her way to breakfast one morning, 74-year-old Johanna Huendl of Covina, Calif., played $170 in a Megabucks slot machine. She struck it lucky when the granddaddy of multimillion-dollar progressive jackpots paid out $22.6 million. At the time (2002), her win was the third-largest slot machine jackpot ever.
- Twist of fate. Though Archie Karas had some ups and downs, there’s a reason why this legendary poker player is still remembered. After a $ 2 million high-stakes poker loss, he borrowed $10,000 from a friend. He proceeded to win against the world’s top poker players and then turned to craps for a total win of $17 million on that streak.
What does it take to win? Ask any one of these big winners, and you’ll get a different story. What we do know is that you have to show up to win. Could you be next? Find out at GSR. With on-site amenities like fine dining, world-class entertainment, and luxury spa facilities, it’s actually pretty hard to lose!