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Top Amazing Stories in Gambling History - PokerNews.com

Do You Know ALL The Most Amazing Stories in Gambling History?

During the course of any activity in which people attempt to win, from sports matches to spelling bees, the path to victory can often veer toward the improbable.

During the course of any activity in which people attempt to win, from sports matches to spelling bees, the path to victory can often veer toward the improbable.

A ragtag group of college hockey players, for example, defeating the powerhouse Soviet squad in the 1980 Olympic Games in what was dubbed the “Miracle on Ice.” Upstart politician Harry S. Truman winning the Presidential election in 1948, even after the Chicago Tribune infamously declared “Dewey Defeats Truman” in a premature headline. Colonial revolutionaries taking on the full might of the British Empire and emerging as an independent nation in 1776.

The Moneymaker Fairy Tale

Human history has indeed been defined by those who defied the odds, and the world of gambling is no exception. When a mild-mannered accountant by the name of Chris Moneymaker sat down to play in his first live tournament back in 2003, even he considered himself to be “dead money”. After all, the event was poker’s premier tournament – the World Series of Poker Main Event –and Moneymaker was competing against the game’s greatest players.

By now the world knows how Moneymaker’s story played out, as the man with a name even Hollywood wouldn’t believe went on the run of a lifetime en route to capturing poker’s most prestigious title.

Along the way, the amateur managed to send two-time former champ Johnny Chan to the rail, before ousting poker superstar Phil Ivey just short of the final table. When it was all said and done, Moneymaker defeated longtime pro Sammy Farha to complete poker’s preeminent Cinderella story – earning a $2.5 million return on his $86 satellite tournament investment.

Moneymaker’s historic win was practically unthinkable at the time, or in the words of WSOP broadcaster, it was utterly “inconceivable!” This milestone moment for the gambling industry inspired millions of new players to take up the game, after Moneymaker proved in fine fashion that poker can be the everyman’s platform to pursue excellence against experts.

From Las Vegas To Hurricane Katrina

Casinos have long provided the perfect venue for improbable stories of triumph. With players taking a shot at overcoming long odds, and the rewards for winning offering the tantalizing prospect of a life changed in an instant, casinos have been home to several of these inspirational stories throughout the years.

Top Amazing Stories in Gambling History - Cleveland.com
Credit Image / Image Source: Cleveland.com

Back in November of 1989, gaming industry titan Steve Wynn proudly opened his latest venture and The Mirage became the first new addition to the Las Vegas Strip in nearly 20 years. Surrounded by the spectacle of The Mirage’s opening night festivities, a 76-year old retiree and World War II veteran by the name of Elmer Sherwin sat down for a spell and played the slots.

Just 10 hours after the casino opened its doors, Sherwin watched as the Megabucks machine he was playing lined up in the perfect order: three Megabucks symbols in a row. When it did, Sherwin instantly claimed a $4.6 million jackpot, becoming a Sin City celebrity in the process.

Sherwin wasn’t finished though, and he continued to play slot machines a few times a week for the next 16 years. Lady Luck shined on Sherwin a second time in 2005, and at the age of 92 he hit his second Megabucks jackpot – this one coming at The Cannery in North Las Vegas.

The jackpot had accumulated over time, however, and Sherwin’s second big win amounted to an astounding $21.1 million. Recognizing that his good fortune had arrived late in his own life, Sherwin decided to give much of the winnings away, donating to several charitable causes, including efforts to aid victims who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina that same year.

What A Terrible Distraction!

The Megabucks brand of slot machines also gave rise to one of gambling’s most amazing stories of misfortune in 2001. Playing in Wendover, Nevada, a man named Kirk Tolman sat and watched as his machine lined up three Megabucks symbols in a row – good for a jackpot payout of $7.96 million. Unfortunately for Tolman, he had been distracted for just a moment before pulling the lever, playing only two coins instead of the three needed to be eligible for the jackpot.

Although he did take home $10,000 for the feat, Tolman undoubtedly felt the sting of what might have been for years to come.

The World’s Longest Consecutive Roll

Top Amazing Stories in Gambling History - Wikimedia.com
Credit Image / Image Source: Wikimedia.com

Extraordinary feats can occur anywhere on the casino floor, and the craps table has often provided the perfect setting for truly miraculous runs. When grandmother and gambling novice Patricia Demauro took the dice in her hands at Atlantic City hotspot the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in 2009, what happened next defied all logic and the laws of probability. Demauro, playing craps for only the second time in her life, rolled an eight to set the point number. After that, she rolled the dice 153 more times without crapping out, setting a world-record for the longest consecutive roll at four hours and 18 minutes.

Statistical experts pegged the odds of Demauro’s streak at approximately 1 in 1.56 trillion, making her run at the craps table one of the more improbable events to ever take place. Considering that the odds of being struck by lightning are only 1 in 1 million, and the chances of winning a major lottery like Powerball are 1 in 100 million, what Demauro managed to accomplish on that night will always stand among the annals of gambling history.

While the stories of Moneymaker, Sherwin, and Demauro are indeed outliers, collectively they show that anything is possible when playing your favorite casino games. Blackjack fans dream of that elusive perfect shoe, one which delivers faces on their double downs every time, while always dooming the dealer to bust.

For roulette players, the prospect of picking the exact number a few times in a row is enough to keep them spinning the wheel. Baccarat aficionados hope the banker bet comes in a winner for the duration of their session.

When it comes to gambling and games of chance, part of the appeal for casual players and professionals alike is hoping against hope, and knowing that the incredible is never impossible.

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