Gambling certainly doesn’t lack in crazy stories. From all-in bets to huge losses, life-changing prizes and everything in-between, the collection of wild casino tales is quite long. Would you bet your life savings on a single roll of the dice? Then how about hitting on incredibly long odds to win a massive prize? And what about losing $10 million in a single night? These crazy stories are now part of the casino lore, and many others will likely come in the future.
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William Lee Bergstrom’s Legendary Gamble
Betting your life on something shouldn’t be taken literally. That’s what common sense would dictate, at least. It wasn’t the case for William Lee Bergstrom. A real estate dealer from Austin, Texas, the man went down in gambling history after placing what is arguably the riskiest bet ever.
On September 24, 1980, he decided to go for the ultimate all-in bet. Bergstrom entered Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in downtown Las Vegas carrying two suitcases. One was empty, reserved for his winnings. The other contained $777,000 in cash. And then things got really wild. Bergstrom risked all of his money, down to the very last cent, on a single craps bet – which he won. The new millionaire walked out of the casino carrying two suitcases full of cash.
Bergstrom was never heard of again until March 24, 1984. The legendary gambler returned to place a $538,000 craps bet – which he naturally won. Eight months later, on November 16, Bergstrom made another appearance and placed a $1 million Don’t Pass the Line bet. This time, however, his winning streak came to an end. Despite the massive loss, he still had around $600,000 left in savings.
Bergstrom revealed that he had acutally borrowed most of the money for his first bet, and planned on committing suicide had he lost. Since he won, Bergstrom spent most of his life travelling around the world. In the end, he did end up taking his own life in 1985, but the reason behind it was a romantic breakup.
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Golden Arms and the Longest Craps Roll in Casino History
Golden Arm is a term used in craps to describe a player who has rolled the dice for one hour without losing. It all started at California Hotel and Casino in 1989, when Stanley Fujitake went on for three hours and six minutes without sevening out. Fujitake rolled the dice an impressive 118 times, setting the world record for the longest craps roll ever. His feat kept drawing in more people to his table. At the end of his impressive streak, the casino had lost well over $1 million. Funnily enough, Fujitake won a relatively small sum compared to some of the other bettors – $30,000. In 1992, California Hotel and Casino established the Golden Arm club to honor Fujitake’s achievement.
The record stood for two decades, until Patricia DeMauro completely smashed it. On May 23, 2009, DeMauro entered Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa in New Jersey with $100 to bet on craps. Four hours, 18 minutes, 154 rolls and 25 passes later, the gambling grandma set the new world record for the longest craps roll. The odds of completing these many rolls without sevening out are one in 1.56 trillion. DeMauro and Borgata casino declined to disclose the values. It’s fair to assume that her winnings were at least in the six-figures, and possibly in the seven-figure range.
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The Gambler’s Curse?
Also part of the casino lore, the gambler’s curse has made quite a few victims over the years.
Michael Carroll is usually considered the most famous of the UK lottery. A 19-year old working part-time as a binman, Carroll won a £9,736,131 prize in 2002. He generously gave away £3 million to his close relatives, but promised to be careful with spending the remaining £6 million. The lottery winner quickly became a tabloid mainstay, spending his money on wild parties, drugs, cars and jewellery. Eight years later, Carroll found himself completely broke. The one-time millionaire now works as a coal delivery man. Does he regret it? No – in fact, he is actually happy at how things played out. In his own words, “money really is the root of all evil”.
Now back to casinos, one famous case involves Akio Kashiwagi. A real estate investor from Tokyo, Kashiwagi’s life was involved in mystery. While never disclosing his fortune, Kashiwagi claimed to have a $100 million yearly income and a few billion dollars in assets. And he was also a big-time gambler. Kashiwagi loved baccarat, and would often wager $200,000 per hand. In 1990, he found a worthy rival in Donald Trump. After a baccarat showdown that dragged on for a few days, Kashiwagi lost $10 million.
In the end, he left with the Trump Plaza Hotel and Casino in Atlantic City with $4 million in debt. Trump threatened legal action, but Kashiwagi never really had a chance to clear his debts. Two years later, on January 3, 1992, the Japanese real estate tycoon was murdered inside his mansion near Mount Fuji. Kashiwagi was stabbed 150 times with a katana, and the case was never solved. Evidence points out that the billionaire had ties with the Yakuza, and his mysterious murder likely had something to do with his shady dealings. These two cases will definitely send some chills down the spine of superstitious players.