Here’s a short list of famous gamblers. It’s far from a complete list and few people have heard of everyone on the list. But I bet you’ve heard of some of them. We’ve included a short note about some of them.
- Archie Karas – Greek American gambler credited with winning over 40 million dollars and then losing it all.
- Amarillo Slim – Famous gambler and poker player from the 70’s.
- Billy Walters – Possibly the most successful sports bettor to ever live.
- Stanford Wong – Author of gambling books, mostly to do with blackjack. One of the most trusted blackjack authors.
- Stu Ungar – Considered one of the best poker players of all time.
- The MIT Blackjack Team – Famous for using card counting in blackjack to beat Vegas casinos out of millions of dollars.
- Kerry Packer – Possibly the most famous whale of all time. He gambled hundreds of millions of dollars on some casino trips.
- Doc Holliday – He’s more famous for his gunfighting ability, but was connected to many Faro games in his life.
- Wyatt Earp – Also more famous for other things than gambling, Earp owned Faro and other gambling games later in life.
- Nick the Greek Dandolos – Professional gambler and high roller. He was one of the earliest professional gamblers that were somewhat well known outside the gambling world. Died in 1966, depending on when you’re reading this, 50 or more years ago.
- Johnny Moss – A famous poker player who played in the WSOP in the 1970’s and beyond.
- Al Francesco – Though Francesco is one of the least known names on this list, he is considered by many as one of the founding fathers of advantage blackjack play. Ken Uston often gave him credit for much of his success.
- Ken Uston – One of the most successful card counters in the 70’s and beyond. Used a card counting system he developed and he ran teams of card counters.
- Tommy Hyland – A highly successful advantage casino player. One of the subjects interviewed in Munchkin’s book.
- Max Rubin – Member of the blackjack hall of fame.
- James Grosjean – One of the most famous advantage players, Grosjean has authored a couple high-end advantage playbooks and has been at the center of a couple lawsuits against casinos that have been instrumental in the rights of casino players. If you don’t know much about him and enjoy gambling in a land-based casino you might want to investigate what he’s accomplished.
Professional Poker Players
- Viktor Blom aka Islidur1 – made a name for himself by beating some of the top pros at high stakes poker on Full Tilt Poker
- Phil Ivey – Made a name for himself as a high stakes poker player but spent more time in the news for his legal battles over edge sorting in baccarat, and his involvement in the Full Tilt Poker scandal.
- Phil Hellmuth – Currently holds the record for total WSOP bracelets, has published a few poker books, and is nicknamed The Poker Brat.
- Patrik Antonius
- Brian Hastings
- T.J. Cloutier
- Chris Moneymaker – The player who won the WSOP title televised by ESPN that many credit with launching the poker boom in 2003.
- Daniel Negreanu – Nicknamed kid poker, Negreanu is one of the most popular poker players in the world today.
- Victoria Coren
- Mike “The Mouth” Matusow
- Ben Affleck
- Brad Garrett
- Charlie Sheen
- Dan Bilzerian
- Gladys Knight
- Matt Damon
- Ray Romano
- Paris Hilton
- Pamela Anderson
- Allen Iverson
- Phil Mickelson
- Tiger Woods
- Tobey Maguire
- Michael Phelps
- Frank Scoblete – Famous gambling author has had numerous books published including controversial subjects like dice control. He also helped design a unique card counting system.
- Doyle Brunson – Wrote one of the most famous poker books in history, Super System, and has won a number of WSOP bracelets.
- Dan Harrington – Poker author and WSOP main event winner.
- Edward Thorp – The author of the most famous card counting book, Beat the Dealer. Thorp added investments in the financial markets to his portfolio of things he’s mastered after his success at the blackjack tables.
- Peter Griffin – Blackjack author of one of the most popular blackjack books for medium and advanced players, the Theory of Blackjack.
- Arnold Snyder – Prolific blackjack author and player, is a member of the blackjack hall of fame and even developed his own card counting system for advantage blackjack play.
- Richard Munchkin – Author of Gambling Wizards. The book includes in-depth profiles and interviews with some of the most successful gamblers in the world. Most of his subjects are included on this page.
- Lawrence Revere – A blackjack author and the developer of card counting systems.
- Don Schlesinger – Blackjack author.
As more gambler profiles are added you can find them on this page. It would be easy to develop 1,000 or more profiles over time, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get that many done.
The gambling world is filled with colorful characters, some of the nicest men and women you’ll ever meet, and some of the worst crooks you can find. If you think about it this is much like any area of life, but there seems to be a mystery or draw that makes gamblers interesting.
Maybe it’s the illusion that gambling for a living would be a great way to enjoy life. From the outside, it sure looks like fun.
The truth is that very few professional gamblers have it easy. It takes as much or more work than most people do at their jobs to be a winning sports bettor, poker player, or advantage player.
What does a gambler have to do to become well known?
It’s fairly easy for poker players. All they have to do is win the World Series of Poker main event or a WPT event. Or even a series of tournaments that aren’t the Main Event. But what does a sports gambler have to do to gain fame? What about slots, video poker, or blackjack players? Getting elected into the Blackjack Hall of Fame should help, but most people don’t recognize most of the players who have been elected.
Probably the fastest way for a gambler to gain fame is by being arrested for cheating or something else.