Unbelievable Gambling Records from Around the World

casino sign with trophy and pokerchips

Throughout history, humanity’s fascination with records has shown our innate drive to push against boundaries and achieve what was once thought impossible—even crazy. The Wright Brothers were viewed as absolute nutters in 1903 for attempting to fly, but who got the last laugh? They did, and because of them, we are able to jet off without thinking twice. And this quest for extraordinary achievements isn’t limited to getting airborne—from athletics to technology, people want to push further. This of course extends into the realm of gambling. In the casino world, records are just numbers; they are tales (sometimes unbelievable ones) of remarkable luck, exceptional skill, and chance.

The magnetism of gambling records is a rare combo of factors—unlike other fields where records might be broken through incremental improvements or technological advancements, the majority of gambling records happen in an instant. Monumental wins can also be proof of strategy, persistence, and a moment in time where the stars and planets align perfectly. The appeal is amplified by the dramatic nature of gambling—where millions can be won or lost at the roll of a dice, the spin of a wheel, or the flip of a card—making these records a wondrous spectacle to behold in terms of human effort and the foibles of fate.

We thought it would be fun to go over some of the most unbelievable gambling records from around the world, where bettors have defied the odds stacked against them and etched their names into the history books of gaming!

casino sign with 8 ball, poker chip and playing card

Largest Single Win at a Casino

The record of the largest single win at a casino to date belongs to Christina, a 36-year-old cleaner from Berlin, who made headlines when she won an astounding €90,000,000 (approximately £79,002,400 or $105,121,000) through Lottoland Limited, a company based in Gibraltar. This event, which took place on June 1, 2018, is recorded in the Guinness Book of World Records as the largest online gambling payout ever.

Lottoland operates as part of the Lottoland Group, which includes entities like EU Lotto Limited, and it’s a betting platform where customers can wager on the outcomes of lotteries around the world—instead of playing the lotto themselves.

Christina’s record-breaking win not only changed her life but also underscored the growing popularity and impact of betting on the lottery outcomes as opposed to buying lottery tickets and holding your breath for the numbers to be announced. Her winnings show that there is the possibility for life-changing big money wins in online gambling—it also solidified Lottoland’s position in the international betting market!

stack of poker chips

Largest Winning Streak

The record for the largest single win at a casino is as awe-inspiring as it gets. Allow us to introduce you to a man by the name of Archie Karas, whose story has become the stuff of gambling lore.

Archie Karas, a Greek-American gambler, went on an epic winning streak in the early 1990s. He turned a $50 loan into a jaw-dropping $40 million fortune over the course of a few years. But it was one particular run that secured his place in the gambling history books.

In 1992, Karas touched down in Las Vegas, virtually broke, and headed straight to the famous Binion’s Horseshoe Casino, where he began his legendary winning streak at a poker table. Karas didn’t just win; he absolutely dominated, taking on some of the world’s best poker players and coming out on top over and over again.

But wait! It wasn’t only poker where Karas showed off his gambling prowess—he also dabbled in craps and blackjack, where he continued to demonstrate his capacity to win.

Karas’s winning streak reached its zenith when he turned $10,000 into a $40 million payday in a matter of months. His feat remains unmatched in the world of gambling, which is proof of both skill and a heaping serving of lady luck.

His incredible winning streak is a well-documented story in the world of gambling—his exploits have been widely covered in various gambling-related media, books, and documentaries over the years.

One notable source is the book “The Biggest Game in Town” by Al Alvarez, which gives a detailed account of Karas’s legendary run at the poker tables in Las Vegas.

While the exact details and figures do change slightly depending on the source, Archie Karas’s remarkable gambling journey is pretty consistent across the board.

Despite his monumental success, Karas’s story also serves as a cautionary tale—his insatiable appetite for risk eventually led to his downfall, and he ended up losing the entirety of his fortune in a series of high-stakes games and not-so-smart ventures.

Still, Archie Karas’s record-breaking run at the casino stands as a monument to the possibilities that exist within the world of gambling, where fortune indeed favors the bold and the boundaries of possibility are always being challenged.

a pair of aces with a poker chip

Longest Poker Game Ever Played

Ok, so this isn’t exactly in the Guinness Book of World Records, but it’s too good to ignore, even if it is an exaggeration. We did a little digging, and legend has it that the longest-recorded poker game in history took place in the basement of the Bird Cage Theatre in Tombstone, Arizona, way back in the late 1800s. The game supposedly went on for eight years (this is not a typo; it is years), five months, and three days, cementing it as an epic card game in the gambling mythos.

And the participants in this marathon poker are even wilder than the marathon session itself! The table was filled with a motley crew of Old West gamblers, cowboys, miners, and a host of other colorful characters who were regulars at the Bird Cage Theatre. Legend has it that there were famous names like Doc Holliday, Wyatt Earp, and Bat Masterson—how scandalous!

What made this poker game even more remarkable was not just the length but the dynamics that emerged over time. As the days turned into weeks and then years, the stakes grew, and tensions ran even higher. Friendships were built and broken, alliances formed and betrayed, all against the backdrop of the wild Old West.

The players came and went (obviously, no one can sit at a table for eight years), but a core group of die-hard gamblers remained committed to seeing the game through to a conclusion. The marathon sessions went into the early hours of the morning, fueled by whiskey, cigars, and stubborn determination.

A few years into it, the Bird Cage Theatre poker game began to draw in spectators and gamblers from far and wide who came to witness the spectacle and try their luck at this table.

As legend has it, this game finally came to an end when one of the players reportedly stood up from the table and simply said, “I’m leaving. I’m tired of this game.” With that, the longest poker game in history ended, which is anticlimactic if you ask us.

slot machine jackpot

Biggest Slot Machine Jackpot

The biggest slot machine jackpot ever recorded was a staggering $39.7 million, won by a 25-year-old software engineer from Los Angeles in March 2003 at the Excalibur Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas. The payout came from the Megabucks slot machine after the winner, who wanted to remain anonymous, wagered $100. No wonder slots are one of the most popular casino games.

The impact of such a big win on his life was pretty profound, and while the specifics about the long-term effects are not publicly detailed due to his choice to stay out of the limelight, it’s been reported that l changes included plans for financial management and investments, as well as helping his family. Large jackpot winners usually make big life changes, like managing their new financial windfall amidst public and personal expectations and handling the sudden change in their financial circumstances.

This historic jackpot not only changed the life of the winner but also continued to feed into the narrative, appeal, and mystery surrounding Las Vegas’s rep as a place where fortunes can be made in a single moment.

hand holding poker chip

Highest Number of Wins in a Row

One of the most notable records for the highest number of consecutive wins in gambling belongs to an American professional gambler named William “Billy” Walters, who reportedly won 30 consecutive sports bets in the late 1980s. This streak is considered super rare and statistically improbable given the variables involved in sports betting.

In the context of casino gambling, the odds of winning consecutive bets can vary significantly depending on the game. For example, in a game like blackjack played with basic strategy, the odds of winning a single hand can be roughly 42%-44%. The probability of winning consecutive hands decreases exponentially with each additional win. Winning 10 hands in a row, for instance, would be around 0.01%, an unheard of occurrence that shows the challenge and luck involved in such a feat.

In roulette, the odds of winning multiple consecutive bets on a single number (which pays 35:1) are even more astronomical—the likelihood of hitting the same number five times in a row is about 1 in 69 million in European roulette. This underscores the extreme improbability and rarity of getting a lot of consecutive wins in gambling.


Largest Bingo Payout

The largest bingo win in history happened in December 2012 when John Orchard from Long Sutton, Lincolnshire, UK, won an incredible £5.9 million (approximately $9 million USD). John, a 60-year-old job center worker, was playing an online bingo game on the Butlers Bingo website when he hit the jackpot.

The game was a progressive jackpot, which accumulates until someone wins it by getting a full house within a specific number of ball calls. On that fateful day, John wagered only 30p and managed to hit the jackpot, turning his small bet into a life-changing sum of money. The win was not only notable because of its size but also because it broke records for the largest bingo payout ever at the time.

John Orchard’s win drastically altered his life; he reportedly quit his job immediately following the win and planned to treat his family to some of the finer things in life, which he couldn’t afford before. He also stated his intentions to buy a new car and go on a luxury holiday with his entire family. This historic bingo win remains one of the bigger moments in the world of online gambling, highlighting the potential for staggeringly large payouts from pretty small stakes.

dollar bill and two poker chips

Most Money Lost in a Single Day

One of the most consequential records of the most money lost by a gambler in a single day is held by a Japanese real estate magnate named Akio Kashiwagi. During a high-stakes gambling session in Atlantic City in 1990, Kashiwagi lost an astonishing $10 million at the baccarat tables. Ouch! This incident is notable not only for the sheer amount of money lost but also for the context and consequences surrounding it.

Kashiwagi was known for his “warrior” approach to gambling—he would bet $200,000 per hand at the baccarat table. His gambling sessions were characterized by massive swings in fortune, sometimes winning or losing millions within a few days. The psychological toll of such high-stakes gambling cannot be understated. There would be a ton of stress, anxiety, and a compulsive need to chase any losses, which only exacerbates the financial impact.

The financial implications of losing such large sums in such a short period can be devastating. For Kashiwagi, who was reputed to have a fortune built on a shaky foundation of real estate speculation, these losses were weighty. It’s said that his gambling losses impacted his business dealings and personal wealth considerably.

This unfortunate story serves as a cautionary tale about the potential dark side of gambling at such high stakes. It is a warning about the risks of compulsive gambling behaviors, where the excitement of the game in the moment can very well lead to decisions that have profound personal and financial consequences.


Most Popular Casino for Record Wins

The Bellagio Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas is frequently recognized as a locale for some of the most memorable jackpot wins in casino history, particularly because of its high-profile slot and table game payouts. The Bellagio and other popular Las Vegas casinos like the MGM Grand and the Mirage are part of the Megabucks network—known for producing massive jackpots.

The Bellagio’s popularity as a ‘lucky’ casino can be attributed to several factors:

  • High Traffic Volume: Being one of the most famous and visually striking casinos on the Las Vegas Strip, the Bellagio attracts a large number of gamblers. This high volume increases the frequency of playing games, thereby increasing the chances of a jackpot win.
  • High Roller Appeal: The casino is known for its high-limit slots and table games, which draw in high rollers. The stakes are higher, which means payouts can be more substantial.
  • Megabucks Participation: As part of the state-wide Megabucks network, the slot machines at the Bellagio contribute to and benefit from the enormous progressive jackpots accumulated across many casinos.

These factors combined make the Bellagio a primo spot for those looking to win big, adding to its appeal and its rep as a lucky casino for both casual and serious gamblers.

Unique Gambling Records

The world of gambling has also seen its fair share of quirky records. Here are some that are certainly unusual!

pair of dice icon

Longest Marathon Playing a Board Game (Casino)

In August 2016, Phil Laak set a record for the longest time spent playing poker at a casino. He played continuously at the Bellagio in Las Vegas for 115 hours, far surpassing the previous record of 72 hours. This record not only shows endurance but also a love for the game, and it captured the attention of the poker community worldwide.

internet poker icon

Most Players in an Internet Poker Room

On September 6, 2009, PokerStars set a record with 307,016 players participating in 42,814 tournaments within a 24-hour period. This record highlights the massive popularity and reach of online poker and how technology has expanded the accessibility and scale of gambling.

blackjack table

Largest Functioning Blackjack Table

On October 13, 2013, the Viejas Casino in California unveiled the largest functioning blackjack table ever recorded. Measuring over 2,226 square feet and accommodating more than 70 players at once, this record calls attention to not only the love for blackjack but also the creativity and promotional ingenuity of casinos to draw in players by offering novel and memorable gambling experiences.

roulette table icon

Largest Operating Roulette Wheel

 The record for the largest roulette wheel is held by the Casino Du Liban in Lebanon. Unveiled in 2017, this gigantic roulette wheel measures an impressive 8.75 meters in diameter. Positioned on the ceiling of the casino and fully operational, it adds an extraordinary visual element to the gambling experience—a nice mix of “oooh, look at that” and gaming.

stack of poker chips icon

Most Expensive Poker Set

The world’s most expensive poker set, handcrafted by Geoffrey Parker of London, features some of the most luxurious materials known to man. Valued at around $7.5 million, the set includes 18-karat white gold chips encrusted with precious stones like diamonds, rubies, and sapphires, with each chip representing different denominations. This record not only speaks to the over-the-top opulence that can be associated with gambling but also changes a simple poker game into a super bougie experience.

hand holding playing cards icon

Most Extensive Collection of Playing Cards

Another unique record is held by Liu Fuchang of China, who, as of 2012, amassed an incredible collection of 11,087 different sets of playing cards. This record doesn’t just speak to a deep love for card games but also illustrates the variety and artistic creativity found in playing card designs across the world. Fuchang’s collection includes everything from traditional designs to novelty decks, showcasing the rich history and cultural diversity of playing cards.

These records show the lighter, more creative side of the gambling world, where the excitement of gameplay meets the fun of eccentric and collective human activities beyond just winning and losing money!

Conclusion: Unveiling the Marvels of Gambling

Holy cow, these are some incredible and surreal records, aren’t they? Imagine pulling the lever on a slot machine and winning a fortune or playing in a poker game that lasts for eight years. Not eight days—eight YEARS. Gambling records are proof positive that the intersection of fate, fortune, and the basic drive of humans to test their luck has been around for a long time and won’t change anytime soon. Gambling has been around since the dawn of time—human beings have always tested the limits of luck and a desire to beat the odds, which is inherently ingrained in betting culture.

These incredible records serve as a reminder to reflect on the nature of luck and chance, bringing to mind questions about why people chase these extreme outcomes and what these kinds of pursuits say about human nature and our relationship with risk and reward.

Considering this, one might wonder: Is our attraction to gambling driven by the desire to test our own limits of luck and control over chance, or is it the temptation and hope of quick fortune and the spectacle that comes with these rare wins? Tell us how you see your interactions with gambling after reading these truly incredible stories!

Alyssa Waller Avatar
Alyssa Waller

Alyssa contributes sportsbook/online casino reviews, but she also stays on top of any industry news, precisely that of the sports betting market. She’s been an avid sports bettor for many years and has experienced success in growing her bankroll by striking when the iron was hot. In particular, she loves betting on football and basketball at the professional and college levels.