One of the first famous gamblers in the world was John Montagu, the Earl of Sandwich. He led a scandalous private life and was addicted to gambling. In 1762, he sat for over 24 hours at a gaming table in his home, refusing to attend meals. In desperation, a servant offered the Earl a piece of salted beef as food; the Earl suggested that the beef be encased between two slices of bread so that he could eat it in his hand at the table. This is where the sandwich got its name.
One of the West’s most famous gamblers was “Doc” Holliday, who maintained a fierce reputation as a hard drinker, tough fighter and ruthless killer. He is chiefly remembered for fighting alongside Wyatt Earp at the famous gunfight at the O.K. Corral.
“Wild Bill” Hickok was another American legend, renowned throughout the world for the tall tales surrounding his violent life. He’s chiefly remembered for taming two of the most lawless towns in Kansas. Unfortunately, Hickok made many enemies and his day of judgment came at a poker table. He was shot in the back of the head by an assassin and died clutching a pair of aces and a pair of eights; ever since, this particular hand has been known as the ‘Dead Man’s’ hand for obvious reasons!
Benny Binion was born in 1904 and lived his life as a bootlegger and conman. At the age of 43, he gave up his life of crime and moved to Las Vegas, where he later opened his own casino. Binion was the gambler’s gambler, and in the 1970s he bought and marketed the World Series of Poker tournament, which has grown over time to be the biggest in the world.
Magazine owner Kerry Packer made his name through his family’s media empire, which owns 60% of all magazines in Australia. Packer became known as a high-stakes gambler when he won $26 million playing blackjack at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. However, Packer has not always been successful; he lost $16.5 million at the Crockfords casino in London, although this barely dented his $8 billion fortune.
The World Series of Poker tournament has created many famous gamblers of today. One such example is Johnny Chan, nicknamed “The Great Wall of China” after his amazing success winning the World Championships in 1987 and 1988 consecutively. He’s played in all the major games of the last two decades and is also known as a genuinely nice guy.
By Adel Awwad