Who Is the Luckiest Gambler?

by Staff

There is a story about a young US Navy Lieutenant who loved playing poker in his spare time. His former colleagues tell tales of a decisive fellow who was so versed in one of the most prestigious and popular gambling games that hardly anyone in the Navy could compete at his level. He was as lucky as they’d ever seen anyone, and boy was indeed, he hit the jackpot when he eventually rose to the highest office in the land. This man was President Richard Nixon. His political career was built on the proceeds of gambling, which, quite evidently, he was good at.

The former president’s gambling run is one of the most interesting success stories in the history of casino gaming, but it’s not the only one. Many more casino game players have had their fair share of multiple successes in casino lobbies that elevated them to legendary status among their peers. Here’s a look at the luckiest gamblers who have ever graced the floors of casino lobbies.

Elmer Sherwin

They say that luck knocks at least once in life, but Elmer Sherwin hit a home run with luck knocking twice in his lifetime. In 1989, Elmer recorded his first miracle when he won a staggering $4 million on a Megabucks slot machine. While other people would live a contented life knowing that they had lucked out all the good fortune they had in the bank, the unthinkable happened.

Decades later after his initial triumph, in the year 2005, Sherwin won the jackpot for the second time, this time earning a whopping $21 million at the grand age of 92. True to his good nature, Elmer pocketed a sizeable amount of the money which he would leave to his family upon his passing. The rest of the money was donated to victims of Hurricane Katrina.

Phil Ivey

Just like Formula 1 has Lewis Hamilton, golf has Tiger Woods, football has Ronaldo, and tennis has Roger Federer, poker has Phil Ivey. He is the epitome of success in the world of professional poker. Well, while luck has played a big factor in his poker success, people also attribute his many wins to his ability to outwit opponents. His achievements are far-reaching and include the following:

  • Three Bracelets won at the 2002 world series of Poker;
  • The first person to best Amarillo Slim heads-up at the WSOP final table;
  • Ranking in the top 25 four times between 2002 and 2009 editions of the World Series Poker.

Best recognized for his mind games, it is easy to see why many consider Phil Ivey to be among the luckiest gamblers in the world.

Richard Lustig

If you thought Elmer Sherwin’s 2-time wins of the jackpot were out of this world, then your mind will be blown by Richard Lustig’s story. Lustig has won the lottery not once, not twice, not thrice, but a staggering seven times as follows:

  1. $10,000 playing a scratch-off ticket in January 1993;
  2. $13,696 from Florida Fantasy 5 in August 1997;
  3. A ‘Wheel of Fortune’ vacation to Los Angeles (worth $3,595) from a ‘2nd chance drawing’ scratch-off ticket in June 2000;
  4. Elvis Holiday trip to Memphis (worth $4,966) from a ‘2nd chance drawing’ scratch-off ticket won in October 2001;
  5. $842,153 playing Florida Mega Money in January 2002;
  6. $73,658 from the Florida Fantasy 5 game in November 2008;
  7. $98,993 in the Florida Fantasy 5 lottery in August 2010.

His success in this luck-dependent game has been so vast, that Lustig has written a book titled How to Pick the Winning Numbers that has sold millions of copies over the years. From his first win in 1993, Lustig’s story has been nothing short of remarkable, and it truly earns him a spot as one of the luckiest gamblers in history.

Antonio Esfandiari

Until 2012, Antonio Esfandiari made a living using his talent as a magician. Yet, none of his magic tricks could live up to the magic of bagging an astounding 18-million-dollar prize in a poker match. To put this fete into greater context, the majority of poker players will never win that kind of money cumulatively in their lifetime. This is why Antonio makes the cut as one of the luckiest gamblers ever.

Is It Pure Luck or Skill?

Whether these winners depended on their wit or were entirely lucky, we will never know for sure. Some say that it is a mix of both because even with skill, the odds of one person enjoying multiple successes of such scales are extremely low. Well, whatever the case, a win is a win.

Are there any other winners we’ve left out on our list of luckiest players? Let us know right here in the comments section; we would love to hear from you!

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The New Jersey Digest is a new jersey magazine that has chronicled daily life in the Garden State for over 10 years.

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