Our Top 10 Gambling Winner Stories

It’s the one thing every gambler dreams about: the big win – that life-changing hand of cards, or spin of the wheel that whisks you away from your mundane life into the stratosphere of winners.

As a gambler, reading about other people who have won huge is discovering heroes, except that they’re ordinary, everyday folk, from all walks of life… just like you and me. And that’s what’s so exciting: if they can win it, why can’t we?

So, for your titillation and fantasy fuel, here are some of the best gambling winner stories we could find. Grab yourself a tasty beverage and soak up the triumph of these scores.

1 – Klaus Barnard, GrandWest Salon Privé

Klaus Barnard, a resident of Parow in Cape Town, was the lucky winner of an early Christmas bonus when he won a jackpot of a staggering R10 million in GrandWest’s Salon Privé. Barnard, who has an MVG membership, wasn’t even visiting the casino to play that evening; he was there for a function with his wife, when he decided, why not? And he gave the slots a spin.

He opted for the Sirens slot, where a bonus on his free spin became the snowball that precipitated the avalanche.

Klaus prudently chose to put his winnings into an investment account – minus the cost of a family holiday to Miami.


2 – Estelle Harrop & Anonymous, Boardwalk

Progressive jackpot wins are the stuff dreams are made of, as Estelle Harrop and an anonymous player of Port Elizabeth discovered. Playing the SunStriker game, Estelle received a delightful R150,000 to take home, while the anonymous player walked off with a cool R1.9 million.

The SumStriker progressive jackpot slot is exclusive to Sun International’s brick and mortar casinos in South Africa, and carries a minimum jackpot of R750,000, making it well worth checking out if you’re ever at one of these casinos.


3 – Indar Ramothar, Sibaya Casino and Entertainment Kingdom

They say that lightning never strikes the same place twice, but Lady Luck certainly abides by no such nonsense. She chose to strike Indar Ramothar with a bolt of luck, twice, for the same game. Ramothar was enjoying the Duma progressive slot at Sibaya Casino and Entertainment Kingdom, when he won R735,000. A scant month later, he walked off with over R1 million on the same progressive slot.


4 – Anonymous, GrandWest

A grandmother from Cape Town became an instant millionaire, bagging close to R1.3 million on GrandWest’s SunStriker progressive jackpot one Tuesday morning. A regular visitor to the casino, she enjoyed this particular game. Accompanied by her granddaughter, she was enjoying a post-breakfast spin, when she suddenly won.

She planned to use the money to pay her granddaughter’s university fees, pay off her house, and take a family vacation overseas. Gran didn’t let the win go to her head though; she elected to hang onto her car, saying she was quite happy with it and would rather focus on the things she wanted to do.


5 – Lucky Winner, Montecasino

Montecasino in Johannesburg features an impressive 20 TSCJohnHuxley progressive poker tables, covering four different games: Raise Em Poker Xtra and Big Bang tables on the main floor, and Raise Em Poker Xtra and Blackjack Elite tables in the privé. When Raise Em Poker Xtra reached a whopping R4.8 million progressive jackpot total, it was standing room only at these tables! One lucky winner struck it rich by winning the country’s largest-ever progressive poker jackpot.


6 – Patricia Demauro, Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, New Jersey

Craps is a game of odds – the more you roll, the more chances you have of hitting a 7 eventually, right? Well, Patricia Demauro proved that this gambler’s fallacy is, indeed, just that. During a single game of craps, she rolled the dice 154 times consecutively, and not once did she crap out. Not only did she beat a world record over the 4 hours 18 minutes she spent playing, but she also took home an undisclosed sum well into the hundreds of thousands of US dollars. Luck was certainly on her side, because the odds of a streak like that are about 1 in 1.56 trillion!

Top 10 gambling winners

7 – Frederick Smith, Las Vegas, Nevada

What happens when the CEO of a startup gets desperate to keep his business afloat, and takes a trip to Las Vegas? Well, if the person is Frederick Smith, founder of FedEx, apparently, he gets what he needs. Back in 1973, FedEx was a small company, barely two years old and in deep financial trouble. Smith took the last $5000  – all they had for operating costs – to the Vegas blackjack tables. The $27,000 he returned with wasn’t enough to save the company, but it kept them going until they secured more funding to start growing into the giant they are today.


8 – Elmer Sherwin, Mirage, Las Vegas

Much like our #2, Elmer Sherwin got lucky twice in the same place. The big difference is that Elmer’s wins came a full 16 years apart. On the same day that this casino opened on the infamous Las Vegas Strip, Sherwin walked in and won a staggering $4.6 million. No small amount of money, even by today’s standards, it apparently wasn’t quite enough for Elmer, who returned 16 years later and walked off with over four times his original win: an ice-cold $21 million.


9 – Beverly Whitten, Mountaineer Casino and Resort, New Cumberland

An avid slot player and retired teacher, Beverly Whitten was playing Golden Chambers at the Mountaineer Casino and Resort in West Virginia, USA, when she won big – almost $4 million big! Beverly had been playing for just two hours when her winnings totalled a life-changing $3,718,311, which she chose to receive in monthly instalments, rather than all at once.


10 – ‘Young Engineer’, Excalibur, Las Vegas

Known only as the ‘Young Engineer’, this last entry on our list is most certainly not the least. This player, aged 25, one day walked up to a slot machine at the Las Vegas Excalibur hotel and casino. He placed $100 in coins into the machine, and was rewarded with an absolutely mind-blowing $39.7 million. Like a true, sensible engineer, he chose to receive his winnings in annual payments of a respectable $1.5 million – certainly more than enough to live comfortably for the next 26 years or so until the payments ended.


Are you a winner?

All gamblers understand that the risk in chasing the big jackpots is real, and that the winner’s circle is rarefied air. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be the next winner. The only way to win is to play – responsibly. If you are concerned about your playing and spending habits, read our articles on problem gambling and resources. And if you win, send us your story; it might end up right here on CasinoPlay.

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