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Top 10 Richest Gamblers in the World

by Scott Kacsmar
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If you want to be a professional gambler, it sure helps to have a huge bankroll to start out with. You also need to have experience to fine-tune your processes, a strong gut for intuition, a backbone to handle the losing streaks and bad beats, and some good luck always helps.

Some gamblers are just really good at their job, like Niko Tosa, but some also have increased their net worth through other ventures. We have prepared a look at 10 of the richest gamblers at casino games, sports betting and more, in the world as of 2024.

Read on if you are feeling aspirational.

Editor’s Note: Certain facts and financial figures cited in the below descriptions were referenced by Wikipedia.

1 Bill Benter (Net Worth: $1 Billion)

Bill Benter

Oh, you’re not familiar with the horse racing king who just may be the most successful gambler of all time? Bill Benter’s story is truly aspirational for gamblers. Born in Pittsburgh, Benter had a talent for math and wanted to use it as much as he could to win money on gambling.

Benter visited the blackjack tables at Vegas to perform the card counting techniques he learned from Edward Thorp’s classic book Beat the Dealer. Benter got so good at counting cards that within 7 years, he was banned from every casino on the Vegas Strip.

Benter’s next journey was to Hong Kong with famed gambler Alan Woods, who knew a lot about horse racing. Benter combined his math skills and Woods’ horse racing knowledge to create an incredible algorithm to predict horse racing results that they would then use in their bets to profit greatly.

By the end of the 1980s, Benter was making $3 million in profit using his computer algorithm. He has grown his fortune on betting to become a billionaire, and he is a philanthropist, donating to causes in the U.S. and Hong Kong.

2 Edward Thorp (Net Worth: $800 Million)

Edward Thorp Gambler

We just said that Edward Thorp was influential to our No. 1 gambler Bill Benter, but he was influential to many people as he is the father of applying probability theory and card counting. His 1964 book Beat the Dealer was highly influential in giving people strategies for blackjack.

Beyond blackjack, Thorp has also been a key figure in the financial world. He was a very successful hedge fund manager, applying his mathematical skills to the stock market in ways others hadn’t thought of before.

Thorp was so good at his work that as far back as 1991 he was skeptical of Bernie Madoff’s investing returns. It was not until 2008 that Madoff proved to be one of the biggest fraudsters in history. Thorp sure could pick out a winner (or a loser).

Thorp is still with us today at 91 years young.

3 Zeljko Ranogajec (Net Worth: $400-450 Million)

Zeljko Ranogajec

An Australian businessman they call The Joker, Zeljko Ranogajec dropped out of college to focus on gambling full-time. Like Bill Benter, he worked with the great Alan Woods in the 1980s to become a dominant blackjack player, reportedly turning a starting bankroll of a few hundred dollars into millions. Ranogajec was eventually banned from the Australian casinos. In 2011, he was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.

In 1994, Zeljko hit a $7.5 million Keno jackpot where he bet more than $7.5 million to gain an advantage, but he still finished in the green thanks to all the smaller bets that also hit along the way.

In recent times, The Joker’s betting syndicate places a large number of bets on horse racing where he continues to be profitable. It has been reported that his bets make up a third of Betfair Australia’s operations.

So far, we have learned that card counting and horse racing algorithms are the way to thrive the most in gambling. Interesting.

4 Billy Walters (Net Worth: $200 Million)

Billy Walters

Billy Walters is arguably the most successful sports bettor of all time with a net worth of over $200 million. He made his first bet when he was 9 years old and has not looked back since.

Although Walters was down $50,000 by the time he was 22, he forged ahead. Walters also reportedly lost $1 million at least twice at blackjack tables in Vegas. But his success started in the 1980s when he won $3.8 million at the roulette wheel in Atlantic City.

He joined the Computer Group to use data to inform his sports bets, and he had just one losing year in 39 years of sports betting, including a 30-year winning streak at one point. Walters focused primarily on NFL, college football, and basketball bets.

Walters was sentenced to a 5-year prison term for insider trading, so he has led an interesting life. In 2023, he became a New York Times best-selling author with the release of his book Gambler: Secrets from a Life at Risk, a must-read for gambling aficionados.

Walters recently made an appearance on the popular Joe Rogan Experience podcast where he spoke about sports betting, his past, and the current state of wagering in the United States.

5 David Walsh (Net Worth: $200 Million)

You may not think of an Australian art collector as a top-tier gambler, but David Walsh absolutely was one of the best. He met Zeljko Ranogajec, our No. 3 gambler, decades ago out of a shared interest in trying card counting for blackjack games at Vegas casinos.

Like Bill Benter, Walsh created an algorithm to predict horse racing outcomes. This became a key part of the betting syndicate that Ranogajec employs to win so much money on betting each year.

Walsh once spent $11 million on lottery tickets to win a $60 million jackpot. He is a great case of when intelligence meets a little luck.

6 Dan Bilzerian (Net Worth: $200 Million)

Dan Bilzerian

Dan Bilzerian is another college dropout after seeing a brighter future in gambling. Poker was his game of choice, and he finished in 180th place in the 2008 World Series of Poker Main Event. Bilzerian has claimed he won $50 million playing poker in 2014, and his net worth is an estimated $200 million.

But there have been many disputes over the source of Bilzerian’s wealth. His father, Paul Bilzerian, was a corporate takeover specialist and gave his son a big trust fund. Bilzerian is now a social media influencer and has been a big supporter of Donald Trump.

So, if a trust fund baby ever exaggerated his wealth and greatness, well you can see the inspiration for that in Trump.

7 Phil Ivey (Net Worth: $100 Million)

Phil Ivey

One of the best and most legitimate poker players around, Phil Ivey has a net worth of over $100 million. He has won 10 World Series of Poker bracelets (youngest to do so), a World Poker Tour title, and he has been to the final table 9 times at the WSOP.

He was already elected into the Poker Hall of Fame in 2017 and has been called the Tiger Woods of Poker.

Ivey is also a fan of sports and prop bets, but poker is where he has made his fortune going back to 2000 when he won his first bracelet for $195,000 at a Pot Limit Omaha event.

8 Sam Farha (Net Worth: $100 Million)

Sam Farha

The Lebanese-born Sam Farha has a net worth of over $100 million from playing poker. He finished as the runner up in the WSOP Main Event in 2003. He also won three bracelets at the WSOP in his career.

But Farha largely amassed his wealth by winning in high-stakes poker games in Vegas. Omaha was his preferred game and he co-authored a detailed strategy book on how to play it called Farha on Omaha.

9 Chris Ferguson (Net Worth: $80 Million)

Chris Ferguson

We are noticing a trend here. If you can’t create your own horse racing algorithm or pick winners like Billy Walters, then poker seems to be the way to go for the most profitable gamblers. Chris Ferguson is another poker player who fell in love with the game at a young age before competing in the WSOP with great success.

Ferguson has won a whopping 6 WSOP events, including the 2000 WSOP Main Event where the prize was $1.5 million.

Ferguson is also known for his ability to throw playing cards at such an incredible speed that they can slice through fruits and vegetables.

10 Howard Lederer (Net Worth: $60 Million)

Howard Lederer

Our final rich gambler is Howard Lederer, another successful poker player who had the foresight to drop out of college and pursue gambling as his career. He has won 2 WSOP bracelets and holds 2 World Poker Tour titles.

Fans have given him the nickname “The Professor” and he has written impressive strategy books for poker players. Lederer was also a founder of Tiltware, a company that launched the now-defunct an controversial Full Tilt Poker in 2004.

As we have learned from our 10 richest gamblers in the world, chasing your dreams, never giving up, and knowing something about horse racing or poker may just be the keys to becoming a highly successful gambler.

But timing and luck will always play a factor too.

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Scott Kacsmar
NFL football picks are Scott Kacsmar's expertise, serving as his main focus. He has contributed to various sports websites and blogs, such as NBC Sports, ESPN Insider, FiveThirtyEight, and, JoeWager. Originating from Pittsburgh, Scott maintains a love-hate connection with the Pirates.

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