When it comes to “predicting the future,” some people seem to have the magic touch, while others just don’t understand when it’s time to stop. So let’s see which are the most absurd and senseless bets in history and especially to find out for each of them if there was a happy ending or turned out to be a real disaster.
5. The biggest bet in history
Today you can bet on anything who will win Big Brother, who will finally find life on Mars. These kinds of non-sports bets can be a lot of fun but hardly create generations of winners.
Yet, in 1989, an unknown Scottish bettor walked into his local betting agency and bet £30 (~C$52) that a certain number of events would occur before the year 2000. These were his predictions, complete with odds:
- Singer Cliff Richards would become a knight: 4 to 1
- U2 would have stayed together: 3 to 1
- The soap opera Eastenders would still be on BBC: 5 to 1
- Neighbours would still be on British TV: 5 to 1
- Home and Away would still be a running TV show: 8 to 1
The total odds were 6,749, and just a few days after entering the new millennium, the lucky Scotsman turned up at his Ladbrokes office to take home his winnings: £194,400 (~C$335,834) cash. Congratulations! Not only for the far-sightedness of the bettor’s predictions but also for the great patience he showed since he had to wait more than 10 years to cash in his, not obvious, winnings.
4. Ashley Revell plays it all on a round of roulette
In 2004, young Englishwoman Ashley Revell decided to dispose of everything she had. She sold her car, stereo, TV, bicycle, even her clothes. Then she emptied her bank account and her poker-built bankroll, putting aside, in all, the sum of $135,300 (~C$169,000).
For what? Simple: Revell travelled to Las Vegas to gamble it all away in a round of roulette.
3. Johnny Moss bets to get into a fistfight
Poker legend Jonny Moss found himself in a bar one day with a man who claimed he had never lost a fight in his life. That’s when Moss received a proposition listed at a whopping 15 to 1 from some of his friends asking him to try and knock the man out.
In no time, the poker player took the bet and…ended up in hospital with a few broken bones before smiling and saying “15 to 1 was too good to pass up”. This is definitely one of those cases where the possibility of getting rich is so great that even a good and strategic bettor like Moss would lose his mind.
2. Turning a welfare check into $1 million (~C$1,250,000)
In 1995 one of the non-millionaires living in Las Vegas went, as usual, to pick up a $400 (~C$500) check at the Social Security office. His wife had just kicked him out of the house, and he didn’t look very well. What to do when everything goes wrong? Well, nothing but take the check and run to Treasure Island Casino to try your luck even harder!
Rumour has it that the man smelled so bad that no one wanted to sit next to him but, fortunately, playing cards don’t care about people’s scent. Thanks to his unconventional strategy, the man went on to win the beauty of $1 million (~C$1,250,000).
The player accomplished an incredible feat by turning that measly $400 (~C$500) check into a six-figure win, and this story could have ended in the best possible way. Sometimes, however, greed gets the upper hand, in fact, the player did not know how to stop and what could have been the turning point of life eventually became a disaster.
After continuing to play, the not-so-smart Las Vegas resident managed to accomplish another great feat: losing a million dollars on the same day he won it!
1. William Lee Bergstrom gambles everything
Casino owner Benny Binion revolutionized gambling in Las Vegas. Before him, casinos accepted “small” bets and aimed to take over players’ bankrolls in a slow but relentless manner.
Binion, on the other hand, put a limit on the players’ bets to just…their first bet! If you wanted to play $100,000 (~C$125,000) on your first hand of online Blackjack, for example, there would be no problem. Except for the fact that in subsequent sessions, you would never be able to increase your betting limit.
One day in the mid-1980s, William Lee Bergstrom walked into Binion’s Casino with a briefcase filled with $777,000 (~C$972,000). He headed to the craps table and bet it all over the Don’t Pass Line. And he won.
Bergstrom then came back later, doubling up first on a $590,000 (~C$738,000) bet and then on a $190,000 (~C$238,000) bet before winning an additional $90,000 (~C$113,000). Unfortunately, as in the worst cases, without knowing when to stop.
One day he returned to the lobby, this time with a million dollars. He played it all for a second time losing his money. Three months later, he even tried to raise the stakes, gambling what he had left on Russian roulette — losing again and this time something far more valuable than a briefcase full of money.