Casino Figures & Poker Player Bios

The World Casino Index biography section features information and backgrounds on the most influential people in the world of gaming. From online casinos to brick and mortar moguls, our bios cover the biggest names in the industry. You may recognize many of these names from their namesakes that are featured on casinos around the world, including, but not limited to: Harrah’s, Wynn, Bob Stupak and more. There have been many different people from all walks of life that have helped to form the gaming landscape as it is today. Believe it or not, people like Frank Sinatra, members of the mob, and many others have been integral to the development of casinos in the United States.

Bios

Benny Binion
Bill Harrah
Bobby Baldwin
Jackie Gaughan
Sheldon Adelson
Steve Wynn

Beyond gaming in the US, there are many important players overseas. As gambling has grown and become more regulated, so too has the number of casinos, and in turn, the number of different players in the industry. Without the important names found in this biography section, places like Macau may never have become what they are today.

Here’s a short list of famous gamblers. It’s far from a complete list and few people have heard of everyone on the list. But I bet you’ve heard of some of them. We’ve included a short note about some of them.

Gambling Legends

  • Archie Karas – Greek American gambler credited with winning over 40 million dollars and then losing it all.
  • Amarillo Slim – Famous gambler and poker player from the 70’s.
  • Billy Walters – Possibly the most successful sports bettor to ever live.
  • Stanford Wong – Author of gambling books, mostly to do with blackjack. One of the most trusted blackjack authors.
  • Stu Ungar – Considered one of the best poker players of all time.
  • The MIT Blackjack Team – Famous for using card counting in blackjack to beat Vegas casinos out of millions of dollars.
  • Kerry Packer – Possibly the most famous whale of all time. He gambled hundreds of millions of dollars on some casino trips.
  • Doc Holliday – He’s more famous for his gunfighting ability, but was connected to many Faro games in his life.
  • Wyatt Earp – Also more famous for other things than gambling, Earp owned Faro and other gambling games later in life.
  • Nick the Greek Dandolos – Professional gambler and high roller. He was one of the earliest professional gamblers that were somewhat well known outside the gambling world. Died in 1966, depending on when you’re reading this, 50 or more years ago.
  • Johnny Moss – A famous poker player who played in the WSOP in the 1970’s and beyond.
  • Al Francesco – Though Francesco is one of the least known names on this list, he is considered by many as one of the founding fathers of advantage blackjack play. Ken Uston often gave him credit for much of his success.
  • Ken Uston – One of the most successful card counters in the 70’s and beyond. Used a card counting system he developed and he ran teams of card counters.
  • Tommy Hyland – A highly successful advantage casino player. One of the subjects interviewed in Munchkin’s book.
  • Max Rubin – Member of the blackjack hall of fame.
  • James Grosjean – One of the most famous advantage players, Grosjean has authored a couple high-end advantage playbooks and has been at the center of a couple lawsuits against casinos that have been instrumental in the rights of casino players. If you don’t know much about him and enjoy gambling in a land-based casino you might want to investigate what he’s accomplished.

Professional Poker Players

Celebrity Gamblers

Famous Athletes That Gamble

Gambling Authors

  • Frank Scoblete – Famous gambling author has had numerous books published including controversial subjects like dice control. He also helped design a unique card counting system.
  • Doyle Brunson – Wrote one of the most famous poker books in history, Super System, and has won a number of WSOP bracelets.
  • Dan Harrington – Poker author and WSOP main event winner.
  • Edward Thorp – The author of the most famous card counting book, Beat the Dealer. Thorp added investments in the financial markets to his portfolio of things he’s mastered after his success at the blackjack tables.
  • Peter Griffin – Blackjack author of one of the most popular blackjack books for medium and advanced players, the Theory of Blackjack.
  • Arnold Snyder – Prolific blackjack author and player, is a member of the blackjack hall of fame and even developed his own card counting system for advantage blackjack play.
  • Richard Munchkin – Author of Gambling Wizards. The book includes in-depth profiles and interviews with some of the most successful gamblers in the world. Most of his subjects are included on this page.
  • Lawrence Revere – A blackjack author and the developer of card counting systems.
  • Don Schlesinger – Blackjack author.

As more gambler profiles are added you can find them on this page. It would be easy to develop 1,000 or more profiles over time, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get that many done.
The gambling world is filled with colorful characters, some of the nicest men and women you’ll ever meet, and some of the worst crooks you can find. If you think about it this is much like any area of life, but there seems to be a mystery or draw that makes gamblers interesting.
Maybe it’s the illusion that gambling for a living would be a great way to enjoy life. From the outside, it sure looks like fun.
The truth is that very few professional gamblers have it easy. It takes as much or more work than most people do at their jobs to be a winning sports bettor, poker player, or advantage player.

What does a gambler have to do to become well known?
It’s fairly easy for poker players. All they have to do is win the World Series of Poker main event or a WPT event. Or even a series of tournaments that aren’t the Main Event. But what does a sports gambler have to do to gain fame? What about slots, video poker, or blackjack players? Getting elected into the Blackjack Hall of Fame should help, but most people don’t recognize most of the players who have been elected.
Probably the fastest way for a gambler to gain fame is by being arrested for cheating or something else.

About our Biographies

Biographies from WCI focus on everything from big breaks in a career to where that individual stands today and what projects they remain involved with. One thing is for sure, getting into the casino industry is as tough as ever. Many of these important casino owners are poised to remain in control of the greater gambling landscape for decades to come.

Infamous Poker Players

Some figures in gambling are more known for their individual feats rather than their contributions or additions to gambling as a whole. Poker players like Phil Ivey have morphed into nothing less than celebrity status. Many poker players have parlayed their TV and mainstream media exposure into ad deals and partnerships that help to spread and grow gambling’s popularity. Take a look at some beer cans or beef jerky and you may be surprised to see Phil Hellmuth, a well-known poker player, featured on the packaging.

Gambling Legends

Other names in the world of gambling are best known for their larger than life auras. A particularly strong example of this type of gambler is found in Archie Karas. Known for running up a small stake into tens of millions before losing it all back, he is the sort of thing that gambling legends are made of. Then you have professional card counters who were primary reasons in the changes for how casinos treat “advantage players” today. Even still, you have true professionals like Stu Ungar who beat the best but fell victim to their demons