Strangest casino jackpots in history

Every gambler hopes to be a big winner one day; many people invest lots of time and money and wait patiently, hoping that they will one day have a winning combination that’s so good they will go down in history as a huge jackpot winner. 

It doesn’t often happen, but when it does, winners find themselves suddenly turned into millionaires. Even when they don’t win millions, they win significant sums that change their lives. 

Make no mistake – a casino jackpot can also turn out to be problematic for winners. We have heard numerous stories of gamblers who have won huge amounts of money only to fritter it away with ridiculous purchases and extravagant lifestyles. 

Some jackpots aren’t just big; they are accompanied by a strange back tory that belies belief. We have heard of people who gambled their last $5 and walked away with enough money to buy a house. Given that there are no guarantees in casino games, it is a big risk to take, and many who try this often find themselves with nothing left in their pockets. 

Some people take the biggest risk of their lives, gamble away everything they own, and it pays off. It doesn’t happen very often, and it takes a special personality to do something like this, but it happens, and some people have won so much money that they replaced everything they bet and had plenty left over. 

For some people, it is a turn of luck that makes their stories exceptional. Just when it looked like they had lost everything, they decided to go in one last time, and their luck turned, and they walked away with a jackpot. 

For avid gamers, these stories aren’t just a source of fascination. They give hope that one day it will be their turn and they will win a mind-boggling amount of money. Let’s look at some of the strangest casino jackpots in history and how they came about. 

William Lee Bergstrom

Also known as The Suitcase Man, there was nothing extraordinary about William Lee Bergstrom.

He was an average-looking man of average ability, an average poker player, and quite a measured fellow who could hardly be called an inveterate gambler. All this changed when he decided to visit Las Vegas and play just one round of craps. 

It’s worth having a look at his earlier life, even though it doesn’t shed much light on how he came across his extraordinary jackpot.

William was born in Austin in 1951, and with his brother Allan, they shared a difficult childhood after their parents divorced. He stayed with his mother and brother, but he continued to do things he thought his father would approve of; he was seeking his approval. He worked hard, was well-behaved, and was a model child. 

After graduating high school in 1969, he moved to the University of Texas but dropped out in 1974. He went into real estate sales and managed to earn a good living, doing well enough that he started buying properties to convert and sell. 

This didn’t make him a millionaire, but he made a comfortable living. Those who knew him at the time would later say he was a modest man; although he made good money selling real estate, he didn’t waste it.

So why would a man like William choose to gamble? It wasn’t something he stumbled into on his own, but rather he was introduced to it by a friend called Benny Binion. Binion owned a casino and had just launched a promotion dubbed the “Sky’s the Limit.” 

It promised all gamblers that the casino would match their first bet amount with no limits. This meant that the casino was willing to pay as much as any patron was willing to spend, and they could spend any amount they wanted; they had no limits. 

William thought about this and, because he was an opportunist, he decided to take his friend up on his offer. He called the casino and talked to Binion, asking him if he was willing to match a bet of $1 million. 

Binion said yes, but because he didn’t have the million dollars to bet, decided that he would fill a suitcase full of money to the casino and place a bet. Packed, the suitcase held $777,000. When he placed his bet, the casino matched the amount, bringing his total bet to more than $1.5 million. 

It took just 3 rolls at the craps table to win, and Binion came to congratulate him and helped him pack his winnings into an empty matching briefcase that he had brought in case he won. He walked out with two suitcases full of money, and his legend was born. 

Patricia Demauro

Patricia Demauro became known as the “Goddess of Craps” when she smashed the record for the longest time rolling dice. It is called the Golden Arm, and it is when a player rolls the dice for more than one hour without losing. It happened to Patricia, and she is remembered as one of the strangest jackpots in history. 

In 2009, she walked into a New Jersey casino and placed a bet at the craps table for $100. In craps, the come-out roll, or the shooter’s roll, establishes a point after which the shooter keeps rolling until they get a seven. 

Patricia got an eight in her come-out roll, and everyone placed their bets. The rolls kept coming, but seven didn’t show up. The longer she played, the bigger the crowd around her table grew. They started to cheer, and according to Patricia, the longer she played, the more things blurred in her mind; she doesn’t have a clear recollection of the events. 

She played for four hours and 18 minutes, rolling 154 times, during which she got dozens of combinations, but never a seven. 

No one knows how much she won save for her and the casino, but she broke a record. The amazing thing about her win is that she had only played craps once before in her life, and she didn’t even know the rules. She just kept doing what others around the table told her to do; when her turn came she would roll the dice, the crowd would cheer, and she would guess she had won and was still in the game. 

Experts estimate that she must have won at least a few hundred thousand dollars assuming she placed bets the way a beginner does. If she placed bets like an experienced player, it is possible that she took home more than $1 million. 

Unfortunately, she didn’t go down in the Guinness Book of World Records because at the time the book didn’t deal with gambling, but it didn’t matter; her legend in the gambling world was made, and no one has come close to beating her record. 

Ashley Revell

Born in 1971 in Kent, England, Ashley grew up to become an entrepreneur. In 2004 decided to travel to Las Vegas for a bit of fun. He had with him £76,840 (about $135,300) to spend during his holiday, and what happened was completely unexpected. 

It hadn’t been easy to get this money. He had sold all his possessions and his clothes and raised additional money from holding car boot sales and auctions. He even got some bookmakers to contribute to his fund. 

He decided to place all his money on the roulette table in one game, and he won, doubling his bet in just 20 seconds. 

Unlike many gamblers who would be tempted to go back in, he didn’t, and instead, he took his winnings and started an online gambling company. It didn’t work out, and eventually, he went out of business because his funds had been frozen in the United States. 

His story was picked up by Sky One and turned into a mini-series called Double or Nothing, and several documentaries were made about him. His story was also featured in the hit series Las Vegas.  According to Simon Cowell, Revell’s bet was the inspiration behind the 2011–2012 game show called Red or Black?

Frederick W. Smith

This is perhaps one of the most common “strange casino jackpot” stories because it helped transform the lives of thousands of people, not just the winner. It isn’t strange in the sense that something odd happened before, during, or after the game. What makes it unique is that it came at such a timely moment. 

Fred Smith founded FedEx in 1971, and it became fully operational by 1973. He had based the whole idea on a paper he wrote when he was at Yale in the late 1960s. He wrote about how companies could become more profitable by changing their shipping models, but his professor wasn’t impressed and gave him a C. 

It didn’t deter him. After graduating and serving in the Marine Corps in Vietnam, he bought a controlling interest in a small Arkansas transport company. True to his term paper, he realized just how hard it was to ship items in a timely fashion and at an affordable rate. 

He decided to try to put the ideas in his paper into practice and had raised $80 million through loans and equity by 1972 and started FedEx. He quickly ran out of operating capital because of the high cost of fuel and was soon in debt. Investors refused to give him any more money, and after one final pitch at General Dynamics, he took the last $5,000 and left for home.

On his way, he passed through Las Vegas and decided to gamble with the $5,000. He chose blackjack, and it paid off because he won more than $27,000. This money helped him keep the doors open, and he was soon able to raise another $11 million. By 1975, the company was profitable and made revenues of $75 million. 

FedEx made its first billion in revenue in 1983 and has grown into one of America’s biggest shipping outfits. 

Katrina Bookman

Katrina Bookman thought her life was made when she won a whopping $42,949,672 at the Resorts World Casino in Jamaica, Queens in 2016. We don’t know how much she had bet, but this was to be the biggest win in slots in history. 

Unfortunately, it wasn’t to be. She left the casino and went home without her winnings, intending to come back the following morning to clarify just how much she could take home and how she was to go about collecting it. 

When she returned and talked to the casino management, they told her that she hadn’t won anything at all. The machine, according to the establishment, had been faulty and had given her false winnings. They had taken it off the floor immediately and wouldn’t allow any more play on it until it was fixed. 

She was heartbroken because when she won, all she could think about was all the things she would do to help her family. She is a single mother of four, and the money would have made a big difference in their lives. 

These aren’t the only strange jackpot stories out there. There are many more, some better known than others. 

The one thing that all these legends have in common is that most of them chose reputable casinos that were ready to pay them their winnings, however big the jackpot was. Every player who hopes to make it big must choose their casino carefully; whatever establishment they choose, it should have a solid reputation for fairness and paying players promptly. If you are thinking of playing at an online casino and would like to try your hand at a jackpot, why not try Resorts Casino? It has many different games including slots, table games, and live games that players can choose from.

Author: Tanya Fields

Campaign Acquisition Manager Length with RC: 1 year, 9 months Favorite Casino Game: Starburst Background in iGaming: Opened the iGaming Department at Hard Rock Atlantic City in 2018 in both Customer Service, and then CRM, prior to moving over to RC in January 2021 Location: Based in NJ at the RC HQ Content: Occasionally, but only as it pertains to RC