It’s not a boast we hear all that often, but every now and then you’ll hear someone telling you all about that time they won a load of money off a bet or playing a game of poker. But most of your friends will probably have stories where they win maybe a couple of hundred or hit a small-time jackpot. It’s almost a guarantee that whatever story they have is going to have nothing on this pair. Don Johnson and Charles Wells – two men with skill, smarts and a ton of luck, but who was the greatest?
Don Johnson’s Blackjack Run
Blackjack is the advantage player’s game of choice and whether you like to play online at sites like games.paddypower.com/c/blackjack or at the felt in a real-life casino, it’s likely to be the game that draws the most players. One of these players is the legendary Don Johnson who, in 2011, won over $15 million during a six-month bender across Atlantic City’s various casinos.
Johnson achieved this because of two key elements swinging his favour – one, he knew how to play blackjack properly. Basic strategy, possibly a smidge of card counting, he knew how to play every hand perfectly so the house edge shrank and shrank. The second, far more important factor, was that the casinos had asked him to come and play and he negotiated a few additional details to help give him even more of an edge. These included dealers standing on soft 17, being able to re-split aces, a 20% rebate on his losses exceeding $500,000. In the end, Johnson found himself turfed out of the casinos and banned but only after he’d made a colossal amount of money and could quite happily walk away.
Charles Wells Breaks the Bank
Charles Wells was a crook, which for some casts doubt on whether or not he obtained his winnings by honest means, but whether you think he was lucky or sneaky, there’s no argument that he broke Monte Carlo wide open. Charles Wells went to the casino one day and won, according to some sources, 23 out of 30 consecutive spins and broke the bank with his winnings that equalled a million Francs (back in 1891, this was worth quite a bit more due to inflation). He became known as the man who broke the bank, which is why it’s all the more shocking that he went back and did the same feat again walking away with another million francs.
It’s easy to say he was a cheat and he must have found some clever game, but his reputation was well known and he would have been scrutinized very, very closely. By all accounts, Wells won on pure luck! This money wasn’t enough, it seemed, as unbelievably Wells continued to try scams and wound up in jail for 8 years.
Who was the greatest?
It’s hard to say, the value of Wells’ win is hard to discern and while he relied far more on luck than Johnson, he didn’t make the most of his winnings. What do you think?