Big Wins in Casino History

Big Wins in Casino History

Casino games are played for fun. But more importantly, they are played to be won. A lot of people spend hundreds and thousands of their money trying to hit a big win at a casino playing their favorite games. Some are lucky enough to win, while others have unlucky streaks. Let us look at some of the big wins in Casino history; the lucky few who have won millions with significantly lower wagers.

Biggest Gambling Wins in Casino History

When it comes to gambling, every player hopes to win the jackpot. While some are still hoping, this desire has become a reality for people who have gone home with millions of dollars playing slots. There are many largest casino wins and big winners in the USA, for example:

  • Cynthia Jay Brennan
  • Johanna Heundl
  • Elmer Sherwin
  • Kerry Packer

Let’s talk about each biggest casino win in the USA and other countries in more detail.

$39.7 Million (Excalibur Casino, Las Vegas)

In 2003, a 25-year-old software engineer hit the jackpot that changed his life and that of his family. The winner, who remained anonymous, won $39.7 million on a Megabucks machine at the Excalibur Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. The amount was the biggest casino gambling win in history and still holds that title today.

$35 Million (Desert Inn, Las Vegas)

Cynthia Jay Brennan won this mega sum on January 26th, 2000. She confirmed that she got this win with a $21 wager on a Megabucks slot machine. Her jackpot win was the largest in the world for three years before the anonymous software engineer broke it in 2003.

Before her win, Cynthia was a cocktail server, and even after being $35 million richer, she returned to her job to finish her 2-week notice.

She was also remarkably open-handed with winning, giving some of it to various charities. Unfortunately, not long after her big break, she got involved in an accident that caused her sister’s death and kept her in a wheelchair.

$27.6 Million (Palace Station Casino, Las Vegas)

Despite this happening over two decades ago, it is still one of the biggest gambling wins in casino history. The winner decided to be anonymous, but it has been reported that she was 67 years old and a retired flight attendant.

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Unlike most, she did not collect her winnings in one go. Instead, she received them in installments. The first payment was $1.1 million, and she received a similar amount yearly for 24 years. She hit the jackpot on a Megabucks machine like the first two casino big winners after wagering just $300.

€17.8 Million (PAF, Online)

In 2013, a big win in casino games occurred at an online casino named PAF, with a Finnish gambler as the lucky winner. Amazingly, he spent the tiny sum of twenty-five cents playing Mega Fortune and walked away with €17.8 million. That amount in 2013 was equivalent to $23.6 million, and it is still one of the top online slot victories of all time.

PAF Online Casino
In 2013, a big win in casino slots occurred on an online casino named PAF

$22.6 Million (Bally’s, Las Vegas)

Johanna Heundl, a retiree from Covina, hit this jackpot in May 2002. She won the money after investing $177 in the Megabucks machine at Bally’s, a casino on the Las Vegas Strip.

Johanna had seen a man winning on the machine the previous night and was hoping to win a small sum for herself. To her pleasant surprise, her payline was lined up with the three Megabucks logos.

After her luck at the machine, she promised to keep coming to try her hand at winning more money.

$21.3 Million (Caesars Palace, Las Vegas)

Again, a 49-year-old business consultant hit the jackpot on the Megabucks machine and carted home the huge sum of $21.3 million. The winner chose to stay anonymous after his luck paid out at the world-famous Caesars Palace in 1999. He wagered just $10 on the game that won him that massive prize.

$21.1 Million (Cannery Casino & Hotel, Las Vegas)

This win was made by Elmer Sherwin in 2005 while playing the Megabucks machine in the Cannery Casino and Hotel. The incredible thing about this lucky winner is that he had previously won the jackpot worth $4.6 million on the Megabucks machine at the Mirage Hotel and Casino in 1989. We can safely say that he was not new to winning big.

£13.2 Million (Online)

Another online jackpot victory, €13.2 million, was won by a British soldier named Jon Hayward in 2013. The amount was equivalent to $20.8 million at the time, and he only had to bet twenty-five pence. Jon played the game at the popular online site called Betrays, and he got his win from the Mega Moolah slot machine.

Mega Moolah
Jon got his win from the Mega Moolah slot machine

$17.3 Million (M Resort, Henderson)

The win is a firm reminder that you should never forget to use any free credits you might have accumulated. The anonymous winner of this jackpot would not have expected to leave the casino with as much money as they did, considering they spent nothing at all. The win was made on a Megabucks slot machine at M Resort in Henderson in 2012.

$14.3 Million (Rampart Casino, Las Vegas)

Another Megabucks slot machine victory, this jackpot was won in 2013 by a gambler who wished to remain anonymous. Reports had it that he was usually a video poker player but was encouraged by his friend to try his hand at Megabucks. He spent just $20 before he hit the jackpot, and he was kind enough to give a sizable amount to charity.

Big Casino Winners of All Time

Some people have met relatively good fortune while gambling, but a few can be labeled incredibly lucky, having won millions playing various games at casinos. These are some of the most prominent casino winners of all time.

Archie Karas

Archie is a Greek American who turned $50 into $40 million. He is known for a winning streak dubbed “The Run” after winning a series of poker games in three years.

As a poker genius, Archie progressively grew $50 into a total of $40 million, but unfortunately, he lost most of the cash in just three weeks.

Anonymous ‘Peter’

A Norwegian man, known only as Peter, won the largest online progressive jackpot. He won a jackpot of 11.7 million Norwegian Krone (over $38 million) on an online slot game called Arabian Knights.

Kerry Packer

Nicknamed the “Prince of Whales,” Kerry Packer was already a billionaire when he had this big win. He decided to try his luck at MGM Grand Casino and made out with a whopping $40 million. However, he spent a lot of money on tips and other activities at the casino and ended up with $30 million.

It might interest you that Kerry got banned from MGM casinos and hotels for life due to his gambling spree. But you can be sure that all the workers he tipped (he gave as much as $1 million per person) will forever remember him.

Elmer Sherwin

Elmer Sherwin beat the odds when he hit the jackpot. Twice. During a trip with his wife, Elmer and his spouse decided to stop by Las Vegas to visit family. During their stay, he attended the Mirage Hotel and Casino’s grand opening, where he struck luck at a Megabucks machine.

That day, Elmer won $4.6 million, which he used to fulfill his lifelong dream of traveling the world. Sixteen years later, while playing on the Megabucks machine at Cannery Casino and Hotel, he won the jackpot again. This time, he went home with $21 million making his total wins $25.6 million.

John Tippin

John Tippin turned a $10 bill into $11.9 million in 1996. He was working at a Postal Service in Honolulu, Hawaii but took a trip to Las Vegas for a vacation. At the Las Vegas Hilton, he wagered on the Megabucks machine when, to his surprise, he hit the jackpot.

Five years after his incredible win, he published a book describing all the downsides of becoming a millionaire from his own experiences. He spoke of the paranoia, isolation, and sadness he felt after he won. Hopefully, he overcame all of these when he eventually lost all his winnings.

Big Poker Winners

Poker is one of the few gambling games with a blend of luck and skill. In gambling history, some individuals have made a living playing poker, while a few have amassed millions of dollars at the table. Here are some of the biggest poker winners who had both skill and luck on their side.

Antonio Esfandiari

Antonio Esfandiari is a skilled poker player recognized for his chip wits and tricks. He was also a former magician, which earned him the nickname “the Magician”. The poker champ has competed in many championships, including the World Series of Poker (WSOP) and World Poker Tour (WPT), where he got some pretty impressive cash prizes.

Antonio has also won millions of dollars in cash prizes for playing poker, with his most significant win being $18 million. This sum is the largest cash prize in poker history, and he won it at the 2012 WSOP championship.

Daniel Colman

Daniel is a professional poker player famous for winning the $1 million Big One for One Drop at the World Series of Poker Championship in 2014. He won the tournament’s first-place prize of $15 million, beating Daniel Negreanu, considered the best poker player of the decade. Daniel Colman has exceeded $28 million in live winnings and is still actively playing.

Elton Tsang

Mr. Tsang is a Hong Kong-based professional poker player regarded as one of the top five Asian poker players in history. Aside from being the winner of the third-highest prize in the record of poker tournaments, Elton is also an entrepreneur and investor.

He had competed in many poker tournaments but got his big win in 2016 when he came first in the €1 million Monte-Carlo One Drop Extravaganza. He defeated twenty-five other players to emerge at the top and received $12.2 million as his prize.

Biggest Blackjack Winners

Blackjack is one of the most popular casino table games that is loved for many reasons. The game is quite easy to understand, and more importantly, it has a relatively low house edge. Many players have won massive amounts playing blackjack, but these are some of the top winners ever.

Don Johnson

Don Johnson is among the most notorious gamblers in the world. He won $15 million in a few months at three Atlantic City casinos in 2010.

This achievement has made him one of the most well-known blackjack players in casino history.

He made his winnings at three of the best online casinos in Atlantic City. These include the Borgata Hotel Casino and Spa, Tropicana Atlantic City, and Caesar’s Atlantic City Hotel and Casino. Don won $6 million at Tropicana, $4 million at Caesars, and $5 million at Borgata in 6 months.

Ken Uston

There can be no discussion on the biggest winnings in Blackjack history without a mention of Ken Uston. Ken was an avid blackjack player in the 1970s and 1980s when he made significant contributions to the game. Ken mastered card counting methods that had never been employed in casinos and joined a successful blackjack team. The total amount of money Ken Uston made during his active years is not generally known, but it is public knowledge that he made millions playing the game. He was famous for winning up to $12,000 per hand or as much as $60,000 daily.

Unfortunately, after some time, he was banned from some of the top casinos in the world, and he resorted to wearing disguises so he could still play.

Dana White

UFC president Dana White has been among the biggest blackjack winners with incredible luck playing the game. White made over $7 million in total winnings in one night across different tables. His skill and luck at the tables were enough to ban him from playing at big casinos like the Palms Casino.

Biggest Roulette Winners

Many roulette players have had one or more hot nights where they went home with substantial winnings. However, there aren’t many that have made millions with a single bet. Here are some lucky few who have won big while playing roulette.

Pedro Grendene Bartelle

Mr. Bartelle is the Vice President of the largest manufacturer of sandals in the world — Grendene SA. He is a recreational gambler, and he enjoys high-stakes games. He has had two wins totaling $4.7 million, which no other roulette player has been able to beat.

YearWinning amount
2017$1.2 million
2019$3.5 million

Though there are barely any records showing the biggest roulette wins, Pedro’s hit could easily be the biggest win at casinos and in the table game’s history in particular.

Sir Philip Green

Sir Philip Green is a retail billionaire and chairman of the well-known Arcadia Group (encompassing Wallis, Topshop and Topman, Evans, Burton, and Miss Selfridge). While he has had his fair share of media appearances for several reasons, not many know of his incredible luck at the roulette table in December 2004.

Sir Phillip won €2 million at the luxury Les Ambassadeurs club in Mayfair and another €1 million before the year ended.

His €2 million winning was equivalent to $2.6 million, and the €1 million was the same as $1.3 million, totaling his winnings to about $4 million.

Charles Wells

Charles Wells was born in the 1800s and was known for his bizarre luck at the roulette table. Even though Wells was born centuries ago, his actions are still a well-discussed topic today.

He met his extraordinary luck for the first time at the Monte Carlo Casino in 1891. At the time, the casino’s cash reserves were referred to as “the bank,” and each table held 100,000 francs in its reserve. So, whenever a gambler won over 100,000 francs, they were said to have “broken the bank.”

While Wells was at Monte Carlo, he “broke the bank: several times to everyone’s amazement, so much so that people believed he was cheating. Investigations proved them false, and it turned out that Wells, indeed, was just really lucky at roulette and was able to score multiple big wins in the time he stayed at Monte Carlo.


Yes. No matter the size, your casino winnings are fully taxable, and you must report them on your tax return.

No. You do not have to wager huge sums of money to be a lucky slots jackpot winner. As you must have seen in this article, some individuals hit it big with wagers as low as 10 cents. A player even won using their free credit. Understand that slots are a game of luck, and with big or small cash, you can be the next big winner.

The answer to this depends on your country and what tax laws govern the locality’s jurisdiction. Generally, you could get a letter from the IRS informing you of the discrepancy with a notice to correct it. If you ignore the letter, you could get a court summons or receive a penalty.

Yes. The casino will not release your winnings to you if you do not provide a valid means of identification. This applies to both resident and non-resident citizens.

A machine malfunction voids your winnings. If you hit the jackpot and it is discovered to be a malfunction, the casino will owe you nothing but the amount you won. Some casinos might also offer to compensate you.

There have been many big wins in the history of gambling, but some of the biggest include Kerry Packer’s $30 million win at MGM Grand Casino. Another big win in casino history is that of an anonymous young engineer who won $39.7 million at Excalibur Casino in Las Vegas.

Publication Author
Donald Peterson
Author of articles
Donald Peterson is an avid gambler from Edmonton, Alberta, who also writes about his experience with casinos. He’s been in the business for over 10 years, following the ever-changing industry landscape. His articles are aimed at helping beginners with choosing casinos, suitable games, and strategies.
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