There is never just one way to do anything. It may feel like only mathematicians can conquer the
house advantage, or only a big jackpot can make up for all the time and effort already invested in
winning, but there is always another way to win.
1. Random Chance
Not all big gambling winners do so using skill or forethought. Sometimes winning just happens,
and it can happen anytime. This was the case for a very lucky craps player: Patricia Demauro.
This miracle-bound person was just about new to the game, having only played it one other time
in her life. Then, one fateful day in 2009, Demauro stepped up to a craps table and won 154
throws in a row. Another famous stroke of good luck happened in 2000 when a Los Vegas
cocktail waitress broke the record on the Megabucks jackpot and walked home with
$34,959,458.56. The story doesn’t end well for her, however. Less than three months after her
big win, Cynthia Jay’s car was hit by a drunk driver, and she lost her sister and her ability to
walk. Random chance may have worked out for her to begin with, but it did no favors for her in
Everyone knows some games have more of a house edge than others, but few people stop to
figure out how much of an edge each little rule gets them. Don Johnson is not the sort of person
to hear the house is going to win and accept it. Instead of trying to cheat the system by counting
cards or slipping in cards of his own, Johnson found holes in the rules and then used them. He
found casinos and dealers that were more lax about when players could go back on a bet, when
they could increase the bet, and other details that didn’t seem all that important to other people.
Then he asked the dealers to bend the rules just a little bit more until the advantage was on his
side. His greatest success came from negotiating the payback that the casino gave him if he lost.
After winning a total of $15 million in about six months, Johnson retired rich.
3. Skip the Casino
Not all bets need to be predetermined by casino rules. Sometime a player can come up with their
own idea and take them to a wagering company. These bets can be just about anything from the
temperature next week to the number of states in America in 50 years. The farther away in time,
the less probable, the greater the windfall. There are two famous instances of these strange bets
working out. One is the story of the Welsh national football player, Harry Wilson. When Wilson
was just a child, his grandfather, Peter Edwards, predicted his career, and was awarded 2,500
times his initial 50 pound investment. This system also worked out well for David Thelfall, who
predicted in 1964 that a man would walk on the moon within seven years. His prediction came
true in 1969. Both of these people did something the rest of the tide avoids: taking the odds into
their own hands and making their own rules.
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