Blackjack is one of the most well-known casino games in history. It is also as old as time. The current belief is that the game originated in the late 16th century, but there is some proof that it existed before this date.
Either way, the game has been around for much longer than most of us realize, and yet the biggest winners have come from the last couple of centuries.
1. $40 Million – 1995 – Kerry Packer
Kerry Packer is a big name in blackjack, as no one has ever beaten his 1995 winning total. Packer didn’t play online on platforms such as Fanduel.com, which means the exact details of how he played cannot be commented on with true accuracy.
However, we do know that Packer walked into Las Vegas with a world-winning record already. In 1991, Packer won the most money in blackjack history and just 4 years on, he was still holding that title.
Of course, his $7 Million win was nothing in comparison to what he was about to collect.
In just 40 minutes, Packer won $40 million. He didn’t walk away with all of it, mind you, as Packer tipped the table with $1 million and then lost $27.4 million over the year through failed bets.
2. $50 Million – 2000 – MIT Team
Although this team won $50 million overall, we couldn’t put them in the first place. Firstly, they were a group of winners, and secondly, this figure spans over years not a single play.
Still, their amazing achievements cannot be ignored. It was turned into a movie. Ever seen the film 21? This gambling screening was an adaptation of the MIT Team and how 80 players won between $50 million and $100 million.
The team was made up of university students who attended either Harvard, Yale, or other top-tier universities.
Once they won, the amounts were evenly distributed between the group. This meant that the house lost millions, but the individuals won a non-suspiciously high amount.
3. $15.1 Million – 2011 – Don Johnson
Now, some people will say this doesn’t count, as Johnson’s $15.1 million win didn’t happen in one sitting. Instead, he collected his winnings over a 5 month period where he didn’t lose one game.
In reality, you don’t win big money after playing one game of blackjack. Instead, you sit at the table for hours as round after round goes by. Seeing as it took Johnson 5 months to finally lose, we think his $15.1 million should be included in this list.
Johnson was already a billionaire before this winning streak, so he was able to place big bets without a care in the world. This carelessness is what gave him such massive payouts.
4. $7 Million – 1991 – Kerry Packer
Back to Kerry Packer, his first big win was in 1991 back in Las Vegas. Little did Packer know that a bigger win was coming his way just 4 years later, right now this was the biggest moment of his life.
Packer was playing big, and he chose a purposefully public table so that strangers around him would cheer him on. It was like a movie as the crowd went wild. Even the hotel Hilton was impressed with his game. They were so impressed that they offered him their special suit as congratulations.
Because it was both a public table and before our current digital advancements, we aren’t aware of how he played the game, but Packer was seen as a celebrity for years to come. Just imagine his fanfare during the 1995 session. His play style was intense and created a new level of celebrity.
5. $4.5 Million – Between 1975 & 1981 – Ken Uston and Team
In 1975, Uston created a team of professional card counters. They predated the MIT team but had the same goal – beat the house.
During this time Uston was considered the king of blackjack and understood the best strategy like no one else of his time. Whenever he wasn’t playing, he was teaching others how to play. They became his apprentices.
Between 1975 and 1981, the team would attend casinos, destroy the house and then count their winnings. This brought them $4.5 million dollars which translates to almost $25 million today.
Many people believe the invention of multi-hand blackjack was due to this team and their high win tallies.
6. $1 Million – 2012 – Dana White
White won so much money that the Palms Casino accused him of counting cards and then banned him from ever entering his casino again. The dispute between White and Palms Casino is still ongoing.
In most US casinos counting cards isn’t illegal, it’s a strategy of the game. However, a casino has the right to remove a player for any reason, including counting cards.
White’s ban led to this statement where he declared his disdain for modern casinos.
“Casinos don’t gamble anymore. They’re all owned by hedge funds and corporations. They want to stack the odds so much against you that won’t pay. Realistically, there’s only one place left in town to play and that’s Caesars. They will let you play what you want to play. No messing around with limits.”
7. $800,000 – 2001 – Ben Affleck
Affleck may be an oscar winning actor, but he is a big-time gambler too. Affleck played at Hard Rock Casino and won $800,000 in a single sitting.
In 2004, Affleck came back but was spotting counting cards. The casino isn’t a fan of this strategy and so banned him.
8. $470,000 – 2000 – Michael Geismar
Geismar may not have the biggest win under this belt, but considering the others on this list, it was a big win for one player in one sitting.
Geismar put down a bet of $300 and decided to keep raising his bet until he lost. By lunchtime, Geismar won $470,000.
This strategy shouldn’t have worked and yet Geismar beat the odds.
The biggest wins in Blackjack history came from the card counting strategy, playing as a team, or sheer good luck.