In the pre Katie Holmes days, before couch jumping on The Oprah Show and controversy, Tom Cruise was an actor with a dazzling smile that captivated the film-going world. While being 50 isn’t exactly classed as being old, his age does remind us that Mr Cruise has been making movies for quite a long time, and one of his most critically acclaimed roles was in the 1988 film Rain Man, in which he plays Charlie, a man who discovers that his autistic brother Ray (Dustin Hoffman) has advanced abilities for mental calculation, leading the pair to hit the casinos to utilize Ray’s card counting abilities. This film led to the cliché that those who suffer from autism are supremely skilled card counters, and while excellent mental recollection (photographic memory) is a common trait of the disorder, most people who tend to frequently win big at the casinos do so because of their own training and abilities. So who are the best-known professional gamblers who hit the big time?
Archie truly lived the dream… for a while anyway. He did what so many investment plans promise us; to turn a small amount of money into a really large amount, but he did it solely through gambling. Archie Karas made an initial $50 bet in Las Vegas in December 1992, and by re-betting his winnings, he turned this $50 into an amazing $40 million by early 2005. He could have retired quite comfortably at this point, but like many gamblers; he had difficulty knowing when to stop, and lost the lot in just three short weeks.
The MIT Blackjack Team
If you had the intelligence to get into and excel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, you would spend all your free time diligently studying, wouldn’t you? To each their own, but a small group of students used their intelligence to take on the casinos- not a Robin Hood case of robbing the rich to give to the poor, but solely for their own profit. Six MIT students taught themselves the ins and outs of card counting in 1979 and took their skills to the blackjack table, in a plan that was shown in the 2008 film 21. The Blackjack Team was most active from 1980 to 1990, with up to 70 members working in small groups, winning hundreds of thousands of dollars. The casinos became aware of the teams, but since card counting is not illegal, all they could do was take photos of the teams (the members that were known, anyway) and attempt to ban them from the premises.
The last Australian media mogul was a notorious gambler, once losing more than AUD $28 million in the space of three weeks. Being a high roller, his wins were significantly higher than the average gambler, and he won an average of $7 million per year on his various casino visits. Since he was worth more than $6.5 billion, $7 million was little more than spare change to him- although he was probably pleased with his greatest casino victory, when he won $33 million during a single visit to the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas.