By Kenneth Albers.
When it comes to casino tables, blackjack is up there as the all-time king. Like baccarat and poker, it remains a timeless favorite. And now, with the advent of online poker and blackjack, access to casinos has never been better. Blackjack is most loved for its low house edge and simple rules. And if you’re playing at an online casino, you’ll find most blackjack tables offering high RTPs (return to player), and you can play from the comfort of your home.
Blackjack’s high RTPs make you wonder if anyone can go home with such massive wins. But that’s already outside the realm of speculation — it has happened time after time. There are blackjack legends whose insane wins have become reference points in the gambling world over the years.
Success stories of players winning millions may be all you need to get fired up for your next action. Let’s get right into it then — five of the biggest blackjack wins in history! 1)EDITOR NOTE: Of the five big wins listed here, two were accomplished without advantage play techniques or card counting. Can you guess who the gamblers were?
1. $50 – $100 million – The MIT Blackjack Team
When students of MIT, Harvard, and other top institutions join up for a project, you should expect nothing less than a riveting success. But since this is the casino business, it’s okay to entertain some doubt.
This group of students, later known as the MIT Blackjack Team, employed advanced mathematical strategies like card counting to beat casinos around the world. The team of 80 members, led by Bill Kaplan, operated for years, and they visited different casinos to play games and wore disguises to avoid being spotted. It is estimated that the MIT Blackjack Team won well over $50 million during their years of operation. Of course, they had to stake high amounts to win, as it’s common knowledge that you can play blackjack for hours and roughly break even. Some tables have lower stake sizes to prevent massive wins, but some high roller casinos, like those reviewed in this guide, allow players to bet thousands of dollars on each hand with the aim of making huge wins like the MIT players.
Their success inspired the film 21, based on a New York Times best-selling novel, Bringing Down the House, a story spotlighting the team’s escapades. The group separated in the early 2000s, but not without leaving their mark on the game of blackjack.
As the MIT Team’s success stories spread, the modern blackjack game evolved to render some strategies ineffective. However, these changes have both made blackjack more challenging and generally captivating.
Following their fanfare and fame, the MIT Blackjack Team has become the best go-to if you want to master the blackjack game. Whether it’s win strategy or basic game mastery, there’s a thing or two to learn from the MIT Blackjack Team.
2. $40 Million – Kerry Packer
Kerry Packer’s first cameo in the limelight was in 1991 when the Australian businessman entered a casino and won $7 million from blackjack. But this doesn’t compare to the moves that make Kerry Packer the world’s greatest gambler. Packer’s biggest win came in 1995 when he visited the Las Vegas MGM Grand Casino and won $40 million within an hour.
For Packer, the strategy was quite simple. Play eight hands simultaneously on the same table and throw a massive $250,000 bet on every round. Unlike most wins, which typically took months, Packer won within 40 minutes of blackjack. The larger-than-life gambler was known to give a $1 million tip to his dealers after the win.
However, Packer still does not feature among history’s most skillful blackjack players. Stories have it that he lost a whopping $27.4 million in ten months, and in one night, he lost another $10 million. Regardless, Packer’s visits were a risky affair for casinos, spending the last decade of his life pooling wins from one casino to the next.
3. $15.1 million – Don Johnson
Don Johnson was a famous high roller and millionaire CEO of Heritage Development. A one-man army, Johnson single-handedly scored a massive $15.1 million blackjack win. But his win didn’t come from luck or wealth alone; Johnson has been a devoted blackjack player for years. All along, he developed spectacular card nuances and mathematical strategies.
Johnson won for over five months, from December 2010 to April 2011. He employed the most favorable house rules and every chance he got, he always split a high hand into four, doubling his bets. His calculated playing style led to his astounding blackjack wins. However, his strategy and winning streak earned him a ban from playing blackjack at casinos.
4. $4.5 Million – Ken Uston
Ken Uston isn’t just a blackjack legend for his massive wins; his gaming style influenced present-day multiple deck blackjack. He is popularly known as the king of blackjack strategy, and rightly so. He created one of the first blackjack teams and mastered mathematical strategies for consistent wins.
Ken is also known to re-imagine blackjack card counting to evolve into a form of art. Due to his genius card counting skills, casinos were forced to adopt multiple deck shoes.
From the 70s to the 80s, Ken led his team to various casinos, betting as high as $12,000 per hand. His team won around $4.5 million, one of the biggest blackjack wins of those decades. It is believed that his card-counting team influenced the MIT Blackjack Team.
5. $2 Million – Dana WhiteDana White isn’t an entirely lucky casino player. A known regular at blackjack casinos, Dana was once banned for card counting and denied his winnings. After his ban was lifted in 2014, Dana won $2 million from blackjack in a historic win, mainly because of the controversy around his return and reputation. It was reported that Dana would have won much bigger if the casino hadn’t reduced his bets to $5000 from $25,000.
However, Dana has attempted to clear his name by denying the card-counting allegations. He explained that he employs a mathematical blackjack strategy, but that wasn’t enough to prevent another ban. His reputation, nevertheless, Dana remained generous, gifting his dealers a $200,000 tip after his $2 million win.