50 Unbelievable Facts About Betting and Wagers

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1 Jadeite Streaming Resurgence

Jadeite Streaming Resurgence

In China, “stone gambling” involves buying uncut jadeite stones from vendors to cut open and see if there is high-quality jadeite inside. It has recently experienced a resurgence thanks to live streaming, where streamers record themselves cutting open the jadeite they bought, reigniting the craze.


2. In 2004, the father of professional golfer Rory McIlroy placed a £200 ($341) bet at 500-1 odds that his son would win the British Open within the next 10 years, when Rory was just 15 years old. In 2014, McIlroy won the tournament, earning his father $171,000 from the wager.


3. Many parlors for the Japanese gambling game Pachinko exploit a legal loophole in which players receive special tokens instead of cash, despite the fact that gambling for money is illegal in Japan. These tokens are then “sold” by players to outside vendors, who in turn sell them back to the parlor.


4. New Line Cinema gambled their entire company on the success of the Lord of the Rings franchise by committing to all three films for more than $270 million upfront.


5. In the late 1800s and early 1900s, gambling on US elections was extremely widespread. In New York, wagering on elections frequently surpassed the total value of stock and bond trading. Since there weren’t modern polls, betting odds were how newspapers predicted election races.


6 FedEx CEO’s Blackjack Success

FedEx CEO's Blackjack Success

In the early days of FedEx, CEO Fred Smith took the company’s last $5,000 to Las Vegas and won $27,000 gambling on blackjack to cover the company’s $24,000 fuel bill.


7. According to Roman legend, Cleopatra and Mark Antony had a wager about who could host the most expensive feast. Cleopatra won the bet by dissolving her priceless pearl earring in a glass of vinegar and drinking it.


8. In the early 1900s, a baseball team called the Penitentiary All-Stars literally played for their lives. In Wyoming, this integrated team of death-row inmates played against other local teams, earning prison officials money from gambling. Winning games earned the team a stay on execution.


9. Bountygate was a scandal in the NFL during the 2011 season, involving New Orleans Saints players gambling on the severity of injuries they could cause to opposing team players. The head coach received a season-long suspension for condoning the behavior.


10. President Warren Harding used to play poker in the White House, and he once gambled away an entire set of White House china dating back to Benjamin Harrison’s presidency.


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11 Lincoln’s Whiskey Barrel Bet

Lincoln's Whiskey Barrel Bet

Abraham Lincoln once bet a fur hat that he could pick up a barrel of whiskey off the floor and drink from it. He won the bet.


12. Kōei kyōgi (public sports) are Japanese public races that can be legally gambled on. There are four types: horse racing, bicycle racing, powerboat racing, and asphalt speedway motorcycle racing. Local governments or governmental corporations regulate these through special laws.


13. Terrance Watanabe is one of gambling’s biggest recorded losers. In 2007, he bet more than $825 million and lost $127 million at Caesars Palace and the Rio casinos. He often gambled for days on end, sometimes losing more than $5 million a day. He was responsible for 5.6% of Vegas’ gambling revenue, but he was later unable to pay for his cancer treatment.


14. Gamblers in the Old West rarely played poker, despite its representation in films, games, and other media. A card game called “faro” was the most popular form of gambling in the US until the early 1900s.


15. During future US President Gerald Ford’s first campaign for Congress in 1948, he visited local farms. He lost a wager, resulting in him milking cows for two weeks after his election victory.


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16 Coca-Cola Shares Gamble

Coca-Cola Shares Gamble

During the Great Depression, banker Mark Welch Munroe convinced struggling families in Quincy, Florida, to buy Coca-Cola shares that traded at $19. Later, the town became the single richest per capita in the US, with at least 67 millionaires.


17. Over a ten-year period, Warren Buffet bet $2,222,278 that, when measured net of fees, costs, and expenses, the S&P 500 would outperform a portfolio of hedge funds. He won.


18. Daniel Barringer gambled his entire fortune on a mineshaft in 1903, convinced that geologists had misclassified a meteor crater as a volcano and that he could find $1 billion worth of iron ore deposits. He was correct that the site was a meteor crater, but he didn’t realize the iron ore had vaporized on impact.


19. After hearing Kennedy’s “end of the decade” speech, an Englishman made a bet with a bookmaker of 10 pounds at 1000/1 that a man would set foot on the moon’s surface before January 1, 1970. He thought it was a “common sense bet.”


20. William Lee Bergstrom was a gambler known for placing the largest bet in casino gambling history at the time. In 1980, he arrived at Binion’s Horseshoe Casino in Las Vegas with $777,000 in cash, placed it on the Don’t Pass line in craps, and won. He returned in March 1984 and won again with a $538,000 bet. In November 1984, he placed a $1,000,000 bet but lost. He committed suicide shortly after.


15 Most Controversial & Costly Blunders in History


21 Soviet Pilot Blind Landing Tragedy

Soviet Pilot Blind Landing Tragedy

In 1986, a Soviet pilot wagered with his co-pilot that he could land the airplane blind, with curtained cockpit windows. He crashed the plane into the landing strip, killing 70 out of the 94 passengers and crew.


22. In 2013, Henry Gribbohm, 30, lost his entire life savings of over $2,600 while participating in the “Tubs of Fun” ball-tossing game at a carnival in Manchester, New Hampshire. Hoping to win an Xbox Kinect for his kids, he ended up only winning a stuffed banana.


23. In 2018, smartphone manufacturer Gionee had to begin bankruptcy proceedings after a string of losses, including the company’s CEO gambling away at least $144 million while “borrowing company funds.”


24. In 18th-century England, gambling dens hired people whose job it was to swallow the dice in the event of a police raid.


25. The government controls all gambling in Finland, and all profits go to charity.


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