Top 5 Baccarat Winners of All Time - and What We Can Learn from Them

Baccarat table with players image

📖 Published on: June 27th, 2024

✍️ Updated: June 27th, 2024

⏳ 8 mins read


Baccarat has long been acclaimed as a game for the senses and one that Lady Luck continues to straddle along many a velvet-lined table, where whispers of fortune and fate intertwine, creating an atmosphere of timeless elegance and high-stakes allure. This sophisticated card game, often associated with high rollers and glamorous casinos, has produced some of the most astonishing winners in gambling history.

These individuals have not only amassed substantial fortunes but have also demonstrated unique strategies and mindsets. Read on to delve into their stories and glean valuable insights from the best in the industry.

Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey, a poker legend, and his assistant Kelly Sun, an expert in "edge sorting," made history with a controversial baccarat run in 2012. By exploiting card manufacturing flaws and using clever strategies, they won $20.6 million at casinos in London and Atlantic City.

Sun was particularly skilled at "edge sorting," a sophisticated gambling method that involves identifying decks that have non-symmetrical patterns on their backs due to production flaws.

Their method may not have been the most ethical since it involved specific dealer requests and a particular deck. Thus, this eventually led to casinos taking them to court and Phil Ivey and Kelly Sun losing their winnings.

Phil Ivey image

After a lengthy legal battle, the courts sided with Borgata. Ivey and Sun were ordered to repay their winnings. In the end, they may have been unable to keep their winnings, but they did find success in cementing their place in gambling lore.

Akio Kashiwagi

Akio Kashiwagi, dubbed "The Warrior," was a Tokyo-born real-estate tycoon known for his colossal baccarat bets in Las Vegas and Atlantic City. With annual profits of around $100 million and assets exceeding $1 billion, he routinely wagered up to $200,000 per hand.

Kashiwagi famously played for 80 hours straight, experiencing massive swings in fortune—sometimes winning millions, other times losing entire profits and more. His final game in December 1991 saw him initially up $10 million but ended when he was down $10 million. Tragically, he passed away a month later.

John Warne Gates

Chicago-based millionaire John Warne Gates a.k.a. "Mr. Bet-A-Million," was a Chicago millionaire who gambled heavily and accumulated his fortune from barbed wire. He hosted opulent baccarat sessions and learned casino games from railroad workers. Using the "cheval" rule, Gates made a famous gamble of $1 million (now valued at $27 million) in a single round. The game finished in a tie, despite the high stakes. In the annals of gaming, Gates' audacity is still legendary.

Beyond his gambling exploits, John Warne Gates left a lasting reputation as a philanthropist and was known for being business savvy in the steel industry. Through his contributions to the creation of steel mills and inventions in barbed wire, he was a major force behind America's industrialization.

John Warne Gates image

Gates was a cunning businessman who succeeded well in navigating the difficulties of early 20th-century industry. Even with his love of high-stakes gambling and the notoriety it earned him as "Mr. Bet-A-Million," Gates has made equally significant contributions to American industry and culture. His life serves as an example of the entrepreneurial spirit and the quest for legacy and wealth.

Tommy Renzoni

The first person to propose that American casinos should start offering baccarat was Tommy Renzoni, a junior manager at the Capri Hotel in Havana. He introduced the game to the Sands casino in Las Vegas, where high rollers took an immediate interest in it.

Beyond bringing the game to America, Renzoni had a significant impact on it; in addition, he penned multiple books on the subject that solidified his reputation as a pioneer of the game. In addition to making baccarat more well-known in the US, his contributions influenced how the game is played now.

Kerry Packer

High-stakes gambling was nothing new to Australia's richest man at the time of his death, Kerry Packer. Few could equal the amount of money he gambled because of his immense fortune. Extreme wins and losses throughout his gaming career cemented Packer's place in baccarat history.

Packer's tale, in spite of his defeats, is proof of the excitement of the game. He is a legend in the game because of his willingness to place large bets, resilience in the face of defeat, and passion for it.

Kerry Packer

Tried and Tested Tips to Dominate at Baccarat

While our top five big baccarat winners may have made a name for themselves in the game, some approaches may not be as ethical in today’s iGaming and regulated gambling scene. Here are some tried and tested ways to make your baccarat experience worth recognizing:

  • Banker all the way: The banker bet is the most statistically safe way to win at baccarat because it has the lowest house edge (around 1.06%). The house edge on the "Tie" bet, on the other hand, is substantially bigger at about 14.36%. Although we can see how alluring this would be, it's also the riskiest choice.
  • Play shorter sessions: If you play longer, the house edge will probably catch up to you. Think about having brief sessions and place a cap on the total number of rounds you play in each.
  • Maximize practice rounds in free sessions: Numerous leading online casinos provide demo versions of their baccarat games for free. Use this chance to experiment and discover the winning baccarat strategy without having to risk real money.
  • Set a betting budget: Prior to beginning to play, it is always a good idea to determine a set amount that you are willing to spend (and possibly lose). If not, you could get quickly swept away by the thrill of trying to win at baccarat. Therefore, it's advisable to adhere to this spending plan to prevent significant losses.
  • Get a grasp on commission rates: Winning "Banker" bets usually result in a 5% house commission being subtracted. However, commission fees may vary throughout various baccarat tables or casinos. Be sure to review and comprehend these rates before playing. In general, players benefit more from lower commission rates.

Beat Baccarat like a Boss

Just like any other game, playing baccarat is a matter of practice and discipline. Finding the best platforms to play and casinos to bet your money on is crucial, and understanding how pros like Renzoni, Packer, and Ivey have made their mark in the industry is one way to get ahead of other players.

Renzoni's pioneering contributions, Packer's fearless bets, and Ivey's mastery of strategy all offer valuable lessons. By studying their approaches, honing your skills, and maintaining a level head, you can enhance your chances of success in this sophisticated game of chance and strategy.

Read more about what you should and shouldn’t do as a first-time baccarat player from our blogs at GambleSpot.

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