News, Culture & Society

The Players Who Got the Last Laugh at the Casino

The House Always Wins, right? Not quite. As you are about to learn, there are many incredible stories of Canadian players who took on the casinos and walked away victorious. It’s not every day that casinos lose, but when they do it’s a great day for players. Whether it’s card counting in blackjack, hitting winning combinations in slots, rolling your golden arm in craps, or stealing monster pots in poker, there is plenty of satisfaction in victory.

Blackjack players rank among the most-skilled card players of all. It’s a game that pits player against dealer – not against other players – in pursuit of the highest-value hand. The best possible hand you can form is blackjack, comprised of an Ace and a royal or 10, but in truth any hand value that beats the dealer’s hand without exceeding 21 is good for a win. Over the years, many players have triumphed against the casino in this spectacular game of skill, wit and strategy.

Canadians Dominate the Gambling Scene in a Big Way

Blackjack is a battle par excellence; it’s a game of imperfect information yet the players who succeed in it are highly skilled at their craft. At its core, it’s about determining the probability of the next card being beneficial to you the player, as opposed to the dealer. The game is typically played with between 6 and 8 decks of cards at casinos, making it difficult, if not impossible for players to count cards and gain a statistical edge over the house.

Having said that, many Blackjack Hall of Famers have consistently beat the house through blackjack strategy charts, basic blackjack strategy, blackjack odds calculators, and an innate understanding of card mechanics. People like Ken Uston, Peter Griffin, James Grosjean, Darryl Purpose, Bill Benter, and Don Johnson are all inductees of the Blackjack Hall of Fame.

These fellas know a thing or two about card counting, advantage play, and how to beat the house. Canadian blackjack players routinely compete at the highest levels on the blackjack circuit. Tournaments are held at Caesars Windsor, in Ontario Canada, the Niagara Fallsview Casino, and at scores of reputable Canadian online casinos.

Slot machine players are an interesting group of folks. For one thing, slots do not discriminate based on your skill or ability – anyone can scoop up a monster-sized progressive jackpot at any time. Of course, you’ve got to play for real to win for real. Fortunately, many established Canadian online casinos provide players with great slot games, no deposit bonuses, free spins, matching deposit bonuses, and the like. Even land-based casinos like the progressive Wheel of Fortune slot machine game at the Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas have paid out handsomely to Canadian players. Back in March 2018, a Canadian player won $1,322,750.87 on his birthday. It took him just 30 minutes to scoop up the life changing win. Fortunately, his win was subject to a slightly lower tax rate of 24% in 2018, not 25% from 2017. Despite the IRS dipping into his pay, he still walked away with $1,005,290.67. The anonymous winner won big, but so too did our next winner. Enter Canadian, Kevin Ripski from Ontario, Canada. He played Caribbean Stud Poker Progressive and walked away with a fat payday of $1,114,079. Remove the tax to the IRS of 24%, and his take-home pay was $846,700.

Outsized Potential with Canadian Casino Players

Despite its modest population, Canada has cultivated a generation of seriously outsized talent when it comes to casino players. Lesser-known casino superstars include Evelyn Ng, a poker player of note. She has banked hundreds of thousands of dollars since 2010, and was known for hustling in the game for many years before that. She defeated many top American poker players including Kathy Liebert, Jennifer Harman, and Annie Duke.

She even competed in the WSOP (World Series of Poker) Main Event back in 2008. Nowadays, she enjoys playing live and online poker, and starring in poker shows on TV. Another super poker player is Guy Laiberte. This former Cirque du Soleil star has an impressive string of performances to his credit. Back in 2007 he scooped up $696,220 at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. He even competed on Poker After Dark, Season #4.

Most articles paying tribute to Canadian poker legends will mention guys like Jonathan Duhamel, Sorel Mizzi, Michael Watson, and Gavin Smith. These poker celebrities have wiped the tables clean at poker rooms around the world. They consistently turn in excellent performances, astounding critics, naysayers, and casinos the world over. For those who say there is no skill-based element in card games, it may be time to rethink that. These folks have been at the top of their game for years, and their recent performances indicate there are no signs of slowing down anytime soon.

Perhaps one of the greatest poker players of all time is none other than Canadian superstar from Toronto, Ontario Daniel Negreanu. His total live earnings are $42 million and his best live cash was $8,288,001. He is currently the #1 poker player in Canada, and he ranks at #3 on the all-time money list. For those who think Negreanu is yesterday’s news, he placed second at the $100,000 NLH High Roller Event #83 at the 50th Annual WSOP in Las Vegas, Nevada on July11, 2019. His prize was an astounding $1,725,838 – not too bad for a fuddy-duddy!