10 of the biggest bets ever placed

Betting chips on a tableMost of us have had a flutter on the horses, or placed a bet at a casino, at least once in our lives. But these high rollers took the stakes to another level.

Here is our rundown of some of the world's biggest gambles and the people who took them.
1. Kerry Packer's "Toss you for it"
The late Australian media tycoon Kerry Packer was an inveterate gambler who is believed to have lost up to $40 million (£25 million) in just 10 months, including almost $28 million during a three-week losing streak in London in 1999.

However, there is one bet for which he will always be remembered in gambling circles. Having noticed the attention a neighbouring punter was receiving from a casino waitress, Packer asked the man why.

He replied that he was from Texas, in oil and worth $100 million, to which Packer replied: "Toss you for it." The Texan millionaire walked away.

2. Captain Matthew Webb's Niagara swim
On 24 August 1875, Captain Matthew Webb became the first man to swim the English Channel.

Desperate for money, he then attempted to swim across the whirlpool below Niagara Falls for $10,000 - effectively staking his life on making it to the other side. He failed.

3. The Hermits' Pride
The Hermits of Salisbury Plain were a group of five professional gamblers who pulled off some of the biggest bets of all time at the start of the twentieth century.

Led by City financier Percy Cunliffe and aided by Irish stud-owner Wilfred Purefoy, the group enjoyed a string of wins involving horses trained at Druid's Lodge stables on Salisbury Plain.

And when the Hermits' horse, Hackler's Pride, won the 1903 Cambridgeshire, the group netted an estimated £250,000, or £10 million in today's money.

3. Terrance Watanabe's losing streak
In 2007, businessman Terrance Watanabe went on a year-long gambling binge in Las Vegas that cost him close to $127 million.

Thought to be one of the biggest losing streaks by an individual in Las Vegas history, it consumed all the personal fortune that Watanabe had spent more than 20 years building up.

4. Zhenli Ye Gon's meltdown
Known on the Vegas strip simply as "Mr. Ye", Gon has reportedly lost $125 million at a number of Vegas casinos over the years.

The wealth of the alleged drug trafficker, who is currently in prison, probably prevented him finding this excessive, though.

When police raided his house in Mexico City they found cash and assets worth $200 million.

5. Football match blackouts
When a spate of English football matches were hit by blackouts in the 1990s, foul play was immediately suspected by some.

They turned out to be right after an Asian betting syndicate - cashing in on the fact that bookmakers in their part of the world pay out on the score as it stands if a game is abandoned - was convicted of using a remote control to cut the floodlights.

While the total amount made is debatable, the gang was thought to have netted up to £60 million from two games disrupted in 1997.

6. William Lee Bergstrom's suitcase of cash
Texan horse trader William Lee Bergstrom became known as the "Suitcase Man" after he turned up at Binion's Gambling Hall and Hotel in Las Vegas in 1980 with two suitcases.

The casino had guaranteed to match any bet as long as it was a punter's first, a pledge that Bergstrom planned to use to wager $1 million in a single craps bet at craps.

He could not as his suitcase (the second was for his winnings) contained only $777,000.

However, the casino still matched this amount - only to regret it when his bet came good. He later wagered $1 million, and lost.

7. Mike Futter's Grand National win
Blackpool-born Mike Futter, who owns three bingo halls in Dublin and seven in Northern Ireland, landed a monster gamble on his own horse Monty's Pass in the 2003 Grand National.

Futter, together with his four co-owners, is reported to have netted well over £1 million from numerous individual bets of £5,000 each-way at 33-1 and £10,000 each-way at 20-1.

8. Spurs fan's own goal
On September 29, 2001, a Tottenham fan keen to impress his new girlfriend put his entire mortgage on his team - which was 3-0 up at the time - winning the match.

Unfortunately for him, however, Manchester United came back with five goals in the second half - leaving him homeless (and probably single).

9. Archie Karas' last chance poker game
Greek ex-waiter Archie Karas did not have two cents to rub together when he borrowed $10,000 from a friend to play poker at the legendary Binion's Horseshoe casino in Las Vegas.

Fortunately for Karas and his friend, he went on to defeat 15 of the world's greatest poker players in a head-to-head competition, before heading to the craps tables where he kept on winning. By the time he was done, he had about $17 million in his pocket.

10. The luck of the Welsh
You don't always have to be a high roller to win big.

In December 1989, a 40-year-old man walked into Ladbrokes in Newport, South Wales and put £30 on Cliff Richard being knighted, pop act U2 remaining as a group, Eastenders still being shown on the BBC as a weekly soap opera and Australian soaps Neighbours and Home and Away still appearing on British television by 2000.

Fast forward to January 2000 and the same man turned up to collect his winnings of £194,400 (paid out on accumulative odds of 6,479/1).

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10 of the biggest bets ever placed

King of pop Jackson was rumoured to have financial problems when he died in June 2009.

However, his music shot back into the charts as soon as he was no longer around to make any more and it is estimated that Jackson has sold well over 10 million albums since his death at the age of 50.

As a result - according to the latest figures from Forbes Magazine - Jackson's estate made an incredible $170 million (£108 million) in the 12 months to October 2011.

Presley's estate, which is thought to be worth about £1 billion, has generated many millions from music royalties, licensing deals and tourism at Graceland since his death in 1977, aged 42.

And it continues to earn about $55 million a year, partly thanks to posthumous appearances in adverts for products including Apple's iMac to Lipton's Tea.

Monroe is one of the most iconic stars of all time. And despite dying in 1962, her curvaceous image is used to sell everything from Visa to Volkswagen.

When she died, aged 36, her estate was valued at £1 million. However, the Forbes figures indicate that it earned a massive $27 million in the 12 months to October 2011.

The Beatle's estate has earned vast sums since he was shot dead in New York in 1980.

It was valued at about £100 million at the time of his death, but is since estimated to have grown by a further £200 million. And according to the latest Forbes list, it still makes $12 million a year.

The Nirvana singer, who committed suicide in 1994 at the age of 27, continues to be an iconic figure for many fans.

And his songs are still bringing in huge amounts of cash. In 2006, Cobain's widow Courtney Love sold 24.5% of the grunge band's publishing catalogue for a rumoured £35 million.

Not all the celebrities on the list are singers or film stars. Crime writer Christie has also amassed a huge fortune since her death in 1976, aged 85.

Her books continue to fill shelves around the world, while the immense popularity of her sleuths Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple have made her the bestselling author of all time, according to The Guinness Book Of Records.

However, his music shot back into the charts as soon as he was no longer around to make any more and it is estimated that Jackson has sold well over 10 million albums since his death at the age of 50.
As a result - according to the latest figures from Forbes Magazine - Jackson's estate made an incredible $170 million (£108 million) in the 12 months to October 2011.

Einstein died in 1955 at the age of 76, but the dead scientist is still raking in $10 million a year, according to Forbes Magazine.

His image has been used to advertise everything from McDonald's Happy Meals to the Toyota Prius.

The reggae singer died of cancer aged 36 in 1981. But the Marley family has continued to receive massive royalties from his musical catalogue.

It includes the best-selling album "Legend", which alone is believed to have earned them more than £10 million since his death.

The American rapper was just 25 when he was killed in Las Vegas in 1996.

However, his untimely death has not stopped him becoming the most successful hip-hop artist ever, selling more than 75 million albums worldwide. His estate is thought to earn about £4 million a year from his back catalogue.

The Hollywood star, who started her career at the tender age of 10, died in March 2011 at the age of 79.

By October of that year, according to Forbes Magazine, the value of her estate had swelled by about $12 million.


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