Britain has long been considered something of a promised land for professional gamblers, boasting one of the most varied and accessible betting scenes in the world with dozens of licensed online betting sites and newest casinos.
Although many pro bettors may prefer the lower-tax security of more foreign locations, the United Kingdom remains an attractive proposition for those looking to profit from casino and betting activities.
Many of the world’s most famous gamblers originate from the much larger United States, while Hong Kong also has links with a lot of the more successful names in the industry.
For such a small island, however, UK has also produced a respectable list of bettors whose winnings put them on the map alongside the best of all time.
1. Tony Bloom
Perhaps both the most well-known yet secretive of Britain’s most successful gamblers, Tony ‘The Lizard’ Bloom has gone to great lengths to keep his actual wealth private.
The 51-year-old’s most famous gambling exploits all relate to his career in poker, where he’s competed on the World Series of Poker and other high-profile tournaments around the world.
Although Bloom’s poker winnings are known to run into the millions, it’s the entrepreneur’s activity off the table that’s helped him accumulate a net worth many approximate runs into the billions.
The East Sussex native has helped develop gambling websites, as well as investing in property and other start-ups.
His most well-known business is StarLizard—a betting consultancy and predictor based in Camden, tailored to attract high-rolling gamblers—and even that’s shrouded in mystery, with employees made to sign strict nondisclosure agreements when joining the company.
Bloom purchased a controlling stake in his hometown football club, Brighton & Hove Albion, for £93 million in 2009, a small sign of the card shark’s wealth that will have only soared since.
2. Harry Findlay
One would struggle to find a horse-racing aficionado during the 1990s and 2000s who wasn’t well aware of Harry Findlay, whose betting escapades often dotted the pages of national newspapers.
Findlay professed in his 2017 autobiography, Gambling For Life: The Man Who Won Millions And Spent Every Penny, that he’s “won over £20 million and spent just as much” over the course of his gambling career.
‘Harry The Dog’ is a symbol of what it means to go through the highs and lows related to gambling, becoming a millionaire after he had served prison time in his younger years for credit card fraud.
Findlay’s major associations have long been greyhounds and horse racing, collecting a payout of a different sort in 2008 when Denman, a horse he part-owned, won the Cheltenham Gold Cup.
That’s one example of his greatest successes, while the £2.5 million he wagered on New Zealand to win the 2007 Rugby World Cup is frequently cited as probably his greatest fall.
A live bet on France reduced his loss to £1.9m before Les Bleus knocked the All Blacks out in the quarter-finals, but Findlay told the Guardian in 2017 he doesn’t live with regret: “Absolutely.
“But I’m a Dostoevskyite and there is no choice. You do it all the way.”
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3. Patrick Veitch
The most successful gamblers are often more analytical minds, and Patrick Veitch is just one prominent example of a betting success whose systems were rooted in mathematics.
Horse-racing was again the trade of choice, and it was during his days as a Cambridge University student that Veitch set up a tipster hotline, earning more than £10,000 a month before he’d even graduated.
The Yorkshire native referred to himself as “the UK’s most feared professional punter” in his 2009 book, Enemy Number One, with Veitch noted for winning more than £10 million from the bookmakers between 1999 and 2007.
His algorithms and ability to spot outliers around race day have paved the way to success, so it’s no surprise the betting veteran is reluctant to offer tips on his methods.
Veitch remains involved in racing and is still understood to win payouts in the six-figure range, with his most famous victory coming when he backed his own horse, Exponential, to triumph from 100-1 odds, netting his owner a purse believed to be around £500,000.
4. Terry Ramsden
Terry Ramsden is a quintessential example of the rags-to-riches means gambling can provide those who are successful.
Born the son of a postal worker from Essex, Enfield native Ramsden rose to become one of the richest men in the UK, built on the back of his horse-racing knowledge and a career betting the Japanese stock market.
Through his lower-stakes race winnings, he was able to purchase a business in 1984 called Glen International, which had a turnover of £18,000 in his first year. By 1987, the company was turning over £3.5 billion, and Ramsden moved into horse ownership, rather than sticking to the sidelines.
Although his wealth wasn’t entirely accumulated through betting specifically, there was hardly a facet of Ramsden’s life in which gambling of some sort wasn’t a factor.
His net worth reportedly peaked at £150 million, though Ramsden was later imprisoned with debts exceeding £100m, once allegedly losing £2m on a single horse.
5. Joseph Jagger
One of the most British bettors of all time also happens to be one of the oldest, with Joseph Jagger regarded as something of a forefather in this part of the industry.
The Yorkshire-born textile worker’s story is a well-known one, which earned him the moniker as “The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo.”
Born in 1830, Jagger made a bold move to provide a better living for his family when he noticed the spinning wheels in his job were always imbalanced. Jagger took this insider knowledge to Monte Carlo around 1880, where he sought to exploit the information by observing roulette tables and formulating a system that allowed him to predict the outcomes.
Accompanied by his son Alfred and nephew Oats, Jagger won around £80,000 over a few days—valued at more than £7.5 million today—and briefly depleted Monte Carlo’s casino reserves:
The bleeding-edge technology used in casinos today means something as simple as a rocky roulette wheel couldn’t be used to get an edge, but a gambler can dream.
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