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The Craziest Gambling Stories From 2017

Here's A Look Back At Some Of The Year's Most Ridiculous Headlines


The gambling world can sometimes produce really off-the-wall stories. Every month there are plenty of cases of individuals going to extreme lengths to pay back debts, or of simply bizarre behavior at casino properties around the globe. It can be entertaining and sometimes sad.

We’ve been giving you our favorite stories each month in 2017, and now at the conclusion of the year we are presenting you with some of the craziest from the year that was.

Red Rock Casino Decides Not To Pay On Bad-Beat Jackpot

Las Vegas’ Red Rock casino is still under fire after refusing to pay out a bad-beat jackpot from July because one of the players accidentally turned over his cards prematurely. A recent hearing featured testimony about the controversial poker hand that occurred in the casino’s 20-table poker room. The casino had a bad beat progressive jackpot worth $120,000 when 83-year-old Avi Shamir lost with a straight flush to a higher one from a poker player by the name of Len Schreter. Red Rock examined video footage and decided to invalidate the jackpot because Schreter turned exposed his cards after the river card was dealt, but before the final round of betting had been completed.

Poker Player Lost $100M In Single Night, Molly Bloom Claims

The film adaptation of Molly Bloom’s 2014 memoir hit U.S. theaters on Christmas Day, and to promote the project Bloom made her interview rounds. In a chat in November with Ellen DeGeneres, Bloom revealed the biggest poker loss she ever saw first-hand. “I saw someone lose $100 million in a night,” Bloom told DeGeneres. She added that the player “paid the next day.” Bloom said the buy-in for her most expensive and exclusive games, which ran in L.A. and later New York City, was $250,000. That was presumably the minimum buy-in. Celebrities in her games, which kicked off around the height of the poker boom in the mid-2000s, included Alex Rodriguez, Dan Bilzerian, Leonardo DiCaprio, Ben Affleck, Matt Damon, Toby Maguire and Nick Cassavetes, as well as billionaires such as Alec Gores and Andy Beal.

Man Pleads Guilty To Leaving Casino To Rob Bank, Then Returning To Continue Gambling

A West Virginia man told a judge in January that he left a casino to rob a bank, only to return with the money and continue playing. According to police, Kerry Johnson, 52, put a $25 chip on a blackjack table to keep his seat and then drove 13 miles to a nearby bank and told the tellers that he had a bomb. After leaving with about $5,000 in cash, he returned to the blackjack table to continue playing. He lost again. Police later found him at his home sleeping on a couch. He ended up pleading guilty and in March received five to 18 years in prison. Johnson told the court that “most of the day was a blur” thanks to drug use. He claims that he only knew what he had done after seeing video of himself.

Former Dean Foods Chairman Dusted Off $150K In Single Blackjack Hand

The insider trading case involving legendary Las Vegas sports bettor Billy Walters and the former chairman of Dean Foods played out in court in 2017, and some juicy details emerged during the trial. In March, a Manhattan court was told that Tom Davis, who prosecutors say fed nonpublic information to Walters over a six-year period, was a degenerate gambler who once lost $150,000 in a single hand of blackjack. Walters allegedly profited more than $40 million from Davis’ tips. Davis was the former CEO of Dean Foods, a Fortune 500 company that is the largest processor and distributor of fresh milk in the United States. Davis received a two-year prison sentence in October, just months after Walters was hit with a five-year sentence.

Man Lets Woman Push Slot Button For Him, But She Gets To Keep Entire $100K Jackpot

A gambler in Florida learned a lesson the hard way in January when a woman he had befriended was sitting next to him at a $50-a-spin slot machine in the high-roller room at the Seminole Hard Rock casino. The man, Jan Flato, said that he was feeding the machine money and let Marina Medvedeva Navarro push the button for good luck. The spin resulted in a $100,000 jackpot. Because Navarro had placed the wager, the casino gave her the money—$50,000 in cash and a $50,000 check. Video footage confirmed that she had pressed the button. However, Navarro denied Flato’s version of events, saying that it was actually her money in the machine and that Flato knew that the gambler who pushes the button gets the jackpot.

Poker Pro Fails In Bet To Eat $1,000 Worth Of McDonald’s In 36 Hours

Nearly everybody thought it was impossible, and they were right. Back in May, California poker pro Mike Noori, who has about $400,000 in lifetime tournament earnings, miserably failed in his attempt to eat $1,000 worth of McDonald’s (not including drinks) in 36 hours. The idea for the prop bet came from Poker Hall of Fame nominee Matt Savage. More than $200,000 worth of action was booked for the bet, according to Noori, though his stake was only a “tiny piece of it.” Bettors on Noori reportedly were getting 5-1. After 10 hours into the bet, Noori had only consumed $90 worth of the fast food. The bet was eventually aborted at around the $100 mark. Some commentators called the effort “pathetic,” but Noori was apparently already struggling just 10 percent of the way through the bet.

Man Says Casino Booted Him For Pooping His Pants During Poker Room Promotion

This past summer, a Kentucky man said Cincinnati’s casino kicked him out during a $1,000 giveaway in the poker room after falsely accusing him of pooping his pants. According to a report from, the gambler identified only as “Tyler” claimed he went to the bathroom during the poker promotion and when he exited security said that he needed to leave over a stain on his pants. Other casino patrons reportedly complained that he smelled. However, he denies that he had a bathroom mishap and said it was because the casino didn’t want him to win any additional money from the promotion. A representative from JACK Casino told Fox19 that there was video evidence to apparently back up the casino’s decision. The casino released a statement saying its “top priority” is to maintain “a clean and sanitary environment” for customers.

$1.2 Million Bad Beat Poker Jackpot Hit At $1-$2 No-Limit Hold’em Table

In August, a massive $1.2 million bad beat jackpot was hit just minutes south of downtown Montreal. The Playground Poker Club’s progressive bad beat jackpot stood at well over seven figures when the JDiamond SuitJHeart Suit lost to the QSpade Suit8Spade Suit on a board reading JClub Suit6Heart Suit9Spade SuitJSpade Suit10Spade Suit. Shane Galle held the straight flush, winning about $230,000. Elphege Delarosbil took the lion’s share with a $460,000 payout thanks to losing after flopping a set and turning quads. The players at the table who witnessed the improbable hand each received more than $30,000. About $1,200 was paid to everyone else in the room when it happened. The bad-beat jackpot was one of the largest ever seen in the poker world, but million-dollar bad beats aren’t unheard of.

Boston Cop Accused Of Trying To Launder Bank Robbery Money At Casino

A veteran Boston police officer was indicted this past fall for allegedly trying to launder money at the state’s only casino. A Suffolk County Grand Jury indicted Joseph Nee, 44, on the charges of larceny over $250 and money laundering. He allegedly stole money from the police department’s evidence room and attempted to launder while playing slots at Plainridge Park Casino. The indictment said that in January 2017 Nee stole about $2,000 from the file of a closed bank robbery case. The stolen money was identified by the traces of red dye left from an anti-theft dye pack that discharged during the bank robbery.

Casino Owner Says He Was Tired, Drunk When He Lost $3M In Controversial Poker Game

A high-stakes court battle involving two wealthy poker players heated in early November after one of the men filed a counterclaim to the original lawsuit filed this summer. Australian poker pro Matt Kirk claimed in the suit that Czech casino owner Leon Tsoukernik owes him $2 million from loans made during a poker session in late May at the Aria casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Months later in court documents, Tsoukernik said he was taken advantage of by Kirk and the casino they played at. Tsoukernik said that alcohol was provided to him and that it was “sufficient to visibly intoxicate and impair” him and “induce him to play for large sums.” Tsoukernik wants millions of dollars from Kirk and the casino, citing damage to his reputation.

Church Pastor Tries To Rob Same Casino Three Times Before Being Caught, Police Say

Las Vegas police said a local pastor tested his luck one too many times at an off-Strip casino. Police arrested Gregory Bolusan in September at Penn National Gaming’s M Resort casino for attempting to rob the property of about $33,000. Police say he brandished a phony gun when he demanded the cash from the casino’s cashiers cage. Remarkably, the incident was Bolusan’s third attempted robbery of the casino in the span of just a few monhs, according to police. The first occurred in late August. Bolusan reportedly works a senior pastor at Grace Bible Church Las Vegas. In the alleged Oct. 28, he parked his car in the exact same spot as the other two incidents and entered the exact same doors of the casino as before. That time casino security staff were waiting for him, and police later showed up to take him into custody.

Naked Man Tries To Buy Into Las Vegas Poker Game

A fully nude man was walking around one of Las Vegas’ largest poker rooms in October when poker players started to take notice. The Bellagio poker room was abuzz when the unknown gambler was eventually cornered off by security and forced to put back on his clothes that he was carrying around in his arms, covering his groin area. According to a Tweet from Tommy Bates, Director of Poker at Philadelphia’s SugarHouse Casino, the man apparently was playing poker previously and returned nude for some reason to retrieve a couple of personal items. However, others in the poker community said it looked like he was trying to buy into a game. There was also speculation that the incident was the result of a prop bet.