A Hunch that Paid Off

In 1989 an anonymous man from Wales placed a £30 bet at Ladbrokes, a London gambling establishment. The terms of the bet? The Welshman wagered that as of January 1, 2000: The band U2 would still be together and active; British entertainer Cliff Richard would receive a knighthood; The soap opera Eastenders would still be shown on BBC... Continue Reading →


Return of the King? What are the Odds?

Ian MacMillan was counting on the return of the King -- the King of Rock 'n' Roll, that is. In 2002 MacMillan, an unemployed resident of Great Britain, placed a wager of five pence (7¢ in US currency) in favor of Elvis Presley riding into town on a horse named Shergar for a tennis match with Lord... Continue Reading →

I Hope They Had Time for Their Studies

    College students have long been known to be among the most loyal customers of fast-food restaurants. In 1975 the students of Caltech combined their love of burgers with their scientific and engineering training.  The occasion was a sweepstakes sponsored by 187 McDonald's restaurants in Southern California. Participants were drawn by prizes that included... Continue Reading →

Not in the Cards to Repeat a Shuffle

Photo credit: By Alan Cleaver (Flickr: Shuffling the deck) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons In a deck of 52 cards, there are 80,658,175,170,943,878,571,660,636,856,403,766, 975,289,505,440,883,277,824,000,000,000,000 possible combinations. To give you an idea of how many that is, here is how long it would take to go through every possible permutation of cards. If every star... Continue Reading →

A Pretty Good Indication of a Gambling Problem

Some of us who break out in a rash at the thought of losing a quarter in a faulty vending machine may have difficulty empathizing with Australian businessman Harry Kakavas. He didn't just lose some pocket change ... He lost a LOT of money, and he kept on losing a LOT of money in extravagant... Continue Reading →

Around the World with a Baby Carriage

The Earl of Lonsdale accepted a bet from his friend John Pierpoint Morgan that no man could circumnavigate the globe, on foot, without being recognized. The wager didn’t end there. By 1908, further conditions stipulated that the individual would only be permitted one change of pants, should wear a metal helmet, and had to push... Continue Reading →

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