What's your most humiliating gambling experience? More great stories....

Other Sep 24, 2020

A few days ago, I collected a bunch of stories from gamblers asking about their most satisfactory experience.  READ MORE HERE.  

Today, we're taking a look at the other side of winning, which is losing.  

Earlier today on Facebook, I posted this simple question to my readers:

What's your most humiliating or embarrassing gambling experience?

Just as expected, the replies were awesome, and they're still rolling in.  Here are a few of the best:


The entire 2000 World Poker Open in Tunica was my most miserable experience. I had been running hot in tournaments in AC and LV for two straight years, and I had made the decision I would travel the tournament circuit, and this was my second major trip. In the first tournament I played, a $500 buy-in pot-limit hold 'em event, a hand came up in the first few minutes where someone raised and I re-raised with Ac-Ks. He called. The flop came As-9s-2s. He checked to me, I bet, he check-raised all-in, I called, he had Qs-Qc. He thought his spades were live, but he had only two outs, and sure enough he spiked a queen on the river. I remember very clearly Jack McClelland announcing "We had 470 players to start this tournament..." and then the dealer at my table yells out "Seat open!" and Jack McClelland continues "... and now we have 469."


In the 1960s a cousin and I bought my grandmother a thoroughbred horse handicapping "computer" from VL&A in Chicago (part of the original Abercrombie and Fitch). It was a slide rule type device that when fed information off the racing form would pick winners. Of course my grandmother was never interested in using it...she would pick the grey horse and probably every other horse in the race. One day my grandfather took my cousins and my sister and I to Arlington. I imagine the oldest of us was 14 at the time. My cousin and I used the slide rule successfully and actually picked winners for something like 5 of the 7 races we stayed for...to the point where people in nearby boxes were asking our advice. Of course that isn't a bad memory.The bad memory comes from around 1970. I had tried a few years before to handicap via computer by more or less taking what the calculator did and programming it without much success because I had no real time to enter the data via punch cards. Around 1970 or so I could enter data via a teletype and so re-did the program and ran a whole bunch of tests with reasonable success. So one night I went over to old Waterford Park (now Mountaineer Park) outside of Pittsburgh armed with my print outs for that day's races. I sat in the clubhouse going over the printouts and placing bets...and lost every race.

Hollis Thompson Barnhart

I was young and stupid. And drunk. I ended up at the Silver Slipper. I was a $3-$5 big shot playing blackjack. I bought in deep; $60. I’m cheap and always willing to sacrifice a small buy in for a lucky run-up.Within an hour, I had green and black chips and a lively audience cheering me on. My girl colored up and racked the blacks. I had $9900. I had heard of a rack of black but never had one. I needed one more chip. Everyone said stop. Cash out. Let’s go. But I wanted that last chip. A buddy said he’d toss in a free one and I remember that cocky arrogant reply from the 70’s. “Let’s earn it the ole fashion way”. DEAL! I just knew I could win one more chip. But no.Within 45 minutes, I was tapped. $9900 gone. But it doesn’t stop there. I put out $550 in cash. My entire bankroll. Let’s run it up. By then, nobody was close enough to hear me. That money lasted for 7-8 minutes. And my head was spinning.Then it dawned on me: I had credit at the cage. Not much. $500. I went there. They said no because I had written a letter cancelling all future credit. I yelled; “if I can cancel it, I can restore it!!” They called the casino manager and of course he approved it. I took that marker for $500 and blew that up in another 15 minutes. Tapped out. All by myself. Broke and disgusted.

Mickey Goldfine

The year was about 1977. I was counting cards in Vegas. I can't remember the casino but the dealers name was Bullet. He was a "small person" and had to stand on a box to deal the cards. It was a double-deck game and he was dealing to the bottom of the decks. I think it was the Landmark. It was 2 am. Every card left was an ace, nine or ten. I put every cent I had on the two hands and saved enough for insurance. I was dealt two hands, both an ace and nine. The dealer had an ace up and asked if I wanted insurance. I took the insurance and the dealer looked and did not have blackjack. I thought to myself, ok we will tie. He must have a nine in the hole. He turns over his card and its ace in the hole. He hits it with a nine for twenty one. It was the only time I've ever lost it playing cards. I walked the two miles home. I still have nightmares about that hand to this day.

Richard Vehlow

I have a 2nd story regarding my parents and casinos, but gambling wasn't involved. 8 years later on a trip to Mohegan Sun with them. Staying in the hotel with them, i went down in the morning to swim in the pool. Back then i had some significant credit card debt that i never told them about because they always preached against carrying balances. I was however putting myself mostly through MBA school, and the cost of everything was a bit over my head. Anyway, I'm down in the pool, and my father comes down looking absolutely furious. Apparently, a credit card statement fell out of my suitcase showing a $7000 balance and he saw it. I was mortified. He let me have it big time. But then, to his credit, he never told my mom about it and gave me a $7000 check to pay it off, which i did. To this day, i find that to be the most embarrassing thing ever to happen to me on a casino property. Dad would pass away less than two years later, and now 15 years after his passing, and 17 years after the incident, this still gnaws at me. The embarrassment. The gratitude. And the love i have for my deceased parents. No flip of the card can ever top that embarrassment.

Thomas Sanduski

Around 1996 I am midway through playing in a 10-minute video poker tournament session at the Sante Fe in Las Vegas when a guy comes up from behind and leans his head on my shoulder and shows a badge in my face talking in my ear "I am officer Murphy from Las Vegas Metro. Do you have any weapons on you?" I say "no" of course. He then says he is going to put his hands in my pockets to check. He says a bank was just robbed nearby and I fit the description of the robber: Red baseball cap (my Nebr. cornhusker hat was on), unshaven, wearing shorts, white, slim build. As he reaches in my pockets he feels the big fat roll of $4,000 I have for my gambling roll that day. Now I am thinking "Oh, my god, maybe I did rob the bank!". He asks what I am doing with all that money and I tell him. He then says to stand up slowly and he is going to escort me outside where a witness is waiting in a police car to identify me. So we go out and the witness waives me off as not the guy. So the officer thanks me for my time and says have a nice day. I go back inside and they let me play a replacement tournament session for the one that got interruped.

Charlie Townsend

Mirage Poker Showdown Main Event..... 2 tables left....17 or so from 1st Place I was among of the chip leaders..... Then my phone ring....It was my wife calling from Woodstock NY. She was there at the horse show...she had locked her keys and our dogs in the car and had she been drinking. I calmly explained her options, break the window, call AAA to shim the lock or call the police to shim the lock. I told her if she breaks the window there's a Ford dealership about 10 miles from her location and its no big deal...shit happens. I also explained my situation.... Her reply was "you dont care about me and all you care about is poker" And hangs up. Two minutes later it rings again.....I answer to her yelling at me and she hangs up. One more time same thing. I quit answering the phone after that. She then calls the Mirage and starts having me paged in the poker room....each time I'm getting more and more pissed. I get dealt pockets Aces....I miss play them and get knocked out of the poker tournament by Tony G who then starts in on me about how bad of a poker player I was.......It was a long walk back to the Luxor and each step I took the more angry and more stupid I felt.....I was due to stay another week....but after that I packed up and took a flight home on a redeye. One of the MANY reasons she became my ex-wife.


I was playing way above my head in an underground $5/10 NLHE game in Dallas. I was $2k in, had $970 in front of me, and the game broke (maybe 7am after playing all night). The only person left at the table was a drug dealer known to always have $20-50k in a shoebox. His stack was around $2500. He offered to flip me for my stack. $970 was a lot of money to me, then, but I thought, “this could get me almost even for the night, and I won’t be in so much trouble.”Instead of flipping a coin, we decided to draw high card. He drew a Jack. I drew a deuce.

Don Rieck

I remember, sort of, being at Binions in the late 90s for our annual poker with friends thing. It was Saturday night, and my trip bankroll of all of $600 was down to $50. It’s probably 2am and I have a noon flight home. $600 was a lot o money to me back then. I’m walking back to my room which was on the old Mint side of the casino and of course I can’t pass by the blackjack table. I figure I’ll lose my last $50 and go to bed.I go on a monster heater. Turn the $50 into over $2000. Next thing I remember I’m in my room on top of the covers still dressed.I still don’t know what happened. But I remember one of the cocktails tasting a little weird.Needless to say I think I got drugged.And no, there was no money in my pockets.That’s why back then before taxis took credit cards the first thing I did when I got to town was put cab fare in my suitcase so I could get to the airport.

And finally, mine (the author):

Nolan Dalla

I never have been into playing tournaments. Covered thousands of them. But never really got into playing them. Around 1998, I was up at Foxwoods and decided to play a $240 buy-in New England Poker Classic event, on a whim. About 400 entries. After 10 hours of playing with about 20 players left, I had the chip lead. Then, I ran cold for the next hour and was an average stack heading into the final table. I was broke at the time, except for maybe a small poker bankroll, so I REALLY needed the cash and there was like $20,000 up top. This was the last event before their Main so I thought the tourney was going to play out in a single day. I had a major work commitment the next day along with non-refundable air tickets from Providence for Marieta and myself to return to National.  Mike Ward comes up to the table and tosses down an armful of bags and pens and says, "OKAY, SEE YOU BACK TOMORROW AT NOON!" I was like....what the fuck? I'd entered a poker tournament that I have NO CHANCE to play if I made the final table. I'd misread the "next day" rule on the sheet. I was livid. But I was also too embarrassed to admit what I'd done.The next day at noon I was back in Washington at work, when my phone rang. It was Mike Ward, who had my number because we were friends. "Where are you? You're getting blinded off!" I explained what had happened and begged him, "Can I play the final table by phone?" not realizing the ridiculousness of this exchange.Of course, I couldn't do that. I ended up taking 9th, for something like $1300. They mailed me a check. After I cashed it, I think I threw up.

There's much more where these came from (50 stories, and counting!).  Join the discussion on FACEBOOK.