Erica Schoenberg, known as “Blackjack Babe” and “Poker Babe” was born in 1978 in Ohio, USA. She had multiple careers before becoming a professional blackjack and poker player, including as a personal trainer, model, and volleyball player. Though she has never yet won a tournament, she has placed in high money positions including third place in the 2007 WSOP; she was also invited as a top 40 player to take part in the first World Series of Blackjack. Her total winnings to date have exceeded $870,000.
A brilliant mathematician, she came first at the 1991 Knox County Math Championship. This proficiency with numbers probably led to her being trained by the MIT Blackjack Team, a group of people who, through card counting and other methods, made millions of dollars in winnings from casinos across the USA. Eventually, she would transition to poker and take part in several tournaments.
The Face of Mansion Poker
Schoenberg is a solid player of both blackjack and poker, having had very good finishes at several tournaments in both games. She began with Texas Hold ‘Em and soon made a name for herself with the game. At the WPT Ladies Night Out season 5, she came fourth. Ladies Night Out pitted professional players against a number of celebrities from other areas of the media. It was this event that led to an offer of a contract to be the face of Mansion Poker.
Mansion Poker was relatively new to the online scene at the time of the contract offer to Schoenberg, but today claims to be one of the largest gambling sites in the world (more here). She is a spokesperson and a public face of the brand, wearing advertising gear when taking part in tournaments. They have grown exponentially since their foundation and now offer a variety of games.
For a time, Schoenberg was engaged to French professional poker player David Benyamine. They separated and she was later in a relationship with another professional player, Erick Lindgren. They married in 2011 and she gave birth to their first child soon after.
Schoenberg was once a model but gave up when she decided it was not what she wanted to do. What she really wanted to do was play cards professionally and it was her maths skills and love of blackjack that helped her achieve that.
Recessions provide many people with an opportunity to break through into a successful career – though it’s not particularly easy, it requires a canny attitude. It is arguable that professional gambling experienced a golden age in 2008 and it led to the rise of celebrity gamblers like Don Johnson. He had always worked in the gambling industry, becoming manager of a racecourse aged 30, which was eventually converted into a casino. He worked in state regulation for a while before taking advantage of the dot-com boom and developing software for horserace wagering.
Eight years later, concerned with a loss of revenue during the last recession, casinos aggressively pushed for high-rollers to take part in high-profile games in order to encourage people to take up the game as a hobby and with the chance of making money.
High Rolling Casino Betting
An expert player of blackjack and poker, in 2010 Johnson was invited by several casinos to play in high-stakes games. A tough negotiator, Johnson managed to extract several conditions from the games he played which gave him an increased chance of winning and lowered his risks with losses.
During one 12-hour session, he won several million dollars at the Tropicana in Atlantic City. In all, he won some $6m from Tropicana alone. Further, he won $5m from Borgata and $4m from Caesar’s Palace. His enormous £15m+ winnings made a serious dent in casino profits for several years and he was eventually banned from Caesar’s Palace while the other two refused to honor his conditions in the future.
He has been accused of card counting and developing other systems by which he is able to play the table and take advantage, but Johnson has always denied having used any method.
The man who “broke the bank at Atlantic City” will never let the ban stop him from playing cards. Johnson has personally acknowledged that should he ever receive a uniform ban to play blackjack and poker, he would simply return to his first love of horseracing. He still runs Heritage Development LLC, the owner of the rights to software that aids wagering in horserace betting.
Despite his massive winnings and immense riches, the 49-year-old Johnson prefers to wear a hoodie and baseball cap while playing. He has also developed a party lifestyle, having been seen out with Pamela Anderson and Jon Bon Jovi.
King Henry VIII
When it comes to the most famous gamblers throughout history, it’s difficult to get more famous than Henry VIII. He is one of England’s best-known monarchs, though perhaps not for the reasons he would like. Henry was responsible for the creation of the Church of England, and legalizing divorce. He was also married six times over the course of his reign – two of his wives were beheaded!
He Enjoyed Gambling
What a lot of the history books and texts don’t tell you about Henry VIII was that he was a gambling addict. It’s well-known that he was very hedonistic, and spent a lot of time indulging himself. Music and sport were two hobbies of his, but he loved to eat and drink, and he coupled this with gambling.
King Henry would gamble regularly with a lot of the people he met during his reign. In fact, it wouldn’t matter if they were commoners or monarchy leaders. He would gamble with anyone, anywhere. And often people felt like they didn’t have a choice but to indulge Henry’s gambling.
Although He Wasn’t Very Good At It
During his reign, he was referred to as “England’s Number One Gambler”. It’s unclear whether he gave himself this nickname, but it’s highly likely. Despite his royalty and great wealth, Henry was acknowledged as being a terrible gambler. He would often make ludicrous bets in situations where he had no chance of a win. Furthermore, he was known as being one of the most unlucky gamblers in history.
Henry lost a lot of prized possessions, money, and jewelry throughout a short period of time. It’s a wonder he didn’t try to bet his throne away as well! It seemed like Henry would lose almost every time he gambled. Presumably being the King he had a limitless source of wealth to draw from. Or he had some kind of addiction!
He used to travel across Europe to compete in a multitude of gambling events every year. However, it’s widely reported that he would regularly lose, and quite a lot as well. Over a two-year period, the King was thought to have lost £3,250 gambling at cards. This seems like a reasonable amount of money now, but back then it was an enormous sum.
Henry continued to gamble until his death in 1547 at the age of just 55.