How The Sandwich Was Invented By A British Gambler and Other Tales

Like most things British, gambling has a long and noble history. Plus horseracing and the dogs (greyhounds) are pretty much national institutions, just look at Ascot and how popular the Racing Post is in the UK.  Nowadays, there is no need to tear yourself away from the telly in order to place your bets as, much like most things in our daily lives, you can now bet online - on whatever tickles your fancy.

When it comes to British Gamblers however, we're an odd bunch. The sandwich was even invented whilst a certain Brit was sat gambling at the tables hungry and in need of a "piece of meat between two slices of bread."

Whether it's those stiff upper lips that help our poker faces, or the fact that thoroughbreds are part of our heritage, we are indeed an overall successful nation when it comes to betting, just look at the top lotto winners of all time in the UK. Here are some notorious British Gamblers that shaped the scene as we know it today:

Bring me a piece of meat in between two slices of bread! 

John Montagu 4th Earl of Sandwich (1718-1792)

A British politician, John Montague served as Secretary of State and First Lord of Admiralty. He was in charge of the British defeats over the American Revolution and he was also a hardened gambler.

He also invented that delicious concept of a sandwich, that we all know and love as asnack or ven a meal. He gained most of his fame at the gambling table and was loathe to leave the game for any reason once he started playing. When he and the other gamblers became hungry one gambling session, he told his servants to bring him a slice of meat between two slices of bread. And so the sandwich was born.

The statue of King George III is toppled.

Charles James Fox  (1749 – 1806)

Another parliamentary gentleman, this time a prominent British statesman with a 38 year career, Charles James Fox was controversial, supporting liberalism and the French revolution. He had many enemies, including King George III and William Pitt (Jnr).

His not so private life was something to behold, even during a time where it was normal, and even expected, for Britain's Upper Classes to engage in all sorts of unruly behaviour. Not only a heavy drinker, he was also a notorious gambler who was claimed to have said that winning was the greatest pleasure in the world, and losing the second greatest. His late father had to pay off  his debts of £120,000 (around £11 million by today's standards) and Charles was bankrupted twice during his life.

MGM Grand Casino - Las Vegas.

Kerry Francis Bullmore Packer (1937 – 2005)

A short-tempered and wealthy man, Packer was best known for his Business Empire and subsequent clashes with the Australian Tax Office and Royal Commission, plus his lavish gambling habits. He was, by all accounts, quite a character.

Just before the millennium, in 1999, we heard that a three week losing streak at London Casinos left him nearly £15 and a half million down on his luck. At the time, it was the biggest gambling loss in history. Casinos and journalists alike were wary of him and his volcanic temper, and it just makes me think how much I would have liked to be a fly on the wall seeing his reaction to losing that amount of money in one sitting.

Kerry Packer was no stranger to big amounts of money changing hands at the casino, and once won just over £18 million at the MGM Grand Casino in Las Vegas, and often reported wins of up to £4 million each yearly UK holiday he took

Once fiery exchange Packer is noted for was at a Poker Tournament at the Stratosphere Casino. A rick Texan oil investor was trying his luck to entice him to a hand or two, saying how he was worth almost £40 million. Packer pulled out a coin, calmly asked "Heads or Tails?" and entered into a wager worth double that amount.

He is also known for having walked into a major London casino and losing £15 million on the roulette wheel in one sitting in the late 1990's.

Andrew Black (1963  - Present)

We just couldn't have a Best of British Gamblers list without Northern Ireland's Andrew Black.  A man who didn't have a job until he was 26, is today worth around £114 Million (well, who has time to count when there's that amount of money to be spent)? The professional gambler is the brains behind Betfair. He, along with Ed Wray, came up with the Online Betting Exchange in 2000 and, when floated on the London Stock Market a couple of years ago, it was worth over £1 billion.

Andrew Black's part of the company, which now includes a Betfair Online Casino , was worth around £125 million when he stood down a few years ago.

The origins of  Roulette's Evens or Odds.

Beau Nash (1674 - 1762)

Born Robert Nash and later changed to  Beau: here was a glass maker, a lawyer and a veteran of the army. He was born in Wales and later made a name for himself in Bath after getting kicked out of university and going to the town, known for its gambling underbelly. He is still known to this day in the gambling world as one of the most influential bettors the UK has ever seen.

Known for being very open, the dice and cards enthusiast was an experienced gambler. His losses due to his frequently shown hands, made him notorious. He was deeply involved with gambling schools in and around Bath, and became masterful at Roulette Evens or Odds, deepening interest in the area as he went.

His business ventures weren't ultimately successful, die to his trusting nature and partnerships with less than desirable businessmen. When he died at 87, he owed £1,200, which was a fortune by today's standards. Bristol opened a casino a short drive away from Bath in his memory, and it was called after him until the 1980's when Stanley Casino took over.

To this day, he is remembered as the man who brought gambling to Bath to stay.

Horses on the racetrack.

Alex Bird - The Professional Punter

Alex Bird was a gambler with a £2 million annual turnover after the war. His father was a bookmaker and his interest piqued in gambling as a young child.

He was famous for getting one over on the bookies, and he saw the majority of his success due to betting on photo finishes, which took around 5 minutes to develop and double check in those days.

He was a stickler for his own rules and systems to win and, despite him being dead over two decades; many current systems for winning on the racetrack are based on his.

Mill Reef, a horse that achieved fame after winning the Derby, was Alex Bird's largest ever bet, and was the 7th Derby winner he had backed in 8 years. Final Shot was his last bet in 1990.

Losing betting slips didn't plague this professional gambler.

Patrick Veitch - £10 million Up and Still Winning

Patrick Veitch is a mathematical wizard who won a place at Cambridge at 15 years old. Despite not completing his degree, he began his own tipping line and by his early 20's, was making money hand over foot.

However, after becoming the target of a criminal, he had to put his career on hold and went broke. He managed to build himself back up though, and began pulling in £1 million a year using his mathematically sound betting methods.

Patrick Veitch believes in working hard to get it right, and says there is no shortcut when it comes to betting. Nowadays,  he rarely goes to races, using agents to place his bets and watching everything from his computer, while his mind analyses the events.

His Autobiography, Enemy Number One, touches on the attempted extortion he faced by a two time alleged murderer and returned, triumphant from rock bottom to become the bookmakers most feared punter.

Harry's beloved Big Fella.

Harry Findlay - The Cheltenham Gold Cup Winner

Harry Findlay has had amazing ups and downs during his gambling career. He always loved greyhounds and, despite an 11 month stint inside for credit card fraud at the tender age of 20, he has seen great success.

He bets from home and keeps up with all the races on with a multitude of screens and co-owns horses, one of whom won the 2008 Cheltenham Gold Cup. His horses have also twice won the Hennessy Gold Cup.

Big Fella, one of his winning horses was named after his beloved Greyhound 1999 Coursing Derby winner.

Greyhounds on the racetrack.

Clive Holt -The Greyhound Gambling Man

Growing up Clive Holt's father kept greyhounds and, when Clive quit his job with the Electricity Board in 1975,it was his father's financial success with the dogs that promoted him to explore making money gambling. Before long, his random bets, based on whatever money had to hand, became calculated and before long he set up a betting bank.

Within 6 weeks, he had made more money than he earned in a year at his previous job. He would win modest amounts of £1000 and only bet on the racetracks themselves. He steadily grew his frequent winnings and enjoys a luxurious lifestyle with a listed country houses, acres of land and first class holidays abroad. He has a love of luxury cars and owns several.

He is the gambling man behind Fineform and a number of other books about profitable betting strategies when it comes to the horses and dogs.

So there you have it. A fine collection of British Gambling Legends and tales, some long gone but not forgotten, and some still going strong. A nice mixture of horse and greyhound bettors and a few people that are considered casino royalty thrown in for good measure to show you that it's not what you have that matters, but how you play your hand or betting slip.

VegasMaster wishes you luck, whether it's at the slots, racetracks, tables or roulette wheel, let's hope you make your fortune and we see you featured soon!

About The Author

I'm a British girl who loves to gamble, I'm totally addicted and go to meetings in the casino weekly ;) When I can't get out to play, I play online. I write these reviews to keep you up to date with all the new slot machines and goings on in the world of the online casino. I'm here to help you Gamble Clever.

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