Not many good ideas come from drinking at the bar with friends. For Ashley Revell though, who was a 32 year old TV researcher at the time, a late night session would set him on a path to riches and change his life forever.
The group of friends were discussing gambling, and they wondered what it would be like to bet everything you had, your life savings, on a single spin of the roulette wheel in Las Vegas. All or nothing.
This idea struck a chord with Revell, and he became more and more determined to do it, much to the worry of his poor parents. Eventually, he sold his Rolex, his golf clubs, his BMW, and even his clothes, in order to raise as much money as possible for this one single spin.
He was young and had few responsibilities, so if he was going to do something crazy, now was the time.
To bolster the stake for his big wager, he entered into an agreement with Blue Square, a betting company that is no longer trading, and legally changed his name to Ashley ‘Blue Square’ Revell in return for sponsorship funds.
His eventual tally was £76,840, around $136,000 dollars at the time.
Sky Documentary: All or Nothing
Although many may consider Revell’s behaviour reckless, he was no fool.
This bet was a big deal and he knew people would be interested. He also knew that he could perhaps save himself some money, or even make some, by publicising his stunt, and Sky agreed to make a documentary out of his journey.
They followed him to Las Vegas and filmed him in the days before the bet, during which he used a $3,000 pot to try and build his stake even higher, but after losing $1,000 called it quits and stuck to his plan.
He has commented that he was nervy and on edge for four days before the big bet, struggling to sleep or concentrate on anything. It probably didn’t help that the initial casino that had agreed to take the bet pulled out, so he had to find somewhere else to make his bet. The casino that said yes was the Plaza Hotel and Casino.
By the time the day came around and it was time to go to the roulette wheel, he was more than ready to have this weight lifted from his shoulders.
Flanked by his parents, closest friends, a camera crew, and about 100 spectators, Ashley was given one more opportunity to back out by the casino boss.
Making the Big Bet
The rules were made clear: the wheel would spin and the ball would be released. Ashley had until the ball had circled the wheel twice to place his bet, if he did not do so in that time the bet would be called off and the process restarted.
He understood. He shook hands with the casino boss, kissed the roulette ball for good luck, and asked the crowd which colour he should choose. At this point, he still had no idea what he was going to go for.
Despite this indecision, as soon as the ball was released his mind was made up. In a snap decision he said the word, “Red”, and moved his two stacks of chips – everything he had in the world – onto the board.
You can feel the tension at this point in the video, and Ashley’s reaction tells you all you need to know about the result.
Red 7 was the winning number, and Ashley was suddenly £76,840 better off. He took home a whopping £153,680 – minus a few pounds for new clothes since he no longer owned any.
Ashley Revell: Life After His Big Win
Many people assumed Ashley’s winnings would be frittered away, he was a gambler after all, but they were wrong.
He clearly had a good head on his shoulders as after using some of the money to go travelling (where he met his future wife, coincidentally) he invested some in an online poker business, Poker UTD and later a recruitment business called iGamingRecruitment.
Both of these businesses have since ceased trading but Revell also owned a kitchen tile company and now works as an IT company account manager.
Before his bet, Revell had said that he was young, single, and childless, so if he was going to do something crazy this was the time to do it.
Well, his life could not be more different now. Happily married with two children, he is unlikely to be gambling his life savings again any time soon, although he wasn’t quite done with roulette.
In 2019, Ashley returned to the Plaza Hotel and Casino to recreate his famous win. He bet a much smaller amount this time, $7,000, suggesting that he is probably doing ok in life, and he bet on red just like he did all those years ago.
As he waited for the result he joked that this could be the biggest anti-climax ever – it was a ceremonial bet to christen the casino’s new and only single zero roulette table – but he needn’t have worried.
He won. Red 36 was the result and Ashley had $14, 000 in his pocket.
Some people have all the luck.
Unlikely Simon Cowell Connection
Ashley’s story captured the interest of many viewers when the documentary Sky had made aired. None more so than one Simon Cowell, who was inspired to create a game show based on the big bet.
It was short lived, but none the less, Red or Black hosted by Ant and Dec wouldn’t have happened at all if it hadn’t been for Revell’s big bet.
The show worked by staging several epic challenges, such as a red and a black motorbike rider jumping through ever smaller gaps in a giant wall. The 1000 strong live audience had to pick a side to win, and if they were right, they went through to the next stage.
This continued until only two contestants were left, one of which would win the final round and go through to spin the red or black wheel.
This was the most expensive game show ITV had ever produced at the time, costing £15 million to stage, and also capable of netting the winner £1 million or more.
It ran for two series and 14 episodes between 2011 and 2012.