William Lee Bergstrom is a figure who has gone down in the annals of Las Vegas lore for his brazen demeanor and his propensity for placing enormous bets. His tale continues to astonish anybody who hears it even to this day. William, also known as “The Suitcase Man” or “The Phantom Gambler” throughout the Vegas community, earned a reputation for himself on the gambling circuit in a very short amount of time and became well-known for his exploits there.
He was somewhat different from the majority of the other gamblers who had made their homes in the casinos that lined the Las Vegas strip. He was a brave gambler who had no qualms about putting his money where his mouth was and forcing the casino owners to do the same.
The Beginning Years
William was born in Austin, Texas in 1951, and his brother’s name was Alan. William’s birthplace and year were both in Texas. Growing up in a household where their parents were divorced was a tumultuous experience for Alan and William Alan and William. William was severely affected by the divorce, which prompted him to work hard to win the favor of his missing father.
He received his high school diploma in 1969 and went on to enroll in classes at the University of Texas, where he remained until 1974, when he decided not to continue his education. After he failed to complete his studies at the university, he went on to pursue a career in real estate sales, which remained his primary source of income until the end of his life. He had a lot of success as a real estate agent, and as a result, he was able to start acquiring houses for himself.
If it weren’t for Benny Binion and his tricks, there’s a good chance he never would have traveled all the way to Las Vegas. Binion had begun a new campaign that he called “The Sky’s the Limit.” In this promotion, he made a guarantee to any gambler who entered his casino and was prepared to make their first wager their highest, and he said that he would equal the amount of the player’s initial bet.
William was one of those individuals who simply couldn’t let anything like that pass them by, and it just so happened that he was William. Therefore, he did all in his power to accumulate sufficient funds to place a wager that would significantly alter the course of his life, and as soon as he was able to do so, he traveled to Las Vegas.
Before he went to Las Vegas, he wasn’t living the high life, but neither was he living in abject poverty. Before he began his career as a gambler, he had already established himself as a successful businessman in the real estate industry. After his trip to Vegas, he made the decision to leave his real estate firm for a few years in order to see the globe. He never gave up his business.
A casino in Las Vegas that was owned by the Binions made an announcement in the early 1980s that they would match any high stakes wager that was put at their casino as long as it was the player’s initial bet. Benny Binion was always coming up with new schemes to increase the amount of money gambled and the number of people that entered the casino. This was simply another one of his tricks.
When William arrived back in Texas, he learned about the promise and made the decision to investigate how genuine it was. He called the Horseshoe casino to speak with Benny Binion, and he made the call. He inquired if the wager of one million dollars would still be matched even if he placed it. Binion responded with a positive answer, but William did not have the necessary funds at the moment.
He began saving up the money, and when he had a total of $777,000 in his possession, he made the decision to try his hand at gambling. He carried one luggage with $777 thousand dollars in it and another suitcase with nothing in it and proceeded to Las Vegas. After entering the Horseshoe casino for the first time, he immediately made his way to the craps table. He expressed regret to Binion for not being able to raise the full $1,000,000 and inquired as to whether or not the remaining $777,000 would also be matched.