Winning Against the Odds
My Life in Gambling and Politics
Winning Against the Odds tells the captivating story of one of England’s most
fascinating and eccentric men.
Stuart Wheeler went to Eton and Oxford. He was an officer in the Welsh Guards, a barrister, an investment banker and a major donor to the Conservative Party. You might think that he has led a life of impeccably conformist upper-class respectability. You’d be wrong.
For Wheeler is also an illegitimate child adopted at the age of two, a maverick businessman who made his fortune on the back of ‘the most brilliant idea that anyone had had of his generation’ and a devoted gambler who has been thrown out of more than one Las Vegas casino.
He played cards with Lord Lucan two nights before his infamous disappearance, effectively invented spread-betting with the creation in 1974 of IG Index and gave William Hague’s Conservatives £5 million (still the biggest political donation in British history) before being expelled from the Tories, joining UKIP and becoming a key figure in Vote Leave during the Brexit referendum campaign.
Forthright, principled and always entertaining, Winning against the Odds is a story of bets won and lost, of outrageous personalities and dramatic events, and of a singular mind that engages with the world around it in a completely unique and compelling way.
Reviews for Winning Against the Odds
When the whole nation is taking a huge punt on whether (or how) to leave the EU, a gambler’s memoirs are timely… Interesting anecdotes from the 1970s depict the louche world of John Aspinall’s Clermont Club set, where Wheeler pays for the deposit on his first house by winning money off Lord Lucan at poker. The chapters on IG Index, the spread-betting company that made him rich, form an endearing case study in entrepreneurship… Some may deplore the idea of rich men using their wealth to dabble in politics, but Wheeler seems sincere and altruistic in his interventions, clearly relishing his times as kingmaker.
Jamie Blackett, Standpoint
Wheeler’s colourful and varied career means he can draw on a wide range of stories and anecdotes, which he tells in a characteristically forthright style. He is very blunt about the weaknesses of the politicians and business leaders he has met along the way. Even those politicians he admires, such as Nigel Farage and political strategist Dominic Cummings come in for some trenchant criticism about their leadership qualities. Wheeler holds himself to the same standards… [This book] is a bit like attending a good after-dinner talk by a speaker who has an interesting story to tell and is willing to throw caution to the wind. If you have an interest in gambling, politics or finance, or all three, you should enjoy it.
Matthew Partridge, Money Week