The son of a poor butcher, John Gully rose to the height of Victorian respectability, whose death in ripe old age was mourned by all classes from paupers to princes. It's the story of an extraordinarily varied life - a bare knuckle fighter and champion of England, a publican, a hugely successful gambler, bookmaker, racehorse and colliery owner, and finally a Member of Parliament. Set at a time when fortunes were won and lost on the turn of a dice, Gully saw the greed and corruption, the rogues and rascals. Remarkable sporting characters of the age feature, such as William Crockford, the Betting Shark; the chivalrous prize fighter Henry Pearce; the mighty Tom Cribb, bare knuckle champion of the world; and Colonel Mellish, prolific gambler and finest of the Corinthians. Enemies saw Gully as a cunning man, a schemer who corrupted the betting world. To others he was a man with impeccable judgement and integrity, to whom royalty would trust their fortunes. The Stakes Were High is the fascinating story of his life.