Casino Whale Stories
The more money a player brings to a casino, the more valuable they are, because casino revenues are earned by way of their house edge, where the mathematical expectation is that they will win a certain percentage of overall bets on their casino games.
This edge, this percentage, does vary by the type of game offered, with slot machines typically offering the biggest edge, with table games offering various edges depending on the game, but all do provide a certain profit percentage on average to casinos, and this is how they make their money.
So the value of players primarily comes down to how big they are playing and how much they are prepared to lose, and while some players do walk away winners on a given trip or visit, it is said that the house always wins and in the aggregate this is true, meaning that they may expect to win overall and over time.
Casinos used to make almost all of their profit from the casino itself, although in Las Vegas at least the trend has moved away from that, where now we see some casinos only making a third of its profits from the casino floor, with a third from their hotel and a third from the amenities that they offer, such as restaurants and nightclubs as well as other services which contribute to their overall profit.
Elsewhere though, casino revenues have a higher impact percentage wise, although even in Las Vegas, who has evolved into more of a complete entertainment package, even more so than in the past, casino revenues are still very big business.
Players represent a given value to a casino depending on the size of their bankroll, and the more money a player brings with him or her, the more value they have to the casino. Players who are good for $100,000 or more are considered high rollers, but there is another, bigger category which has casinos salivating much more, the whale, generally considered someone with a million dollars or more to play with.
Even within the category of whales, some whales are bigger and more valuable than others, and with some, the casino can literally make millions from them on a single visit, and some may be more valuable to the casino then everyone else on the casino floor combined, so needless to say they generate a lot of focus and special handling.
Some Casino Whale Stories
Over the years, there have been quite a few stories surrounding the visits of certain big whales to casinos, with many working out very well for the casinos, but in some cases the whales come away the big winner instead, and if these players didn’t generate the big wins once in a while this would take all the fun out of it for them.
As you might imagine, it’s plenty exciting to walk away from a casino with a multi million dollar win, and while this doesn’t excite the casinos too much as you might expect, it’s simply part of the cost of doing business.
Casinos do tend to get quite anxious though at the prospect of this happening, and this is why they have table limits, although for some players they are willing to extend them, sometimes greatly extend them, to keep them happy, and there is actually little they won’t do in order to keep the whales happy actually.
When it comes to whales, they don’t come much bigger than the Sultan of Brunei, one of the very richest people in the world with a net worth of $20 billion. With that much money, what’s a few million among friends?
The Sultan is known to have a penchant for gambling, and when you are this rich, you just don’t mess around with the small stuff. This much money does buy you more discretion than the average whale though, and much of the Sultan’s exploits at the tables remain a mystery, although he’s known to often drop a million dollars or more a night on his secret trips to London, Las Vegas, and Macao.
Just because someone may have a less than stellar reputation with the law doesn’t mean that their money isn’t any good at casinos, like for instance with the case of Kamel Nacif Borge, who manufactures jeans and is also suspected of being involved in the Mexican drug trade.
While his alleged unsavory activities are cloudy, there is no doubt that Borge is one of the biggest whales of all time, known for his love of baccarat, the game of choice primarily among high rollers and whales, and betting as much as $200,000 a hand on it. He typically would lose $1 to $5 million per night, and this sort of player is so valuable that casino owner Ted Binion once paid $2 million of his own money to bail Borge out of jail so he could get back to the baccarat table.
Kerry Packer is a legend among whales and the Australian media tycoon once had $15 million in play at the same time on four separate roulette tables and lost every penny. He also had his wins though and won $20 million in a single night and tipped the staff a cool million doing it.
More Casino Whale Stories
Not all whales start out with whale type money. Archie Karas came to Las Vegas with $50 in his pocket, and through an incredible streak of luck lasting several years, parlayed this into $40 million. He didn’t know when to quit though and eventually lost it all back.
Terrance Watanabe certainly didn’t know when to stop either, and over a three year period, he lost $220 million, and eventually ended up going broke and being barred from the casinos.
Phil Ivey is one of the best poker players of all time, but he also loves to bet at the casino tables, and is known to bet up to $100,000 on a roll of the dice. He’s both won and lost a lot of money, and once took a London casino for $11 million, although they have yet to pay up.
NBL legend Charles Barkley has been known to drop some big amounts at casinos, although unlike other whales he doesn’t gamble in private rooms, he plays right alongside everyday players. Over the years, he says he’s learned to lose and while he used to stay until he either won or lost a million, he now walks away when he’s lost $200,000 in a session, which he seems proud of.
Akio Kashiwagi is famous for being the guy who almost broke Donald Trump, at a time when Trump was struggling. In two nights he took $6 million from Trump, although Trump managed to get him back on a double or nothing deal, and after losing the $6 million back plus 4 more, he left defeated.
These are just a few of the stories of the big whales, and whale hunting remains very important to casinos, who are extremely eager to get these players and will do just about anything to get their play.