Blackjack is one of the most popular casino games, and its one of the few that allows for strategy and skill to influence the final result.
Just like any card game, Blackjack deals in statistics and probabilities. Many players take advantage of this and strategically wager on games in order to win big in the long run. Meanwhile, other players simply get by on gut feeling and instinct alone. The three big winners discussed below each had a little bit of both.
Blackjack Legend Kerry Packer
Kerry Packer is the definition of a high roller. He is also the definition of what Casinos call high rollers, Whales. This is because they can either lose huge sums and make the casino a tidy profit or they can win big and ruin the casinos profit margins.
Packer could afford these huge wagers because he had built up his own media empire in his home country of Australia. Among the stories of losses between $19 and $ 20 million at both the Bellagio and Ritz casinos, he also nearly broke the MGM Grand with a $33 million win. He achieved this with average wagers of $200 000 to $300 000 per hand.
The Blackjack Master Don Johnson
Don Johnson did not have the resources of a media empire to back him up, just his wit and skills as a blackjack player. On this list, he seems to be the only player to make his success through talent, concentrated effort and sheer bravado.
He would actively seek out casinos with favourable house edges and then negotiate better terms with the casino management. This allowed him to make bigger bets on each blackjack hand as well as increase his payback insurance rate.
Don’s practice and patience paid off in a big way during a 6 month winning streak in 2011. Don was playing Blackjack in Atlantic City and took the Borgata for $5 000 000, Caesars’ for $4 000 000 and finally the Tropicana for $5 800 000. Understandably, Johnson now claims that he is no longer welcome in Atlantic City.
The Infamous “Mister M”
Mister M is actually one of a team of MIT students who, along with blackjack players and investors, went on a worldwide blackjack playing venture and won millions. Mister M is in fact an ex student named JP Massar who teamed up with Professor Bill Kaplan. They ran studies on statistical analysis and developed a card wagering system that promised a 35x rate of return.
The team started recruiting other players and teaching them their techniques. They essentially took part in card counting but disguised it from casino dealers by using teams of players that would help distract from the players who were actually designated the “winner” in the team.
Their success was so great that they opened their own casino and their own training school. They also started an investment firm in order to grow their wealth generated from their casino winnings. There was never any official figures released, but the story was tuned into a film called 21 starring Kevin Spacey.
This film did take a few liberties with what actually transpired so it may be best to check out the New York Times best seller, Bringing Down The House. There is also a History Channel documentary available titled Breaking Vegas that tells the story of the team when they started the Strategic Investment company.
Winning big in Blackjack is as much skill as it is luck. Eventually many of the MIT group lost their love and passion for the game after it became a stale and structured gaming environment. If you want to enjoy Blackjack, focus on the fun not on the money, and the money should follow!