There’s a new documentary on Netflix called “The Player”, it’s about a blackjack player (and professional gambler) named Don Johnson. No, it’s not that Don Johnson, it’s a different guy. Anyways, in this show, Mr Johnson talks about how he was able to beat the house and walk away with $15,000,000.00.
“To know Las Vegas, you have to start at the beginning.” – Don Johnson
The last time Don Johnson was sitting at a table owned by Ceasar’s, he won about $4,000,000.00. Are you surprised to learn that he isn’t welcome there anymore? None the less, when you’re a big whale like Don, you have plenty of properties vying for your patronage. Transportation, alcohol, nice rooms, that’s just a small example of what the casinos will put up to get whales at their tables. So, how does he do it?
“Monkeys can count cards. Card counting alone is not going to get you all the way there. I know that I had a better chance of winning than I did of losing a bet, so I took advantage of it.” – Don Johnson
Knowing the game, the players, and the odds…
It’s all math in Vegas, when you break it all down. If you’re able to resist all the perks and comps like Don was, you may be able to negotiate something that’s priceless. When the casinos were in trouble during the recession, Don Johnson recognized that casino profits were in a freefall and casinos would do just about anything in order to get whales through the doors. Don negotiated a discount on his losses of 20%, meaning that if he were to loss a million dollars, he would only be out $800,000. That 20% discount is greater than the house edge on a lot of games, and Don Johnson was able to strike when the iron was hot to take advantage of this inefficiency coupled with the recession and desperation from the casinos.
By avoiding the excess, and temptations of Vegas, Don Johnson is able to spend his time researching, running numbers, and trying to find “inefficiencies in the market”, comparing his work to that of a hedge fund manager on Wall Street.
So, what does it take to beat the house?
- Capitalizing on the right moment.
- Negotiating a discount on your losses.
- Free bets upon entry help, too.
- Distracting the dealers.
- Negotiating special rules on the games.