Famous Gamblers (Las Vegas High Rollers)

In high stakes gambling, there are two terms which you should understand:”whale” and “high roller”. Generally, it’s assumed that a high roller is someone with a gambling budget of $100,000 to $1M for a regular 3-day weekend visit to the casino.

The casino will consider you a whale if you begin to get over the $1M bankroll mark. Whales have a normal budget of $1M to $20M and could easily be up or down millions in a weekend. Their bets are usually more than $25,000 per hand and take delight in the very best freebies, comps, and other perks from the casino.

Approximately, there are probably less than 200 mega whales, whose bankroll is more than $10M, throughout the world. That’s why many casinos are aggressively competing to win this market segment to achieve a large effect on their profits every quarter. Sometimes they even send the top private jets to come pick them up.  Below we’ve compiled a list of the biggest whales of all time.

List of Well Known Las Vegas Whales (High Rollers)

Adnan Khashoggi

Adnan is the son of the personal physician to the Saudi King and a global arms dealer. In the 1980s, he has spent more than £12M in the Ritz Casino in London. He’s known to spend long amounts of time playing on the casinos in London. He mainly played Baccarat during his gambling sprees.

Archie Karas

When he arrived in Las Vegas, Archie had only $50 in his pocket. He somehow managed to run this up to more than $40m before losing it all. His fascination with Craps allowed him to make a huge run, though he’s an ardent poker player. He had made multiple visits to casinos in Las Vegas until to this day.

Akio Kashiwagi

Akio is perhaps the largest gambler to ever visit Las Vegas during the 1970s-1980s. He was a brave Baccarat player that won’t hesitate to spend $100,000 to $200,00 per hand during his sessions. In 1992, he was found murdered in his house in Japan and his death was linked to organized crime.

Charles Barkley

Former NBA star Charles Barkley is a self-professed gambler who loves to play Blackjack. Throughout his gambling career, he lost close to $30m. He usually stays on the main open floor of the Wynn Casino and allows people to watch him play.

“Sir Charles” opens up about his gambling.

Don Johnson

Don became popular after the media reported on how he won close to $15M from two different casinos. It became apparent that the casinos made a mistake and provided Don a comp plan that essentially flipped the house edge to his advantage. This unexpected luck allowed him to collect large winnings playing blackjack.

Fouad al-Zayat

Known as “The Fat Man” Fouad is estimated to have lost more than $42M on his 12-year gambling spree. This Syrian businessman had visited some of the top casinos in London for more than 600 times during his gambling spree. One casino sued him for bouncing a checks for millions in gambling debt- according to him he’s stopped now.

Kamel Nacif

Nacif is a prominent businessman in the textile business in Mexico and he’s known to take trips to Las Vegas many times every year. As with most whales, he mainly plays Baccarat, wagering as high as $200,000 per hand. He’s famous for his hair-trigger temper every time his luck turns out bad during his sessions.

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Kerry Packer

Packer is an Australian business magnate and known to be one of the most fearless gamblers of all time. He’s not afraid to risk tens of millions on each session he played. He won a lot and his estimated winnings reached $9m from Hilton Las Vegas in 1992. It’s also rumored that he won $33m on this particular session at MGM.

Larry Flynt

Founder of Hustler adult magazine, Larry is a frequent visitor to Las Vegas for decades. His main game is Blackjack and risks up to $50,000 per hand in every session. He moved to Hard Rock and other hotels when new hosts of Las Vegas Hilton courted his action with generous comps.

Mo Chan

Mr. Chan went on a notorious run in Australian casinos amassing $10M from the table playing Baccarat at $300,000 to $500,000 per hand. This Chinese native high roller apparently had a falling out with the casino when they restricted his game and he promised never to come back.

Phil Ivey

Phil Ivey is the personification of a true gambler and possibly, the best poker player of all-time, and maybe, just maybe, the best gambler in the world. He’s known to take “crap tours” worldwide where he visits more than five casinos in various places. He gambles more than $100,000 per roll on the craps table and is said to play Baccarat up to $200,000 per hand.

Phil Ivey video on beating casino for $30 million!

Ramon DeSage

Ramon DeSage is perhaps one of the most prominent gamblers of all time to ever visit the Strip. This very famous whale was charged in a Fraud scheme by the US Government. From the money he obtained from his frauds, he wagered and lost almost $175M in different Las Vegas casinos.

Sultan Of Brunei

This monarch is known to be a passionate gambler in London and Las Vegas. He’s known to lose $1M daily inside casinos. He mainly played Baccarat and go on secret trips where he would spend a long time playing at the tables and enjoying all the comps given by the casinos.

So where do these big dogs play?  While some are discreet, others enjoy these high limit Vegas card rooms.  You never know who you will run into in Sin City.

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Every casino has it’s local and global high limit gamblers.  Some even have famous gamblers, and this is a big draw to casinos.  Many people come back from their trips to Las Vegas and say “I played dice with Ben Affleck,” and these types of experiences bring people back to the casinos for more experiences like this.


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