No one can beat the house forever, is a popular saying that every gambler knows. Whenever you walk into a casino, you can only win or lose, and as history has proved it, the chances of losing are higher than those of winning unless you have a well-packed strategy. The problem is, after your first loss, you will stake again, hoping to win and recover your lost money, and then you lose. You will win every now and then, but it is never enough. Well, everyone knows the risks, right? Now, the biggest winners in casinos are the whales and high roller celebrities who stake millions and sometimes billions even on the riskiest games such a dice roll. Here is a look at 10 whales who made the biggest losses at casinos around the world.
Harry Kakavas is probably the best example of how wrecking a gambling addiction can get. The case of Kakavas V Melbourne’s Crown Casino is one of the most famous cases in which a whale sued a casino trying to recoup their losses. Kakavas had total gambling turnovers of $1.5 billion, all made within a span of 14 months, and most of it was lost at the Crown in Melbourne. He made some of the biggest losses known to any casinos from Melbourne to Macau to Las Vegas. The most famous one was when he lost $164 million in six hours after gambling away $300, 000 per hand. He also lost $4 million in Vegas in a single day. Most of the money was borrowed, and he ended up in bankruptcy and deep debt.
Being a big whale in Las Vegas has lots of benefits, but most disheartening are the stories that come after big losses. That is exactly what happened to Terrance Watanabe in 2009. He had a gambling addiction and a drinking problem, and according to his lawyer, Caesar’s Palace and Rio Casinos in Las Vegas, both owned by Harrah’s Entertainment Inc, took advantage of them to bankrupt him. He bet $825 million in the same year in the two casinos and lost $127 million, making it the biggest gambling loss ever in Vegas history. His losses made at least 5.6% of the big company’s annual revenue.
He said he would bet continuously for 24hrs staking up to $50,000 per hand, leading to losses of at least $5 million per day. The casinos had given him an outrageous betting limit of $17 million and even sued him for a $14 million gambling debt he was unable to pay after his disastrous spree. They were involved in a court battle as Watanabe claimed the casinos exploited his addictions while the casinos said he was a criminal that wrote them a bad check. He went broke and even had to fundraise in 2017 for $100,000 to fund a surgery.
Siddiqui is the former marketing manager of Fry Electronics, and by former, we mean he was fired after gambling away over $65 million of the company’s money that he acquired illegally. He had a gambling addiction and also one of the biggest whales at The Venetian. He allegedly transferred a whole $70 million to The Venetian to gamble with as the company treated him to luxury services, including a private jet, a three-roomed luxury suite, and a huge gambling credit. When he filed for bankruptcy a few years later, he had accumulated over $120 million in gambling debt and also had to pay $65 million to his former employer. He only had $80 at the time, though, so he will probably never be able to pay off the debts. It is not clear just how huge his losses were in the individual bets.
Kerry Packer, the media mogul, and creator of the world cricket series was one of the most famous gamblers in the world. Before his death in 2005. Packer had become famous in all major casinos around the world, especially in London. He had a habit of flying from casino to casino, asking managers how much they had on hand, and if it was anywhere below $800k, he would move on. He loved the baccarat and would take control of all the dealers whenever he walked in.
He is believed to have lost over $13.6 million in London in a single round of playing the roulette. He also lost $33 million and once $28 million as one casino manager confessed after Packer’s death. He enjoyed wagering, although he did it with moderation and didn’t lose his family fortune while at it.
Zhenli Ye Gon
Zhenli Ye Gon has made lots of history both in Vegas and in the US-Mexico drug war. First, in 2007, his house in Mexico became the place where the largest amount of drug money has ever been captured in history when a mountain of $207 million was discovered in his villa. He then made history by becoming the first Mexican drug kingpin to flee into the US. Then, of course, in 2016, he made history by becoming the hilarious opposite of El Chapo Guzman when he was extradited from the US to Mexico to the same prison that El Chapo escaped from.
Anyway, away from his funny story, Zhenli was also a big whale in Vegas where he lost over $80 million at the Venetian Casino in Vegas, including a $35 million debt extended to him by the casino. He also lost $45 million in other casinos near the Venetian. The government, however, fined the Venetian nearly $50 million for not reporting the drug dealer’s suspicious bets and let Zhenli off the hook for the $35 million debt.
Celebrities, especially sports stars, make some of the biggest gamblers in Vegas and Charles Barkley, or Chuck, as many know him was probably the biggest loser. He was addicted to gambling while still playing in the NBA. In an interview, he confessed that his addiction started as a simple dream of going to Vegas, hoping to make $1 million. He then went, again and again, sometimes winning the million, but most times, the house won. He said that his trips to Vegas led to losses of over $30 million before he realized the dent his trips were causing. He quit gambling for two years before resuming after rehabilitation. He has now learned to stop when he is ahead and when to cut his losses.
John Daly is one of the biggest rags to riches stories in golfing history after he won his first PGA in 1991 after coming to the course to step in for a friend whose wife was having a baby. Daly, however, had a thing for the adrenaline of the slot machines in Vegas, and while there, he didn’t care about his losses. In 2006, after he lost to Tiger Woods in the playoffs, he went to the slots and bet away $1.65million in just five hours.
He confessed that he won up to $35 million through his 15 years of gambling, but he also lost over $90 million, putting a dent in his financials. He only survived by stating his losses as well as his winnings in his tax returns forms to reduce the taxation on his little winnings. He now gambles with moderation and says he moved from the $5,000 slot machines to the $25 ones.
Chun Lei Zhu
How much did it cost you to learn how to play poker? Well, if you taught yourself using free tutorials and blog guides, you probably didn’t have to spend anything at all. $1000 to $10,000 should be enough to hire you a whole professional coach to guide you through the tough process. Some people, however, attempt to “learn on the job” by going big and learning from their losses. This can get very expensive, especially if you don’t learn quickly enough. Lei Zhu or Samrostan, as many online high stakes poker players call him, lost $15 million on his way up the tough school. He is now a little whale in online poker, also known as Patpatpanda.
Phil Ivey is regarded as the best poker player in the world with 10 WSOP bracelets to his name and an estimated net worth of $100 million. Ivey has, however, had some bad runs in recent years, although he didn’t exactly lose at the table. When you play big money poker and win big, you need to expect some legal implications, and these have cost Ivey over $50 million in recent years. His most noticeable one was his legal battles with Crockfords casino, where he saw his $10 million winnings retaken by the courts for edge sorting. He also lost over $40 million in battles with other casinos as a result of the same trick which casinos considered cheating. Despite his legal woes, Ivey is always a legend of the table.
Gus Hansen is a legend of the hand in live poker games, having set a record as one of the best of all time. His net worth increased steadily through the early 2000s as he won on the strip and abroad. He moved online to full tilt poker after 2010, and this has turned him into the biggest loser there. His screen name on the software has a record loss of over $20 million, over $12 million above the second-highest loser on the famous online game. His runs in live games are still good as he makes big wins there, but the online streets have proved too muddy for the poker legend.