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Watching someone lose $35,000 in 15 minutes

As CES week comes to a close, many attendees choose to enjoy their free time in various ways. Some attend elusive, high-profile events and parties while others enjoy other types of entertainment (read: David Copperfield’s live show at the Mirage) amongst other questionable activities.

For someone who has visited Las Vegas over a dozen times, I witnessed something entirely different on this trip. Setting the stage, two rows of dealer-led tables were empty, awaiting the inevitable gamblers that would make their way over shortly after the show floor had been locked up for the night.

Returning back to my tale, I was casually strolling through the casino area of the Wynn when I spotted something different about one of the blackjack tables. Friday nights at this casino usually consist of $15 and $25 minimum bet tables — but the table I had just walked by was different. I was taken aback seeing a table minimum, right in the open, of $1,000 per bet. Most surprising, however, was the gentleman who had just found his way to this particular table and was to play solo against the dealer.

I counted the number of chips from afar (which is far simpler to do when they are split into multiple stacks) — 35 in all. Not so impressive usually, except that these were chips that I had rarely seen in the wild. $1,000 per chip, 3 stacks, 35 in each, equating to $35,000 in USD.

And then the magic happened. One bet after another yielded an occasional double-down and/or split opportunity but for this gambler, his luck had clearly run out. Hand after agonizing hand, his stacks shrunk and so too did his demeanor. I stood behind one of the available chairs, watching in awe of perhaps one of the worst runs in high-stakes blackjack history. And then it was all gone. Perhaps the biggest surprise of all was the lack of emotion he imparted as he sauntered away from the table and back over to the adjacent bar.


Published in Las Vegas