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High Rollers

Baccarat has always been the favourite game for the so called "High Rollers": high net worth individuals who bring it upon themselves to wager huge amounts at the casino tables, somethimes with devastating consequences for the casinos, and at other times walking away a few million dollars down.

Also know as "Whales", these high stakes gamblers are welcomed with a mixture of glee and fear by the casinos, when they start playing high stakes baccarat games for $100,000 a hand and up. Casino management teams can see their annual bonuses blown away or made in just one day and share prices have been known to tumble on the back of one person riding their luck on a big game.

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Online Baccarat for High Stakes

One such high stakes baccarat player was Kerry Packer, an Australian gambler and industrial giant.

In 1992, Kerry Packer headed to favorite his high roller casino Caesars Palace for his high stakes baccarat adrenaline hit. He started wagering at over $100,000 a hand and by midnight was in the black to the tune of $9 million.

Caesars’s Chairman Henry Gluck was later quoted as saying, “Packer ruined our financial quarter by himself that night. We were obliged to issue a profit warning to our shareholders.

The casino supergroup MGM Grand in Las Vegas, decided it could no longer host high roller baccarat sessions for him. His gambling was simply too outrageous. Larry Woolf, president of the MGM, had had to break the news to the Australian tycoon after Packer had creamed MGM for $26m.

Instead of playing over a period of days, as most high rollers do, Packer used a hit-and-run strategy. This reduced the casino's advantage and left it vulnerable  to a sudden heavy loss. At baccarat, Packer liked to play $200,000 a hand (with a house edge of 1.2 per cent) and would bet up to a million given half the chance. Packer died in 2005.

Another famous baccarat whale was a Japanese gentleman by the name of Akio Kashiwagi who won $6 million in one baccarat session at the Trump Plaza in Atlantic City. Akio was betting $200,000 a hand and laying down bets of $14 million an hour. 

Many of the major casinos have felt the breath on their necks of the high stakes baccarat players. Releasing its Q3 finacial results in 2007, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation reported a net loss of $48.5 million from its high stakes baccarat and blackjack rooms.

The problem for the casinos is that they need the big time whales who can afford to lose millions but Baccarat being the game of choice with the high rollers means that they are playing with a measly house edge of just 1.3%. The Banker bet makes things even worse with one of the lowest house edges in the casino, coming in at only 1.058%.

An competition for these players is fierce, so more often than not they are also offering big comps and rebates. High Rolling Whales have come to expect expect rebates on their losses frombetween 20 to 40%, and that doesn´t include the comps. It´s a high risk business on both side of the table.


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