A South American horse breeder and rancher earned in a few short years the reputation of being perhaps the fastest-action gambler in Las Vegas history. As with other rich desperados, the bigger the limit, the better the South American liked it. Nothing fazed him. Money was of no value to him. The casino that dealt the largest limit was where he played.It wasn’t kng before the casinos began fighting for his business.They would raise the limits and deal special limits that were even higlier. If one casino found out that another casino was dealing a higher limit, the bosses would raise their limitjust enough to beat the others.
The horse breeder would come to town with $200,000 to $300,000 in cashier’s checks. He also had credit in four Las Vega casinos totaling $300,000. And he would stay until he lost the $300,000 cash and owed the $300,000 credit. Within a month or two after he lost–and this happened year after year from the late 1960s on–he would send someone up with a cashier’s chec]c to pay off the markers. A few weeks later he would be back again with his $300,000 cash and his $300,000 credit.He bragged to me during one of his recent trips that he was determined to win a million dollars. This horse breeder would
bet on anything and was known to go to the race track carrying
a handbag with $200,000 in cash in it. Bet $10,000 and $20,000
on a race. Played all games: baccarat, backgammon, craps, and
21. His best game, though, was double-deck gin rummy.Once he was challenged by one of Las Vegas’ top gin players to a high-stakes game. The gin player was backed by six men who put up the bankroll. At the end of the first play the horse breeder had lost $120,000. The next play he won $90,000. And he won another $90,000 after that. The gin hustler had enough.In 1974 two sharp Las Vegas hustlers followed the South American to France and tried to set him up in a gin game. The sharpies met him in a casino baccara room in Cannes and wined and dined him for three weeks. They even put in with him when he played baccara. Every move was made to set up the sucker. Finally, after spending three weeks and going $15,000 in the red in expenses, one of the hustlers brought up the subject of playing double-deck gin rummy for $5,000 a hand (the horse breeder played by the hand). The horse breeder said OK. They planned to meet at 8 p.m. the next evening at the hustlers’ suite. The horse breeder decided it was time for him to leave. He checked out the next morning. As long as the sharpies were picking up the tab, the South American couldn’t care less; they had made the proposition. The sharpies ran into him in Las Vegas several months later and were, as you would expect, very annoyed with him. He told them that one of his prize horses had taken ill and he had had to fly back to South America. What could they say? They were the cheaters.
In September 1974 the rich desperado returned to Las Vegas with $200,000 cash. In about one month, playing in four clubs, he won $1.2 million. He carried about forty safekeeping slips from four different hotels. But in the next six weeks he lost back a million. He still had $200,000. By playing marathon baccarat, craps, and 21, he worked his bankroll back up to $1.4 million.
He did most of his playing in one of the largest strip hotels, so the owners made him a propositon. If he would bet and play only in their hotel, they would let him wager $12,000 a hand in baccarat, $3,000 a hand in 21–and he could play seven hands at a time and double down for $6,000 if he had a legitimate double-down hand. At craps he would be allowed to bet $5,000 and $5,000 odds and place the opposite for $5,000. Also he could bet the Big 6 and 8 for $5,000. He liked big action and he would bet the Big 6 and 8 at even money. Of course, every time the 6 or 8 was made he lost $833 because of the odds, since he was getting even money on the bet.
Well, the horse breeder went for the proposition and he played in this club about the time the 1975 Super Bowl was on. He bet $200,000 on the Pittsburgh Steelers. It took ten bookmakers to handle his action, and he won the bet.
Six days later the horse breeder was broke. He lost the $1.6 million, mostly at baccarat. The club gave him a marker for $400,000. In all he lost $2 million and left town.
This is the same South American who told me he was going to win $1 million. He did–but after all, it was only money.
He’ll be back in couple of months, pay off his markers, and start over again with $200,000 or $300,000.
And we’ll be waiting.
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