Kerry Packer

Kerry Packer It would be fair to say that the late Kerry Packer could be described as ‘legendary’, both metaphorically and literally, because it is difficult to know which of the countless tales of his gambling exploits are entirely fictitious and which contain at least a grain of truth. One of the most oft-recounted, and believable, anecdotes of his derring-do at the gaming tables involves an encounter with a Texan, who had made his money in cattle, or oil, depending on whose account you believe, while playing baccarat in Las Vegas in the Nineties. Apparently, when Packer spurned his approach, the Texan boasted that he was a ‘big player’, worth $100 million; in response, Packer said calmly, ‘If you really want to gamble, I’ll flip you for it.’

What is definitely true is that, at the time of his death in 2005, Packer was the richest man in Australia, with a estimated net worth of A$7 billion, or approximately £5 billion by modern standards. Born in Randwick, New South Wales in 1937, Packer became chairman of a media empire, which included Australian Consolidate Press and the Nine Network, following the death of his father, Sir Frank Packer, in 1974. Aside from his business interests, Packer was known as a larger-than-life gambler, prone to turning up a casino at any time of the day or night and playing baccarat or blackjack, several hands at a time, for up to $US150,000 or $US200,000 apiece.

Known as the ‘Prince of Whales’, Packer won, and lost, millions of dollars; so much, in fact, that he could, single-handedly, affect the quarterly earnings reports of the casinos in which he gambled. In 1997, he reportedly won $US26 million playing blackjack at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and, two years later, suffered the biggest loss ever sustained in Britain, £11 million, or $16.5 million, over a three-week period at Crockfords in Mayfair, London. Back in Las Vegas, he also reportedly lost $US20 million playing baccarat at the Bellagio in 2000, followed by another $US29 million at the same venue a year later.

Bog Standard

Bog Standard

Toilet paper is like gold dust nowadays.

Ida Summers

Ida Summers Popularly known as the ‘Vegas Vixen’, Ida Summers was a petite, attractive woman and, as such, was hardly an archetypal cheat, and particularly not in Las Vegas in the Mafia-dominated days of the Sixties and Seventies. However, a bold, skilful and, ultimately, notorious cheat she was, employing distraction and sleight-of-hand techniques to swindle casino blackjack tables out of tens of thousands of dollars.

Reputedly from Newport, Kentucky, Summers moved to Las Vegas in 1961, by which time she had already mastered the technique of ‘hand mucking’, which involves concealing a favourable card, such as an ace, in the palm of the hand and surreptitiously substituting it for a less favourable card as an when required. This type of deception provided Summers with easy pickings but, later, she took her cheating activity to another level, by recruiting male accomplices to help her substitute not just a single card, but the whole blackjack shoe.

At an opportune moment, when the dealer was distracted, Summers would lift the original shoe off the blackjack table and conceal it in her lap, while a pre-stacked shoe, known as a ‘cooler’, was slipped onto the table in its place. She would offload the original shoe to a standing accomplice and make herself scarce at the earliest opportunity, leaving her remaining seated accomplices to take advantage of a series of guaranteed winning hands, albeit with a few losing hands thrown in, for good effect. Eventually, Summers became the subject of a surveillance operation conducted, jointly, by the Nevada Gaming Control Board and the FBI; although ultimately betrayed by a former accomplice, was sentenced to just twelve months’ probation.

Quarantine Casino

 

Las Vegas Strip to reopen in May?

Las Vegas Strip to reopen in May? If you’ve ever been to Nevada, you’ll know that there’s nothing quite like seeing the bright lights and bustling crowds in Las Vegas. Home of box office busting sporting events and casinos as far as the eye can see, it’s the kid in a candy store gambling equivalent for those who like their entertainment  faced paced and with an element of risk. Of course that’s all changed for now though, due to covid-19. While the lights may still shine bright, the crowds are absent and it’s a world on pause. A place once full of life, now replaced by an eerie and unfamiliar silence.

How long this will continue for is anyone’s guess, but Matt Maddox, the CEO of Wynn Resorts is calling for the Las Vegas Strip to begin reopening as early as May with certain restrictions in place. Mirroring a gradual return that will likely also be seen in other sectors, Maddox foresees measures such as reduced occupancy, increased testing  and a requirement to wear masks put in place. He has his eye on mid to late May for this process to begin. This is no doubt music to President Trump’s ears as he’s more than eager to get the economy up and running again.

“I understand that if we incrementally reopen we might have to pull back if a spike in cases occurs that jeopardizes our health care system capacity. However, the only way to cross this river is one stone at a time, and we need to put our feet in the water before it is too late,” Maddox wrote.

Credit to Wynn Resorts as they’re currently still paying all part and full-time employees. A move that the CEO says is costing the company an eye watering $3,000,000 per day. In these unprecedented and unpredictable times, who knows when we’ll find ourselves returning to some semblance of normality where we feel safe in busy environments. I certainly welcome a time when we do though.