For most people, placing an enormous bet at the casino isn’t something done on a whim. Each punt taken might have the chance of making a tidy pile, but losing the stake is a risk not taken lightly. But imagine if you had a practically unlimited fortune to back you up, then your bets might be a little more devil-may-care. Such was the case with blackjack legend Kerry Packer.
The Australian mogul had inherited a mind-bogglingly huge fortune of 100 million Aussie dollars (now €67 million) from his father’s media empire at the age of 37. Packer was an astute businessman and made some canny investments, most notably he was the first person to make money by televising cricket matches. By the end of his incredible life, he was reportedly worth $AUS 6.5 billion – that’s almost four and a half billion euros. But it was in the casinos where Packer really excelled, his blackjack skills, luck, and penchant for outrageous bets have made him legendary in gambling circles.
High Roller Betting Style
The casinos trod a thin line with Packer. He was prone to make bets of $300,000 on a single hand of Blackjack, and when he didn’t hit the mark, the casinos did well. When his luck was on, though, it could spell near ruin for the casino. Luckily for them, he didn’t always have the winning hand, reportedly losing $19 million at the Ritz Club in Las Vegas, and on another occasion, dropping an astronomical $20 million at the Bellagio, the sort of wedge that would make your eyes water! But when he won, he won big. The MGM Grand in Vegas had to cough up sums of $24m and $33m to Packer when he went on a hot streak at Blackjack and Baccarat. The story goes that he almost broke the MGM Grand and several employees at that casino were fired shortly after for allowing his outrageous bets. Aspinall’s Casino in London also suffered at the hands of Packer’s ‘bet big, bet often’ strategy, and they were forced to close down after he cleaned them out playing blackjack.
It wasn’t just in his casino career that Packer’s luck paid out, though. In an extraordinary stroke of luck, his huge landholdings paid off when a deposit of rubies was discovered on his property. And when he suffered a massive heart attack in 1990, it was only by chance that the ambulance called out had a defibrillator fitted, not standard practice at the time. Packer was dead for six whole minutes before the paramedics revived him, his luck holding fast when he needed it the most.
The legend of Kerry Packer is revered in the casino world and while we may never get to bet the staggeringly huge amounts he could afford we can be inspired by his bravado and huge wins. A much-recounted Packer tale is of when a Texan oil tycoon was trying to bait Packer into playing poker with him. “I’m worth $60 million!” said the Texan. Taking out a coin, the ice-cool Packer replied: “Heads or tails, I’ll flip you for it.” Some legends deserve their status, Packer amongst them.