There's a hot new gambling book out. It's called 'Whale Hunt in the Desert -- The Secret Las Vegas of Superhost Steve Cyr,' and it's written by Deke Castleman, senior editor of Las Vegas-based HuntingtonJean Scott is known as the "Queen of Comps" and encourages smarter casino gambling. She appears on network and cable TV, especially on the Travel Channel. Her down-to-earth practical suggestions will save you both time and money in your quest to make your trip to the casino more fun and more profitable. Jean's website is www.queenofcomps.com Press, which also publishes my own books.
If you've ever dreamed of living the "lifestyles of the rich in Vegas," this is your behind-the-scenes tour of the high-roller scene, the culture of whales. These are the world's wealthiest wagerers, who can lay down between $50,000 and $250,000 a hand. Betting an amount equal to a mortgage on a typical single-family home is mostly incomprehensible to guppy gamblers, but Deke makes an interesting point in the book: Everything is relative. He writes, "A $150,000 bet to a man with $1 billion in liquid assets is the same as a $15 bet to a man with $100,000 in his pocket." In other words, though a whale might look like a gambling god to us mortals, to him tossing the cost of a Cadillac across the crap layout is chump change.
And this brings up the main message that I took from the book. High rollers might have a lot more disposable income than most of us, but they're typical gamblers all the same. Not one in a hundred really knows what they're doing.
I'm sure it's no accident that Deke focuses on the spectacular nosedives and crashes of a number of big players -- the dot-com millionaire who lost $6 million in one seven-month stretch; a Southwest contractor who needed an extra couple hundred thousand to finish a big construction job and tried to win it at the blackjack tables, losing his business, his home, and more in the process; even the owner of a big chemical company who, due to a divorce and a bad run of luck, couldn't pay $650,000 in markers and wound up in jail, charged with defrauding a casino.
These players made every blunder in the book. The worst, in my opinion, is that they didn't know enough about playing the games. They trusted luck. They got seduced by the perks and comps and attention from their hosts. They didn't care about losing, because they had all the money in the world -- or so they thought, until the world disintegrated around them. As my readers should know, this goes against everything I believe in, write about, and try to pound into people's heads every chance I get!
The thing that makes this book so compelling is that everything is much larger than life. The huge bets, colossal wins and losses, private jets, palatial accommodations, world-class chefs, appearance fees, discounts on losses, shopping sprees, tickets to major events, parties, and women -- they all add up to a casino experience that puts the gambler at the greatest risk for being bled by the "harpoons" of the hosts and bosses. Gambling at the highest levels exposes all that's malignant about the casino phenomenon.
The bottom line is this. No matter how much or how little you bet, you'd be wise to know how to play your particular gambling game as well as possible, set limits and stick to them, and show some restraint when it comes to wallowing in Las Vegas's vast sea of dreams. Like many of the high rollers in “Whale Hunt in the Desert,” you too could drown.
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