7 High Limit and VIP Gambling Facts You Should Know (Even if You’re a Low Roller)

by Jeff Harris
on January 1, 2018

High rollers have a certain mystique in the gambling world. This is because VIP gamblers enjoy the finest that casinos have to offer, including penthouse suites, private tables, and limousine transportation.

Low rollers may find all of this unattainable based on their bankroll. Furthermore, they might forget about betting high limits altogether.

Truthfully, being a high roller isn’t impossible. You may even be interested in the VIP gambling facts in case you ever get the opportunity.

That said, keep reading as I discuss 7 important facts that both high and low rollers should know about VIP gambling.

1 – High Rollers Get Better Rules

A blackjack player who bets $100 per hand obviously has more value to a casino than someone who wagers $5 per hand. Gambling establishments reward these higher bets by offering better rules to VIP gamblers.

Blackjack is a perfect example because casinos often have better rules for high limit tables. In contrast, low limit tables give the casino an even bigger advantage.

Check out the differences between some Las Vegas blackjack tables:

  • Aria – 0.255% house edge with $100 minimum bet.
  • MGM Grand – 0.255% house edge with $100 minimum bet.
  • Treasure Island – 0.255% house edge with $100 minimum bet.
  • Bally’s – 0.285% house edge with $100 minimum bet.
  • SLS Las Vegas – 1.554% house edge with $10 minimum bet.
  • Boulder Station – 1.698% house edge with $5 minimum bet.
  • Cosmopolitan – 1.830% house edge with $15 minimum bet.
  • Golden Nugget – 1.998% house edge with $10 minimum bet.

This extends beyond blackjack because other table games like craps, roulette, and poker can offer better deals to high limit players.

For example, French roulette (1.35% house edge) might only be offered to players who bet $50 or more per turn. American roulette (5.26%) is then available to all of the lower rollers who wager less than $50.

Casinos can offer better rules to VIPs because they still stand to make more money off them. Here’s a sample comparison between high and low rollers:

High Limit Blackjack Player

  • Betting $100 per hand.
  • Plays 6 hours.
  • 100 hands per hour (600 total hands).
  • $60,000 total wagered.
  • House edge is 0.3%.
  • $60,000 x 0.03 = $180 in theoretical losses.

Low Limit Baccarat Player

  • Betting $10 per hand.
  • Plays 6 hours.
  • 100 hands per hour (600 total hands).
  • $6,000 total wagered.
  • House edge is 0.3%.
  • 6,000 x 0.003 = $18 in theoretical losses.

Even though high limit players are facing a lower house edge, they’re still losing more due to their bet sizes. But if you get more thrills out of betting more per turn, then you might as well take advantage of the low house edge too.

2 – High Rollers Can Negotiate for Better Rules & Comps

Many table game players who bet $50 or more can look forward to good rules like the ones discussed above. But serious high rollers can even negotiate for better rules and/or comps depending upon the casino.

A great example of this is famed blackjack player Don Johnson, who negotiated for such good rules that he won over $15 million.

Following the Great American Recession, Johnson knew that Atlantic City casinos were desperate. In 2010, he approached them about playing blackjack for $100,000 per hand.

The casinos were willing to negotiate because Johnson was playing for such a significant amount. And they initially offered him standard comps, plus special perks like a private jet flying him out to their casino.

But Johnson wasn’t interested in any lavish comps. Instead, he wanted the best blackjack rules along with a loss rebate.

Johnson got such good blackjack rules that he was only facing a 0.25% house edge. But where he really took the casinos is when he got a 20% loss rebate that reset every day.

This meant that he could lose $500,000, but actually only lose $400,000 thanks to his loss rebate. The casino, on the other hand, didn’t get any rebate when they lost money.

This allowed Johnson to win $5.8 million from the Tropicana, $5 million from the Borgata, and $4 million from Caesars.

I’m not saying that you’ll suddenly win a fortune like Johnson just because you negotiate for good rules and comps. But this story illustrates how much leeway casinos are willing to give their best customers.

3 – High Limit Slot Machines Have Lower House Edges

As a general of thumb, land based slot machine payback goes up along with coin denominations. This means that you’re going to get higher payback from a $5 slot machine than you will a penny game.

Here are the general ranges for what you can expect from each coin denomination in brick and mortar casinos:

  • Penny slots – 10% to 15% house edge
  • Nickel slots – 8% to 15%
  • Dollar slots – 5% to 6%
  • $5 slots – 5% to 3%
  • $25 slots – 3% or better

The problem is that it’s really hard to find payback for individual machines in land based casinos.

The reason why is because each casino can order different payback for a certain game. For example, Game of Thrones slot may offer a different payout percentage in the MGM Grand than it does at Circus Circus.

Nevertheless, you can still use coin denominations as your guide when looking for higher payback.

The increased payout percentages are definitely one reason to play high limit slot machines. But just keep in mind that you’re still going to lose more money on average when increasing your bets.

Here’s a comparison that illustrates theoretical losses on high and low limit slot machines:

High Slot Machine

  • $5 per spin.
  • 600 spins per hour ($3,000 in total bets).
  • Play for 4 hours.
  • 4 hours x $3,000 = $12,000 in total bets.
  • 5% house edge.
  • $12,000 x 0.05 = $600 in theoretical losses.

Low Limit Slot Machine

  • $0.25 per spin.
  • 600 spins per hour ($150in total bets).
  • Play for 4 hours.
  • 4 hours x $150 = $600 in total bets.
  • 10% house edge.
  • $600 x 0.10 = $60 in theoretical losses.

This is another instance where you should take advantage of higher payback if you enjoy betting more per spin anyways. But don’t get carried away with the fact that dollar machines offer high payback.

4 – Table Limits Prevent Players from Effectively Using the Martingale System

All casinos have limits to how much you can bet on table games.

But some gamblers wonder why casinos have limits in the first place. After all, why not let simply let players gamble whenever they want?

One big reason why is because casinos want to prevent gamblers from winning money with the Martingale system. As you may know, the Martingale calls on players to double bets following every loss.

This doesn’t overcome the house edge for any game. But the Martingale is perhaps the only gambling system that works in theory.

The reason why is because this strategy always helps you win back losses, plus a small profit. But the major downside is that you practically need an infinite bankroll to ensure you don’t lose everything during a horrific losing streak.

Some gamblers may not have a problem with this, though, if they’re insanely wealthy.

For example, let’s say that Amazon’s Jeff Bezos walks into a casino with his $100 billion net worth. And he’s betting $5,000 per hand on blackjack, if which only represents a fraction of his bankroll.

Even if he loses 10 straight hands, he’s never going to get close to blowing everything. Here’s an example of how this would work with the Martingale:

  • Bet $5,000 and lose (bankroll at – $5,000).
  • Bet $10,000 and lose (bankroll at – $15,000).
  • Bet $20,000 and lose (bankroll at – $35,000).
  • Bet $40,000 and lose (bankroll at – $75,000).
  • Bet $80,000 and lose (bankroll at – $155,000).
  • Bet $160,000 and lose (bankroll at – $315,000).
  • Bet $320,000 and lose (bankroll at – $635,000).
  • Bet $640,000 and lose (bankroll at – $1,275,000).
  • Bet $1,280,000 and lose (bankroll at – $2,555,000).
  • Bet $2,560,000 and lose (bankroll at +$5,000).

I’m sure that Jeff Bezos has more lucrative things to do than play blackjack for $5k per hand. But this is just one example of how a casino could be beaten on a consistent basis by someone using this system.

The other main reason why casinos use betting limits is because some don’t want to be burned by gamblers on a hot streak. The story of Tom Breitling and Tim Poster perfectly illustrates this point.

Breitling and Poster bought Vegas’ Golden Nugget casino for $50 million in 2004. This was a personal investment, meaning the duo didn’t have the funds of a major corporation.

Regardless, they began offering low house edges and high limits in an effort to attract big gamblers. Golden Nugget did very well with this strategy for almost a year.

But a high roller won $8.5 million and wiped out the casino’s profit for the year. Breitling and Poster chose to instate more traditional betting limits after this.

5 – Online High Rollers can Get Higher Deposit & Withdrawal Limits

Online casinos also have VIP gamblers who are willing to wager high amounts.

And just like brick and mortar casinos, they’re willing reward their best customers in the form of larger comps and special perks. One of these perks includes higher deposit and withdrawal limits.

Online casinos have minimum and maximum amounts on both deposits and cashouts. But they’re willing to lift these for high rollers.

For example, the normal limits might be $5,000 for a deposit and $3,000 for a withdrawal per week. But this could be increased to $10,000 for deposits and $6,000 for cashouts for special VIPs.

The obvious reason for the special treatment is because internet casinos don’t want to hamper big players.

Other benefits to being a preferred VIP is that you’ll get even more rewards. This is because internet casinos have tiered loyalty programs, where you get more bonuses as you move up the ladder.

This allows you to earn higher deposit bonuses, better points for cash exchanges, birthday gifts, and a special VIP host.

Obviously these aren’t the same as the comps you receive in land based casinos. But it’s certainly nice to receive more bonuses and cashback when you gamble big at online casinos.

6 – Casinos Take Chances on High Rollers

Brick and mortar casinos often extend credit lines to their biggest high rollers. The reason why is because they want to make things as convenient as possible for major players.

But this also means that casinos are taking a chance when they extend credit limits. There are some cases where high rollers don’t repay debts after losing.

One of the most famous examples involves Terrance Watanabe.

The businessman loved to play many different types of casino games. Unfortunately, he didn’t have very good luck and lost $220 million over a 5 year span.

I’m assuming that he paid some of the money back or casinos wouldn’t have continued giving him credit. However, Caesars Entertainment sued him for failing to repay $14.75 million

A big risk in loaning this type of money is that the player could declare bankruptcy and avoid repaying some or all of the debt. Some gamblers have even tried using the defense that they’re a compulsive gambler and the casino is taking advantage of them.

Nora Al Daher tried this defense against London’s Ritz Club after losing £2 million. But the court ruled in Ritz Club’s favor because they didn’t buy her argument.

Casinos continue to offer credit despite the risks, meaning they must do well with this arrangement.

7 – Casinos Shower Important VIPs with Comps

All casinos pretty much offer the same games. This is why they need to have some separation in their comps to attract big players.

First off, high rollers like to have lavish comps and all their arrangements taken care of. After all, gambling trips are about entertainment, and they don’t want to worry about how they’ll be traveling.

But comps only go so far, which is why casinos also need to have great customer service and the finest amenities.

VIPs like staying in luxurious hotel suites, complete with great views, plenty of lounge space, and a fully stocked bar. They also want the casino to have nice amenities too, including spas, gyms, large pools, and gourmet restaurants.

Gambling resorts also have casino hosts, who develop a relationship with big players and work to meet their needs. This can include anything from handling a VIP’s travel arrangements to reserving their table in a fine dining establishment.

The main thing that casinos want in return is for the player to be worth the investment. And usually this includes a contract stating that the player will play so many hands at certain stakes.

For example, a blackjack player may be asked to bet $1,000 per hand for a total of 8 hours during their stay. Here’s the math on how this would work out in the casino’s favor:

  • $1,000 bet per hand.
  • 100 hands per hour ($100,000 total).
  • $100,000 x 8 hours = $800,000 in total bets.
  • 5% house edge.
  • $4,000 in theoretical losses.

Based on this profit, the casino can then determine what percentage they’re willing to give back in comps.

Conclusion

Perhaps you may never bet enough to land a penthouse suite at the top of Vegas’ most expensive casino resorts. But if you enjoy gambling, then it’s certainly worth knowing the ins and outs of the high limit world.

Some casinos are willing to give you nice comps simply for betting $50 or more per turn.

This may still be out of your budget. But if it’s not, then it’s worth looking for casinos where you can be treated like a special VIP.

In summary, look to take full advantage of the benefits you can get from a casino as a high roller.

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