Michael Jordan’s gambling exploits are well-known. MJ likes gambling so much that a persisting rumor claims he was temporarily forced to retire from the NBA when things got out of control.
Of course, with a $1.6 billion net worth, Jordan has more than enough money to gamble as much as he likes. He has so much money, in fact, that he may have played some of the highest blackjack stakes of all time.
Jordan sometimes bets up to $45,000 per round. Does this make him the biggest high-stakes blackjack player ever?
I’ll go further into the story of Jordan wagering $45k per round. I’ll also discuss other major high-stakes blackjack players who rival or even exceed what the former Chicago Bull bets.
Jordan Comes Out of Retirement in More Ways Than One
Michael Jordan retired a couple of times in his basketball career, only to come back a few years later and dominate once again. The first time was the aforementioned hiatus from 1993 to 1995, which may or may not have been about gambling for tons of money.
The second time is when he walked away from the game in 1998, only to unretire again and play in 2001. This time, he played for the Washington Wizards. He was serving as a player, executive, and part owner of the franchise.
According to SportsCasting, Jordan was just as interested in hitting the casino tables as the hardwood, with the Wizards opening the 2001-02 season against the Boston Celtics at Connecticut’s Mohegan Sun casino.
Jordan was already familiar with the Mohegan Sun, given that he owns a steakhouse in the resort. He was also familiar with the gaming floor.
It wasn’t long after the 107-93 loss to the Celtics, in which Jordan scored 21 points, that he headed out to play casino games.
Tough Start on the Blackjack Tables
MJ wasn’t the only one who found the high-stakes blackjack table that night. His teammate, shooting guard Richard Hamilton, and Boston forward, Antoine Walker, joined him.
Security was bolstered for the evening given that three of the most popular NBA players were gambling. They were there to make sure that the many spectators didn’t get too close and bother Jordan and company.
Number 23 started with a $500,000 bankroll and received 100 blue chips worth $5,000 apiece. He began the session by putting out one of these chips in every round.
Jordan’s fortunes were going about as well as Washington’s did that night. He’d lost most of his beginning stake and took a break at 2 AM.
After losing the rest of his starting bankroll, Jordan reloaded and began placing larger bets. His luck didn’t go much better and he took another break around 5 AM.
Jordan Breaks the Bank at Mohegan Sun
Things weren’t looking great for Jordan’s gambling session. He’d lost quite a bit of money, and most of the crowd dissipated by the early morning hours. Walker and Hamilton, meanwhile, were only occasionally playing hands.
Unphased, Jordan started drinking coffee, playing three hands simultaneously, and increasing his bets to $15,000 per hand. The changes suited him as he went on a tear.
Jordan was doing so well that he broke the bank, with the table briefly running out of $5k chips. Meanwhile, Walker and Hamilton also started playing and winning more.
With 8 AM just around the corner, Jordan and his NBA buddies were finally ready to retire for the day. It’s unknown exactly how much Michael won that night at the tables.
However, he had anywhere from 140 to 160 blue chips in front of him when it was time to pack up. That said, he earned his initial $500k stake back and then some. Jordan likely collected at least $200,000 in profits.
Other Big Blackjack Players
You can see that Michael Jordan doesn’t mess around when it comes to the blackjack tables. He’s not the only gambler, though, who’s betting serious money on this game.
Adnan Khashoggi, who passed away in 2017, was a major Saudi Arabian arms dealer. He was worth $4 billion at one point.
Khashoggi certainly wasn’t frugal with his wealth. He owned a massive private jet along with a supersized yacht (Nabila), the latter of which he sold to Donald Trump.
Little information is available on how much Khashoggi bet per blackjack hand. However, he did make $5 million in one night of play. He also bankrupted the Las Vegas Sands casino in 1983 after refusing to pay huge markers.
Kerry Packer is no doubt one of, if not the, biggest gamblers of all time. The late Australian media tycoon wagered enormous sums in blackjack and other games.
Worth an estimated A$6.5 billion, he once lost nearly $30 million during a three-week London gambling trip. He made up for this loss, though, with a $33 million win at the MGM Grand Vegas.
If you’re looking for the best blackjack player discussed here, then Don Johnson is definitely it. The Pennsylvania native, who managed racinos and owned a betting software company, possessed incredible math abilities.
He used these math skills to determine how he could gain an edge from Atlantic City casinos through rule modifications and loss rebates.
The casinos, meanwhile, rated Johnson as an amateur player. They were also willing to accept his requested rule changes and loss rebate because he was betting $100,000 per hand.
They had no idea that Johnson was setting them up for big losses. The end result is that Johnson won over $15 million from AC casinos in 2010 and 2011.
While you can learn a lot about how to get casinos to give you favorable conditions by studying what Johnson convinced them to do, he ruined this ploy for most blackjack players in the future.
All of the big casinos are aware of how Johnson won now because it was such big news. And casinos learn when other casinos suffer big losses.
You should try to get favorable conditions, especially if you’re a high roller. But don’t expect to get the same concessions that Johnson was able to get on his winning streak.
Kerry Packer—Not Jordan—Is the Blackjack GOAT
Don Johnson is definitely tops among high rollers regarding blackjack skill. If you’re thinking of the biggest gambler of all time (GOAT) in terms of sheer betting volume, then Packer is it.
Jordan and Khashoggi were certainly willing to play for some big stakes. Nobody, however, has consistently played for the kind of money that Packer has.
The Aussie was such a big player that casinos would clear off entire high-roller tables for him. This enabled him to play hands for all seven seats at the table. Packer didn’t always fare too well when gambling up to $500k per hand. Multimillion-dollar swings were common for him.
The good news for Packer, though, is that his multibillion-dollar fortune allowed him to easily survive these swings.
He also seemed impervious to risk. Packer could lose several million dollars in a short time span and still have the mettle to keep playing.
Johnson, Jordan, and Khashoggi are some of the biggest blackjack bettors to have played the game. Nobody has ever matched the massive betting volume of Packer, though.
Michael Jordan certainly isn’t afraid to throw down on the blackjack tables. As the Mohegan Sun story shows, he’s at least bet as much as $45,000 per round. These large bets worked out for him too as he came out between $200k and $300k ahead.
Everybody knows that Jordan likes to gamble. However, few stories exist with quite the level of detail as the SportsCasting one.
Jordan likely wasn’t sweating too much when he lost his initial $500k stake. But the average high roller probably would be deeply concerned about these kinds of losses.
Not even Jordan, though, gambles to the level that Packer did. The latter is definitely the biggest-known blackjack player, and possibly the biggest casino gambler of all time.
Michael Stevens has been researching and writing topics involving the gambling industry for well over a decade now and is considered an expert on all things casino and sports betting. Michael has been writing for GamblingSites.org since early 2016. ...
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