Whenever you see the Las Vegas lifestyle portrayed on the silver screen, gamblers are greeted like gods by their personal casino hosts. The gang from The Hangover (2009) holing up in a lavish top-floor suite at Caesars Palace, or the blackjack team from 21 (2008) touring Planet Hollywood in style… They make Sin City seem like heaven on earth for high rollers.
Here’s the thing, though, most of us aren’t exactly blessed with big enough bankrolls to earn an invite to the high life.
But what if I told you a bona fide Las Vegas insider revealed one simple trick to living like a high roller in Las Vegas? Read on to learn how any group of average gamblers can fool the casinos into treating them like royalty.
Who Is Steve Cyr and Why Should I Care About His Advice?
For the last 30 years and counting, Steve Cyr has cemented his reputation as Las Vegas’ leading casino host.
And for folks who aren’t aware, casino hosts are employees who serve a specialized role by attending to the wishes and whims of the most well-heeled players. I’m talking celebrities and stars, billionaire business tycoons, and professional gamblers who pay their bills by beating the house gambling in the casino.
Cyr began his career as a lowly slot host at Caesars Palace, doling out buffet tickets and such to tourists who never dreamed of qualifying for line of credit. Working his way through the ranks, Cyr eventually became the Hilton’s senior host, working directly with wealthy players known in casino lingo as “whales.”
As part of the gig, Cyr works to lure high rollers to the properties he represents, spoiling them with goodies like front row Super Bowl tickets, backstage passes to the big fight, and whatever the whale’s heart desires. In return, Cyr enjoys a cut of the proceeds whenever his pet whales lose big bucks on the tables.
Today, his biography Whale Hunt in the Desert: The Secret Las Vegas of Superhost Steve Cyr (2004) is a cornerstone of the curriculum in most of America’s top college hotel management programs.
Working closely with pro gambler turned CardPlayer magazine writer Houston Curtis, Cyr also releases short videos offering advice for average Joes who want a taste of the whale’s life.
And one of those videos, titled “How to Get Treated Like a High Roller in Las Vegas,” provides an easy game plan for a group of guys and gals to make gambling more glamorous.
What’s the High Roller Trick All About?
According to Cyr, any fairly large group of players can pool their resources to make it seem as though they possess a burgeoning bankroll befitting true whales.
Here’s how it works…
Let’s say you’re visiting Las Vegas for a bachelor or bachelorette party, a college fraternity or sorority trip, or even a family reunion. AS long as you have at least eight participants in the pool, and each player brings around $1,000, you’ll be good to go.
You and your seven pals could simply take the $1,000 apiece and play as individuals. That’s how most gambling groups proceed, but this approach won’t attract any attention from casino hosts on the prowl for aspiring whales.
Instead, Cyr advises players to combine their funds into a shared pool of something like $8,000 to $10,000. While a handful of players each betting $1,000 won’t move the casino’s needle, one player with $10,000 to burn certainly will.
Cyr says to begin this gambit by calling the casino you want to stay at and ask for the host office. Once you’re connected with a host, just let them know that you’ve never gambled there before, but you’re interested in checking things out for yourself with a little $10,000 taster.
As always, in Cyr’s secretive world of whale hunting, the key here is subterfuge. You want to sound cool and confident, with the goal being to convince the casino host that competing for your future business is worth their while:
“I’m in town on business but have the weekend to burn. I was thinking about hitting the Aria again, but felt like switching things up and trying a new scene.
I’ll be there Saturday night to deposit the 10 dimes, and if I have a good time, I expect to be back soon playing a little bigger.”
Following a loose script like that should let the host know that you’re a serious player, one who isn’t shy whatsoever about betting (and losing) five-figure sums.
If all goes well, you’ll have a casino host setting an appointment and anxiously awaiting their meeting with a mysterious new whale.
How Does it Work When I Actually Get to the Casino?
Indeed, running a big bluff like this behind the buffer zone of your phone will be easier than doubling down in person.
With that said, the second step in Cyr’s plan isn’t all that difficult to accomplish. Once you’ve rounded up everyone’s contribution to the kitty, a lone representative should then head over to the cashier’s cage to deposit the dough.
Again, a big part of the ploy involves acting the part, so send somebody well-dressed and smartly-groomed to do the deed.
Casino hosts spend their shifts mingling with millionaires, so they’ll know something’s up if a supposed whale shows up wearing shorts and sandals.
When you arrive at the cage, provide your identification and let them know that you’ve already spoken with host. An experienced host will likely be there before you, ready and waiting to greet their latest guest, offer a tour of the premises, and arrange a private table playing your preferred game and stakes.
Finally, plunk the $10,000 in cash down on the counter — preferably in a nice, clean stack of hundred-dollar bills wrapped and labeled by the bank — and announce your intention to make a deposit.
The cashier will then complete the transaction by providing you with a receipt, along with instructions on how to collect chips via “marker” at the tables.
And just like that, the casino has accepted you into the fold as a new whale in waiting.
What if I’ve Never Deposited at the Cage
Rather than carry a big bag of cash or high-denomination chips from Point A to Point B, most high rollers utilize casino markers.
Put simply, once you have a documented cash deposit with the cage, you can then ask the dealer for chips directly without paying for them upfront. They’ll slide you a slip of paper to sign, verifying that you’ve incurred an X amount of debt against your established credit line, along with the commensurate amount in chips.
In this fashion, whales avoid the hassle of leaving the game for an ATM run, exchanging cash whenever they need new chips, and carrying those chips from table to table in their pocket.
The casino keeps diligent track of all markers assigned to a designated player. And even if you lose more than your deposit amount, you’ll be provided an extended period of time in order to settle up.
However, for the sake of this high roller trick, be sure to bet within the limits of your deposit amount. Remember, the goal here isn’t to go into hawk by waging a fruitless financial war with the casino. You’re simply trying to pass off as a high roller long enough to find yourself and your friends being treated like one at every turn.
Does Cyr Have Any Advice on How to Play These Markers?
He sure does… And as per usual, blackjack is the gambler’s best friend.
Cyr tells viewers to take their action to a $100 minimum bet blackjack table to get things rolling. Here, one player can request a marker for something like $2,000 or $3,000, enough to begin a blackjack session at these stakes. You can either break that money down into a few $1,000 buy-ins, or have a single player sit while the rest hoot and holler from behind.
In any case, you’ll want somebody well-versed in blackjack basic strategy running the show. Those black chip $100 bets can add up in a hurry, so knowing how to literally play your cards right is essential.
Be sure to ask the dealer for your session to be “rated,” and occasionally mix in a whale-like move by playing two hands at a time or betting more than the minimum.
With a little luck on your side, you’ll be able to break even or win a little extra after a few hours of play. But even if you do lose a $2,000 buy-in or two, keep in mind that every group member’s personal liability still stands at $1,000 flat.
Win or lose, playing a rated session at the high-stakes table is really what you’ve come to do.
When Does the High Roller Treatment Start?
The minute you leave the table, call your host directly and let them know that their casino just secured a new fan. Rave about the dealer’s personality and proficiency, the cocktail server’s charm, and any other compliments paid to the casino that come to mind.
And crucially, drop a hint or two about wanting to return down the road for a real high-stakes session.
With this bait dangling in front of them, any casino host worth their salt will roll out the red carpet and cater to their “valuable” new customer.
According to Cyr, your group will quickly be put up in a swanky suite, offered a booth and bottle service at the venue’s hottest nightclub, and invited to wine and dine at the steakhouse—all on the house.
With your personal $1,000 to play with, a little $5 blackjack and a decent buffet dinner would’ve been the highlight of your trip. But by pooling resources with a few like-minded gamblers, taking advantage of Cyr’s high roller trick can turn your next Las Vegas visit into a real-life whale’s tale.
Given his three decades at the helm as one of Las Vegas’ most beloved casino hosts, Cyr certainly knows the tricks of the trade. And with this particular trick, the industry veteran looks to level the proverbial playing field by inviting ordinary players into the high roller’s den.
It’ll take some moxie of course, there’s no doubt about that, but a little smooth talk can go a long way in Sin City. The next time you have your best friends and family together in the world’s gambling capital, why not try your luck and see if Cyr’s advice will work for you?
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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