A whale passes

Australian billionaire Kerry Packer died in his sleep yesterday. Here’s an article from the Courier-Mail:

ONE of the best gambling legends about Kerry Packer is of him facing off against a Texas oilman in Las Vegas.

The Texan, apparently angered by the noise Packer’s entourage was making at baccarat, boasted he was worth $US100 million ($A137 million).

“Toss you for it,” was Mr Packer’s reported reply.

The media magnate’s gambling exploits are hard to verify, but he admitted to enjoying a bet and was known for his hefty tips – $125,000 to a cocktail waitress to help pay off her mortgage.

Mr Packer was known as a hit-run “whale”, those big spenders who splurge millions quickly at casinos, who play baccarat and blackjack while also engineering some memorable plunges on horses.

“It’ll (his death) be huge news here because he was a high-roller,” said Jeffrey Compton, gaming analyst for Las Vegas-based Compton Dancer Consulting.

Mr Packer was almost a sign of success for casinos.

“If Kerry Packer visits your casino, you’re on the A-list,” Mr Compton said yesterday.

Mr Packer had stood out partly because his name was easily recognisable among the Asian high-rollers, Mr Compton said.

“I think he’ll be missed more for reputation,” Mr Compton said. “Nobody’s going to file for bankruptcy because Kerry Packer’s died.”

His legends had him squeezing some clubs when he was gambling.

A London club reportedly closed its doors in 1991 due to a lack cash after he won $600,000, but this was never confirmed.

At times he cleaned up, reportedly pocketing $7 million at the Las Vegas Hilton casino in November 1991 and then tipping the croupiers $66,000.

In 1997, at the same Las Vegas casino where the Texas oilman confrontation occurred, he reportedly won almost $26 million.

He apparently once cashed in 20 baccarat hands in a row at $US250,000 ($A330,000). One witness was quoted as saying Mr Packer quietly played and did not even touch the fruit nearby, but simply said “thank you” with each winning hand.

And there were losses – reportedly $60 million in one spree in Las Vegas while stuck there following the September 11 attacks.

Another unlucky streak was said to be almost $34 million in 2000 and sparking criticism of waste from then Labor frontbencher Mark Latham.

But Mr Packer dismissed the claimed amounts as “absolutely ludicrous”, saying he lost less than $10 million he donated to the Westmead Children’s Hospital.

“The truth of the matter is that I like to have a bet every now and again,” he told media. “If you go to a casino, you try to win money,” adding “you can lose it.”

There are reports he enjoyed visiting Jupiters Casino on the Gold Coast in 1998 but did not make the journey north to Brisbane to the Treasury Casino.

While reportedly banned from Kirk Kerkorian’s MGM Grand Hotel in Las Vegas, Mr Packer said in 2000 he believed he was welcome there.

He was also quoted as saying of losing: “I didn’t enjoy it. But those are the risks you take.”

Texan: I’m worth $100m
Packer: Toss you for it

I love that “toss you for it story.” I don’t know what impact this will have on Packer’s planned entry into the Macau market.

Any dealers/waitresses have any Kerry Packer stories to share?

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