Don Johnson—the Genius Gambler

Don Johnson—the Genius Gambler

A gambling mastermind doesn’t come frequently and finding one raises more questions than they answer. However, when Don Johnson swept over casinos and won $6 million at Tropicana in one night, after recently winning $5 million at Borgata and another $4 million at Caesars—his style, tactic, and pace is nothing short of genius, a true modern gambling virtuoso.

Who is Don Johnson?

Now an infamous casino celebrity, Don Johnson at age 30, started experimenting with the betting world as a racetrack manager in Philadelphia Park. After managing other racetracks, he worked as a state regulator in Idaho, Texas, Oregon, and Wyoming. He then pioneered Heritage Development, an enterprise that uses computer-assisted betting programs for horse racing.

The financial crisis of 2008 pushed casinos to entice high rollers. Johnson was one of the few who has made offers to play at the highest stake. However, Johnson was differed the others—so good was he in negotiating that casinos allowed for their rules to be bent, raising the odds for Johnson and lowering the same for the house. In addition, he did it all without technically cheating and without the use of card counting.

Atlantic City Casinos Stint

Johnson’s winning streak started gaining attention when his bets averaged $100,000. Casino owners and pit bosses looked with fury or pure amazement as Johnson won $800,000 in one hand, then a $1.2 million in a three-hand sequence.

According to Johnson, he did not feel excitement nor tenseness. He just played violently, betting as high as he could, and reaping all the benefits. Casinos at first didn’t know what to do; they fall for Johnson’s antics one after another. And they couldn’t figure it out either. For one, Johnson is easy to underestimate. A guy in tracksuits with a jaunty disposition, what could he possibly know about gambling, right?

Soon, casinos comped Johnson everything from fancy wines, extravagant suites, pricy cigars, to private luxury jets. Oh, and he was pompous. He truly embodies the it’s-all-or-nothing mantra, even demanding at times to change the brand of private jets he didn’t like. He partied crazy too! Moreoever, he brought with him edgy people and befriended the elite including Paris Hilton, Steve Wynn, and Steve Aoki. Even better was that casinos comped all of his expenses. In short, he didn’t just bring the house down; he burned them all, raking millions and millions.

Atlantic City skyline in a sunny afternoon.

Height and Decline

Johnson knew that his stint would only go as far. Even he wasn’t aware of how far would it go. So, he pushed and pushed until casinos can’t give anymore. At one instance, police waited at the entrance of a bar he frequented and almost arrested him. Knowing a weekend in jail isn’t worth it, he caved in.

After this, Johnson would soon have a mark from casinos, banning him to play from their biggest tables. To Johnson and to his followers, this is a win-win situation, for it is the highest attainment for a famed casino player to be banned from casinos all for playing too well. Johnson therefor has achieved the other goal in casinos aside from gaining money; Johnson has successfully beaten the house.

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