How Don Johnson won 15 million dollars playing blackjack

15 million in six months playing blackjack

Since blackjack has been around for a couple of hundred years, many stories go way back. But even in more recent years, there are legendary blackjack stories worth telling. One of those more recent legendary stories occurred less than ten years ago. Between December 2010 and April 2011, the American Don Johnson accumulated more than 15 million dollars in blackjack at several casinos in Atlantic City.

Probability and risk analysis

To avoid confusion, we should mention, especially for the older readers, that the best man’s name is actually Don Johnson, but that he is not the actor from the 1980s series Miami Vice. Johnson has been a professional gambler for years and focuses on horse racing in addition to blackjack. He also has a company that develops software to help with probability and risk analysis in horse racing. He has also worked as a jockey in horse racing and has been a director of several American racetracks.

Because of his years of experience with risk analysis and probability at recreational and professional levels, Johnson naturally has a great deal of insight into these matters. He, therefore, knows exactly which rules and mechanics in blackjack are to the advantage or disadvantage of the player or the casino. Of course, this knowledge helped him tremendously in earning that $15 million in such a short time, but something else had to happen to make this possible.

Economic crisis

Of course, Johnson is certainly not the only one who is well aware of the odds behind blackjack. Nevertheless, he owes his enormous winnings to a development that made it possible for him to play blackjack against his own rules and thus increasing his own chances and decreasing those of the casino considerably. The event that the Americans so eagerly took advantage of was the economic crisis that began in 2008 and was at its height in 2010.

The crisis had its repercussions in all sectors and the casino sector. The number of visitors and thus revenues decreased significantly in that period, and also, the number of high rollers, an essential source of income for casinos, decreased during that time. This made casinos increasingly willing to grant even more favors to the high rollers than they normally would have done. Johnson made grateful use of this.

Own rules

Typically, special rules are discussed when a high roller comes to play at a casino. For example, the number of sticks used and whether shuffling is done manually or by machine. However, casinos were more willing to give in to Johnson’s wishes because of the crisis. For example, he negotiated high table limits of up to $100,000 per hand, was allowed to double down after splitting, and if he lost more than $55,000 in a session, he would get 20% of the amount back.

In the period from December 2010 to April 2011, Johnson visited several major casinos, and at all of them, he managed to change several rules in his favor. By doing so, he managed to reduce the odds for the casino to almost zero. Then, of course, the casinos investigated his ways. But after studying camera images and how the rules were established, it was concluded that there was no cheating.

All amounts won had to be paid out by the casinos. However, Johnson’s action was not without consequences. At several casinos, people were fired because of the agreements made. Also, rules were tightened, so this can’t happen again in the future.