Beast of Blackjack – Don Johnson story

Very few companies face the same deal of attention from crooks than casinos. In an age were technology and communications are so advanced, security departments of casinos must constantly evolve to keep up with the new trends. Of course, sometimes inexplicable things happen, were the casino doesn’t has a clue of what and how it occurred. This takes us to 2011  to the Tropicana Casino in Atlantic City (New Jersey, United States), where one of the biggest blows to the casino industry happened (for other mega looses at casinos, check our Princes of the Game coverage).

The blow was made by a single person: a regular guy, called Don Johnson, who in one night took home the amount of six million dollars playing blackjack only. In a mere six months, the Beast of Blackjack, as they call him in the casinos of his country, had won about 15 million dollars playing this game that only requires adding cards to get as close as possible to the number 21 without going over. Back in the day, this notice made it to many headlines of newspapers all around the world.

Insiders point of view

The executive director of the Tropicana Casino, Mark Giannantonio, remembers how those six million seriously harmed and disrupted local earnings. Giannantonio comments: “We knew the talent of Johnson with numbers; he had placed a limit of $ 100,000 per hand”

The economic crisis that hit United States did serious damage to the casino industry, losing billions in each fiscal year, and the heads of  Tropicana Casino decided to take a  shot, letting through big time players. This meant the possibility of making a lot of money, but also the chance to loose in a big fashion. Witness the irony in how also casino owners have to gamble methods to keep their business profitable.

Anxiety and a happy ending

That horrific night of 2011 saw Johnson playing a hand of blackjack per minute, with  bets ranging between 400,000 and $ 800,000. Among the dozens of spectators who came to see the vast and lush landscape of chips accumulated in the table, you could notice several managers of the casino studying and looking for any signs of foul play,some  perhaps were even praying to have a work place the next day. One thing that was noted in Don style of playing, was the calmness that surrounded him, never showing any sign of stress.When the night ended, Don took six million home, becoming a millionaire in one night.

Today, Johnson lifestyle has not changed much as it did before becoming a millionaire. What has changed is his social life. Now he can be seen at parties with Charlie Sheen and Jon Bon Jovi, or even organizing the birthday party of Pamela Anderson. We remember readers that the happy ending subtitle was in reference to the life of the player, not the casinos.

If you want to start your own legend, where casino owners have your photo, name and other facts in their database, you can check our Blackjack Basics guide.