What exactly do you do?
My customers are gamblers, my clients are casinos and I’m the Jerry Maguire figure in the middle, trying to keep both sides happy. For the casino, it’s easy: I bring in people who will piss away money. For the customer, I negotiate their betting limits and things like, if you lose $100,000, do you get a discount? Does the wife get a free shopping spree? How many days before I need to pay it back? A nice suite is a nice suite, but when Larry Flynt comes in, he needs to know if he loses a million how long he has to pay it back.
What’s the difference between a ‘high-roller’ and a ‘whale’?
For me, a high roller is anyone that will risk $50,000-$250,000 on a trip. A whale is anyone who will risk $250,000 and up, and I have a lot of those. I have a few in the millions and a couple in the five million category. Who pays for all the free stuff? The casinos. And it’s worth every penny. Would you spend 50 grand to try and get three or four million? Of course you would. People go, “I can’t believe you gave that guy a free car!” But there’s nothing for free. I walk by guys playing cards at the Hard Rock who are going, “Well, hell, at least we’re drinking for free'” Dude, you just had an $80 Budweiser! It’s all smoke and mirrors and the house always wins.
What’s the strangest request you’ve ever had from a high-roller?
It’s hardly ever drugs. It’s chasing pussy and winning money, and that’s it. And I say no a hell of a lot more than I say yes. “No, you can’t have more credit. No, you’re not gonna have more time to pay.” A guy loses 20 grand and thinks that next time he’s gonna get the world for free. My trick is that I can say no and still keep you happy.
How much do you get paid?
I work all over the place, and it differs from state to state. In California if the customer wins I get zero, but if they lose I get 10% of whatever they’re down. In Nevada I get paid either way. My best ever weekend earnings was $300,000.
Who’s your typical customer?
My guys are business owners and entrepreneurs. I love a third of them, another third are fun , but young with their heads up their ass and the final third are arrogant pricks for whom everything’s always a problem.
What’s been the biggest loss one of your whales has suffered?
It just happened – $4.4m. I’ve had lots of guys lose a million, but that was the biggest. My attitude used to be “they’re gonna gamble anyway, so they might as well be with me”, but I’m in my 40s now and it makes me sick to my stomach if a big loss is really hurting a guy. These days I’ll say, “Dude, we’re done. That could be your kid’s college fund. Stop.”
How do you comfort a guy who’s just lost millions?
I had another guy just lose three million in four hours and we went to the coffee shop and had eggs Benedict. He’d just pissed away three mill and we’re eating in a cafe for $9.99. It was surreal. I drove him back to the airport and he said, “You know, those that said they never had a chance never took a chance.” It will hurt him for a while, but he’ll be back.
Do people roll up with suitcases full of cash?
No, because Internal Revenue monitors anyone who shows up with fifty grand, it’s mostly about what credit I can get you. With a credit line, you have 30 days to pay with no interest, and the dream is that you come here, I give you 10k credit, and you take out three thousand and win 10. You cash out and go home – you got a free shot.
Ever get conned by people pretending to be players?
Yeah, but you fuck me once, you won’t fuck me twice. I monitor what my customers are doing constantly. If someone’s been given a complimentary room and they haven’t come down within five hours, they’re out. If you want the free shit, you gotta be playing.
How did you get into it?
I was doing a hotel management degree and did a gaming internship in Vegas. I was at the Barbary Coast casino and I watched a guy win $38,000 at craps. The casino host went up to him, shook his hand and said, “Hey, I’m gonna take you out to dinner.” I said, “I wanna do that.” Twenty-two years later I still get a hard-on every time I walk through a casino.
What was your big break?
I went through the trash at Caesars Palace and found a Superbowl guest list. That list started it all, and I’ve done all kinds of shit since then. My greatest take was at the MGM Grand. I spent five grand buying into a private game of craps a big whale was playing in, and because I had a pretty good little roll going on I was winning him money. I went over, high-fived him and said, “I don’t want to make you money here, I’m Steve Cyr,” and he was like, “You’re the shit who’s been calling me all week'” I said, “Let’s get out of here,” took him out and he lost a million bucks.
Is that the best way to get new players?
The best way is to get them from other players. I’m Larry Flynt’s host and every month he gives me a new big player. But stealing them from other properties is the second best way, which is why I’m currently barred from five high-limit rooms around town. It doesn’t matter, though: I have a network of moles, from bellmen to cocktail waitresses – if a whale rolls in, I’ll know.
Why switch allegiance to you?
When I first got Larry Flynt I secured him $100,000 for just walking into the Hilton. He didn’t give a shit about the Hilton, but I got him 20 $5,000 bets. He won almost a million bucks off of that, but that’s okay because the next trip he lost it back and two million more. Whales like to be courted, and if I call, they know they’re gonna get the best deal. I don’t just get you ringside at the UFC fight; I take you for lunch with Randy Couture. I get you to play Michael Jordan one-on-one at basketball. Do you want to go to the event, or do you want to be part of the event? That’s the difference.
Have you ever seen a dead body?
I’ve had players die in the room, and a couple of players committed suicide – one who had just lost a significant amount of money. It’s sad, but it happens.
Ouch. Finally, where do most gamblers go wrong?
Most try and take $100 and win a thousand, when they should actually take a thousand and try to win $100. When was the last time you made 10% on your stock portfolio in a day? I can’t tell you how many times I have a guy up $21,000 and he’s like, “I want to get to $25,000′” Trying to get that last four usually costs you your winnings and whatever else you’ve got.