Akio Kashiwagi – The Whale That Almost Drowned Trump’s Ship
Akio Kashiwagi, a one-time Japanese billionaire was regarded as the one of the world’s biggest gambler in the 90’s. From all the games he played, he enjoyed Baccarat and Roulette the most. Such was his love for the game that on one particular occasion he sat at the baccarat table and betted $100,000 a hand for 80 hours according to Casino boss. They quoted “He’d play two days straight without sleeping, go to bed, get up and gamble some more”. Other executives said Mr. Kashiwagi had frequently wagered as much as $200,000 a hand at Roulette
The high-roller world is small, and the highest rollers are discussed among top casino owners. In early 90’s, Kashiwagi had recently won nearly $20 million at Goldsmith’s Diamond Beach casino in Australia, almost bankrupting it. But he’d also blown $6 million on baccarat live casino at Steve Wynn’s Mirage in Las Vegas a year earlier. At the time, Donald Trump had begun an aggressive move to promote his Atlantic City casino business and was keen on getting big whales to play at his casino. Kashiwagi fit the bill but one of Trump’s top live dealers warned him against inviting him to Atlantic City. Too risky, he said but Trump couldn’t resist.
He laid the red carpet for the billionaire, opened up a bi-level penthouse suite featuring ocean views, butler service, a grand piano and an $800,000 jade Buddha. When he showed up at the casino, piles of $5,000 chips awaited him at a table reserved for his play. One $250,000 stack stood over a foot high. However, Kashiwagi dominated right from the first hand and Trump was down a million dollars within half an hour. By the end of the day, the figure widened to 4 million dollars. Kashiwagi had so many chips he had to pile them on the floor. Trump soon realized that he was sitting against one of the best gamblers in the world and this guy could win over $40 or $50 million in a matter of days. This was a PR triumph that could put the Trump Plaza out of business and he was nervous to the core.
However, the ledger swung wildly through the weekend. To cut the long story short, Kashiwagi ended up losing $10 million in one Baccarat live casino session at the Trump Casino which is a record of some sort for the biggest Baccarat loss in history. He abruptly announced that he was headed back to Tokyo with $6 million of Trump’s money in his pocket. Unfortunately, it all ended quite tragically when he was found dead outside his home near Mount Fuji on the 3rd of January, 1992 after being stabbed multiple times and leaving debts at casinos in Nevada and Atlantic City that gaming executives say totaled at least $9 million. One of them was Trump’s Taj Mahal casino in Atlantic City.