It's highly unlikely, he says, but not impossible--especially if, as Johnson told the Press, casinos had been giving him a VIP discount of 20 percent on his losses. "A 20 percent discount?" Tamburin asks in disbelief. "That's unheard of But if that's true, and you're only losing only $8 out of every $10 you bet, you've already got an edge if you just keep banging away. All you'd have to do it bet at high levels and use basic strategy."
Alan puts it more bluntly: "I can't believe casino management would be so dumb as to lose its edge entirely by increasing the limits to $100,000 and by forgiving 20 percent of the player's debt."
But perhaps they were. As the CEO of the Tropicana said in early May, referring to his casino's loss of $6 million to an undisclosed player assumed to be Johnson, "We ran very unlucky."
In fact, Johnson's run of luck the first time since the casinos opened in Atlantic City in 1978 that a gambling house lost money at the game of blackjack over a particular month, a spokesman for New Jersey's Casino Control Commission told The Star Ledger: "It's extraordinarily unusual for a casino to lose money at the game of blackjack in a particular month," the spokesman told the paper.
Tamburin suspects there must be more to the story: "To me, it's all a little strange. Something's not right here. If you're the CEO, after you lose $1 million, somebody wakes up and says: There's something wrong here."