Being a high roller is one of the most-coveted statuses in gambling. After all, high rollers (a.k.a. whales) enjoy the best perks that casinos have to offer.
When envisioning a high roller, you may think of somebody who is:
- Flown to the casino via a private jet.
- Transported via limousine once they touch down at the airport.
- Escorted up to their penthouse suite, where they enjoy the finest liquor and meals.
Considering everything that these whales are privy to, it’s no wonder why so many people envy high rollers. You yourself may dream of entering this status someday.
I’m going to answer this question by discussing more on exactly what high rollers are along with different ways that you can attain elite status at casinos.
What Constitutes a High Roller?
No concrete definition exists for a gambling whale. However, they’re generally be defined by their betting habits.
A table-game high roller typically bets at least $100 or more per hand. Slots high rollers normally wager $25 or more per spin.
Of course, you don’t become a whale by betting big for just a single session. You instead have to show casinos that you’re consistently willing to give them lots of play.
Not all high rollers are treated equally. Somebody who bets $1,000 per blackjack hand, for example, is going to get better treatment than somebody who’s wagering $100.
Whales don’t typically add as much to a casino’s bottom-line as you might think. In fact, the vast majority of money that gambling venues make comes from middle and upper-class players.
Nevertheless, a big high roller can make the difference between a profitable or unprofitable quarter. Casinos therefore go out of their way to make these gamblers feel special by showering them with various perks.
A whale can expect special transportation to and from the casino, whether this involves a private plane or just a luxury car. They may also receive special loss rebates that a normal player can’t get.
Of course, big high rollers can automatically expect to receive a choice hotel room, the best dinners, and expensive liquor. They may also receive a VIP nightclub table and front-row show tickets.
What Special Perks Can High Rollers Expect?
I already covered some of the benefits that whales receive. But they can actually get a number of other rewards beyond what’s discussed above.
First off, a high roller can negotiate for exactly what they want in terms of comps. Some gamblers may want to arrive in style in an Aston Martin rental, while others may simply want the best blackjack rules the casino can give them.
You’re very unlikely to talk your way into gaining the edge over gambling venues thanks to Johnson. But you can at least ask for comps that are tailored to your specific wants and needs.
Maybe you’ll be going to the casino with your wife or girlfriend and plan on hours of shopping. In this case, you can request a cash card that covers your shopping expenses up to a certain point.
Perhaps you want a penthouse suite that offers a specific view of the Vegas Strip. You can therefore tell the casino that you’ll arrive when this certain room is available.
Loss rebates are another popular perk for high rollers. Bigger rebates give gamblers a percentage of their losses back up to a certain amount.
Here’s an example of a loss rebate:
- You negotiate a deal to get 10% of your losses back up to $10,000.
- You lose $50,000 over the course of a weekend.
- The casino gives you a check for $10,000.
Yet another special reward for high rollers includes exclusive freeroll tournaments. You might get invited to a special blackjack, poker, or slots tournaments that includes other wealthy gamblers.
These aren’t just any freerolls either, because they offer big prize pools worth $20,000 or more. Assuming it’s just you and 19 other players, for example, you could expect $1,000 in theoretical value (20,000 / 20) from such a tournament.
In summary, whales have the power of negotiation. Their situation differs from the average gambler, who has a much smaller selection of benefits to choose from.
A low-stakes player may be able to specialize their comps to include bottle service at a nightclub, rather than a free meal. But they won’t be able to ask for free top-shelf liquor and a lost rebates if they’re not giving the casino enough action.
Ways to Reach Whale Status
Reaching high roller status isn’t confined to completing a specific task. Instead, there are a variety of ways to become a whale.
You can do everything from placing huge bets to making a deposit that catches the casino’s attention. Here’s a closer look at the different ways to become a high roller.
The most-obvious thing you need to do to get the casino’s attention is make large bets. Of course, the amount that you need to wager differs based on where you’re playing.
You may be looked at as a serious high roller at a regional casino in the Midwest for betting $100 per hand. But that same amount isn’t going to get you much preferential treatment at a Vegas Strip Casino.
The latter requires really large wagers when considering that some players bet up to $100,000 per hand. Of course, you don’t have to wager this much just to be considered a whale. But Vegas Strip casinos are probably going to want to see you risk at least $500 or $1,000 per round.
Make a Big Deposit
Some gambling venues are more interested in how much you’re willing to deposit versus how much they initially see you wagering. After all, a big deposit gives off the impression that you’re willing to lose plenty of money.
You’ll be treated well by any casino if you deposit at least $100,000 or more. Of course, you can still get preferential treatment at a lot of establishments for depositing $10,000.
Many gambling venues also offer lines of credits to players who, at least on the surface, appear as if they can cover big losses. The same casinos may offer certain gamblers a high roller suite or other good perks when they open up a big credit line.
Of course, casinos are going to run background checks on you first. They need to minimize the risk that you’ll lose a bunch of money and refuse to pay it back later.
Terrance Watanabe, the former CEO of the Oriental Trading Co., once got into a situation like this. Caesars Entertainment had to sue him over $14.75 million that he refused to pay back.
Play at Smaller Casinos Where Your Big Bets Are Valued
I already discussed how the prominence of a casino plays into how you’ll be treated. Therefore, you can target smaller gambling venues to really be treated like royalty.
If you lose $5,000 at the California, you’re going to get some of the best rewards they have to offer. Lose the same amount at the Bellagio or Wynn, and you still won’t get the red-carpet treatment.
I’m not saying that you can’t still receive some nice comps at high-end Vegas casinos after losing thousands of dollars. But you’re going to get the best treatment when you wager and lose big sums at smaller venues.
Become a Non-Gambling High Roller
Gambling isn’t the only way to collect rewards at casinos. These establishments are resorts that offer a number of entertainment options.
You may not even have to be noticed by the staff in order to start earning quality comps. Instead, you merely need to sign up for the rewards program and use your card whenever paying for anything.
Major casino chains like Caesars and MGM Resorts allow you to earn points on your card at any of their properties across the world. Assuming you spend a good deal, then you’ll be eligible for some great comps.
The casino may eventually notice if you continue living lavishly on their properties. They’ll likely want to speak with you about specializing your rewards package and how you can get even better comps.
Speak to the Casino Host About the Requirements
A casino host’s primary function is to help make players happy. They especially spend plenty of time appeasing high rollers.
They can set up comps to your liking and handle any other arrangements you may need.
You can even develop a relationship with hosts at your favorite casinos. Such a relationship allows them to figure out what you do and don’t like, then better tailor your perks.
A host may even be able to solve most issues or problems you have during your stay. If you don’t like your room’s view, for example, you can tell the host and see if they can get you a different one.
Of course, their powers only go so far. They likely have no jurisdiction over a bad meal you have. You’d instead need to speak with whomever is running the restaurant in this case.
Bet Big in the Beginning and at the End
One common technique that gamblers use to get more comps involves betting more at the beginning of a session. The start of a gambling session is when the pit boss monitors your first few wagers to determine how you’ll be rewarded.
You can then lower your bets after they leave so that you’re getting comped on the higher wagers — even when betting at a lower rate.
But high roller play is a little above making huge wagers at the beginning to get more rewards. After all, your play will be more heavily scrutinized by the staff in this situation.
However, you can still benefit by making larger bets when the top brass is looking. You should especially gamble big at the beginning and end of a session.
The early big wagers make the pit boss/floor supervisor rate you higher. Betting big at the end leaves a good impression and makes it more likely that you’ll receive more comps.
This technique doesn’t always work, especially when you’re playing for large stakes and have more attention on you. But it’s worth trying just for the chance at getting additional rewards.
Play in the High Roller Slots Room
Most whales are found at the tables. However, some casinos also feature high roller slots rooms that can deliver pretty good comps.
The amount that you must bet to be considered a slots high roller varies based on the establishment. However, you can generally look forward to some great reward when you’re wagering at least $25 per spin.
Slots players lose more money than anybody in the casino, because they play at a faster rate. Assuming you also play a quick rate and bet big, then you can expect some really good rewards.
Casinos usually comp regular slots players at a 0.1% rate. As a high roller, though, you could be privy to a 0.2% or 0.3% rate.
Here’s an example on the rewards you could expect to earn as a slots whale:
- You play slots with a 0.3% comp rate.
- You bet $100,000 over the weekend.
- 100,000 x 0.003 = $300 in rewards as a high roller
- You only have a 0.1% rate at a different casino.
- You bet $100,000.
- 100,000 x 0.001 = $100 in rewards as a regular player
Work Your Way Up the Online Casino VIP Ladder
Online casinos definitely can’t compare to land-based establishments in terms of the luxuries they offer. Gaming sites can’t send a limo for you or serve fillet mignon to you.
Internet casinos instead have their own ways to reward high rollers. Some programs feature a number of perks for the highest VIP level, including a dedicated online host, huge freerolls, big deposit bonuses, the best cashback rate, merchandise, and even vacation packages.
The nice thing about being an online casino high roller is that everything is clearly laid out. You merely need to visit the loyalty program page and see how many points are needed to reach the highest level.
- Copper level = Instant upon deposit
- Silver level = 10,000 lifetime points
- Gold level = 100,000 lifetime points
- Platinum level = 1 million lifetime points
You can see in the example above that VIP levels are based on how many points somebody accumulates over their lifetime. But some of these programs also use the number of points collected each month to determine loyalty status.
In the latter case, you need to earn a specific number of points to maintain your status. That said, make sure you know the rules of an online casino VIP program going into the matter and generate enough points to hold your level.
Is It Worth Becoming a High Roller?
Whether or not you embark on the quest to become a whale all depends upon your personal preferences. If you’re going to gamble lots of money in casinos anyways, then you might as well consider doing what it takes to become an elite VIP.
I discussed a number of ways that you can go about reaching high roller status. The easiest way to do so is by speaking with a casino host beforehand and/or making a large deposit.
Doing one or both of these things ensures that you can be viewed as a whale immediately, rather than having to gain the casino’s attention. Furthermore, you can negotiate for the comps you want before placing a bet.
Of course, you can always just show up to a casino and start betting big. The only problem with this method is that the casino won’t know you’re a high roller until the right people notice your bet sizes.
You can also reach a higher loyalty status by spending money in other parts of the casino. These resorts rely on much more than just gambling to earn profits. They’re willing to do whatever it takes to keep somebody around who spends big in restaurants, the hotel, nightclubs, and the spa.
As an online gambler, you need to work your way up the VIP program by betting enough money. Visit a gaming site’s loyalty page to see what type of points you need to reach the highest level.
You should also learn what rewards the highest VIPs receive. After all, you don’t want to waste your time becoming an online whale, only to receive less rewards than you’re expecting.
One key point to keep in mind, though, is that comps aren’t worth your theoretical losses. Even as a high roller, casinos expect you to lose more than they’re giving out in rewards.
This fact presents a grim picture on how you can lose far more money than what you’re getting back. However, becoming a high roller is about more than just the money.
Many whales love the preferential treatment they get upon arriving at a casino. They may be flanked by staff members as they walk across the gambling floor, with onlookers in the background. They’ll also be able to impress their buddies and associates by inviting them up to the penthouse suite.
Of course, you can receive the same type of treatment by spending big at five-star restaurants and non-gambling resorts. But if you like gambling and want to be treated like a king/queen, then it’s worth pursuing whale status.
Becoming a gambling high roller isn’t a cheap pursuit. You need to bet quite a bit of money to impress the casino and earn their most-lavish rewards. Nevertheless, you should consider pursuing the highest VIP status if you have the bankroll to do so.
You’ll especially appreciate whale status if you like being pampered and made to feel important. Casinos will give you this feeling through choice hotel rooms, delicious meals, convenient transportation, and front-row tickets to shows.
But you don’t have to just accept the general high-roller perks. You can instead negotiate with the casino host to get exactly what you’re looking for.
Maybe you want the best blackjack rules or the largest loss rebate available. Perhaps you want to look like the biggest VIP in the nightclub or have free room service all week.
Whatever the case may be, you can tailor comps to your liking as a high roller. Of course, the first order of business is actually reaching this status first.
Most casinos expect you to bet $100 per hand or make a $10,000 minimum deposit before they’re willing to negotiate. These amounts only increase when you’re dealing with more-lavish casinos, like those found on the Vegas Strip.
Assuming you’re a mini whale, then you might start with smaller casinos. These casinos appreciate big action more and are willing to cater to any high roller’s needs.
The key, as always, is to bet within your limits when attaining whale status. The last thing you want to do is get carried away and gamble above your means just to look important.
Watanabe serves as the perfect example for what not to do. He squandered an estimated $200 million on gambling, including a $127 million loss at Caesars Palace alone.
Chances are that you don’t have this kind of money. But you can get the picture on how easy it is to lose yourself in the high-roller lifestyle.
As long as you have a good handle on bankroll management, you shouldn’t have to worry about this. Moreover, you can place big wagers within your budget and enjoy being a whale.