Michael Jordan has a fondness for gambling. It is no secret that the basketball legend likes to bet on the golf course as well as on casino games. What many people may not know is that Michael Jordan was involved in a stunning $1.3 million reversal of fortune at the blackjack table. After losing more money in a few hours that most people will earn in a lifetime, Jordan somehow turned his luck around and managed a win.
Here’s a closer look at the monster session of blackjack played by Michael Jordan, as well as the lessons it can teach the average blackjack player.
Michael Jordan Bets $45,000 Per Hand at Blackjack
When Michael Jordan entered the NBA from North Carolina, he made an immediate impact. Over a long career, Jordan has come to be regarded as the G.O.A.T. in professional basketball. His ability has earned Michael Jordan millions of dollars over the years, and he has not been shy about his fondness for gambling.
By all accounts, Jordan is not a low-stakes player when it comes to blackjack. He likes to bet big. On the night of his amazing blackjack reversal of fortune, it is said that Jordan was betting $45,000 per hand. That is more than many hard-working people are able to make in a year. For the greatest of all time it is just a drop in the bucket.
Even though he likes to gamble, there is nothing to suggest that Michael Jordan has ever made bets on basketball or the teams that he has played for. This separates him from other sports stars like Pete Rose who have paid a heavy price for betting on sports.
A Controversial Blackjack Session
The year that Michael Jordan made his come-from-behind blackjack win was an unusual one for the star. Jordan was in the midst of a comeback in professional basketball. He had retired from the sport in 1998 for a second time after returning to the Chicago Bulls for three years. It was now 2001 and Jordan was a part-owner and executive for the Washington Wizards.
Jordan had also been convinced to join the team as a small forward. Just a few days before the official beginning of the season, the Wizards were scheduled to play an exhibition game against the Boston Celtics at the Mohegan Sun in Connecticut.
The local sports reporters and news outlets were all over the story. Some reporters knew that Jordan owned a steakhouse in the Mohegan Sun and correctly assumed he would eat there after the game. The reporters had staked out the casino for any sighting of the legend, and they were rewarded. After a losing effort against the Celtics in which he scored 21 points, Jordan was spotted at the steakhouse in the company of multiple security guards.
It was only a matter of time before Michael Jordan finished his meal and headed to the casino floor. He was once again accompanied by security and followed members of the media. The media was kept at a respectful distance, but they still witnessed what occurred.
$500,000 to Zero at Blackjack in a Few Hours
At just a little after midnight a special high rollers table was opened up for Michael Jordan and a few of his friends. Those who were able to get a glimpse of the table despite the presence of casino personnel and security say that Jordan bought in to the blackjack game with $500,000.
Jordan began to bet large amounts, and soon he was down a sizable part of his stake. By 2 a.m. Jordan had lost almost half his money. He took a short break and then returned to the table. When he came back the bets became larger. Jordan was betting $45,000 on a single hand of blackjack, and he soon lost it all.
Michael is said to have taken a bathroom break at around five in the morning. When he returned, he bought more chips and started betting three hands at $15,000 each. His friends were now relegated to watching him play, having either cashed out or gone bust. They were about to witness an incredible blackjack reversal of fortune.
Jordan Makes a Comeback
Michael Jordan suddenly started to win. He was up $100,000, and then a quarter of a million. His blackjack strategy remained to play multiple hands for high stakes. At some time in the early morning hours someone noted that Jordan was up $700,000.
He cashed out at around 7:15 in the morning. Someone claims he left with $800,000. All told, the reversal would have been $1.3 million if he indeed cashed out $800,000. That would have to be one of the largest swings in blackjack history.
Swings in blackjack are not uncommon. Most of us will never have a swing like the one that Michael Jordan experienced. Most of us will never even be able to play for those kinds of stakes.
Are there lessons to be learned from the Michael Jordan reversal of fortune in blackjack? Yes, and the biggest of these is that variance in blackjack will happen. This is why you need to have a bankroll large enough to withstand any swings that you may encounter.