How I lost $5,000 in less than 2 minutes

Earlier this year, for our wedding anniversary, Mrs. T bought tickets to Kurios by Cirque du Soleil so we could have a kids-free date. After a bit of planning, we were fortunate to be able to turn this opportunity into a stayaction with 1 night in Vancouver by sending the kids to my parents.

So two Saturdays ago, Mrs. T and I sent the kids to my parents in the morning, drove to Vancouver, and started our first ever kids-free stayaction. To keep the cost down (I am a frugal personal finance blogger after all!), I booked the newly opened JW Marriott Parq Vancouver with points. Since I am a gold Marriott member, I called the hotel the day before to request a room upgrade, an early check-in, and a late check-out to get the most out of my points (we got all 3).

We had a blast staying at JW Marriott Parq Vancouver. The hotel was very fancy, the hotel staff were very helpful & friendly, and the executive lounge was super nice with lots of great food & drinks.

Originally we made dinner reservation at a local Italian restaurant for Saturday night. After seeing all the food items in the executive lounge, Mrs. T suggested canceling the dinner reservation so we could enjoy more free food!

The JW Marriott Vancouver is situated in a new building call Vancouver Parq. Another Marriott hotel, The Douglas, is on the other side of the building. In between the two hotels, there is a world-class casino.

Since it was one of those down pour Vancouver rainy days, other than going to the Cirque du Soleil show, hanging out in the executive lounge, and watch TV in our room (we don’t have TV at home), we didn’t do a whole lot. We figured we would check out the casino.

I was surprised how packed the casino was that night. We walked around to see all the different casino games. We quickly noticed that different games had different minimum bets, blackjack was $25, poker was $10, and roulette table was $2.


How I lost $5,000 in less than 2 minutes

We decided to play the roulette table***

Feeling lucky, I pulled out $2,500 cash from my wallet (I am a big deal you know?) and exchanged them for chips. Once I got the chips, I then put 5 stacks of chips worth $500 each on 5 different numbers.

Unfortunately, none of my numbers hit.

And I lost $2,500 in less than a minute.

Feeling slightly deflated, I decided that I needed to make my money back. So I pulled out another stack of $2,500 cash from my wallet and exchanged them for chips. Once I got the chips, again I put 5 stacks of chips worth $500 each on the same 5 numbers.

Once again, one of my numbers hit.

And I lost yet another $2,500 in less than a minute.

In total I lost $5,000 in less than 2 minutes.



*** Ok, I wasn’t the one that actually lost the money, but thought it’d be more fun if I pretended that it was me. In reality, Mrs. T and I were standing at the roulette table and a 30 something guy walked to the table with a drink in his hand. From looking at his eyes, he clearly had a few drinks already. Once he got to the table, he immediately pulled out a whack load of $100 bills. The casino staff counted the bills and we found out it was $2,500. The guy then bet all the chips in one go (on 5 numbers) and lost it all. When that happened, Mrs. T and I looked at each other in shock. My hands were sweaty, I felt bad for the guy.

However, we were even more shocked with what happened next…

The guy pulled out his wallet again and took out another whack load of $100 bills. Again he exchanged $2,500 for chips and placed the chips on 5 numbers. Again he didn’t hit any of his numbers.

Meanwhile, another guy next to the 30 something guy was placing $2 bets on 5 different numbers (you had to bet a minimum of $10 each time). Both times, one of his numbers hit and he ended up winning $144 in less than 2 minutes ($2 * 36 * 2).

That’s casino for you!

Mrs. T and I were disgusted and shocked by the fact that this 30 something guy was literally throwing money away like there was no tomorrow. We were about to leave the table when we noticed a buddy of his guy came over to the roulette table with another alcoholic drink, and we saw the 30 something guy pulled out his wallet and started taking out more cash!!!

We left the tablet in shock and wondered how much more money this guy was going to lose. When we walked back to the roulette table about 5 minutes later, this guy was nowhere to be seen.

Not in a million year, I would imagine betting $5,000 on roulette table and lose all that money in less than 2 minutes.



What I learned from losing $5,000 in less than 2 minutes

  • People are irrational with their money when alcohol is involved.
  • For Godness’s sake, please don’t carry around over $5k worth of cash in your wallet while walking around in the casino!!! That only leads to overconfidence and you are more likely to gamble and lose big.
  • There is a lot of luck involved when it comes to gambling.
  • While you may be lucky. The odds are stacked again you. In the long run, house always wins.
  • If you gamble, set a playing limit that you can tolerate losing. We didn’t end up playing anything (not even slots) because we only had $80 worth of cash and we felt very discouraged after the previous incident.


Side note #1: During university I took a math course called “Probability and Physical Applications.” During the course we learned about the probability of different casino games. We came to the conclusion that if you were to play roulette table, you are better off placing one big bet because your odds of winning greatly diminishes as you play more games.

Homework assignment questions (oh man I actually knew how to do these?)


Side note #2: That course was one of the hardest math courses, on average, it took people 2 tries to pass this class. I remember when the professor held a final exam review session, he asked if anyone had taken a look at last year’s exam, then someone in the class said “yea… at last year’s exam.”

Side note #3: We asked the professor if he plays any casino games. His flat out answered no, because the low probability of winning.


Dear readers, have you gambled before at a casino? What has been your experience with casino games?

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45 thoughts on “How I lost $5,000 in less than 2 minutes”

  1. Quick story. Once in Vegas, there was a high roller who reserved an entire blackjack table for himself.

    7 hands, placed $10K at each hand. Lost all 7 hands in 1 minute. So what did the guy do? He put another $70K down and lost again. In 2 min, this guy lost $140K and it didn’t even phase the guy.

    There was a huge crowd of people just staring and in shock. We did notice the guy had on what could only be a Ferrari value of a watch because it was so big and blinged our with diamonds.

    High rollers…*smh*

  2. When we had scheduled a vacation to Vegas I did a bunch of research and found that blackjack is the ‘best bet’. The house edge in this game is close(ish) to even. Basically, you will lose, but, if you bet consistently and play by the rules of probability, your money and fun will last longer. We studied the strategy and practiced at home for weeks leading up to the trip. As it turns out, we left Vegas up about $400!! Factor in the free drinks and we made out pretty well. Kenny was right too. You gotta know when to hold em, know when to fold em. We left the table when we were up and made sure that that money didn’t get sucked back into the casinos coffers. We occasionally go to our hometown casino (in Ontario, no free drinks 🙁 ) and my rule is to only bring $100, play BJ and use the strategy. I often leave with some profits, but the times that i don’t, it makes me want to puke when that last $5 chip leaves my possession.

  3. This probably won’t come as a surprise but I’ve only ever made money at the casino (other than a couple of random times where I blew $2-3 on some slots). We once hit Vegas and did a ton of player club card signups for $10-100 of free play (x2 since my wife was with me). You play the play money and whatever you win you can cash out. I think we ended up $300-400 richer in cash even after a few expenses like paying for food.

    I won $50+ on our last cruise using the $3 free play they gave out 2x on each cruise (x2 because my wife was with me). Without knowing the exact math behind it, I figured it smartest to gamble the max bet in a single spin so I did $6 on a single spin of some slot machine which netted most of the $50 winnings.

    Another time in Vegas I played blackjack with perfect basic strategy at hotels where the odds are good (aka you only lose 0.20% on average). $5 hands at 0.2% avg loss = a penny per hand for the house. I was in it for the free drinks 🙂

    • I’ve had some luck playing at the casino as well. Once time I won about $200 while playing poker for about 30 minutes. Pretty good hourly rate if you ask me. 🙂

  4. Great story. I was fooled there for awhile too. 🙂 Though, all that money exchanging hands does make me want to look into the casino stocks as a possible investment. It’s crazy how some people compare investing in stocks to playing games at the casino. BTW, there’s a small typo in the story: “Once again, one of my numbers hit.”

    Glad the vacation sounded like a success.


  5. I own stocks (index funds) and that is the only gambling I am going to ever do. Interestingly in black jack player has a better odds of winning (51 to 49). However, it is important that we play long enough for the odds to correct itself. An average player does not have that kind of money. Casino’s money is almost infinite.

  6. No gambling for me, might as well grab that money and throw it in the air. Like others I was suspicious with the title of the post which in all honesty caught my attention. Anywho, agree with your points especially mixing alcohol with financial decisions.

  7. Oh man those complex math equations takes me back…I think this is why it’s so rare for people who know how to do math to gamble. We know the probabilities and how the odds are stacked against us.

    You’re clearly a nicer person than I because while you were thinking “I feel bad for the guy”, I was thinking “what a dumbass, where can I get a bucket to catch all the money he’s spewing.” If he’s that bad with money, even if he didn’t lose it gambling, he’d throw it away on someone else.

    Would you believe we went to Vegas and didn’t gamble even once? Wanderer suggested I put our change into the penny slots just for fun, and my response was “but but but I could use that money to buy candy!” Yeah, there’s no way I can gamble after taking those probability courses in university.

  8. I thought gambling and going to casinos was cool (or made me cool somehow – not!) when I was younger, but deep down I never really liked it. The process stressed me out and I haven’t gambled in many years and doubt I ever will again. Tom

  9. That is absurd to throw away money like that. It hurts me to just go into a casino these days.

    BTW I saw Kurious last year. I love when they have the party on the ceiling! What did you think of the show?

  10. Tawcan –

    LOVE your weekend, smart, fun and enjoyable. Just perfect. As for witnessing what you did, my stomach hurt reading the article alone, let alone actually seeing it. I agree on all of your lessons, alcohol and cash are never a good mix : )


  11. but makes you wonder what his income is. If he makes a couple mil whats 2500? Could of been someone famous. My buddy has played blackjack at a casino with robert deniro. I dont gamble much. Ill play poker with friends and definally if im drinking lots the only ones winning are the other players. Haha. On cruises i tend to gamble more but we play poker or penny slots (the ones with the mini games). We dont spend much and sometimes walk away with a hundred or 2 profit.

    • True, he might be making millions but if he gambles away like that, he ain’t saving much. He might as well be one of these professional athletes that go broke soon after they retire from the game.

  12. Hah well played, I was wondering why you’d blow $5000 in a casino 🙂 Personally I have no problem with other people spending their money in casinos, but don’t gamble myself. Played a slot machine all of once. I might enter a texas hold-em tournament for fun.

    • I have played Texas holdem here and there when I was younger. It’s a lot of fun IMO and this is one casino game you’re not playing against the house. 🙂

      I was just shocked how quickly this guy blew $5,000. That money could have been invested to get passive income!

  13. Wow that’s wild. I’ve never played roulette before but I’ve played the slots, which are very common in Australia. Never won anything substantial and would only bet $20 a night, so it was more as an evening out with friends. Sometimes I’ve passed on the gambling and just tagged along. I usually then deposit the $20 I would have gambled into a savings or investment account…where I know there is actually a reasonable probability of a return.

    • We walked around and looked at the slot machines… but we had no idea how to play (i.e. what would trigger a win). So we decided not to play and save money instead. 😀

  14. I must confess my first thought was that the guy was in the drug trade. You know, easy come, easy go. If you actually worked for the money it seems you would have a harder time letting it go.

  15. I used to count cards in Las Vegas in the 1980s. You could (and I did) make some money doing that, but it turned out to be too much like work and was not fun, so I stopped (not before being barred at two different places – that was an experience). There are gambling games that, under certain circumstances, can be beaten. But you have to work at finding them and then master the strategies for gaining an advantage over the house. Totally not worth the time or effort. We still gamble a bit, but solely for entertainment, and never more than we can afford.

    • I thought you can get into troubles if you count cards? I thought there have been movies about that and the characters all got into trouble with the casinos…

      Gambling isn’t the way to get quick bucks… if you limit how much money you play with and gamble purely for entertainment purposes, that might be OK.

  16. I am with you on gambling however you don’t know how wealthy that guy was. If he is a billionaire, which is possible, two of my friends are, then five large to him is like $5 to you or me. Nobody would be aghast at you losing $5. It wouldn’t indicate you were an out of control drunk. In fact it might show you were a very moderate and controlled gambler.

  17. Taking a freebie with dinner, and then just losing 5000 dollar like that, nah too obvious 😉 But it did make a great story though!

    I have played exactly once, for one dollar. It was the last dollar we had during our holiday in the US earlier this year, and on the last day we decided to try our luck. And then we had a plane to catch 🙂

  18. No gambler here. Once or twice I’ve thrown a few quarters at the slots or a friendly poker game for dimes, but historically I have no luck so if I play I expected to lose and am doing so for curiosity sake.

  19. I’ve gambled at a casino. The trick is that you put aside money that you are willing to spend, and once that’s gone, you’re done. I think many start off with that but then get caught up in it. I’ve never gone to the ATM at the casino. But if you can restrict it and treat it as money you’d spend on a vacation activity anyway, it can be something to do.

    • That’s what I did when I gambled at a casino too. Put aside money that you’re willing to lose and stick with that. Unfortunately many ppl don’t follow that rule and they end up losing more and more money.

  20. You had me going there for a second Tawcan! You almost had me convinced you were a gambler!

    Seriously though — gambling is for suckers. The odds on most games are so terrible you might as well light your money on fire.

    I’ve tried a couple different casino games over the years, and I look at it as very expensive entertainment — not as a way to make money.

      • We are in one of the suburbs of Vancouver, still in “metro” Vancouver but not Vancouver proper.

        Yes, gambling is for suckers.

        The best casino game that makes sense when it comes to $/entertainment value is probably Texas Holden when you play in a tournament. You can enter for like $40 or so, and end up playing for a few hours.

  21. I was so glad this wasn’t really you. I haven’t been to a casino gamble for probably 15 – 20 years. When we did, we both had $40 to do what we wanted. My wife played some nickle slots and actually was able to play for quite some time. Eventually, though, the house won. :O) I played some quarter slots and some 21. I didn’t last very long at all.

    cd :O)

    • Last time I gambled at a casino was probably like 7 or 8 years ago. Went to play Texas Holden and won like $200. We thought about playing slots but we looked around and didn’t understand any of the games. So we decided not to.

  22. I was honestly a bit suspicious when I saw the title hehe. I just couldn’t picture you spending that kind of money so hastily. It’s a great story thought. There are a lot of rich kids in Vietnam who spend money like that. They just don’t care because it’s not their money and their family is wealthy.

  23. Well! What’s done is done. Right? I’m not a gambler, but if I have to go to Casino, I only take $100 with me. I know this is the amount I’m willing to lose and have a good time. Once that $100 spent I stop. I do appreciate the complementary drinks and a rich ambiance.

    • We thought about playing but with only $80 cash we had, that wouldn’t go very far playing blackjack. Plus we didn’t want to withdraw any money from ATM.

      Drinks weren’t complementary at this specific casino.

  24. I wont $1700 playing craps in Vegas my first time there. Ended up being the starting point for my savings for my wife’s engagement ring. I went there with $500 I was willing to lose, lost $400 playing blackjack then my boss said he’d teach me how to play craps. We played the long game with small simple bets and enjoyed our time having fun with the people at the table. When I looked down and counted $2200 in chips I promptly took my stack and walked away! It was fun but I don’t see myself doing it again anytime soon.


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