In a 2013 deposition for a slip and fall suit, Las Vegas mass shooter Stephen Paddock said he gambled “all night” and claimed to have been the “biggest video poker player in the world.” While that claim may be a bit hyperbolic, casino player documentation does confirm that played, often for more than $100 per hand.
Eric Paddock, the gunman’s brother, told reporters last week that his brother gambled “successfully” for 20 years. “It was a job” to him, the younger Paddock noted, and one he could afford due to a succesful real estate portfolio that had made him millions.
Lengthy Sessions, Well-Chosen Machines
He’d been playing for more than a decade at the time of the killings (including his self-inflicted death), often days at a time and for as long as 20 hours per day. He meticulously chose the poker machines that gave him the best odds.
Eric Paddock said his brother, who was an accountant, was “highly intelligent” and skilled mathematically. Thus, video poker, a game that can be beaten by choosing the right machine and playing the odds correctly, was his game of choice.
David Walton, a professional video poker player, told the Los Angeles Times he recalled a 2007 session at Mandalay Bay where the future killer sat at a video poker machine for 24 hours straight.
On that day, the casino was giving out $100,000 to a lucky winner. The number of entries per person was based on the rate of play and stakes during the contest. Paddock had played so many hours and at such a high level that his name was on most of the entries, according to Walton, and he ultimately won the drawing.
Over the past decade, the odds on video poker have changed in the favor of the house,however. It’s more difficult, if not impossible, to find a machine that can be tipped in the player’s favor by playing perfectly these days.
Walton said he gave up the game years ago when the player edge was eliminated. But the math-savvy Paddock continued playing right up until the October 1 shooting.
The Mesquite, Nevada resident was a quiet individual who mostly kept to himself while playing video poker. But some high-stakes Las Vegas gamblers knew him, including Anthony Curtis, who writes the Las Vegas Advisor online guide for gamblers and tourists.
“This guy was not social, but he liked to see himself, his girlfriend and anyone else he brought along be treated well,” he said. “He was a relatively knowledgeable video poker player and definitely knew what he was doing,” Curtis said.
Tried to Sue Casino
In that 2013 lawsuit that Paddock filed against the Cosmopolitan, a Las Vegas Strip casino, some additional light was shed into the mass murderer’s gambling habits. In 2011, the killer tripped and fell while walking the casino floor.
He attempted to sue the casino for damages, but lost. It was in that deposition that Paddock made his grandiose claim about being the “biggest player” in video poker.
“Nobody played as much and as long as I did. I averaged 14 hours a day, 365 days a year,” he claimed.
Some have speculated Paddock’s gambling habits may have contributed to his anger. But investigators haven’t confirmed the accuracy of that claim.
And with no apparent motive or criminal history, along with the lack of any kind of social media footprint, the FBI and Metro are hoping that at least some aspect of his well-documented casino play history may eventually bring a clue to light.