As we see here from this photograph of Marilyn Monroe, there is a glamour and iconic aspect to casinos that goes back decades. From the likes of Frank Sinatra in the 60s to the likes of Matt Damon today, there is a draw, appeal and intertwining of these two worlds. Poker tournaments featuring celebrity figures are fascinating in their own right, and even the pure ‘splash the cash’ celebrities like Flloyd Mayweather, buy in to the tradition and image that being a high roller offers.
Casino gambling is colorful and dramatic and theatrical – Steve Wynn
Maryland-born Michael Phelps, a.k.a. ‘The Baltimore Bullet’, is the most decorated Olympian of all time, with 28 medals, 23 of them gold, for long course swimming. However, Phelps was playing poker long before his retirement from competitive swimming following the 2016 Summer Olympics. In 2006, while living in Ann Arbor, Michigan, Phelps met professional poker player Jeff Gross at Casino Windsor, now Caesars Windsor, in Ontario, Canada and the pair subsequently room together for seven years in Baltimore, Maryland. Gross called Phelps ‘one of the best celebrity players around’.
Phelps actually achieved his best live cash, so far – a ninth-place finish, worth $5,213, in a World Series of Poker (WSOP) Caesars Palace Classic event in 2008 – before his retirement. Indeed, at the time of his retirement, it was speculated that he may play more frequently in live poker tournaments and may, indeed, sign a major sponsorship deal. So far, no sponsorship deal has been forthcoming but, in recent years, Phelps has finished in the money at a handful of smaller poker tournaments at various Las Vegas casinos, including The Venetian, Aria and Rio. All told, Phelps has just $9,873 to his name in live earnings but, most recently, finish fifth of 54 entrants in the $110 + 30 No Limit Hold’em – Nightly Event at the Aria Resort & Casino. Poker remains a hobby, rather than a career, for Phelps, but there is little doubt that he is a serious, talented player.
Well, this certainly isn’t what you expect when you’re living the high life and waiting for your number to come up on the roulette wheel, I’m not sure if he was doing building work, an attempted heist, or just someone to whom doors are an irrelevance but it was nice of this gentleman to ‘drop by’ never the less.
Though on the subject of Las Vegas crime, one of the most ‘interesting’ heists was the Circus Circus theft of 1993. $3 million dollars and an armoured truck had disappeared without trace. Surely all’s well that ends well for the thieves then, right? Well no, a decade on, Heather Tallchief, wracked with guilty about how role in the theft handed herself in to the authorities. The money however remains missing, said to be in the hands of her still at large boyfriend.