Akio Kashiwagi was one of the most legendary Japanese gamblers of the last century. Kashiwagi regularly played Baccarat, as this was his favorite game. The general opinion is that Baccarat can’t quite get you rich — but Akio decided to prove everyone wrong. Although he was born in Japan, he still developed a great love for gambling. Hence why he never gambled in his motherland — instead, Kashiwagi decided to conquer the United States casinos.
But how did this man manage to win this much money by only playing card games? Did he have any specific rituals or strategies? Well, up to this date, no one is really 100% sure of this. But one thing is for sure — he was big enough to intimidate Donald Trump and nearly shut down his Plaza Hotel and Casino.
Where Did He Come From?
Akio Kashiwagi was born in Japan in 1938. He was one of the 9 kids, and his family consisted of farmers mostly. Soon enough, Akio decided he wants a better, high-profile life for himself. So he established his own real estate and investment business company. He ran the Kashiwagi Shoji (his company) up until the date of his death.
Just like most people in this world, Akio married and started a family. His wife was a beautiful woman who used to be a geisha. With her, he had three children, and everybody thought that he was as happy as it gets. After all, he had it all. However, Kashiwagi was keeping a lot of dark secrets. And eventually, they all lead to his death on January 12, 1992.
Although his life ended tragically and early, Akio still left a mark on the gambling industry. Gamblers still know him as the only player to earn millions of dollars, and many gamblers still look up to him.
At one point, Kashiwagi even decided to take on Donald Trump and his Trump Plaza Hotel, just to prove that he is one of the high rollers. And believe it or not, he became a threat to many casino owners, and a lot of them feared him.
The Man Trump Admired and Feared
Trump immediately noticed Kashiwagi, and in spite of his humble and shy demeanor, he knew the man was a wealthy gambler. As Trump believed that nobody was quite as a good as him, he decided to challenge Kashiwagi.
What Donald knew was that Kashiwagi was a man who earned over $100 million annually and that his net worth was over $1 billion. This information was false or exaggerated in the least because Kashiwagi’s was earning $15 million per year. Since he was so secretive, adding up more money to his name was a fascinating thing.
One more reason why Trump wanted to bet against Kashiwagi was that he nearly bankrupted James Goldsmith’s Diamond Beach Casino. This is a very popular Australian-based resort. He cost the casino nearly $20 million only playing Baccarat.
Needless to say that Kashiwagi gladly accepted Trump’s invitation for a game. In fact, Trump respected him so much that he even got him his own chef that would cook him only the best food. He even paid for his penthouse stay, where Kashiwagi spent 2 days without going out at all.
Once the match began, everyone was in awe with the amount Akio was ready to bet on — he would gamble with $200,000 in one hand. Trump quickly realized that this dangerous gambler could easily bankrupt his casino. But he also realized that Kashiwagi didn’t have any strategies — he was just an ambitious and lucky gambler.
Once Trump lost, Kashiwagi left the casino thinking he will never return. However, Donald’s ego wouldn’t let him end the game there and then. Instead, he invited his opponent to a re-match. But before he would bet against him again, Donald hired a mathematician to help him calculate the odds and turn them into his favor. Jess Marcum, the mathematician, advised that he should make sure Kashiwagi bets as long as possible. The odds say that the longer you gamble, the higher the house edge.
Trump invited Akio to his casino in Atlantic City, on December 7th. Many believe this was a psychological move, as this date marked the anniversary of the Pearl Harbor bombing. The condition for the game was that Kashiwagi brings $15 million to the table and win until either losing it all or doubling it. Akio gladly accepted this offer, and Trump decided to trust him on it entirely. The only thing he had to do was to somehow make him stay at the table as long as possible — at least according to Marcum.
Right at the beginning, Kashiwagi started to win. In the first half of the match, he won $9 million of Trump’s money. This left Donald with only $6 million — discouraging enough for even the bravest of gamblers. Trump wanted to quit right away, but Jess managed to convince him to stay. It was only a matter of time before Kashiwagi would begin to lose.
And that is precisely what happened — they played for 5 days, and with each passing day, Kashiwagi lost more and more. In the end, he was on a losing streak, and he owed Trump over $4 million. It was an event so important even the New York Times covered it for the masses.
The Mysterious Death of Kashiwagi
In 1992, Kashiwagi was murdered in his house near the Mount Fuji. He was killed owing casinos millions of dollars. The news has spread like fire, and in only a couple of hours, world media began to report on how a top gambler is killed in his house. Kashiwagi didn’t live long enough to see Trump’s empire falling down. Also, Trump decided to forgive $1 million of his debt. Unfortunately, other Vegas and Atlantic City casinos weren’t as generous — so they decided to get their money back from Akio’s company.
Either way, this man has achieved a lot, and he remains a legend even up to this day. He is the only Baccarat player to get rich. Although his death was severe and unjust, people choose to remember him by his genius and talent.