The Fall of a Legend — Biography of Akio Kashiwagi

Throughout the history of gambling, a lot of famous bettors have come and gone. Some of them broke records, while others made a significant impact. Either way, one cannot deny the impact of many Asian gamblers who graced the gambling industry. Such was the story of Akio Kashiwagi — one of the most popular Baccarat players in the world. Although he was a whale and made many casinos tremble with fear whenever he walked in, his story had a tragic end.

Akio’s Exciting Life

Kashiwagi was born in Imperial Japan in 1938, and he didn’t wait for too long to become an avid gambler. Having survived WWII, Kashiwagi grew to be rebellious. Although many rulers banned gambling through Japan’s history (up until this year), people still gambled. And in spite the government of Japan banning gambling as well, that didn’t stop Akio from expressing his love towards betting.


He wasn’t only a gambler though — he also established and operated a real estate and investment company under the name of “Kashiwagi Shoji,” and it was quite successful. He also married a beautiful geisha, who was six years older than him. They had three kids together, and things seemed to look just fine for the Kashiwagi family. He was a wealthy businessman and an even richer gambler. He had a beautiful wife and three healthy children. However, deep inside, Akio kept a lot of secrets that nobody knew anything about.

Before the public found out about the dark side of his life, Akio had a lot to brag about. He would often visit the USA just to gamble big. Every owner knew him as a high roller who gambled only with high stakes. This real estate investor knew precisely how and when to gamble in order to win quite large sums of cash. He was a regular in Las Vegas and casinos in Atlantic City — the two safe havens for many gamblers in the USA and the world.

He mostly played Baccarat, and he would bet millions of dollars whenever he was in brick-and-mortars. Even though he wasn’t a professional poker player, the American casinos loved greeting Akio with open arms. They called him a “whale” — a term for gamblers who bet hefty amounts of money. Also, casinos love granting $1 million credits to whales and regulars, but Kashiwagi was even beyond that. Casinos would give him much larger credits, and one could often find him betting $100,000 or $200,000 a hand. This real estate mogul went down in history as one of the rare Baccarat players who actually got rich thanks to this game. Moreover, he would often visit Donald Trump’s Taj Mahal Casino, and the management was always happy to see him.

A Dedicated Gambler

According to many managers, Kashiwagi enjoyed gambling like nothing else in this world. They could often find him gambling by the Baccarat table for 80 hours straight. He would then go to his hotel room to sleep, wake up, and continue gambling.

Needless to say that many casinos deemed him a profitable guest, which is the reason why Donald Trump insisted they become closer. Once, as he was visiting Japan, he met with Akio on an event and demanded they took a photo together. Kashiwagi, on the other hand, didn’t like this idea and refused. This immediately raised a lot of eyebrows in the room, but nobody really knew what the reason for this was.

In fact, casino managers wanted Akio to stay and gamble his money away so much that they would often do anything to keep him there. In 1973, Tangiers Hotel Casino manager bribed Kashiwagi’s pilot to lie that the plane had mechanical issues just so he would stay. And the plan worked — Akio stayed and gambled a couple of millions away.

But what was Akio really like? Well, according to the Taj Mahal manager, Mr. Gomes, Kashiwagi was very nice. He was always pleasant to talk with — but still a difficult person when it came to

gambling table gambling debts.

He would often lose, just like any other gambler, but getting the money out of him was a job in and of itself. If he would lose $5 million, getting at least $2 million out of his wallet would be a success. After all, he was a real estate investor; he knew his ways around paying off loans.

Gone Too Soon

Akio achieved a lot in his short life-span — he operated a successful business, gambled a lot and often won, and had a good family. But nobody was really prepared for what was coming. Suddenly, Kashiwagi was found dead in his home near Mount Fuji. And according to the investigation, someone stabbed him 150 times with a samurai sword. This somewhat traditional way of murdering a person usually related to the notorious Yakuza clan.

As if finding out about his brutal death wasn’t difficult enough, things started to unravel as well. Soon enough, the media would find out that Akio had a lot of financial issues, and just like many desperate men, he made a huge mistake of asking money from the Yakuza. In general, the public knows that this clan is not very forgiving when it comes to “breaches of contract.” In the dictionary of the Yakuza, this means that you better pay the money back. According to reports, Kashiwagi didn’t pay off his debts by the date the Yakuza had set for him.

Once everyone found out that he died, casinos immediately came out saying that he owed them a lot of money. He died owing over $4 million to the Trump Plaza, although they signed off $1 million. Other casinos to which he owed money decided to file for lawsuits and get their money back from his business.

Akio’s Legacy

His life may have ended in an unsolved murder, but Akio still remains one of the gambling industry’s legends. Not even decades after his death did any other Baccarat player show up and impress the public with their outstanding skills. Luckily, Akio was one of the ten children, so his family was never left alone, and his kids were in safe hands after he was gone.

Today, Akio’s life often serves as an inspiration — he was just a poor farm boy who grew up into a mogul and a professional gambler. Many gamblers admire him for his genius and talent, and he will always remain a crucial part of gambling history. Although he made a lot of mistakes during his life, he will forever be known for his many achievements.

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