At the SkyBridge Alternatives Conference earlier this month, the talk of the assembled hedge fund-focused crowd was on making money—but not necessarily on behalf of clients.
Instead, one attendee's amazing run at the Bellagio casino was the hot topic. Quantitative Investment Management's Michael Geismar turned a $10,000 line of credit at the casino's blackjack tables into $710,000 in just two nights, a remarkable run for a man who says he plays the cards only a few times a year—and who says he doesn't count cards.
Indeed, by the end of the night, Geismar was giddily shouting, "We're going to need more chips over here!" and ended his SALT run with an early-morning breakfast at the Bellagio's restaurant, sitting at a table with more than $400,000 in cash stuffed into manila envelopes.
It seems the safe in his room upstairs was already full of earlier winnings.
According to AR magazine, Geismar's run began Tuesday night, before the conference formally began. Employing a bet scaling strategy, Geismar wagered more and more on each hand as he kept winning, turning his $10,000 into $470,000 in six hours, leaving the table at 4 a.m.
The next day-and-a-half went less well. Geismar lost $20,000 in just 45 minutes on Wednesday morning, $40,000 on Thursday afternoon and $50,000 early Thursday evening, cutting his take to $350,000.
But Geismar didn't give up. He left $300,000 in his room and took the remaining money back to the floor, getting to know some of his fellow SALT attendees at a blackjack table: SAC Capital Advisors marketing head Chris Rae, third-party marketing Sanjay Patel and G2 Investment Group business development chief Kevin Murray.
As he started to win again, Geismar became a bit freer with his money, betting on other players' hands as well as his own. On one hand, which every player a the table won, Geismar cleaned up, earning about $50,000, one of the players, Alpha Financial Technologies' Bryan O'Leary said.
"He was jumping into the pit screaming, 'We're going to need more chips over here!" O'Leary told AR. "It was insane." On the $50,000 hand, the whole table was jumping "around like it was the Super Bowl."
By the end of the night, about 6 a.m., Geismar left the table with $410,000. He tipped his dealers tens of thousands of dollars, had breakfast with Rae, Patel, Murray and Kiski Group's Ryan Gold, and headed to bed for a few hours sleep, $710,000 richer than when he started.