Don Johnson - How He Won $15 Million Playing Blackjack
Don Johnson is an American gambler, entrepreneur, and television personality known for his high-stakes blackjack wins in Atlantic City. Johnson’s gambling career began in the late 1990s when he became interested in blackjack. He started playing at land-based casinos and soon developed a reputation as a skilled player who could win big.
In 2010, “The Man Who Broke Atlantic City” as he is referred to, made headlines when he won $5.8 million gambling in a single night at the Tropicana Casino and Resort. Over the years, Johnson has become not only one of the most famous gamblers but a prominent figure in the gambling world.
Due to Johnson's skill, he has been featured in numerous television shows and documentaries. Johnson is also involved in various business ventures, including real estate development and horse racing.
In this article, we break down Don Johnson net worth, his gambling ventures, and his famous winning streak that earned him the headlines and the respect of the gambling community.
Don Johnson Highlights
- He won over $15 million in Atlantic City from 2010-2011 playing blackjack
- Famous for playing blackjack with special rules that lower the house edge
- He is banned from some casinos after his success
- Referred to as “The Man Who Broke Atlantic City”
- Famous for tipping dealers up to $100,000 after successful sessions
Don Johnson Early Years and Upbringing
Don Johnson was born on May 10th, 1962, in Salem, Oregon, and he grew up in a middle-class family.
At a young age, Johnson developed a passion for horse racing and dreamt of becoming a professional jockey. However, he would grow six feet one inch, which prevented him from racing competitively, despite having participated in amateur competitions as a teenager.
Although his dream of becoming a professional jockey would not come true, Johnsons stayed in the horse racing industry. He first worked as a state regulator, and thanks to his experience in the field, in the 2000s, he got a job as a racetrack manager at the Philadelphia Park Racecourse.
At this time, he started taking advantage of small casino bonuses by playing blackjack, betting with an average stake of $25 per hand.
Don Johnson Career - The Man Who Broke Atlantic City
In 2004, Don Johnson founded Heritage Development, a software company based in Wyoming. Heritage Development is a highly successful company that remains operational today and provides computer-assisted programs for horse race bettors.
At this point, nothing suggested that Don Johnson blackjack career would take a remarkable turn. However, in 2008, as a significant financial crisis hit the world, gambling operators in the US started looking for high-rollers.
Don Johnson saw this as an opportunity and started negotiating with several casinos to accept him as a player. Amongst other things, some of his conditions included that the casino refunds 20% of his losses exceeding $500,000, dealers stay on soft seventeens, he can split aces, and tables would use only six decks.
With these gameplay modifications, Johnson managed to lower the house edge of the 3:2 payout blackjack to only 0.263%.
In return, the casinos conditioned Johnson to provide a $1 million stake per game. However, this meant that, in theory, he was only risking $400,000 with the 20% rebate if he quit at the $500,000 mark.
As he recalled in one of his interviews, Johnson had a special 12-hour blackjack session at Tropicana in Atlantic City; at one point during this session, he won a staggering $1.2 million in just three consecutive hands.
On the one hand, he placed a $100,000 bet and was dealt two eights, which he promptly split. Then, he split them again, making his total bet up to $400,000. Then, he was dealt two threes and two, allowing him to double down on all four hands, increasing his stake to $800,000. Finally, the hand ended in the dealer busting and Johnson winning $800,000.
With these rules in place, Johnson won $6 million from the Tropicana, $4 million from Caesars Casino, and another $5 million from the Borgata, all in Atlantic City.
After his massive winning streak, Borgata and Tropicana decided to change their rules to stop Johnson from taking advantage of them. But, at the same time, Caesar's Hotel and Casino went one step further and banned him from playing at their properties again.
“I don't think they will let me play anymore, but it's not going to change my life. If I don't play blackjack, I'll just go to the horse races.”
Don Johnson Blackjack Hall of Fame Induction
For his incredible success and contributions to the world of blackjack, Don Johnson was inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2017.
Johnson is among the few players inducted into the Hall of Fame without being a professional blackjack player. However, his infamous blackjack run in 2010, during which he won $15 million in less than six months playing blackjack, earned him a well-deserved spot.
His induction into the Blackjack Hall of Fame solidifies his status as one of the most successful and influential blackjack players of all time.
Don Johnson Net Worth and Assets
According to multiple online sources, Don Johnson net worth is estimated to be around $5 million primarily from his successful gambling streaks, more specifically Johnson’s historic blackjack run in 2010, where he won a total of $15 million from three Atlantic City casinos.
In addition to his gambling success, Johnson has been involved in various business ventures over the years, including owning a software company that provides computer-assisted programs for horse race bettors and has been operating since 2004.
His success in multiple niches has allowed him to accumulate significant wealth, making him a successful businessman and one of the most successful and notable gamblers.
Where Is He Today?
As of 2023, Don Johnson is still alive and well and is involved in gambling. However, he has maintained a relatively low profile recently and has not been making headlines for his gambling endeavors.
Johnson has not disclosed his current location, but judging by his social media profiles; he spends his time traveling between various places where he can indulge in his passion for gambling.
It is also worth noting that Johnson has been involved in philanthropic work throughout his career, supporting various charities and foundations, so it’s possible he may be devoting more time to those efforts as well.
What Is Don Johnson Net Worth?
Don Johnson net worth is estimated to be around $5 million, most of which came from his historic blackjack run in 2010 when he won $15 million from three Atlantic City casinos in six months.
Did Don Johnson Win Money by Counting Cards in Blackjack?
Card counting was not a part of Don Johnson’s blackjack strategy. Instead, he managed to win money playing blackjack thanks to a specific set of rules that he negotiated with the casino.
Is Don Johnson in the Blackjack Hall of Fame?
Yes, he is among the few players to be inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame without being a professional blackjack player.
The famous gambler was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2017 thanks to his famous blackjack run in 2010.
How Did Don Johnson Win $15 Million Playing Blackjack?
Don Johnson won $15 million from three casinos playing blackjack in Atlantic City in 2010.
He accomplished this feat thanks to the fact that he was playing under his own specific set of rules that included getting 20% refunds on all his losses exceeding $500,000, dealers staying on soft seventeens, and being allowed to split aces and tables using six decks.