Chad Power Is Targeting Whales in the MGM National Harbor Poker Room
Poker professional Chad Power was the focus of recently-published interview with the Daily Gazette conducted at the grand opening of MGM National Harbor last month, which opened on the Maryland border with the District of Columbia in December 2016. Chad Power says he is playing poker at the new casino to take advantage of the “whales”.
“Whale” is a term for the top level high-rollers in casino gambling, as opposed to premium players, who are consider high rollers, but not on the same level. Whales might gamble as much as $50,000 or $100,000 a hand. Their wins and losses are so large that whales have been known to have their own entry on itemized monthly and quarterly casino reports.
While the term indicates how much the player is gambling, whales are seen by a poker pro like Chad Power as weak gamblers with a lot of money to spend, and a lot of money to lose. At the very least, the connotation means the player is known more for their wealth than their skill.
MGM National Harbor Poker Room
Thus, Chad Poker has been visiting the newest elite poker room on the east coast to find easy marks. The pro card player says there is a strategy to taking advantage of such situations. A big part of that strategy is to hit the newest casinos.
The MGM National Harbor is a $1.4 billion casino in an affluent part of a Washington DC suburb. That naturally attracts rich gamblers who did not have access to a poker room so close to home before. Such gamblers might be skilled when playing against friends, but they tend to overestimate their skill level when visiting legal poker rooms.
When he was interviewed by the Daily Gazette, Chad Power said he was playing cards with a whale who wanted to gamble $25,000 per hand at the poker table. Power was more than willing to take that action. While it requires a large bankroll and the ability to withstand streaks of bad luck, the pro player’s greater skill is likely to win in the end — if he or she can maintain the level of betting of a high roller.
Standing far enough from the table he could not be overheard by the high roller, Chad Power said of his ability to beat the whales in a new poker room, “That stuff usually lasts about a year. Eventually, he’ll do his taxes and say ‘Oh my gosh, I blew $400,000 gambling.’”
Whale Hunters Spotted Their Prey
Eventually, Chad Power received a confirmation text from a friend. The gambler he had noticed was a whale, and was known as a fairly bad player. Chad Power bought $500 chips and set down at the table to begin a session.
Mr. Power, who placed 26th in the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2015, said he was not at the MGM National Harbor on opening night for a serious session of poker (which sometimes takes 12 hours). Instead, the poker pro, sitting in an unfamiliar tuxedo for the grand opening, said he wanted to play a few hands to see what the new casino was like.
Chad Power told the interviewer, “I have a very good feeling about this place.”
Team Power at Maryland Live!
For the past three years, Chad Power has been a part of a “poker factory” playing at the Maryland Live! Casino in Hanover. A poker factory is a collection of poker pros — in this case a half-dozen gamblers — who pool their resources and take shifts gambling against high rollers. Chad Power’s poker factory is named “Team Power”.
In such a set-up, players are known to gamble for 10, 15, or even 20 hours at a time. The process is called “grinding”, but it’s a good way to win a lot of money, if the team can find the right kind of premium players and whales.
Banned from Maryland Live!’s Blackjack Tables
The team was scouting out MGM National Harbor, because it feels like it’s time to move on from Maryland Live!. The casino management banned Chad Power from its blackjack tables, because he was caught counting cards. Though the poker room was still available, that’s a good sign to clear-out.
More importantly, the MGM Resorts casino is a bigger and fancier operation that is closer to a major population center. With the wealth gathered in the nation’s capital, MGM National Harbor is likely to be a perfect spot for finding whales.
Relocating to MGM National Harbor
At the moment, Chad Power said the immediate concern was finding a nice 6-bedroom home to rent. Making it harder was finding lodgings with a large basement, because other visiting gamblers likely would want to crash there.
Chad Power said, “The hardest thing has been the landlords, who don’t want to rent to a professional poker player.”
Though Power is likely to make $400,000 to $800,000 in his profession in any given year, high dollar landlords are likely to see the income as untruthworthy, and cash game players sometimes find it hard to verify in a background check.
For his part, Chad Power said he is investing in oil and gas ventures. Such investments are a way to transition to a post-poker career, or at least create new revenue streams and diversify his portfolio. But for now, playing in high stakes poker games at the MGM National Harbor is high up the list of priorities for Team Power.