Home > Features > The whales vs the small fish – how casinos treat these groups differently part II

The whales vs the small fish – how casinos treat these groups differently part II


16 Jun 2017

It is no secret among the majority of casino visitors that their experiences and the ways in which they are treated will predominantly hinge on the amount of money they seem willing to spend during their stay.

Part one of this series looked at how the big spenders, or the whales as they are generally referred to within the industry, can expect different tiers of freebies, how they have the luxury of receiving chips to gamble on credit and how they can have the opportunity to slightly tweak the rules of games to their advantage.

However, this is far from all of the differences in comparison to those who arrive with the intention of cashing in no more than £50.

Here are some more ways the whales can expect preferential treatment:

Behaviour tolerance

There is no denying that a casino needs their penny slot players, a conveyor belt of £5 per hand blackjack players and a collection of other moderate-spending visitors to survive. But getting a handful of whales to lose large sums could turn a great night into a headline-worthy evening.

Therefore, at the fear of losing a customer willing to gamble away £100,000 in chips, casinos let their guard down when it comes to acceptable behaviour.

Don’t be surprised to see a smaller fish feel the wrath of security for a short and harmless period of hostility. Swearing at the dealer a few times, being aggressive towards any casino equipment or performing any other action under the umbrella of drunk and disorderly is likely to be followed by a forceful ejection.

They could even be barred for their antics.

Forget three strikes, a whale could behave in such a way for hours and be allowed to carry on if they were losing £5,000 on a spin of a roulette wheel.

Urinating on casino property instead of going to the toilet, throwing cards directly at dealers, attempting to flip an entire blackjack table or even picking fights with security. These things are all likely to be smoothed over and remain totally unpunished.

Speed of play

Logic would say that it would make more sense to ensure a faster-moving game when involving the biggest spenders, simply to get their money quicker. Instead, it is the opposite.

The whales may only get through two or three shoes of blackjack in an hour or 12 to 15 spins of a roulette wheel. This is despite their bets generally being much easier to calculate and pay.

Such players may have few chips on the layout, all of the same colour. So, a dealer will only need to return to one section of their chip station to pay off winners. In contrast, smaller spenders may have an assortment of chip colours in their winning stack, which takes longer to sort.

It is also a much greater toil to make money from the smaller fish and this is why dealers may be encouraged to push the pace as much as possible. This includes not allowing players to think too long on their plays, dwell in getting their chips on the layout or interact with small talk between hands.

Ultimately, the more hands or spins a dealer can perform in an hour, the greater the chance a casino has of netting a profit from these small fish.

Therefore, expect a dealer to manage to squeeze in six shoes of blackjack in an hour or a roulette spin every two minutes.

Trying to slow a game down is one way a smaller-scale player can boost their chances of receiving a comp, as one factor which can determine who is in line for a freebie is the amount of time spent at a table betting.

A larger list of strategies and ploys to help achieve this ambition can be read here.


Not only do dealers have to tolerate much more in the way of rude, disrespectful and aggressive behaviour from whales, they are also much politer themselves to this customer group.

Making these players feel more at home and comfortable at the table is likely to enhance their experience and keep them betting longer.

For the small fish, because they are valued to a much smaller degree, the dealers can have more licence to be sarcastic and argumentative.

If there is a dispute over a payout, the small fish spending £20 at the table may find security having a word with them much sooner. Expect comments along the lines of “the dealer has made their decision, if you don’t like it then find somewhere else to play”.

For the sake of one hand and one payout, a whale is much more likely to see a situation resolved in their favour with the minimum of fuss, as they will play for longer if feeling like they are getting fair treatment.