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May 25, 2006

Slang of the Week: whale (noun)
a gambler who plays for extremely large amounts of money

Stan thought he was quite the whale with his thousand dollar bets, but he had to leave the table when the big boys showed up.

Celebrity quote:
“[Kerry Packer] was a legendary character. He dwarfed the other guys (noted whales the Sultan of Brunei and Adnan Khashoggi, the arms dealer). Kerry played higher, and he played for 40 years.”
-Bobby Baldwin, president and CEO of Mirage Resorts, quoted in the Las Vegas Review-Journal

Packer was the richest man in Australia until his death in December of last year. On his gambling trips to Las Vegas, he would sometimes give his dealer a toke (tip) of a million dollars.


Like their counterparts in nature, gambling whales could be classified an endangered species, with fewer than 300 in the world. To be a genuine whale, a gambler must be wealthy enough not to sweat when he (or she) loses hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars in a single evening.

The natural habitat of the whale is the carpet joint—an elegant casino. The opposite, a sawdust joint, is so named because in olden days, there was actually sawdust on the wood floors in low class establishments