Stephen Paddock was a highly intelligent retired accountant who loved gambling so much that he’d often played lengthy sessions, sometimes for as long as twenty hours a day, on his favorite casino game of choice – Video Poker.
Paddock chose this particular casino game as it gives players the best odds of winning and he had been very successful with it for over twenty years. According to his brother, Eric Paddock, “gambling was like a job to him”, and he was able to sustain it for as long as he did because of his successful real estate portfolio that had earned him millions.
Aside from the adrenaline rush of playing high-stake video poker at a “ferocious” pace which would see him betting colossal sums of $125-a-hand on several machines at a time, staking up to a total of $100,000 per hour, he also did it for the VIP status which netted him perks such as free limousine rides, free stay at expensive hotel suites, and even $10,000 of free money to play with.
A professional video poker player, David Walton, told a reporter from the Log Angeles Times that he remembered seeing Paddock at Mandalay Bay back in 2007 where he had continuously played for 24 hours straight on a video poker machine. Walton added that on that day, the casino was awarding a lucky winner with a $100,000 grand prize. Entries into the draw were awarded to players based on their stakes and rate of play during the contest. Because of this, Paddock’s name ended up on most of the entries and ultimately won him the free prize.
Walton also noted that he had given up on the game that was once known for paying out consistently if one had the skills and patience to stalk and play certain machines perfectly. But over the past decade, the slight player’s edge had diminished to the point that he had become increasingly difficult to find the correct machine that was possible to be played in the player’s favor via flawless plays. He himself had quit video poker for this reason, but the math-savvy Paddock took to the challenge and continued playing all these years.
Self-proclaimed “Biggest Video Poker Player in the World”
As police continue to search for clues to explain the reasons behind the biggest shooting in modern American history, a look at the Vegas killer’s 2013 testimony gives us an insight into Paddock’s lifestyle 4 years prior to killing at least 58 and injuring more than 500 people.
During a lawsuit in 2013 where Paddock tried to sue the Cosmopolitan, a Las Vegas Strip casino, for damages when he slipped on the casino floor in 2011. During his deposition, he bragged that he was the “biggest video poker player in the world”, “I’ll gamble all night”, “I sleep during the day. I do not do sun.”, “Nobody played as much and as long as I did. I averaged 14 hours a day, 365 days a year,” he claimed.
It was also found that he kept a doctor “on retainer” to prescribe him Valium for his anxiousness. Also known as diazepam, possible side effects of this drug include rage, aggressiveness, and irritability. However, none of these were proven to be evident in Paddock’s health record, and he also had no mental health issues, nor a history of addiction.
As many continue to speculate the reasons behind the Las Vegas massacre, some believe Paddock’s gambling habits contributed anger and frustration which ultimately lead him to his actions on October 1st. However, since there are no solid evidence and no apparent motive or criminal history, the FBI continues to probe for more clues.