The Gambler | William C. Rempel

Summary of: The Gambler: How Penniless Dropout Kirk Kerkorian Became the Greatest Deal Maker in Capitalist History
By: William C. Rempel


Embark on the extraordinary journey of Kirk Kerkorian, a man who rose from humble beginnings to become a billionaire and the greatest dealmaker in capitalist history. This summary of ‘The Gambler’ by William C. Rempel delves into the adventures of Kerkorian, a man known for his love for gambling, deal-making, and aviation. Discover how an Armenian-American eighth-grade dropout went on to own MGM Studios, become a prominent figure in Las Vegas, and make bold moves in various industries, all while maintaining a private philanthropic lifestyle.

The Life of Kirk Kerkorian

Kirk Kerkorian led a long, eventful life full of twists and turns. Despite being an eighth-grade dropout, he achieved incredible success as a welterweight boxing champion, WWII aviator, and billionaire business icon. Nevertheless, throughout his life, he was an obsessive gambler who loved to play craps and one-dollar slot machines. Kerkorian even wagered $1 million on a single roll of the dice and won! Despite his gambling habits, Kerkorian was known for his thoughtfulness and kindness. He hated public speaking, crowds, and attention but maintained a circle of well-known friends, including Cary Grant. Overall, Kerkorian’s story is one of perseverance and determination in the face of adversity.

The Unpredictable Childhood of Kirk Kerkorian

Born in Fresno to an Armenian family, Kerkor Kerkorian’s childhood was characterized by financial instability, hard work and personal detachment from material things. His family, who faced years of financial emergencies and lost their farm, moved to Los Angeles, where Kerkor sold newspapers and caddied during the Great Depression. Though his original plan was to become a professional boxer, he fell in love with planes as a young man and traded farm chores for flying lessons. Kerkorian became a successful entrepreneur and philanthropist- a testament to his resilience and determination.

The Remarkable Life of Kirk Kerkorian

Kirk Kerkorian, a standout RAF pilot during World War II, made a name for himself as a successful aviation broker and Vegas personality. He ferried planes across the North Atlantic and flew the lightweight Mosquito in a manner that harnessed powerful tailwinds. Kerkorian was a skilled businessman, who made shrewd investments in aviation and gambling. He founded Trans International Airlines and later took over Western Airlines. Kerkorian even dabbled in the automobile industry, attempting to take over America’s three biggest automakers. His legacy was one of success, punctuality, and honor.

Kirk Kerkorian’s life was nothing short of remarkable as he accomplished numerous feats that made him a celebrated figure. During World War II, Kerkorian joined the Royal Air Force Ferry Command team and made transatlantic flights piloting DH-98 Mosquito fighter-bombers, a relatively lightweight aircraft. He demonstrated exceptional talent as a pilot, and his ability to fly the Mossie while harnessing a tailwind earned him accolades. This standout and impressive act was what set him apart from his peers.

After the war, Kerkorian made a name for himself in the commercial aviation sector, becoming one of the most renowned aviation brokers in America. His shrewd investments in his aviation business paid off handsomely, and his fame extended beyond the commercial aviation sector to the gambling industry in the ’50s. He established himself as a well-known Vegas personality who had lines of credit in all the best gaming houses.

Kerkorian was also a successful businessman who founded Trans International Airlines (TIA) and took over Western Airlines. He later attempted to take over America’s three biggest automakers, which was a testament to his excellent business skills.

Kirk Kerkorian’s legacy is one of success, punctuality, and honor. In all his dealings, he made sure his debts were promptly paid and that a handshake was as binding as any contract. His life is an inspiration to many who aspire to achieve immense success in both personal and professional endeavors.

The Audacious Life of Kirk Kerkorian

Kirk Kerkorian, a self-made billionaire, made his mark in Las Vegas by transforming the resort, gaming and movie industries. He built the world’s largest hotels, including the MGM Grand three times. Kerkorian’s daring moves and audacious stratagems led him to be called a “deal junkie”. In the early 1960s, he purchased 80 acres of rundown real estate in Las Vegas and traded key lots to gain Strip access. Kerkorian leased the land to an Atlanta developer who built the luxurious Caesars Palace, and Kerkorian received monthly lease payments, a percentage of the casino’s profits and a two-bedroom suite. Kerkorian’s wealth skyrocketed in the late 1960s, after his charter air service went public and left him with stock worth $66 million. He then built the International Hotel, which was the world’s largest hotel at that time. Kerkorian bought the Flamingo, originally built by mafioso Siegel, as a training site for the huge staff needed for his opening. When Kerkorian signed Elvis Presley to a multi-million-dollar contract to appear at the International, the shows made Elvis a Las Vegas legend.

Kerkorian and Nick the Greek

One was a billionaire businessman, the other a legendary gambler. Yet, Kirk Kerkorian and Nick the Greek shared similar views on money. Kerkorian bet big on deals, but shied away from ostentatious displays of wealth. He was also remarkably generous, as seen in his private philanthropy and his relief efforts following an earthquake in Armenia. Meanwhile, Nick the Greek saw money as a stake in the game, not a reflection of character or worth. He won big and lost big, but always remained calm. Kerkorian, a pallbearer at Nick’s funeral, secretly helped pay for the gambler’s funeral and gravestone. Despite their different paths, Kerkorian and Nick the Greek shared an indifference to money and a humility that set them apart from others.

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