Stephen Paddock wanted to win and, like any savvy video poker player, knew which machine to lock down at Mandalay Bay.
There was only one in the casino — a Jacks-or-better 9-6 machine, meaning it paid 9-to-1 credits on the full house and 6-1 on the flush and offered the casino only a slim advantage. Mandalay Bay was having a contest for a $100,000 drawing and players, based on the amount of their play the next day, would get tickets to enter.
He got ready to work.
David Walton, a video poker playing pro, headed down to the casino floor early to nab the good machine.
There sat Paddock. Not playing it. Just sitting there. Waiting.
Walton settled into the machine next to him — not one with as generous a payout schedule — and waited for midnight. When it struck, Paddock hit the machine lightning quick, going at a rate of $120,000 per hour. He barely spoke.
Walton said Paddock played 24 hours straight that day in 2007. Before the drawing, Walton wandered over to look at the 4-foot-by-4-foot drum holding all the tickets to the drawing to size up his chances at the $100,000.
Those hopes were diminishing quickly.