Chinese High-roller blows $51 million
By Paul
An Australian high roller has gone awol after blowing $93 million ($51 million) at Crown Casino in Melbourne.

Chinese national George Lu, one of the world's biggest high-rollers, was turning over more than $1 billion in Melbourne.

An investigation by the Australian newspaper the Herald Sun has revealed that Lu lost $93 million ($53 million) last year playing his favourite game, baccarat.

According to the Herald Sun, Luís high roller lifestyle included:

Regularly gambling the house maximum $200,000 a hand in a private gaming suite known as 'Pit 88'; losing a gaming chip worth $1 million; eating almost every night at Crown's Silks restaurant, running up $10,000 ($5,486) -a-night bills while enjoying $198 ($108) bowls of shark fin soup and $2000 ($1,096) bottles of Grange Hermitage; and gazumping US president Bill Clintonís hotel room.

During 13 visits between February 2000 and January this year, 47-year-old Lu lived in room 3918 -- the best room on the 39th floor of the six-star Crown Towers Hotel.

One night in the opulent penthouse suite, with gold taps and a team of private butlers, costs $25,000.

But the casino's most valuable customer has not been seen since a nine-day visit in January.

Gaming industry sources say he has vowed never to return to Melbourne. 'His girlfriend has cracked the s---s with him,' one source said. 'She's p----d off with his gambling . . . and he's not coming back.' Crown bosses are said to be distraught at the loss of Lu, who turned over up to $5 million an hour.

'This guy is a whale, the biggest of the big fish. He's massive, he's their number one player,' another source said.

Zhi Lu - who adopted the Western name George - is one of about 100 high-stakes gamblers coveted and cossetted by the world's leading casinos.

A source in the United States said the cigar-chomping Mr Lu was lying low in Malaysia. 'You won't be able to get hold of him. He's trying to avoid contact with people,' he said.

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