LAS VEGAS — It was Monday night on the Strip, and John Devaney was giving a party for himself and fellow connoisseurs of risk who have seen their hot hands go cold.
In a gilded ballroom at the Venetian, the revelers sipped cabernet, dined on surf and turf and crowed as the Blue Man Group put on a private show.
The partygoers had traveled to Sin City this week — Mr. Devaney by chartered jet — for an event that before the current credit squeeze might have been called the Predators’ Ball of this era.
This time, with mortgage securities replacing the junk bonds of the 1980s, the gathering felt more like group therapy.
The occasion was, officially, the 5th annual conference of the American Securitization Forum, a celebration of the financial wizardry that supposedly turns risky mortgages and other loans into gilt-edged securities but, as Mr. Devaney belatedly discovered, does not always make them safe. Mr. Devaney, a 37-year-old money manager, lost big on bond investments last year. This week, in Las Vegas fashion, he said he was doubling down.
The four-day event at the Venetian drew more than 6,500 financial professionals from across the country. Many came in search of ways to ride out — or better yet, to profit from — the mortgage mess their industry helped to create.