Saturday, March 16, 2019

If You Think Cruise Ship Casinos Take Surveillance Lightly...Think Again!

BEWARE OF THEIR SURVEILLANCE DEPT!
Many people, lots of them casino cheats and advantage players, seem to think that cruise-ship Surveillance Departments are not up to par with those working at land-based casinos. I don't know why this belief exists; perhaps it's because of the party atmosphere found aboard these ships, or some other reasons having to do with jurisdiction, regulatory issues or whatever.

But don't be fooled!

This belief is as false as a fifth-suit playing card!

I have trained two cruise-ship lines surveillance departments. I found each of them as experienced and knowledgeable as the most efficient land-based casinos worldwide, including those in Las Vegas.

In fact, one of them I have very recently trained, a melange of dedicated people from at least 4 different continents, meshed together like a well-trained intelligence agency. These international people have seen various scams bred in various countries and are as sharp as they come!

And this sharpness comes from the top. At Norwegian Cruise Line I immediately noted the relationship between the Surveillance Director and his staff. He was hands-on all the way, and exhibited great patience while helping me reinforce some of the finer points of high-level casino-cheating moves. His people were quite receptive of him, and of me as well. They were already knowledgeable about lots of sophisticated cheating scams and humble enough to want to learn more. One guy in the department was so eager to talk about this stuff that he cornered me in the hotel lobby hours after the training and made viable suggestions on how to detect advanced high-level card-counting teams that I profiled in the class.

And if that were not enough, the senior vice president walked in in the middle of the training and gave a short speech filled with praise and appreciation for his staff that even motivated me! This was a rare event and a pleasure to witness.

And to those of you who work or worked for Carnival Cruise Line when I trained there, I have not forgotten you. When I met some seventy people from the Carnival Surveillance staff, including their Fleet Surveillance Director, I found a very similar situation with very capable people from each continent who are very dedicated to their work.

So...Casino Cheats and Advantage Players:

BEWARE OF CRUISE-SHIP SURVEILLANCE DEPARTMENTS!

Tuesday, March 05, 2019

More Bad Publicity for MGM National Harbor concerning Casino Cheating

More anti-cheating legislation problems in Maryland 
I recently blogged about an article on Maryland state legislators trying to get laws into the book that make cheating casino table games a crime. I, like many other people in all facets of the casino business--including active casino cheats--was quite surprised to learn that casino cheating on table games has no current place in Maryland's criminal statutes, which means that anyone caught cheating a table game in any Maryland casino has nothing more to worry about than simply being thrown out and barred from the casino.

My blog brought to light the obvious threat to Maryland's casinos brought on by making public knowledge of Maryland's vulnerability to casino cheats. Surely, many cheats of all levels and abilities would take advantage of "riskless shots" against the state's casinos. This means that some serious casino-cheating felonies on Las Vegas gaming tables that would bring certain prison time to offenders currently goes unpunished by the law in Maryland.

Now more facts, damaging ones, are coming out of MGM's National Harbor casino. First off, an MGM representative has told state legislators that more than 60% of all cheating incidents recorded at all the MGM properties worldwide happens at the company's Maryland property.

That is an astounding number!

And no doubt the reason behind it is that casino cheats have been launching an assault against Maryland's casinos. They are coming in droves and taking their shots with nothing more to lose than being tossed out.

MGM National Harbor's surveillance director, Michael Ruggiano, told the House Ways and Means Committe that the Bellagio and Aria casinos in Las Vegas caught a combined total of six casino cheats in 2018 while the MGM National Harbor had some 153 incidents during the same year.

That is another staggering fact!

According to National Harbor's vice president of government affairs, Kerry Watson, there are blogs online that identify Maryland's casinos as a place where cheats can have their "free shots" cheating table games. This, in my mind, is tantamount to encouraging casino cheating in the state's casinos.

What makes all this even more confusing is that the Committee wants more information from the MGM concerning the actual financial losses suffered by the property due to cheating and the MGM seems unwilling to supply that information. The MGM has been pushing the new criminalizing-cheating bills as a way for the state not to lose tax revenues, and the Committee seems to agree, but the fact that the MGM does not want to quantify the amount lost to casino cheats, and the Committee is bewildered by this as it knows that the MGM has all the cheating incidents recorded on video yet cannot or will not provide the figure of the total loss is confusing.

However, Kerry Watson did admit that the reason for the MGM's reluctance is simply that it doesn't want to publicize the figure for fear that doing so would provoke more casino cheats to come to what would be further perceived as a "cheating destination."

Maryland delegate Eric Ebersole said to Watson, “You have the evidence here, you can see these people cheating, so you know how much they won. You’ve cited 153 cases. In those 153 cases, before you ask these people to leave, how much did they take from you in total for the year?"

“The dollar amount is what we’re really interested in here,” Ebersole added, “because one of the problems is that we’re losing money earmarked for education."

That's when Watson told Ebersole that MGM doesn’t want to publicize a dollar figure because it could draw even more attention to MGM National Harbor and the state as a cheating destination. Ebersole replied, “It would help us, though, if we had an idea on the magnitude of this problem. It would help us decide if this is serious enough to give people criminal records, misdemeanors, and felonies for the crimes they are committing.”

By not providing the figures that Ebersole wants, the MGM did not help its cause last Friday. The legislation pertains to crimes that increase in severity based on specific dollar amounts.

Finally, the casino admitted it wasn’t as well prepared when pushing the measure last year.

My take: Hopefully the proposed bill will advance soon, before the ongoing legislative session ends in April. If it doesn't, the MGM National Harbor and the rest of Maryland's casinos are in for another long casino-cheating year.
   

Friday, February 22, 2019

Interesting Insider $3 Million Baccarat Cheating Scam in Australia

Unidentified Baccarat Cheat in Australia
Over a ten-day period in July, 2016 at the Star Casino in Sydney, Australia, two unidentified baccarat players won some $3 million at the baccarat tables. Soon afterwards, they were charged, along with an unidentified baccarat dealer, of a collusion cheating scam that allegedly allowed them to win the money. The dealer was accused of manipulating the cards by "sleight of hand" so that he could see their values and then signalling those values to the two players who used the information to be able to bet with a large advantage.

According to reports, bet they did! Their maximum bets reached $250,000.

What makes this case more interesting than most cheating cases in the plethora of insider baccarat scams is that the court apparently agreed that the cheating took place the way the prosecution said it did but acquitted them and let them walk with the $3 million because somehow "no particular person had been deceived by their actions."

What the heck does that mean!

So if I understand this correctly, a dealer and two players scammed the Star Casino for $3 million by way of the dealer illicitly signalling the values of the cards to the players, who, based on that information, made their bets and won three million bucks!

How can this not be cheating worthy of a guilty verdict? Who the hell cares that no particular person was deceived by the cheating? How does that matter? The victim is clearly the casino, not any person, therefore this is a slam-dunk casino-cheating conviction.

Well, the outcome of this trial, whose verdict the prosecution will appeal, will not do much good for Australian and Pacific Rim casinos. Already plagued by insider baccarat scams for nearly two decades now, this ridiculous decison sends a bad message that will probably make more victims out of more casinos in that part of the world.

The message is simply: if you cheat by collusion in an Australian casino and get caught, there is a plausible way out of it by claiming no casino employee in particular was victimized, or whatever other excuse there might be.

Ridiculous!

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

WILLY ALLISON WANTS TO STRIP CASINO TABLE GAMES OF THEIR CHIPS!

Max Rubin pushing Chipless Blackjack
The last thing I want to do is talk about Willy Allison. And I would not be doing so, but I stumbled upon his recent podcast interview with GBB Magazine, and at the very end of it, Allison spoke of an article he wrote for GGB.

It's about Allison's idea that all casinos should do away with casino chips. That instead of using chips, casinos should convert all their gaming tables into digital playlands for a bunch of reasons that he mentioned on the podcast. I have not even read the article, and I don't need to. I already know it is terribly insulting to the industry, especially to craps and roulette dealers and personnel.
 In short, what Allison said on the podcast makes me personally sick!

Where do I begin to debunk this idea? Okay, let's start off with turning casinos into full-scale behemoth electronic and slot joints. We already have online gaming, no chips. We already have electronic table games, no chips. We already have stadium table games, no chips.

Isn't that enough? So now do we take these beautiful megaresorts in Las Vegas and Asia and turn them into a barren desert of more digital images buzzing across table-games layouts? Oh...maybe we should get rid of the felt layouts too!

Are we going to completely remove the art and beauty of casino table games that real gambling aficionados adore? I don't know about you, but to me the most beautiful thing to see AND hear in a casino are the sights and sounds of skilled craps dealers chip-handling while making payouts, especially that dexterity they display when peeling, cutting and jutting chips on the place and bar bets and then laying them on the layout for the players to collect.

I even like the action of players throwing odd chips across the felt to the dealers to pay the commissions. It gives even more rhythm to the game.

Can you even imagine a craps table without chips? That is a church without an altar. It's already bad enough that Craps has lost its boxmen. Would craps dealers also be losing their jobs if this unsightly image became reality?

And almost as pleasant to see as a smooth craps dealer is a smooth roulette dealer...sliding, turning and maneuvering a dozen or more stacks of roulette chips to players with the same swiftness as if their hand was empty...yes "hand." The best of them do it all with one hand, something to be appreciated.

 And what about the enduring image of jammed-up roulette games with empire-state stacks of chips straight-up on the numbers all over the layout? Is that not a majestic sight?

So, as you can see, it's bad enough for the casino side. For the players' side it's just as bad. 

No table-games chips means poker players sitting at their poker games with no chips to shuffle, swivel, stack, break down and the countless other things they do with their chips that I don't have adequate verbs for.

Back to the craps tables with no chips in the racks. Imagine hot streaks when players are rolling the dice for 40 minutes with everyone at the table's chip rack swelling horizontally in multi-colored rainbow likeness. Do we really want to get rid of that?

To me, a person who has done quite a few things with casino chips over the years (and I don't mean to be facetious), the sounds those chips make when I shake them together in my hands is sweet music. I really mean that. And, believe it or not, the higher-denomination chips, $500 and above, actually make a sweeter sound than the others due to the less wear on them. High rollers would surely miss that, and their attitude would be as negative to no-chips as it is to continuous card shufflers on blackjack tables.

Alright, Willy Allison is no idiot, so obviously he has some reasons for wanting to do away with casino chips on table games. Of course you already know that Allison's prime reason is the bottom line. He says on the podcast that without chips the games will move faster, the casinos can keep faster track of the action with much more accuracy, and mentions that the whole world is going digital, so why not casinos?

Well, I'll tell you what, Willy...some things in the entertainment world beg to be gotten rid of. One thing that comes to mind is doing away with the four-pitch walk in baseball. Of course no baseball fan is going to miss seeing those four pitches deliberately thrown outside the strike zone, not even the most diehard fan.

But throw out casino chips? If I were still active in casinos, I'd start a riot!

So shame on you, Willy! You're not nuts, as you said on the podcast that many table-games people would consider you, but your idea is stark and heartless and comes from not having any rapport with what is both integral to REAL casinos and their customers (I will not say brick and mortar cause that's heartless as well) and even part of their integrity--that is chips!

CHIPS AHOY!

Of course Allison speaks of the game protection factor with chipless casinos.

He says that there will be no chip counterfeiting...True. Hey says that there will be no chip pastposting...True.

He does not, however, mention that there will also be no soul, no core, virtually no casino.

And I might add that even though what he says about counterfeiting chips and pastposting chips is true, in no way does that mean there will be no cheating. No digital facet of any kind is invulnerable to cheating and manipulation. This has been proved time and again, and, in fact, the scams targeting digital and electronic forms of gambling cost casinos a lot more money than those perpetrated by good ol' fashioned chips.

So what's next, Willy?...Cards?...Dice?...

Or just another bad idea?

Just stick to your constant claim that "casinos are not doing or spending enough on security."

That idea is not so bad.

Friday, February 15, 2019

Has an article on the MGM National Harbor Casino opened it and all other Maryland casinos up to casino-cheating?

Leading the State Criminalizing Cheating Push
Well, I, for one, did not know that as of right now, and since the state of Maryland legalized casino table games, it is NOT illegal nor a crime to cheat on Maryland's casinos' gaming tables.

Did you read what I just wrote..."CHEATING ON GAMING TABLES IN ALL CASINOS IN MARYLAND IS NOT CONSIDERED ILLEGAL, REGARDLESS OF THE AMOUNT!

The article I am referring to, released Wednesday, speaks of Maryland's casinos' efforts, especially by the state's biggest casino MGM National Harbor, to get cheating casino table games criminalized. It goes into detail of what should constitute table-games cheating, and the new Maryland House Bill 1036 suggests the following penalties for casino cheating on table games:

1) Cheating for an aggregate amount of less than $100...up to 3 months in jail and pay a small fine.

2) Cheating for more than $1,500 but less than $25,000...a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine.

So what is the short-term effect of this before, and if, this legislation is signed into law?

Well, probably that there is going to be a full-scale invasion of Maryland's casinos by casino cheats, amateurs and professionals alike, the professionals from all over the world.

After all, if I am reading this right, cheats can just take their shots and the only risks facing them are being banned from casinos and threatened with the trespassing act if they are caught returning to them after being banned.

So I sure hope for the sake of Maryland's casinos that this bill is passed soon...and that the MGM National Harbor's and all Maryland's casinos' table-games departments and surveillance staffs be EXTREMELY vigilant to cheating.

And one more thing, did you notice the second proposed punishment, the felony one? It states "Cheating for more than $1,500 but less than $25,000...a felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine."

What does this mean? That cheating for more than $25,000 is not a felony and maybe not even illegal?? LOL

I sure hope either I am misunderstanding this or there is a mistake in the writing of it!
 


Friday, February 08, 2019

Casino Robberies and Assaults continue to rise...are they a bigger problem for casinos than Cheating and Advantage Play?

Casino Robberies on the rise
Of course the answer to this question has to be yes, since we are talking about a customer-service oriented business, where those customers must be protected from both the bodily physical and mental harm that these robbery and assault victims can suffer, not to mention the post traumatic stress and related syndromes that follow and can last as long as the victims' lives.

And let's not forget the casino employees who are victims during cage or poker-room robberies as well. They can also suffer the same mental and physical injuries as the casino customers who are robbed and assaulted.

Of course casino cheating is also a huge problem for casinos as is advantage play, but which actually causes casinos more financial harm...

Cheating and advantage play vs assault and robberies?

Impossible for me to say because there are so many variables to consider. Casinos can lose millions of dollars from one attack or robbery, not only money stolen but from subsequent lawsuits surely to follow. Now, of course, the actual money from robberies and legal judgements against casinos will likely be covered by casinos' insurance, but then you have to add in the cost of that insurance.

Cheating incidents such as the Phil Ivey/Kelly Sun baccarat edge-sorting scam and high-tech slot jackpot scams can also cost the casinos millions in one shot. And some casinos do actually have "casino-cheating insurance," so again actual costs and losses associated with cheating and advantage play are quite difficult to assign.

In both cases, losses by violence and losses by table and slot games, the problem for casinos is huge!

Thursday, January 31, 2019

Too many articles about Casino-Cheating written by people who have no clue what they're writing about.

High-Tech protection without good staff won't get it done
Take this one, for example. It's an article written by Chris Smith, who claims he "likes to write about tech and gadgets," but clearly has no idea what he's talking about outside the tech and gadgets when it comes to casino surveillance and security. I'm sure that Mr. Smith knows all the ins and outs of high-tech cameras and digital equipment, even that which is used by casinos to protect themselves against cheaters (some of whom have their own high-tech and gadgets), but he, like many other high-tech writers, should not be writing these articles because they give a false sense of security by omission.

In Mr. Smith's article, titled "Technologies casinos use to catch cheaters," he talks about "5 of the most used technologies that casinos use to catch unwanted cheaters." He goes on to give a short description of how each technology operates, and he is accurate to a tee.

But the article falls flat on its paper because the writer exudes the greatness of the technologies and makes references to things like the movie "Ocean's Eleven" to state his certainty that it is almost impossible to cheat casinos today, let alone rob one like they do in "Ocean's Eleven" and other movies.

Well, first of all, I guess Mr. Smith does not read many articles about casino robberies these days. Despite all the technologies, casinos are being robbed at an all-time high. Not nearly a day goes by without some kind of major casino robbery occurring in the United States, and lots of them are violent.

But I will let that ignorance on the part of Mr. Smith go because it is excusable. But what is not excusable is that he fails to mention the one thing that nullifies a great deal of that technology when it's used by casinos...THE PEOPLE, CHRIS...THE PEOPLE WHO NEED TO OPERATE AND INTERPRET THAT TECHNOLOGY AND ACT ON IT!!!

The digital surveillance equipment is only going to show the cheating. It's not going to explain it.

Maybe Chris never read about me. I, for one, beat all that technology in casinos because I knew that if I were able to beat the people responsible for interpreting the data, all that technology would only help me cheat the casinos...Chris, if you're reading, I'm talking about my infamous Savannah roulette cheat-move. And that move didn't even need the set-ups and psychology that I and other skilled cheats use (used in my case) to nullify that technology in many cases.

Look, I don't want to sound haughty here, but what pisses me off is that people reading these articles are led to falsely believe that casino-cheating is declining because of high-tech casino defense systems. Of course the technology helps, but don't let any of these one-track writers let you believe that casinos are getting cheated and robbed less than they used to. The amount of cheats may be less but the amount they cheat for is a heckuva lot more!

And this is especially important for those of you who work hard in surveillance and know that the people play a much bigger part than the technology...if your casino is running the way it should be and has good people doing their jobs.

Friday, January 25, 2019

Are Casino and Poker Cheating Devices Currently on Display in Casinos and Museums still in use?

Good ol' poker holdout device
Some of you may have visited or read about some museums in Las Vegas and Casinos in the US that have displays of various ingenious casino cheating devices that have been used in both remote and recent times. Some of the devices normally on display are the holdout device, primarily used in poker games where a player holds out a card from the deck and sneaks it into play when he needs it, and a multitude of slot machine manipulation devices.

Some of you may wonder whether some of these devices still see the light of modern casinos. The short answer is no. Modern digital technology and random number generators have virtually made all non-digital slot machine gadgets extinct and it's been a long time since a poker holdout device has appeared in a legitimate public gambling casino or cardroom.

However, that "short" answer may just be short. Although the latest modern cheating devices such as computers, laser scanners and cell phones are not generally on display, such older devices that are still see the light of gambling games. This would be mainly in private home games and in casinos operating outside the law or even temporary charity casinos. In these casinos, those cheats who would not dare to risk using cheating devices in regular state and federally sponsored casinos for fear of prison if caught, surely would have no reason to fear using them in the aforementioned gaming venues.

All in all, whatever the status of any of these museum cheating devices currently is, it is certainly worth your time to see this stuff on display.

Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Serious Casino-Cheating-Related Incidents Cast Spell and Doubt over Chilean Casino...

Funny lookin' pair of Kings!
and reignites the forever unending debate whether casinos ever intentionally cheat their players.

Here is what happened at the Casino Marina del Sol, the biggest casino in Chile:

Complaints for fraud and mis-management of a casino were filed against the Marina del Sol Casino in Talcahuano, accusing it of using defaulted cards that made it impossible to win.

In fact, four people who regularly attend the casino to play poker demanded to investigate the facts after it was discovered early in the morning last Wednesday that duplicate cards and even decks of 51 cards and not the full 52 made it impossible to win.

According to casino patron Cristian González, when casino authorities began reviewing the decks they discovered several irregularities, most of which concerned duplicate cards of the same value and suit.

The legal action, sponsored by lawyer Abelardo Landeros, was admitted to the Court of Guarantee of Talcahuano, requesting the investigation for fraud by the Public Ministry.

According to the complaint, the casino offered reparations in order to replace the money lost by those players on the games with irregular decks of cards. One of the players, Francisco Troncoso, said that sums of between 200 and 500 thousand Chilean pesos were raised, an offer that was reiterated last Thursday.

The evidence gathered during the incident confirmed the suspicions the players had about the irregularities of the cards and how those irregularities made it very difficult to win.

Carlos Concha, general manager of Marina del Sol, admitted that there was an error in the case of the complainants with the control systems of the decks, by which internal measures were taken and the Superintendency of Casinos was also informed.

"No one noticed, not even the dealers, that there were two or more duplicate cards in the decks used in the games,"  he said.

Through a statement, the Superintendency of Casinos said it took cognizance of facts that could account for irregularities in the game room of Marina del Sol.

In addition, the agency announced that it will officiate the casino to obtain more information, without prejudice to carry out an inspection in the field if deemed necessary.

Once the complete situation with all the antecedents is analyzed, the casino will adopt the corresponding courses of action, without ruling out the beginning of an administrative sanctioning procedure.

My take: Wow! This is pretty serious stuff...and the scary thing about it?...it appears to be a case of honest mistakes and dereliction. In fact, this reminds me of some American casinos that were dealing new decks of supposedly pre-shuffled cards that in fact had never been shuffled, so they came out of card shoes in their original order, allowing players catching on to this to make huge profits by betting accordingly.

Friday, January 18, 2019

Were Phil Ivey and Kelly Sun Alone?

Were they alone?
We've all heard countless times of the baccarat edge-sorting exploits of Phil Ivey and Kelly Sun, how they edge-sorted their way to tens of millions of dollars in multi-casinos, most notably Crockfords in London and the Borgata in Atlantic City, only to have to give most of their winnings back because courts in both the UK and US ruled they won the money unfairly without saying it was downright cheating.

But yesterday I received an email that puts a new light on the whole thing. I CANNOT verify the authenticity of this but the info comes from someone involved in casino surveillance for many years whom I find very credible based on info he has given me in the past.

According to him, a casino that was victimized by edge-sorting has video footage of an Asian team edge-sorting in exactly the same manner as Ivey and Sun did, that is to say they instructed the dealers to turn the cards after they were dealt and lying face down on the table so they could read the sorts and then make their bets. And those bets were for very large stakes.

And neither Ivey nor Sun is seen in the video!

Also, it is not clear to me if this particular casino that was victimized by edge-sorting was ever victimized by Sun and Ivey. I was told that the video of the unidentified Asians edge-sorting is from the same time period (2012) during which Ivey and Sun hit Crockfords.

So what does this mean and is it important?

Well, I do think it's important to know how widespread this scam really was, but what about the fact, if it is one, that there is evidence of people edge-sorting for large sums of money who are not named Phil Ivey or Kelly Sun?

Now it is perfectly clear that Sun had edge-sorted both by herself and with partners before she met up with Ivey and included him in the scam, and these people could have gone off on their own. But whatever the case, even though edge-sorting was known by several people in game protection and surveillance long before even Sun showed up, no one has spoken of having video evidence of any major edge-sorting wins not involving the dynamic duo who made edge-sorting a household word in casino households all over the world.

All in all, and again I stress IF this is true, several more casinos besides the Borgata and Crockfords, may have been beaten for tens of millions around the world and kept quiet for one reason or another.

Which begs another question or two: If a casino has this video evidence of non-Ivey/Sun big baccarat edge-sorting wins, how come it has not been made public by that casino and with whom have they shared this evidence?

Or maybe some of you out there already know about this and it is not as big a deal as I think it is??

So if anyone out there has any info on this that they would like to share, please do!