Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Cheating Carnival Games

People often ask me which casino table game is the easiest to cheat. The answer is that the "carnival games" are by far the easiest to cheat, and because of that fact are the most cheated tables in the casino world. For those of you who don't know exactly what a carnival game is, it is any of the poker derivative games that are now flourishing in casinos all across the world, games such as three-card poker, four-card poker, Pai Gow poker, ultimate bet poker and a host of others. The first two major carnival games to hit casinos were Caribbean Stud and Let it Ride back in the early '90s.

Many of you have heard about the high-tech microcamera three-card poker scam that rocked London's casinos for close to a million bucks in 2005, but the vast majority of cheating the carnival games is much more elementary. I have observed scores of individual and two-and three-man cheating teams performing scams ranging from bet-pressing (increasing bets after card outcome) to bet-pinching (decreasing bets after card outcome) to card-switching. Since the overall atmosphere is generally more relaxed and the dealers more friendly at these tables, capable cheaters can take swift advantage of it. While dealers are busied happily explaining the rules to either a cohort or innocent player, their attention is diverted, which gives cheaters time to add a few chips to each of the multi-bets out there or switch cards with their partners, giving either one or all of them a payoff-winning hand. I have seen many flagrant cheating operations and yet to see one of them caught by the dealer. The worst I've seen is a dealer saying with a soft reprimand to a bet-presser, "Sir, you can't do that..." I have yet to see a dealer notice a card-switch. Overall, it seems that casinos do not worry as much about carnival-game cheating as they do the other table games.