Saturday, December 29, 2007

Does anybody know this guy?


For two years, a man named “Hassan” had been tearing up the no-limit hold’em tables at a casino in the village of Bad Zwischenahn, Germany. How? He cheated.

It turns out that Hassan was a master of sleight of hand. Always seated in Seat 1 because it was next to the dealer (although he claimed it was just his lucky seat), Hassan would secretly take cards off the table, hiding one or two up his sleeve at any given time. He would then switch them with his hole cards at opportune moments to give himself a great hand. By sitting next to the dealer, Hassan was able to use the muck pile to help conceal his trickery.

He was able to get away with it not just because of his skill with his hands, but because of poor game management by the casino. The casino would only count the deck twice a night at scheduled times, making it easy for Hassan to get the pilfered cards back into the deck before anyone noticed.

When the casino made an unannounced deck count, Hassan panicked and players caught him trying to get the cards from his sleeve to the deck. Security cameras caught the mistake, as well.

Word is that he has been banned from all German, Austrian, and Swiss casinos.

The reason I ask if anyone out there knows this guy is because in 1992 I briefly worked with a German guy named Hans who also had several aliases. I was introduced to him by another guy who briefly worked with me during my transition from the Classon Pastposting Team to my own team that I formed in 1994 with Pat Mallery and Balls, who you will see along with me on the upcoming Breaking Vegas show Tuesday night (see previous posts for details). This German guy Hans was as cool as could be, sharp looking with a real charmer's way with the lady dealers. Well, after he'd put in a dozen blackjack moves and got paid every time, I thought I had my next great blackjack mechanic and claimer. That is until he finally had a miss and didn't get paid. When this happened, I gave him the nose signal (finger rubbing the tip of my nose) to abandon the claim, but he kept arguing with the dealer. When the pit boss came over and threatened to call security and have him grabbed up, Hans kept on arguing like a real dummkoff. Then I gave him the verbal command (Chester!) to get up and leave; he finally shut up but sat there frozen like a snowman. Finally, I had to come right up to him and say, "Bitte, Hans, get your German ass outta here!!"

That was the end of his working with me. But I am curious if this is the same guy. Hans had blond hair and blue eyes and would be about 45 years old now. Anyone know if this Hassan (obviously a false name) fits the description?

Friday, December 28, 2007

Beating the Heat

There's a new wave of card-counters out there. And by "new wave" that's exactly what I mean. The days of the big player/counter teams are over. The casinos are much too hip to that. Presently a card-counting revolution is brewing on the world's blackjack tables. For those of you who didn't read my article about this last month in All-In Magazine, here it is:

Beating The Heat
Author: Richard Marcus

He'd received the signal. The big Player walked across the crowded casino floor to a blackjack table in the middle of the pit. In his hand was a fistful of purple and black chips that he'd gotten off a crap table- the first step in camouflaging his skills as a professional card counter behind the guise of a BP.

There was an open seat in centerfield, next to the $10 bettor who'd just signaled him in. The true count was a healthy +3 and nearly three of the 6 decks remained in the shoe, two of which would be played before the shuffle. The team's bankroll dictated that the BP make a $900 bet, but since only one spot was available - not the two or three that would have been ideal - he opted to bet one purple chip, $500.

As the dealer dealt the face-up round out of the shoe, the Big Player reached inside his sports jacket, removed his Marlboros and his Dunhill lighter, and lit up. While doing so, he made conversation with a sexy cocktail waitress passing behind him, never once glancing at the layout until the dealer had to urge action on his hand. He looked down at his cards, and was both unsurprised and pleased to see the paint: two red kings. The dealer's card was a 5.

The players on first and second base both stood pat, while the third player doubled down. Their combined actions didn't change the true count. The BP knew that advanced-count strategy dictated that he split his kings. Despite this, in order to enhance his camouflage, he waved his hand across his cards to indicate he would stand with the 20, flashing the diamond rings on his fingers and the gold Rolex wrapping his wrist. His counting partner stood with 14. The last two players, also with stiffs, did the same. The dealer proceeded to turn over a 9 and bust his hand with a 10.

The Big Player won $500, and his team picked up a bonus when the player to the right suddenly got up and left the table. Without hesitation, the BP laid purple chips in both his own betting circle and the abandoned one. Now he had the full $1,000 bet.

His first hand was a snapper- Bam! A $750 payoff for the blackjack. His second was a hard 20. The dealer had a 4 showing and busted. The team raked in $1,250 on the round. The true count held strong, reaching +5 before the red cut-card popped out of the shoe.


This one good shoe had put the team ahead by $6,000. The Big Player's action seemed to draw no heat. The floorman had introduced himself, routinely rated the BP's play, and offered to remain at hand in case the "high roller" needed anything. All in all, it was a nice session.

But just an hour later, this professional and smooth operation hit a sudden bump. At his fifth table of the night, the Big Player placed two bets of $1,000. It was a $10 minimum table with a $5,000 maximum bet, and there were only two players. Conditions seemed ideal, as the two were betting $1,000 chips, and winning steadily, making the table a hot attraction that would naturally draw more high rollers to its felt.

The BP took a seat between the high rollers. A few onlookers gathered behind them. Playing the role of the carefree whale, the BP nodded at the lady dealer and said to his fellow bettors, "Looks like she's treating you guys all right!" The first one replied with a chuckle, "She hasn't made a hand all night." The other added, "Yeah, she's dumping out the entire rack!" The BP laughed easily and quipped, "Looks like I chose the right table!"

But before the put-upon dealer could get the first card out of the shoe, her pit boss appeared. He looked the Big Player in the eye, and in a steely voice said to the dealer, "Shuffle up those cards!"

The BP knew well enough that this was no time for play-acting. He'd been made and there was no doubt that surveillance upstairs had been filming him from every angle before the pit boss lowered the boom. They'd have close-ups on his face.

This was a major team disaster. They'd been playing together since before the MIT blackjack team gained notoriety, but had never been accosted in this fashion. Now it was time to invoke damage control, which simply meant getting out of the casino and preventing being exposed. No one on the team had ever been back-roomed or ID'd before, and they weren't about to start now.

The team laid low for several weeks. When they went back to work two months later, in Atlantic City, they substituted one of the counters in the role of Big Player. Yet they encountered another casino counter-measure during their second playing session. This one differed from what had happened in Vegas. A pit boss came to the table after spying their new Big Player's purple chips in the betting circle. He said to him curtly, "Sir we'd appreciate you taking your action elsewhere. I think you might [appreciate it], too."

A week later in Connecticut, they met with similar obstacles. Mississippi extended them less-than-red-carpet treatment as well. They realized it was over. The revered concept of team play, conceptualized and made famous by Ken Uston, was in danger of becoming extinct.

The five members of the disbanded counting team returned to lives far from blackjack tables. They stayed away a year. But "Carl," the founder of the team, was aching to get back in business. He came up with an idea he fancied would once again make team play viable.


Carl contacted his four ex-partners. "I think I've found the new way to card-counting riches," he told one of them excitedly. One of them misunderstood and responded, "The new wave to card-counting riches?" Carl liked the way that sounded and would later name the second coming of his team, "The New Wave Card Counters."

Carl explained that they had to completely revolutionize the concept of team play, starting with doing away with the old method of counters signalling BPs at the table. Casinos were hip to that, especially after all the publicity surrounding the MIT team. According to his new idea, the BPs would no longer be signaled in. Instead, three or four members of the team would play together at the same table. They would all count down the shoe, then bet and play accordingly.

None of his teammates grasped the concept at first, so Carl painted a simple scenario. With multiple players from the group sitting at the same table, the goal would be to get a collective bet spread of 1-16 units. If the group as a whole could bet $100 to $1,600, they could still play with a significant edge, even while playing the shoe starting from the first hand (as opposed to swooping in on rich situations).

"Say it's a $25 minimum and four of us are at the table," Carl explained. "We each bet $25 to start, and stick with the minimum until the true count hits +2. Now say we want to get a total bet of $200 on the layout. Instead of us all going up to $50 bets, one of us can bet $100, another $50, and the last two stay at the minimum $25."

Aggregately, the team would be making a $200 bet- but with only two increasing their wagers, it wouldn't be obvious to surveillance that each of them knew that it was the right thing to do.

If the true count went up to +3 two rounds later, the quartet would want to increase its bet to $400. Now the player who earlier had bet $100 could drop to $50, while the player who'd previously bet $50 increased to $150, and the two players who'd been betting $25 went up to $100 each. In this manner, the team could effectively increase its bet to four units, but in a non-uniform- even haphazard - way from individual standpoint. Who in the eye could possibly follow what was going on?

If the count stayed at +3 and the group wanted to maintain the four-unit bet at $400 (and further dispel the appearance of card counting) the second player could cut that bet in half while the first player stepped it back up to $125. Players three and four remained at $100. Again, the team would be wagering perfectly in the aggregate but, one by one, each player would be dismissed as a potential card counter. This could be done in innumerable permutations, throwing off surveillance regardless how long they wanted to count down shoes along with them.


Carl realized that in order to catch on, the casino guys would have to combine all four bets for each hand and compare them with the true count. That would be hard to figure out, as they first had to identify the players as a team. If they played at a $25-minimum table and everyone played above the minimum in green or black chips, the team wouldn't stand out, as long as it avoided the purples. It could, however, use purple chips on $100-minimum tables or on $25 tables with black and purple action. Whenever the count skyrocketed, team members could increase their betting accordingly, hopefully under the cover of a hot table where the other players would be winning, too. In that case, the group's increased bets would look like normal hot-streak play.

It all sounded great to the once-and-future team. But what about the negative-betting progression when the count turned downward? "We just do the same thing," Carl said. "We vary the decreases between the four players. So, what do you guys think?"

They were back in business a week later. The New Wave card-counting team hit Vegas with a hard right hand at the blackjack tables. They alternated between seating three, four and five of their members at the tables, depending on playing conditions. They were able to maintain the 1-to-16 unit bet spread most of the time. When they couldn't, they still spread enough to maintain an edge while staying below the casino's radar.

The new method continues to be used by both the New Wave team and others. Surely casinos will develop counter-measures, but detection will never be as easy for them as it was during the days of the old team play concept.

About the Author --- Richard Marcus is the author of four books: American Roulette; Dirty Poker; The World's Greatest Gambling Scams; and Identity Theft, Inc. He is now a casino game-protection consultant.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

TV GIG! / Cheaters Hall of Fame / Richard Marcus Blog Content

You've all heard the expression "Let's start the new year with a bang," right? Well, let's do that together! On Tuesday, New Year's Day at 9 p.m. EST (8 p.m Central, 6p.m Pacific), the Biography Channel is showing "Breaking Vegas The Ultimate Cheat." It's a one-hour long show about my career cheating the world's casinos. By that time you might be tired of some of the bowl games or be at halftime in the one you're watching, so tune in if you get the chance. I'm sure you will enjoy the action, and the gridiron will still be green, the green felt of Las Vegas's blackjack, roulette, craps and poker tables!

If you can't get there at 9 p.m, it repeats four hours later at 1 a.m EST (12 a.m. Central, 10 p.m Pacific) and then again on Sunday, January 6th at 5 p.m. EST (4 p.m. Central, 2 p.m. Pacific). So don't miss it!


The board here at Richard Marcus Books, which consists, is in the process of electing the first inductees to the Richard Marcus Books Poker and Casino Cheaters Hall of Fame. All inductees will be first-ballot inductees, meaning everyone nominated gets in. There are no time requirements for eligibility. Only Balls! And of course wits. Ten to fifteen cheaters will be elected and you will be able to see and read about them in my upcoming "Cheaters Hall of Fame" page. Their stories should both amaze and amuse you.


I have been blogging this blog for three years now, most intently during the past six months. I've covered many topics including worldwide news about cheaters and cheating, both online and in the real brick and mortar world. I've expressed my opinions on such and recounted various stories about many of the colorful characters involved in these incidents both today and in the lore of poker and casino scams.

However, perhaps I have not been covering some of the topics that interest you. Please let me know what you would like to see in my daily blogging that I may have been omitting. I try to keep this blog as diverse and interesting as possible, so any ideas, suggestions and comments would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for reading,

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Josh "JJProdigy" Field Apologizes to Online Poker Community. Should We Believe Him?

Well, we heard it from Michael Vick, we heard it from Marion Jones, and now we're hearing it from Josh Field, who has apologized through posts on several online poker forums for his cheating in online poker tournaments by way of multi-accounting. This has a familiar ring to it, although the difference between his apology and the aforementioned apologies concerning dog-fighting and steroid-taking were made in front of TV cameras, where we all could see their faces and judge for ourselves their sincerity of lack thereof. Field, on the other hand, typed his faceless apology on a keyboard.

Should we believe him?...anymore than we believe Vick and Jones, who apologized only after several denials and only after they got charged with crimes and threatened with prison time, and found themselves in a situation where apologizing to the world might get them a lighter sentence. Personally, I believed Jones more than I did Vick, as she seemed influenced by her steroid-taking boyfriend/trainer and the steroid-taking crowd around her.

So what about Field? Couldn't he at least pull a Roger Clemens and apologize to the online world through a self-humbling video on YouTube? If he'd done that, millions of people would surely view it, and not only would we get to see his face and judge his sincerity, he would also have the chance to launch a singing and dancing career like Tay Zonday of "Chocolate Rain" fame, surely so if his apology was nothing more than a song and dance.

Here's what he had to say...or I should say "post."

"It’s hard to pick out where to start. The past few years, I have been forced to go underground and stay mysterious. It’s not something I really chose, but it was something forced upon me. I was fourteen turning fifteen, and I was much too immature to handle the situation (ABlackCar incident, and the underage violations that followed). I am almost embarrassed reading my posts about the situation, but I realize that I was still very young at the time. I don’t mean to use this as an excuse, but I was clueless. Ever since that day, I have been forced to stay under the surface.

After all that happened, I was banned from PokerStars and PartyPoker, and all my accounts were closed for being underage. My immaturity again was working against me. I didn’t think what I was doing was wrong. After that, it was a downward spiral. I was a fugitive in the online poker world. I used the reasoning “if I’m already a wanted man, I might as well maximize my value.” It was terrible logic, but it made sense to me then.

I continued to back players and continued meeting more people. This wasn’t easy for me, since I knew I had to watch who I trusted. I couldn’t leave the game, there was just no way. I had to be playing, I had to be involved. I don’t think you could call it an obsession, as much as a passion. I loved the game so deeply that I would play it at any cost. I’d use screen names of people I hardly knew, which ended up in me getting screwed over multiple times. For some reason, I never cared. The money never mattered to me; I was just in love with the game.

Throughout this period, I could really see myself growing up. Well, during the time I didn’t, but now I can see it. I started getting more conscious about playing on sites that I had already been shut away from. It had begun to tear me apart inside. It was a conflict between my own growing maturity and my childish passion for the game, and my childish passion was winning. Accounts were getting closed, people were trying to take money from me, but I kept playing full force. I regret it, but I understand my position. I still don’t fully understand myself, but I didn’t care about the money, the drama, anything really. I just wanted to keep playing the game. I was stubborn and ignorant to what I was doing.

Transition to present time. I do believe I have matured and developed a sense of morals and personal ethics. I was always too scared to apologize to the community, mostly due to the fact I didn’t think what I was doing was wrong. I finally realize now that I was cheating completely. I neglected my fellow poker players and cheated a wonderful thing we have with online poker. I betrayed a community I cared so much about all for selfish reasons. It shames me to think about it. I did it for so long, and I never had the courage to quit and admit what I was doing was wrong.

So, I write this to officially apologize to the community. I apologize to the people that have been close to me and have been given a negative name due to my actions. I apologize to all the players I played with under unknown names and gave myself an unfair advantage. I give my word that I will never multi-account again, and I will not play online until I am 18. I apologize to the sites that I unfairly took advantage of. I don’t expect to be forgiven right away, but I hope I can earn the forgiveness of the community, the sites, and even my friends."

Josh Field, better known to the online poker world as “JJProdigy”, posted an apology of sorts on several major online poker forums this weekend, just days before he is set to make his live poker debut at the PokerStars Caribbean Adventure.

“JJProdigy” is one of the more controversial figures in online poker, associated directly with several multi-accounting scandals and indirectly with dozens more. His name has become somewhat synonymous with cheating in online poker tournaments, and his retreat into the background following the loss of his accounts on every major poker site did little but fuel speculation of his involvement in major online poker tournaments.

What makes the story all the more interesting is that Field is just now turning 18 - meaning that the majority of his reputed hundreds of thousands of dollars in tournament wins came when he was 14 to 17 years old.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Kahnawake Gaming Commission Says Absolute Poker Investigation is Over / Merry Christmas!

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission issued a statement this month saying the Gaming Associates investigation of Absolute Poker had been completed. Now the Commission will look over the report before issuing a decision.

"The Commission hopes to complete its review and render a decision in this matter within the next two weeks," said the organization in a release on its Web site.

Absolute Poker came under investigation in October after allegations of cheating started showing up in poker forums online. A player who won a tournament was accused of using some sort of god mode or super-user account to be able to see everyone's hole cards during games.

The accusations gained some weight when sleuths on the 2+2 forum analyzed the hand histories from that particular tournament and were able to track the IP trail of the player and determine it was a high-level employee at the poker site.

When Absolute Poker conducted an internal investigation, it found that an employee had breached the security system to play unfairly on the site for a period of 40 days.

That employee has since been terminated. Players who were involved in hands with that employee during the 40-day period also had their money returned to them.

The poker site also emphasized that this was an internal security breach and not something someone outside the company would be able to do.

Absolute Poker has turned over all hand histories in question to the Kahnawake Gaming Commission as well for its investigation.

Well, I don't know what we can expect as far as a decision by this Kahnawake Gaming Commission, but I think the whole real purpose of this investigation is to ensure the online public that no hackers from the outside would ever be able to hack into Absolute's, or anyone else's, system to see players' hole cards.

My opinion on that?...Never say Ever

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas

Monday, December 24, 2007

Tennis Betting Bust Over $7 Bets! / My Biggest Cheating Move Ever!

I've blogged a few times about the recent tennis scandals and as far as the Nikolay Davydenko scandal might be linked to professional Russian poker cheating teams, including the one that one-time Olympic gold-winning gymnast Vera Shimanskaya was hooked up and busted with in Spain. But this? This is a little too much. A couple of low-level Italian tennis players getting fined and suspended over friendly $7 bets they may have been making as a fraternal joke among their fellow players. Give me a break! No one is getting involved in throwing tennis matches over $7, at least not in this solar system. Anyway, here's a news article about it:

ROME (AP) -- The ATP suspended Italians Potito Starace and Daniele Bracciali on Saturday for making bets - some as little as $7 - on tennis matches involving other players.

The Italian tennis federation denounced the penalties by the governing body as an "injustice," and the players said they have been made scapegoats.

Starace, ranked 31st, was suspended for six weeks and fined $30,000, the Italian federation said. Bracciali, ranked 258th, was banned for three months and fined $20,000. Both suspensions take effect Jan. 1.

The federation said Starace made five bets for a total of $130 two years ago, and Bracciali made about 50 bets of $7 each from 2004-05.

"Injustice is done," the statement said. "These penalties are absolutely, excessively severe compared to the magnitude of the violations carried out by the two players."

The federation said the two were not aware of the ATP's betting regulations, and they stopped placing bets as soon as they learned it was against the rules.

"It's disgusting," Starace said. "The ATP doesn't know where to turn. It's all a joke."

Bracciali said the two had been "sacrificed."

"That's why they came after us," he said. "We are not champions and we don't count in the upper echelons."

Another Italian, Alessio Di Mauro, became the first player sanctioned under the ATP's new anti-corruption rules when he received a nine-month ban in November, also for betting on matches.

ATP officials could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Concerns about match-fixing have risen since August, when an online betting company reported unusual betting patterns during a match between fourth-ranked Nikolay Davydenko of Russia and Martin Vassallo Arguello of Argentina. The company, Betfair, voided all bets and the ATP has been investigating. Davydenko, who quit while trailing in the third set, denies wrongdoing.

Since then, several players have said they were approached with offers to fix matches for money.


Yesterday, I told you that the second biggest move my cheating team ever attempted was to pastpost (make the bet after the number already won) a $1,000 chip straight-up on a winning number at roulette. Today I will actually take you with me as my team attempted its biggest move ever. It was also a roulette move, and believe it or not, it was way back in 1986, in the summer casino on the 7th floor of the Carlton Hotel in Caanes, France. At the time I was working with Joe Classon, Duke and Jerry, my original teammates. So come on inside the casino with us and get involved!

What I saw inside the Carlton Casino was dazzling, perhaps the real La palme d'or prize-winning film in Cannes that year. Never before—and I mean never—had I seen action like that! If the roulette tables in London had been flooded with big action, the downpour of chips over the dozen layouts inside the Carlton's casino was a veritable deluge. Seated around one of the English-style tables (same as American without the 00) were three Arab sheiks in their customary white robes and headdress. They were spreading large diamond-studded ten-thousand-franc chips straight up on the numbers. I had never been in a casino that accepted that much money on a straight-up bet. At the same table was a threesome of identically dressed Japanese men matching the sheiks bet for bet, blanketing the layout with their version of diamond-studded ten-thousand-franc chips. They all wore dark blue suits, badly tailored by Western standards, and the contrast to the sheiks in pure white made you believe they really were filming a French comedy.
My mind raced a mile a minute watching that phenomenal action. 10,000 francs was at the time the equivalent of $2,000, which meant that each of the Arab and Japanese straight-up winning bets was being paid off at seventy grand! The largest straight-up move we had ever done to that point earned us $7,000. This French Riviera casino would pay ten times that! The move I envisioned was feasible but extremely difficult. Like in London, each roulette table had an inspector sitting high above the table. He would have to be taken out by distraction in order for Duke to move underneath the marker. I figured that the table with the sheiks and Japanese offered the best opportunity for a move because our ten-thousand-franc bet would blend right in on the layout. The casino wouldn't want to appear unclassy in front of their super-rich clientele by squabbling over one "measly" winning chip that nobody had seen.
But the problem was that these diamond-studded ten-thousand-franc chips were larger than roulette chips. We could not put the move-chip underneath the claimer’s roulette chips as we’d been accustomed to doing. It would stick out and raise questions even if the move went in cleanly. The only solution was having Duke lay in a naked capper, just like Mumbles and Wheels did in the old days. Simply lay our oversized ten-thousand-franc chip underneath the winning oversized ten-thousand-franc chip or chips already on the number. The problem with the naked capper was that the total number of chips on the winning number would be increased by one. A seasoned dealer might notice that difference even if there had originally been as many as six or seven winning chips. If there had been less, the one-chip increase would be that much more noticeable. At what minimum number of chips on the winning number would we deem sufficient to try it?
There was yet another worry. Since Duke and I (Joe and Jerry weren’t needed to check-bet) would be the only players at the table not belonging to either clan, the Arabs and/or the Japanese might feel uncomfortable with our presence there. Assuming we managed to get the move in, would one of them rat on us? You never knew who your rats could be, as I’d learned in Lake Tahoe with the Veronica experience. Asians tended to almost never rat as that was part of their culture, but I knew nothing about Muslims. The stonings and hand-choppings I’d heard about were punishments meted out for crimes committed against Arabs, usually by Arabs. But were their morals as supreme concerning French casinos ripped off by Americans?
There are certain times when even the most sophisticated casino-cheating teams cannot rely on intricate sign languages to communicate inside a casino. Normally, when we entered a casino we had a basic game plan—two or three different moves with which to attack. Then once inside we "called our play" based on prevailing conditions. If we decided to change the original plan, the new play was communicated by flashing each other signs, much like a football team calling its original play in the huddle then changing it with an audible at the line of scrimmage. But when the situation presenting itself was too complex—rendering our quarterback indecisive—a time out was called to discuss it.
The multitudinous possibilities and their inherent complexities inside the Carlton casino forced us to take a time out. Joe signalled me to leave the casino. I took the elevator down to the lobby and walked outside onto the Croisette. Ten minutes later Jerry appeared, then Duke and finally Joe.
We all had individual impressions and ideas about what we'd witnessed inside the casino. After exchanging them excitedly, Joe made the decision.
"We go with the naked capper." He turned his attention specifically on Duke. "Even if there's only one winning chip on the number, you pop in ours underneath."
Duke exhaled the smoke from his cigarette. "What do I do if there’re no winning chips straight up on the number?...Do you want me to go on a split?"
"Absolutely not," Joe said firmly. "We wait for the straight-up. As long as you're confident about getting in there under the piece, we go for the jugular."
"No problem," Duke said, stomping out the butt. "I need the guy on the chair taken out for a full second."
"You got it," Jerry said.
Now Joe turned his attention to me. "This is what it's all about," he said. "New challenges. How long have we been together now, ten years? You have a lot of experience; you're a monster claimer. You never chilled-up once on me. You never committed the cardinal sin of leaving a move on a layout unclaimed. I have enormous respect for I do for both Duke and Jerry. You're a warrior, and your reward is the opportunity to claim the biggest move of all time." He paused a moment, then said triumphantly to us all, "Now let's go back in there and get these French motherfuckers!"
Jerry handed Duke the ten-thousand-franc chip he’d gotten off a blackjack table. Duke gave it an admiring glance, commented that it didn’t have the diamond studding like the Arabs’ and Japanese chips did, then shrugged and put it in his pocket. We filed one by one back to the lobby elevators.
I stood two roulette tables away from the target table and watched Duke on the bottom of the layout, wedged in between two Arab sheiks. That sheer sight was laughable. The fact that Duke was wearing an expensive Armani suit did not make him look any less ridiculous between the two sheiks. The presence of the Japanese only heightened the hilarity. I couldn't help but laugh softly to myself. Surprisingly, I was not the least bit nervous. In fact, I was perhaps the most relaxed I'd ever been when preparing myself to claim an important move. I was comfortable with the feeling that I had earned the right to claim this record-setting move. A lot of hard work, sweat and discipline had gone into my career as a pastposter—not to mention the sheer balls of stone. My feeling was that I didn't want anybody else claiming that move but me.
When number 30 came in on the third spin with four winning diamond-studded chips on the number, Jerry stepped right in front of the inspector on the high chair and said loudly, almost obnoxiously, "Monsieur...Monsieur...S'il vous plaît...Je ne parle pas le Français...Can you explain..."
That was all the greatest roulette mechanic in the history of the world needed. With nerves of steel and unshakable will that made me proud to be a part of this pastposting team, Duke shot out to the layout from between the two sheiks, lifted off and held the marker with his left hand while his right slid our big ten-thousand-franc chip underneath the four already there, replaced the marker, leaned back in his chair and took a deep breath, all before the two stunned sheiks witnessing the feat could praise Allah. The work Duke had done with his right hand—picking up four oversized chips and sliding a fifth underneath with his pinkie, then centering the marker, all in a single second—was truly incredible.
I appeared at the front of the layout between two of the Japanese, just as Jerry was leaving to follow Duke out the door. "Merci beaucoup," I said loudly but without hysterics. “It's about time I won a large bet in France!” There was no need to carry on too much with the claim; the value of my chip exceeded none of the others lying on the winning number.
What happened next was the biggest disappointment of my entire pastposting career. It was hard to believe, and when the French gaming inspector on the high chair told me almost nonchalantly in broken English that my bet couldn't be paid because I had violated a French gaming regulation by betting a blackjack chip on a roulette table, I thought he was either joking because I was an American, or that his English was incapable of expressing what he really wanted to say. When it hit me that he was serious, that in French casinos (where rules differed from Monte Carlo) you simply were not allowed to bet chips bought at blackjack tables straight up on roulette numbers, I went into a silent shock. I could not fathom this disappointment. The inspector explained that casino chips were permitted only on the outside even-money and 2 to 1 bets.
There was no steam, no stirring—nothing. The inspector didn't tell anyone else in the casino. The dealer went about his business of paying the Arab sheiks and the Japanese, each of whom had two winning chips on number 30. I watched numbly as the dealer pushed $140,000 in chips, first to the two sheiks at the bottom of the table where Duke had been, and then to two of the Japanese. Finally, I managed to raise my head and look across the pit behind the inspector to where Joe was standing. He was staring at me with a ghastly grimace. He had understood what happened, the minute reason why our giant move was not being paid. I held Joe's stunned gaze with my own frozen version for a full minute, before finally turning away and cashing out the useless ten-thousand-franc chip at the cashier.

Well, there it was. Only thing I didn't tell you yesterday is that this, the biggest move we ever attempted, didn't get paid.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve in the Cheating World

As you may well suspect, the vast majority of the world's poker and casino cheaters celebrate Christmas. I'm not going to get into the religious makeup of those who earn their living on the shady side of the green felt tables, but in spite of that, nearly all of them take part in that special celebratory occasion with their families...or teammates. I myself have never even stepped foot in a casino on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. When I was a dealer in Vegas in the 70s, I was fortunate to have both those days off. And, assuming most of you aren't in casinos Christmas Eve, they are rather dead, so I'm told by people who work in them.

New Year's Eve, though--that's another story! December 31, no matter what the time zone, no matter what the weather, be it on the warm beaches of the Caribbean or the chilly mountainous casino resorts in Korea, and of course the throng-filled reveler-partying streets of Las Vegas, it's the grandest, most festive occasion in the casino business when 100% of the world's poker and casino cheaters, unless they're sick or stuck in an airport, are out there doing their thing. I spent 25 consecutive New Year's Eves cheating casinos, 16 of them in Las Vegas. The other 9...5 in Atlantic City, 2 in the Bahamas 1 in Australia and 1 in Monte Carlo. Why not Vegas every time? Well, it was a variety of reasons: Once my partner Pat met up with a girl in the Bahamas while vacationing there during Christmas (he did not go inside any casinos during Christmas Eve and Day, unless walking through them to get to the lobby counts) and he wanted to spend some more time with her, so instead of jetting to Vegas, we all met up in Nassau and worked the casinos both there and Paradise Island that New Year's Eve. Other times we chose Atlantic City because it was close to where we were based at the time, but got an unpleasant shock the first year there when the clock struck midnight and they actually shut down the tables to count down the seconds to "Happy New Year!" We were sitting at a roulette table ready to pop in the move when the floorman came over and fitted a cover right over the wheel. You should have seen the looks on our faces when that happened! But fortunately, they abandoned that practice because the five or so minutes that the tables stayed down cost them lots of money.

Did we always make more money cheating casinos on New Year's Eve than any other day or night of the year? I'd say perhaps 22 of the 25 times. Sometimes the crowds were so huge that we just couldn't get our spots at the tables, but when we did, boy did we hit them hard with our biggest moves! So was our biggest single move/payoff done on a New Year's Eve? No, but our second biggest was: a $1,000 chip pastposted straight-up on a number for $35,000. Care to guess the number that came in?... You bet...31! But it actually went down at 12:05 so it was already January 1st. So then, what was the biggest move we ever tried? Now that you ask, I think I will write about that in tomorrow's blog, so stay tuned!

I spoke this morning with my two main ex-partners, Pat and Balls, and believe it or not, they're going back to work this New Year's Eve! They haven't been working the casinos much anymore and haven't worked a New Year's Eve since 2004, but they both took some bad beats betting football this season and need some serious cash. Of course they asked me if I wanted to join them--and they weren't kidding--but even though my heart surely wanted to, my brain wouldn't allow it...I mean retired is retired, isn't it?...Where are they going to be working and which moves will they do? Well, I can't say where for obvious reasons (casino surveillance people all over the world read this blog), but you can bet they will be laying Savannah moves all over the roulette layouts and even on blackjack tables! Those of you who don't know Savannah, you can go to the video page on my website and see her in action. I gotta tell you frankly that it is unbelievable a cheating move can be so good that I can speak about it openly like this and casinos still can't stop it! In any event, I will let you know how they did when I get their report. I'm thinking they'll make a big score to bring in the New Year!

Have a nice day and see you tomorrow.