Friday, February 29, 2008

Caught Cheating Casinos When Not Cheating Casinos!

As many of you know from reading this blog, I often recount some humorous stories about incidents that took place over my 25-year cheating career. One of the funniest, although it was not so funny for me when it happened, took place in the early days of Atlantic City when I was there on an inaugural (for Atlantic City, that is!) casino cheating trip with my mentor Joe Classon and his Classon Pastposting Team. It was the only time in my entire life that I was accused of cheating a casino when in fact I did nothing of the kind! Here's the way it went down:

One Sunday afternoon in the summer of 1978 I was shooting craps at Caesars newly opened Boardwalk Regency. I’d arrived at the table with over $1,500 in black $100 and green $25 chips. My plan was to show a little action, then color out to get the purple $500 chips Jerry needed for blackjack moves. For my first bet I put a green chip on the don't pass bar. Chips lying on the don't pass bar stick out because the overwhelming majority of crapshooters bet the pass line, going with the shooter against the house. At that particular table, I happened to be crunched between two meaty tough guys at the horn, each with $2,000 bets on the pass line. One had the dice, the other a thick wad of hundreds he let dangle over the rail above the felt, and with my measly $25 bet going against their four grand I felt a little uneasy. The guy with the dice rolled snake eyes, crapped out. When the inexperienced dealer swept away their $4,000, he also wrongly swept my green chip off the winning don't pass bar. I immediately protested, innately stopping the action as I would when claiming.
"Hey!" I cried. "You swept my quarter off the don't pass bar! What is this crap?"
The dealer looked at me blankly, not having the slightest clue.
"Your bet was on the pass line, sir." It was the boxman who spoke. He was one of those gym-rat types with big shoulders, thick chest and oily slicked-back hair, and the attitude that went with it. Looking at that idiot immediately enraged me. A raw dealer's honest mistake was one thing, but for a boxman—just as raw—to back up something like that, which he obviously could not have seen, was another.
"My bet was on the don't pass line," I argued.
"I'm sorry, sir," retorted the boxman, "but your bet was on the pass line."
Now I was furious. I found myself in a situation where I was actually claiming a legitimate dealer mistake—probably for the first time in my life. And I couldn't win out, couldn't get paid the lousy $25. The thought that this was some kind of ironic payback from above for all the illegitimate claiming I had done flashed through my mind.
"He had his bet on the don't pass bar," the guy who’d just rolled the dice and lost $2,000 said. "I saw his bet going against mine."
I was quite surprised that the guy was backing me up. Seldom did a big craps player have any pity for a little green-chip pauper going against him.
"No he didn't," the boxman said with arrogant defiance to the high-rolling shooter. "His bet was on the pass line next to yours."
I felt the veins popping out in my neck. I didn't appreciate the way that boxman said his. Weight-lifting dummy or not, I wanted a piece of the guy. I was really getting worked up. Then the other high roller—also a two-thousand-dollar loser on the roll—got involved.
"What're you, a schmuck?" he said to the boxman. "My buddy Jimmy here's telling you that the kid bet his quarter on the don't pass line, and you sez no. Whaddaya calling him a liar?"
"The bet was on the pass line, sir," the boxman said to the second tough guy in the same tone. I couldn't believe he was going to the wall on this. I was beside myself. Here are two typical tough guys from Philly who just lost four grand on a single roll of the dice backing me up for $25 and the boxman doesn't want to believe them. What could he be thinking? That they were both working a scam with me, and that the three of us would cut up the twenty-five bucks in the john?
I couldn't take it anymore. My head was pounding from the anger. Despite the arrival of the floorman, who I figured would probably back up the boxman, I lunged forward and was climbing into the craps table to get at the boxman, who had stood up and steeled himself for my charge. Had one of the two tough guys not grabbed me around the waist and held me back, I might have killed that idiot with the big pecs and written this book from a New Jersey state prison. When it was all over, the pit boss (after the floorman's indecision) finally reversed the boxman's call and had the dealer put my quarter back on the don't pass line and pay it. During the ruckus the dealer had remained silent. I could see that he was fearful and felt bad for him. So instead of picking up the two green chips on the don't pass bar, I left them there and said to the dealer, "That's for you."
Who said that pastposters don't have a heart?
I thanked the two guys from Philadelphia for backing me up and went outside on the boardwalk to cool down a little.
"What're you, nuts?" Joe said, handing me a soda he'd bought in one of the pizza joints squeezed between two souvenir shops on the boardwalk. I had been leaning against the railing lining the beach, letting my head fall back as I watched and listened to the seagulls overhead.
"Probably," I said. "I just snapped. Two guys betting two grand a pop stick up for me and that idiot boxman doesn't believe them."
"Take it easy," Joe said, tapping me gently on the back. "You're not in Vegas. This is Atlantic City. You have to give these people a chance to learn."

Unfortunately (for them), they never did.