Saturday, January 12, 2008

Why'd I Really Quit? / Monday Controversial Flush Magazine Article!

Ever since I wrote American Roulette, my memoirs about my twenty-five year cheating career, and then joined the force of game protection consultants speaking at conferences and conducting training seminars, people always ask me why I gave up the cheating career, I mean why I really gave it up. Was it because I made so much money I didn’t need any more? Was it fear that I’d finally get caught and go to prison? Was it because I finally got sick and tired of it? Was I too old? Was I finally deterred by my fear of flying? Or was I enlightened by a sudden revelation that I was suffering from a morality dilemma: did I suddenly, or over the years grow to feel bad about being a cheater and criminal?

This question when put to me merits a unique answer in comparison to other ex-cheaters who have come clean. The main reason for that is virtually all of them had been forced to abandon their cheating careers without ever having to think about it, and for a very simple reason: they got caught, arrested and sentenced. Any further misadventures on the smooth green-felt playing field would have led to worse misadventures in the much rougher and colorless prison yard. So, in my opinion, when you ask the majority of ex-casino cheats why they gave it up, most of their answers claiming repentance, change of attitude, having been born again and meeting that special person who positively influenced their lives are usually tainted. Conversely, my decision was not the result of a career suddenly cut short but rather a choice to retire much like a professional athlete or politician. In spite of that, however, I would have to examine several factors to arrive at the equation that turned me from bad to good.

So, did I make that much money I didn’t need any more? Well, first of all, my ex-wife got half of it, my ex-girlfriend half of what was left, and fortunately there is no current girlfriend or I’d probably be back living with the winos underneath an overpass like I did in Vegas thirty years ago. But really, even if I did have that much money, is that ever a reason to quit? Does Donald Trump continue building skyscrapers, condos and casinos bearing his name because he needs more money? Hardly. I think you can say more or less the same for any billionaire, certainly those involved in the casino industry. If money were the sole motivating element to embark on or continue a booming career, I don’t think Sheldon Adelson and Steve Wynn would be racing around the globe building casino megaresorts on several continents. So, no, my giving it up had nothing really to do with money. In fact, after the first few years of it (I did it for twenty-five), it wasn’t even about the money. I had given up my own degenerate gambling habits and come to enjoy what I was doing. I considered my genre of casino cheating as an art. I especially looked at four-man-team roulette moves as choreographed performances. The one thing I never did look at cheating casinos as was committing a real crime. After all, could casinos be considered victims? Would anyone feel sorry for them? Wasn’t the cliché “casinos are licensed thieves” my own license to steal from them?

Obviously, I was overlooking things. Of course what I did was criminal. Of course casinos were real victims, and whether or not people felt sorry for them being ripped off is not relevant. I was guilty on every front. But at the time, and probably in some measure of similarity concerning motive when it comes to Trump, Adelson and Wynn, I was propelled by my ego. I wanted to succeed against the odds. I wanted to be the David against the mighty casino Goliath. I loved pitting myself against all that ominous high-tech surveillance equipment. I couldn’t get enough of out-smarting all of it. Another head trip of course was beating the bosses, surveillance departments, Griffin Investigations agents and the agents from Nevada’s and every other jurisdiction’s Gaming Enforcement Division. In short, I wanted to be the best casino cheater of all-time.

Did this attitude of mine ever change? No. When Michael Jordan was asked if he considered himself the best basketball player of all-time, he responded, “I like to think I was the best at what I did.” Same thing goes for me. I do believe I was the best casino cheater ever and surely don’t mind saying so. When asked if I have any regrets, those about being sorry for being a cheater and thus a criminal, I would be full of crap if I said I did. Of course I don’t. And I really don’t think any reformed longtime cheater is truly sorry for cheating casinos. Criminals who have committed crimes against a person, that’s something different; expressed regret is often genuine there. But when it comes to crimes against a casino or those against corporations or even those against public trust, i.e. athletes on steroids and corrupted politicians, are we really to fall for all those tearful apologies about “letting my fans and constituents down?” Should we really think that those who perpetrated vast financial swindles with spoils in the hundreds of millions of dollars are truly sorry once they’re caught? I doubt it. I’d say their apologies are more about rebuilding public images and hoping to reduce possibly long prison sentences.

“So then,” I’m often asked, “why are you suddenly wising up the casinos with all your knowledge? If you don’t regret what you have done and you’re not earning a lot of money (which I’m certainly not), why bother writing these magazine articles and offering your services to train casinos in surveillance and game protection?” The answer to that is rather simple: what else would I do with the rest of my life? The only field in which I have knowledge and something to offer is that of casino cheating and game protection. I had never done anything outside of cheating casinos my entire adult life. It was also a natural progression, the way a retired baseball player becomes a coach or manager. Take someone like Frank W. Abagnale, the infamous turned famous (subject of the film “Catch me if you can”) bank-fraud and identity-theft artist reinvented as a bank-fraud and identity-theft prevention consultant. He went from criminal to author to consultant, just like I’m doing. So then I did not decide to teach casinos what I know and explain how I did what I did and why they are so vulnerable to professional cheaters because I felt remorse for my own illicit campaign against them. I am doing this solely because I have no other viable option to fulfill my time. I am not yet ready to spend the rest of my life in retirement doing nothing, getting fat and going bald. Heck, I’d rather go back to cheating than do nothing. And something that did surprise me is that I actually enjoy teaching casino and surveillance staffs. It really makes me feel good when I see people learning from me, although it has nothing at all to do with guilt.

But what actually did make me stop cheating if it wasn’t a money issue? Was it the fear of getting caught? Even though I always knew how badly Gaming authorities wanted my butt and that if they ever got it I would most likely be facing a maximum prison sentence due to my growing notoriety, I was never worried about it. Those fears had disappeared before I turned twenty-two, and any chances for them to rekindle were quickly quashed by my ego and confidence that my cheating moves were too good to get me busted. Okay then, was I finally getting sick and tired of it? Now we’re starting to hit upon the true reasons for my retirement. The fact of that matter is that cheating casinos as a business is lots of hard work. It’s a grind. There’s neverending travel and the problem is that even if you know where you’re going, you usually don’t know exactly when you’re going or for how long. A scenario of such: let’s say that my team was in Las Vegas working roulette wheels and after several successful moves we had a miss (didn’t get paid) that took heat. Knowing that the word would soon flash across computer screens in Vegas surveillance rooms, we’d have to get out of Dodge. Then say we went to Atlantic City and took heat on the first move there. That would have meant we travelled across the country just to spend a few hours in Atlantic City. Then from there we would fly down to the Bahamas, then island-hop from one Caribbean casino to the next. When the high winter season was over it would be off to Europe, South Africa and Australia. So, yes, after more than two decades of that constant travel, we often felt more worn out than a rock group constantly on tour. In fact, we often jokingly referred to our casino trips as our Magical Mystery Tours.

Did age have anything to do with calling it a day? Well, maybe Mick Jagger and Paul McCartney can continue rocking into their 60s and beyond, but cheating casinos was getting old for me before hitting fifty. So thinking of growing old like a worn casino check certainly had something to do with it. After all, I just couldn’t imagine being a middle-aged casino cheater. Not that I’d lost much of my sprinter’s speed when having to get out of a casino quickly!

Was I really afraid of flying? I don’t know if it’s fear, but I don’t like it at all. Never did, maybe that’s why my first trip to Las Vegas in 1976 from New York was done behind the wheel of my Mustang convertible. But you can’t drive across oceans. Those half-day and better jaunts to Australia and Asia were never my cup of tea. And then there were the occasional air disasters and terrorist incidents, even though I’d quit before 9/11. Still, I thought about such a demise and that would have certainly interfered with my hopes to one day be buried somewhere on the property of Caesars Palace in Las Vegas (read my book). And speaking of global terrorism, I bet lots of you didn’t know that the late Yasser Arafat, ex-Chairman of the Palestinian Liberation Organization, once owned a casino on the Gaza Strip. Although all of his casino’s customers were Israelis (Muslims were forbidden to gamble there), some of my partners wanted to give Arafat and his casino a good ol’ American bombing, which as team leader I prudently refused. Had we been caught there, the result might have been worse than an international incident, especially for us!

Although I said before that I never struggled with the morality of being a cheater and had no regrets about cheating casinos, I did have one major regret that perhaps contributed to my retirement. That is by employing a dishonest and criminal means of making a living, I alienated myself from my family and never succeeded in having one of my own. My only marriage could not sustain the lifestyle, and while married I’d always hesitated about having children. Surely a reason for that would be the conflict I would have felt telling them what I did for a living. Can you imagine a kid of mine with his peers discussing what their fathers’ professions were? One might say, “My father’s a doctor,” then another, “Mine’s a lawyer,” then a third, “Mine’s a teacher.” I would cringe thinking of my kid saying, “My dad’s a professional casino cheater.” The only way to avoid that would be to lie. Which I had already done to my ex-father-in-law, who I met for the first time just a week before my wedding. He asked me in front of his daughter (who knew the truth), “Richard, what do you do for a living?” I responded with the lie, “I’m a casino consultant.”

Funny how now it’s the truth.


On Monday in the new issue of Flush Magazine in the UK, appears a controversial article I wrote on my opinion of the US Game Show Network's ultra high-rated TV show "High Stakes Poker." In a nutshell, I think it's full of shit!...As a matter of fact, I'm sure of it.

You can either read the magazine or read the article here Monday.

Friday, January 11, 2008

Another Poker Scam in the Works? / Dutch Magicians Doing Casino Moves!

This time it appears that something is going on at Ultimate Bet. It's getting a lot of chat on the 2+2 forums, so go there and take a look. It's also threaded on Boards i.e. I know you can't take everything you read on these forums seriously, but let's not forget that rumors about the Absolute Poker scam first picked up wind on the forums. If I were a betting man (which I'm not...just a cheating one), I'd say that this suspicious play recorded on Ultimate Bet is indeed the fodder for what is going to be the exposure of yet another online poker scam. This is really getting to be too much! I think someone should start a new online poker room and call it "No Cheating Poker."


Many people mistakingly believe that I am a magician or slight of hand artist. This is not at all true. All my casino moves are based on timing, even though there is deception but it's not really slight of hand but rather misdirection. Oftentimes we used certain sequences of bets that created an illusion on roulette and blackjack layouts, in theory similar to what great magicians do.

I do know of some excellent magicians, however, who are at least as capable of doing my moves as me...if not better. Though most of them prefer to entertain rather than pilfer casinos. For some funny reason the best of these talented guys seem to be Dutch. I've heard the adage that Dutchmen are the tallest people on earth, but are they the world's best magicians?

Well, the one I think is the best is named Peter Woerde, and he does some great casino stuff. If you happen to live in the Netherlands or anywhere close and are having a party of the casino variety, or of any other type for that matter, and you want some first-class entertainment, call this guy. Tell him I sent you, but don't put any ideas in his head about going into those Holland Casinos that I loved so much! Here's Peter Woerde's website. Take a peek and check out his moves.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Cheating Movies and Kevin Spacey's Film "21"

With the upcoming late-March release of 21, Kevin Spacey’s film about the MIT blackjack team that beat Vegas and Atlantic City for (supposedly) millions at blackjack tables, I’ve been asked what I think of this film and could I recommend any other interesting and exciting films about cheating in gambling casinos.

Well, I haven’t seen 21 yet as it’s not coming out until March 28, but I do have a predisposed opinion based on having read the books it’s based on, Bringing Down the House and Breaking Vegas by Ben Mezrich. Firstly, although the books were entertaining and no doubt highly glamorized to lift them from the dull black-on-white pages onto the flashy silver screen, the subject matter is quite unspectacular. It’s the same old blackjack card-counting story that we’ve heard and seen on TV numerous times and that was made famous enough by the legendary card-counter Ken Uston. I happened to meet two of the real MIT blackjack team members recently at the G2E gaming trade show in Las Vegas, and I can assure you that these guys were more than slightly distant from being glamorous and exciting. Although they weren’t entirely nerdy, neither one ever would have had the slightest chance of joining one of my casino cheating teams.

The main problem I have with the script, just as I did with the book’s manuscript, is that the content is very loosely based on fact. Basically what I’m referring to is the amount of money both the book and movie claim these guys won. No way I believe they won a figure in the multimillions. Casinos have been hip to card counting since the late 1970s, and after Uston’s teams did their number on Atlantic City in the early 1980s, casinos were able to spot card counters at twenty that I mean twenty tables away. This was especially true concerning the very tired counting method known as team play, where big players got signalled into favorable tables by troops of counters. Uston and countless others were doing this about the same time these MIT guys were learning how to walk, so I find it rather difficult to believe that these computer geeks were able to get over on the casinos in such a big way in a really non-computer fashion, as they did not actually use computers in their counting operation. I’d say they were lucky if they made a few hundred grand doing this. But I’m sure the movie will be okay with all the style and spinning glitz, something similar to the “Las Vegas” TV series with James Caan.

Want to see a really good casino cheating movie? No, I’m not talking about mine, at least not yet. My personal cheating favorite is the French movie Les Tricheurs, which means, you guessed it: The Cheaters. This film is about roulette cheating teams in Europe in the early 1970s. One of these teams featured Monique Laurent, the sexy raven-haired beauty in my Cheaters Hall of Fame. Go back to my CHOF page and read about her and the scam, which if you’re unfamiliar with, was one of the greatest scams of all-time and certainly way ahead of its time. The movie can be rented online and it’s surely worth a viewing.

Another good one but harder to find is called the Great Sinner with Gregory Peck and Ava Gardner. It’ s about a journalist writing about degenerate gamblers in 19th century Europe who becomes one himself and gets sucked into a classy baccarat scam.

If anyone out there knows of other great cheating movies, pass them along and I’ll post them.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Well, I really didn't want to address this:

For some reason, this past week I have been getting a bunch of e-mails about the Roger Clemens steroids case. For those of you reading my blog outside the US, I imagine that you still have some familiarity with it. If not, Clemens is a star baseball pitcher who was cited in a steroid report for Major League Baseball to have illegally been injected with steroids and human growth hormone at least 16 times. The person who gave this information to George Mitchell, the investigating ex-US senator and author of the report bearing his name, is Brian McNamee, who was Clemens' personal athletic and strength trainer back in the late 90s and early 2000s. What has happened since the Mitchell report was released a few weeks ago is that Clemens has steadfastly denied the accusations, saying he never took steroids or human growth hormone in his life, and McNamee, who was under threat of prison for perjury if caught lying to Mitchell's investigators, is sticking to his guns that he injected Roger Clemens no less than 16 times with steroids and human growth hormone. Monday, Clemens sued McNamee for defamation and held a press conference in the furtherance of his denials. Meanwhile, the evidence and public opinion seem to sway in favor of his guilt, with most people on the street saying he is guilty as sin and did indeed take the banned substances.

So why are people e-mailing me with their questions about this? I am just an ex-casino cheater. Why ask me if Roger Clemens is lying or telling the truth? How could I know? One e-mailer wrote, "Seeing how you had to judge certain pit bosses and react to what you heard them say, you would probably know by watching Clemens' face and listening to his speech if he was lying or not."

Gimme a break! I said aloud to myself upon reading that.

True, I had to judge casino personnel in order to determine what the probability was that I would take heat doing a move or two, but that's a long way from trying to determine whether Roger Clemens, who was either telling the truth or lying in a very prepared and organized way with the assistance of his attorney, is guilty or not guilty. And, if you have to know, I wrote back that e-mailer, "Sometimes even I misjudged a pit boss's reaction that I had predicted by simply watching his speaking mannerisms and physical nuances."

So finally I wrote back to another e-mailer that "not only me but also the world's lie-detecting experts, the ones who make their decisions based on their own observations, not those by machine, are only right in about 50% of the cases." Big help I was, right? There are only two 50/50 cases: either he's lying or telling the truth.

What do I really think?

He's lying

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Pat and Balls' New Year's Eve Tally!

I spoke to my two ex-cheating buddies Pat and Balls New Year's Day. I was just dying to hear how much cash they turned in the casinos New Year's Eve. As I expected, they'd gone to Vegas, and as I also suspected, they hit the wall-to-wall mobbed up casinos with the Savannah and blackjack moves, all with chocolate $5,000 chips. While on the phone with Pat, I kept asking him, "Come on, Johnny (we always call each other Johnny), gimme the number!" How much did you guys make out there?" I wasn't as persistent as Brian McNamee asking Roger Clemens on the phone, "Whaddaya want me to do? Whaddaya want me to do?", but I was dying to know how much they scored. Pat, as was always his custom, just like the way he used to (and I imagine still does) perform his ritual with his wine and Sinatra music preparing to go out and bust the casinos, made me listen to his song and dance before spilling the beans...or I should say chips because he actually rattled a few against the mouthpiece of his hotel suite telephone. Of course he and Balls were ensconced in a $3,000 a night suite, and of course Pat was hungover from his having gotten cocked up the night before to fuel his attack on the casinos. Those of you who've either read my book American Roulette or seen the Breaking Vegas episode about my cheating team know what I mean about Pat's getting-cocked-up sessions.

So Pat said to me on the phone, "Johnny, it was a crusade...I mean massacre. We really killed 'em! They're still falling for Savannah as if she were walkin' through the casinos naked. Johnny, is she really that hot-looking?" Then he laughed.

Savannah is of course not a woman but rather the best casino-cheating move of all time. (Click on the video page to see her in action) And I don't know how "hot-looking" she is but she sure worked good in the casinos, disarming male pit bosses the way any hot babe in a short skirt and pumps would.

"Come on, Johnny," I said, "gimme the number!"

"Johnny," he quipped, "didn't we tell the whole world about Savannah on TV?" He laughed again.

"Yeah, you bet, Johnny, and believe it or not, it's on TV today!"

"I hope the pit bosses watch it," he cracked. "Maybe they'll figure out what hit 'em last night."

I was, like always, just amazed how Savannah keeps dancing in the casinos more than 4 years after I exposed her hidden charms in American Roulette and after all the TV shows where the mechanics of the move were shown and explained, not to mention the numerous gaming seminars where I did demonstrations. It proves again what an unbelievable move is. If a cat has nine lives, Savannah's got ninety!

When Balls got on the phone, he said the same thing about Savannah that he said on the TV show, "It's unbelievable that you can't see that bottom chocolate chip but you can't see that bottom chocolate chip!"

I pressed Balls and he finally gave it up. "We cleared a buck-fifteen," he said with a chuckle.

That means a hundred fifteen grand!

Not bad for a day's work...or should I say an eve's work?

Sunday, January 06, 2008



I have come up with an idea that I think lots of you will love! In order to make this website more than just an entertainment complex and informational portal, and above all, visitor interactive, I will be using this blog for my new POKER/CASINO CHEATING CONTEST in which you can win cash prizes. Each day with my regular blog entry I will post a question related to brick and mortar and online cheating with four multiple choice answers, only one of which is correct. The following day I will post the correct answer along with the next question. The hidden key to this contest is that if you don't know the right answer to any question, it can be found somewhere in the various pages of my website. I will not make finding answers too obvious in order to prevent a relative ease where everyone would score 100%. In some cases you will have to dig deep into the recesses of information in my website, including videos, books and magazine articles, and in other cases even follow links that will take you off my website. It could turn into a kind of treasure hunt, so to speak, so you should have a lot of fun participating!

The contest will start on Thursday, January 24nd, and will last 30 days, with one question every day. Then a new contest will begin on February 24th, and then each successive month. After each five days, I will post the user names of the top scorers in the running for the cash prizes, which shall be paid via Pay Pal or bank check. You will then be able to equate your scores and see if you are in the running. You must send your answers NO LATER THAN 9 P.M. US EST the day the question is posted, which will be at 7 A.M. EST. There will be a contest question seven days per week including holidays.

For the first month the prizes are as follows:

1st place US $300 plus entry into One-Day Super Contest to be held at a later date
2nd place US $150 plus entry into Super Contest
3rd place US $100 plus entry into Super Contest
4th place US $ 75 plus entry into Super Contest
5th place entry into Super Contest
6th place entry into Super Contest
7th place entry into Super Contest
8th place entry into Super Contest
9th place entry into Super Contest
10th place entry into Super Contest

In the event of ties, prize money for each place will be divided equally by those with the same scores, the aggregate prize money distributed not exceeding the specified amounts listed above.

The prize money in the Super Contest will be determined by the amount of people who sign up for the monthly contests.