Friday, July 11, 2014

Bob Dancer Article on My Book American Roulette

February 25th
A Look at American Roulette

Bob Dancer
On the January 23, 2014 Gambling with an Edge radio show, Anthony Curtis and Richard Munchkin both said good things about American Roulette, a book by Richard Marcus. So I went to the library and checked it out. (Understandably it's a title that's easy to find in a Las Vegas library but perhaps not so easy if you live in Peoria.)
Here is what I found (and the book's subtitle says it all): How I Turned the Odds Upside Down --- My Wild Twenty-Five-Year Ride Ripping Off the World's Casinos. Simply put, it's an autobiography by a casino cheat.
The primary tool used by Marcus and his teammates to cheat the casinos is called "pastposting." Pastposting is where you make a bet AFTER the result has already been determined. For example, if you could get a bet NOW that the Seattle Seahawks would beat the Denver Broncos by 35 points in the 2014 Super Bowl, that would be pastposting (and you could make a fortune).

Make no mistake about it, pastposting is cheating. No doubt about it. Casinos and states have rules against this and if caught and convicted, you're going to pay a penalty. Do you like being in jail?

I'm not personally interested in cheating the casinos. I have enough trouble maintaining my welcome when I'm doing everything legally! But I AM interested in knowing how cheating moves are done by others. Part of this is akin to wanting to know how a magician does a particular trick. I find this fascinating! And part of it is simply being aware of what's going on around me in casinos. 

Some of the moves practiced by Marcus and his team ripped off other players rather than just the casinos. I definitely want to know about those so as to better protect myself and my assets.

"Standard" pastposting involves changing chips after the player has won the bet. For example, playing blackjack, assume you bet two $5 red chips. If the bet loses you've lost $10. But if it wins, when you go to pick up your winnings, you smoothly replace the two $5 chips with one $100 black chip underneath one $5 red chip and then you call out to the dealer, "Hey! I was betting black and you only paid me red!" On essentially a 50-50 bet, the cheater loses $10 half the time and wins $105 the other half, so the profits mount up fast.
The move must be done when the dealer is paying off other players at the table and not concentrating on what you're doing. The move must also be made when it is normal for players to be reaching for their chips. It must be done quickly and smoothly. 

A pastposter must have a sense of when to press his claim and when to get out of the casino quickly.

Of course the chips can also be larger denominations. Near the end of his career, Marcus' teammate was betting three $100 black chips and replacing them with two $5,000 brown chips under the single black chip. This made it $10,100 when they won almost half the time and $300 when they lost.
Although the blackjack move could be done solo, Marcus's team found it better if there were one or two teammates. One teammate could ask a question at just the moment of the switch, so as to draw attention to himself and away from the pastposter. A second teammate could hang around the casino to see what the level of casino discomfort was after the move. If there was too much heat, the team would lay off that casino or that town for several months until the heat died down.

Another version of pastposting doesn't involve changing the chips at all. At roulette, they would bet one of the three column bets at the end of the table (furthest away from the dealer) using big chips --- but with the biggest chips hidden below smaller chips. If the bet wins, the player gets paid off as usual. If the bet loses, the dealer is distracted while the pastposter removes the chips from the layout and leaves the casino. Using a brown chip underneath a black chip, on a bet that pays 2-to-1, the team wins $10,200 almost one third of the time and loses nothing the other two-thirds of the time.

There was also a technique described as "railing," which amounts to stealing chips from another player at a craps table. When a big player (the "mark") is winning (say betting multiple black chips) and drinking, often he is careless with respect to keeping track of his chips, which are typically stored in built-in racks along the top of the craps table. The cheat stands next to the mark, befriends the mark, and over time swipes black chips from the mark's rows of chips along the rail. The cheat passes the black chips to a confederate standing behind him. If the cheat is accused of stealing, he can indignantly allow himself to be searched and sure enough he will have no black chips anywhere on his body.

There were several trips to Europe, Africa, and South America where the team had varying amounts of success. I found it interesting how different countries dealt with the pastposters.

Just as Jean Valjean had his nemesis Javert in Les Miserables, Marcus had Steven DeVisser, who worked for the "Hanson Agency." I assume that was a thinly- disguised depiction of the Griffin Investigation Agency. DeVisser was determined and devious, even setting up a honey trap to catch Marcus. I'll let you read the book to find out just how successful DeVisser was.
The book was well-written, educational, and enjoyable. I sure would like to get Marcus to be a guest on the radio show. We're going to try!

My take: I did end up doing three shows on Dancer´s program, one about American Roulette, one about my poker-cheating expose "Dirty Poker," and one about general poker and casino-cheating scams going on today such as the Phil Ivey baccarat edge-sorting scam and the Guy Laliberte poker-collusion scam.