Sunday, September 04, 2016

All Those TV Casino Surveillance Cheat Shows

Ridiculous Travel Channel sketch
Many of you who read this blog probably have seen at least a few of those casino cheat and casino surveillance TV documentary programs usually aired by the Travel Channel, Discovery Channel, Learning Channel and History Channel. They now appear almost as often as poker shows do.

Are the stories they depict accurate? Is the information they shell out the truth?

First, let me give you the general format of these shows. They usually pit casino surveillance and security people against current and ex-casino cheats. They give each cheat's personal story and each casino surveillance or security guy's account (usually in braggadocio fashion) of how they nab the cheats.

The last one of these shows I saw was the Travel Channel's "Las Vegas Surveillance: Cheats and Scams." It profiled the stories of famous slot machine cheats Tommy Glenn Carmichael and Dennis Nikrasch, each of whom wreaked havoc on Las Vegas during two decades and cheated the town's slot machines out of tens of millions.

On the casino surveillance side were the usual suspects, mainly Ted Whiting, the director of surveillance of the Aria Center City casino who's become the "casino surveillance star" of these shows, and James Hartley, a former cop K-9 officer who literally barks out like one of his dogs at the camera, "If you cheat in a casino you will go to prison!"

Certainly may be true, but watching Hartley in his gung-ho sytle is a bit hard to take.

I found that Tommy Carmichael's story and the way he recounted it was really refreshing and well done. There is no doubt as to Mr. Carmichael's intelligence and personality, and I, as one ex-casino cheat, certainly have lots of respect for the other. His creativity and diligence in developing method after method to combat slot machine manufactures' advances in security is of the uppermost grade.

Listening to Whiting and Hartley, we get the obvious we-always-win attitude, but more regressing are the terrible re-creations of casino-cheat scams, some of which bring in overstated card trickster Sal "The Hitman" Piacente to display how players and dealers cheat inside casinos.

The main problem with the whole surveillance/security side of these casino shows is that it shows all the high-tech equipment and systems installed to detect and catch casino cheats but then degenerates into really bad sketch-accounts of what goes down with the cheats they're chasing.

The real footage of cheats that they do show does not enhance their argument much.

In summation, I would say that some of these shows are worth watching, mostly to see and hear the histories of some of these notorious casino cheats.