Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Game Protection Post: Why some casino staffs just don't get it!

Teaching the right way
I travel to different areas of the world doing game protection seminars and hands-on training to casino floor staffs and surveillance staffs. I often visit the same casinos more than once, and the second time around is when I notice how much the casino’s staff benefited from my first visit.
Sometimes it’s not as much as I would’ve liked.

Is it my fault?

Well, I like to believe that with all my experience as a casino-cheat and advantage-player, and then as a speaker and trainer of casino game protection, that what I deliver to casinos that hire me is the best out there.

So then if I’m not to blame for this lack of game-protection progress on the part of the casinos, who is?

I hate to say it but the answer is: the casinos. I mean their staffs.

And the reason is twofold:

One is that not enough key employees are in attendance.

The other is that some of the key employees who are in attendance are not there with the right attitude. I have encountered many with an already-know-it-all attitude that is very detrimental to both themselves and the casinos they work for.

A good example of this occurred recently at a major South American casino. The head of its surveillance department was from the United Kingdom, which happens to be the sharpest casino area in the world as far as cheating is concerned as far as I’m concerned.

This particular Brit, who no doubt had seen his share of high-end casino cheat scams, immediately took on an attitude of “How can I learn anything from you if I’ve already seen it before.”

I had asked the casino’s director of table games beforehand to supply me with an employee who could help me during the seminar by actually doing cheat moves I would teach him. I often do this to draw attention away from myself so that the attendees can witness (after the fact) that it was their own colleague doing the cheating and mot me, whom everyone expected to see do it.   

This type of attendee-participation approach serves well to get attendees interested in the seminar.

But in this case at the South American casino, the surveillance director who was assigned to help me decided to challenge my knowledge at every turn. I was trying to get him to a blackjack pastpost to which he responded, “That’ll never work in a casino where I’m surveillance director.”

I wanted to respond, “How much would you like to bet?” but instead asked the table games director to lend me another employee, which she did.

Then during the seminar, while the self-exiled surveillance director stood behind the blackjack table with his arms crossed and a bored look on his face, his replacement did the blackjack pastpost and fooled the dealer and everyone else in the room.

The surveillance director saw nothing, but still insisted in rebuttal that the move would not work in a real blackjack setting. What he ignored is that it worked over five thousand times over the course of twenty-five years on real blackjack tables.

He and I got into it verbally throughout the seminar and the result was that the more than one hundred employees in attendance got very little out of the seminar.

So my point is: casino employees—especially key employees--need to keep an open mind and leave their egos at home when attending and participating in casino game protection seminars.

Link to Richard Marcus Game Protection Seminars

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Las Vegas Riviera Hotel-Casino set for Implosion--Sad Day for Me.

Sad to see you go
After a long and colorful history, mostly painted by its various Mafia affiliations and ownership, the Riviera (called "the Riv" by its loyal patrons over the years and the inspiration of the Scorcese film "Casino"), will meet its final fate with the big wrecking ball today. Implosions are always treated with fanfare in Las Vegas, almost like a mini-July 4th, but for me it will be a sad day on a personal note.


Because my personal journey through casinos and cheating them all began at the Riv when I was not even legally old enough to gamble. Those of you who read my memoir "American Roulette" might recall my story.

In the summer of 1976, I drove my convertible Mustang out to Vegas and parked it at the Riv. I took the twenty grand I had in the trunk along with my overnight bag and checked in. Then I ensconced myself at the baccarat table and ran that twenty grand into a hundred!

The Riv comped me into a luscious suite, threw all the champagne and ladies at me I wanted, and made my life a temporary paradise.

A VERY temporary paradise.

On the night of my twenty-first birthday, the first day that I was legally permitted to gamble, I lost it all. The hundred grand I had burning holes in my pockets turned into one single $1 chip, which I tossed to the cocktail waitress as I stumbled out of the baccarat pit in a shocked daze.

I had no one to call and nowhere to go except my suite at the Riv. But when I put the key into the door lock, I realized I was pinned out. Back in those days you used actual keys and not computerized plastic cards to get into hotel rooms. Thye'd actually hammered a pin into the lock so I couldn't get in.

It hadn't taken the Riv long to realize that I was a deadbeat.

I ended up sleeping with the winos under an overpass in 115 degree heat. I finally got a job dealing baccarat at the Four Queens downtown and the rest is history.

One final note: I did get the Riv back for their harsh treatment of me. After joining up with Hall of Fame casino cheat Joe Classon and his gang, I had the pleasure of performing various pastposting cheat moves at the Riv.

My favorite memory of attacking the Riv was of an old, grumpy pit boss whom we obviously called "Grumpy." Each time I did the classic "ten-oh-five" blackjack move and the dealer informed Grumpy that he didn't see the purple $500 chips we'd switched in, Grumpy would throw his writing pad on the table in disgust and grunt, "What the hell's the matter with ya? Can't you see there are two $500 chips under there?"

Then he would yell at the dealer to pay me correctly.

This went on for a decade and Grumpy paid me the pastposted thousand bucks at least twenty times!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Are Poker Tournaments Safe From Cheating--By Tournament Directors and Poker Room managers?

The Flamingos would be ashamed!
When it comes to cheating in poker tournaments, the first things that come to many minds are collusion play, soft play and chip dumping.

But what about poker tournament cheating orchestrated by those charged with running the tournaments—mainly tournament directors and supervisors? Are the players safe from them?

Well, until recently I hadn’t heard of anything done wrong by tournament directors and supervisors that was serious enough to warranting this article. But that changed last August when someone noticed something—in fact several things—that were amiss at the largest Texas Hold’em poker tournament in the history Miami’s Hialeah poker room, which is adjacent to the famed thoroughbread racetrack.

That someone was longtime Florida poker tournament pro T.J. Shulman, who has over the years racked up nearly a million bucks in tournament prize money. At first the Hialeah Texas hold’em tournament seemed to be running well like it should be. But then Shulman noticed some disturbing things.

First, certain players were chatting up supervisors in order to receive preferential seating. Then he noticed that managers were handling the cash without receipts. If that were not enough, Shulman calculated that the listed prize money payouts were too low in correspondence with the entrance fees. Shulman brought these faults to the attention of the Hialeah poker room manager, and when he mentioned that the prize pool was short by $50,000, the manager told him to take a walk if he didn’t like the way the tournament was being run.

Take a walk is what Shulman did—right to the Florida Division of Parimutuel Wagering. The Division launched an investigation and found Shulman’s complaints to be valid—and then some. In addition to Shulman’s claims, it was discovered that there was shoddy video surveillance (most likely to protect the crooked supervisors), and that some supervisors were pocketing cash—alas the $50,000 shortage of prize money for the players.

Shulman said that these supervisors said they were going to take the pocketed cash to the poker room cage later (Yeah, sure).

The Parimutuel Division did not believe them either. They noted a dirty tournament and as a result of their investigation, Nelson Costa, the Hialeah poker manger, resigned, and three of his assistant managers were fired.

No arrests are expected, however.

But despite that, Shulman noted other important improprieties at the Hialeah poker room. He said that some players were allowed by the staff to bypass the entry fees—as long as they kicked back a percentage of their winnings to the supervisors involved. One player reportedly said that he got only 20% of his winnings while the supervisors reaped the other 80%.

Then there were questions regarding the poker room’s jackpots, mainly whether all the cash meant for funding the jackpots ever got to the winners. It appears that lots of it got into the dirty supervisors’ pockets instead.

In a formal complaint against key employees of the Hialeah poker room, the State of Florida noted that receipts were not issued to players entering tournaments, surveillance coverage was lacking throughout the tournament areas and the areas where cash was handled, and that Costa, the room’s manager, was running the game in a very shady manner--to the extent that he kept large amounts of cash in his office rather than where it was supposed to be kept—in the casino cage under the lock and key of the vault.

My take: Wow, this is really a black eye for such a historic place in American gambling!