Friday, June 29, 2018

Is the name Marco synonymous with Cheating Casinos?

 Most common casino-cheat name?
Well, all kidding aside, I am starting to wonder!

My first encounter with an Italian casino cheat named Marco was when I literally bumped into one while cheating a roulette wheel in Lake Tahoe back in the late 70s. That Marco was a roulette mechanic (one who switches, pastposts or pinches chips), and his hands were headed out to the dolly to switch the winning chips underneath it while my hands were headed in the exact same direction with the exact same intent.

Our hands collided, both the dolly and the chips underneath went flying, and the result was a doubly failed international pastpost by two teams from two different countries that led to a lot of chaos, which was finally cleverly subdued by my infamous cheat partner Joe Classon who purposely spilled his drink on the roulette layout, which was successful in covering one mess with another mess, the former being a lot riskier to us as casino cheats than the latter.

Well, we later met up with Marco and his Italian teammates, and after much haggling we forged an agreement to stay out of each other's way, not only that time in Lake Tahoe but whenever we had the misfortune of running into each other in different casino venues over the years.

If you want to read more about my encounters with Marco and the Italians, who, by the way, were the greatest roulette pastposters I've ever seen, there are some very funny and entertaining stories about us and them in my book "American Roulette."

The second casino-cheating Marco I met was not Italian but he was a member of my own cheating team, albeit briefly. This Marco was from Iran, and in 1989 he responded to this ad I put in the classifieds of a Las Vegas newspaper: "Ballsy guy wanted for Professional Casino Cheating Team."

Okay, I'm kidding about placing that ad in a newspaper, which couldn't be done for obvious reasons, but I did  put the word out at the time that I needed a claimer (person who claims and takes the money from pastposted bets off the table) for my casino-cheating team.

A guy I knew in Vegas hooked me up with the Iranian Marco, who was all swagger and braggadocio. He told me that nothing in this world scared him and that he even withstood torture from the Shah of Iran's secret police (SAVAK) and didn't tell them a damn thing. He said cheating casinos was just taking candy from a baby.

I did not bother asking Marco why he was being tortured by SAVAK. I already had an inkling that his bluster and bragging would later reveal that he was full of shit.

So I took him to a Downtown craps table in Las Vegas, had him stand behind me as I bet three red $5 chips on the pass line. I explained to Marco that if the bet won I was going to switch out the red chips and replace them with two black $100 chips with a red $5 capper on top, changing a $15 bet into a $205 bet.

I told Marco to claim the bet.

The very first roll was a winner-seven and not only did Marco clam right up, he shit in his pants he was so damn scared!

It was one of the funniest episodes of my 25-year casino cheating career, and as we walked out of the casino I told Marco he would be better off being a spy for some Middle Eastern country than a casino cheat because it was obvious he'd have an easier time being waterboarded in a dark cave than claiming a craps move in glittering Downtown Las Vegas.

I never met any other Marcos involved in casino cheating.

But lately, or I should say during the past several years, I've been reading about a heck of a lot of 'em.

First there was the Marco involved in a Russian cell-phone-hacking-slot-machine scam. Then there was the Marco who got caught bilking the Baha Mar casino in the Bahamas. Actually in that scam, someone else caught sneaking roulette chips from one table onto another where they played for a higher denomination admitted to casino security that he was convinced by a guy named Marco to do the scam.

Then along came the Marco in not one, but two different Players Club scams. many times have you heard in a criminal light, even if it was in a film, "Yeah, a guy named Marco roughed 'em up..." Or..."Wait for Marco behind the truck..."

Okay, I know that Marco is a very popular and international first name, but it seems to me that a higher percentage of them than random probability would dictate are casino cheats!

Ahhhh...heck, it's just my imagination.

In any case, to all you hardworking Marcos employed honestly and gainfully in the casino industry, please don't take this article too seriously!