Casino scams come in two varieties: those committed by the establishment’s own personnel, often in collusion with players; and those involving cheats operating without inside help. This month, we bring you the top five scams committed by those on the inside.
Like the millions of gamblers all over the world who lie awake at night trying to figure out ways to beat a casino, many casino personnel lose sleep trying to work out how to beat winning players. However, after a few years of winning countless millions for the casino and earning only a barely average wage, some dealers often end up using their knowledge to go into business for themselves, stealing from the casino. The very best ones will, at the same time, pay out money to a confederate while cheating legitimate players, which means their table doesn’t have a losing session and so avoids alerting the management to a possible fraud. These scammers are generally called ‘crossroaders’.
Here at chappellofbondstreet.co.uk, we feel it’s important that innocent players know the signs to look out for so they can either copy the bets of the big winners or stay well away from the game. As such, we persuaded Diamond Dealer, the nom de plume of a former croupier who (understandably) wishes to remain anonymous, to talk us through the five top inside jobs.
Diamond Dealer has also lifted the lid on life in the casino circuit, and next month he will be revealing the flip side of the coin – top five scams players use against casinos.
The deck-fixing scam, put simply, is when a blackjack dealer leaves a small portion – 30 cards, say – of the four-deck shoe unshuffled, allowing the 30 cards to remain in sequence throughout his entire stint at the tables. A confederate will then remember the sequence, pretend to play normally, but then up his bets to the table maximum for the duration of the unshuffled section. All the player has to do is draw out cards until the next sequence of cards will bust the dealer, which means he will win on every box. The winnings from just a seven-box, £500-maximum-per-box table can be quite awesome.
In a casino in Britain where this particular fraud was perpetrated, the management had all their top security personnel scrutinising the player’s antics every night, and none of them spotted a thing. Four months later and £200,000 down, the casino finally barred the player for ‘winning too much’. The scamsters then took jobs abroad, and pulled off the same swindle successfully all over again.
A good, short-term scam often perpetrated by a casino inspector or manager is to wait until there’s a new group of trainee dealers just starting on the tables. The colluding player will stand near the roulette table and chuck over a couple of £25 chips, muttering out a couple of ‘neighbour’ bets. The trainee will usually be flustered by this sort of bet, and be grateful when the supervisor takes control, clearly announcing the call bet again. Of course, by this time the ball has landed and the numbers the supervisor announced are – you’ve guessed it – the winning ones.
An added bonus for the crooks is that, because of casinos’ rigid employee hierarchy, any mere trainee bold – or stupid – enough to question a decision made by his supervisor would probably be fired.
A much less sophisticated scam is when the casino dealer simply steals money or chips from the table. It’s a bold move, but only takes a second, and the thief can actually shield the move from any prying eyes or cameras by his body position. If the dealer has been friendly with his co-workers, he probably wouldn’t be suspected even when he makes suspicious moves.
However, if he has secreted large amounts of cash inside the front of his shirt (or down his waistband, or in his sock, or up his sleeve, or through a slit in her dress) or has even the smallest-value chip found on his person during a search by the casino’s management, it will mean immediate dismissal. Most dealers just tend to overpay their crooked friends, either by allowing the player to add late bets, or by slipping £25 chips onto the bottom of a stack of £1 chips.
The normal type of roulette scam is when the dealers themselves palm a chip and slip it onto the winning number: by just adding one £25 chip, the payout is £875 to the cheating confederate. The crooks only have to wait for a busy period, or for the inspector to be momentarily distracted (which can happen three or four times in a night) and the profits can be handsome.
In one such scam, the players in on the deception would usually place bets on the least-played section of the wheel – that is, the numbers clockwise from 4 to 36; hardly anyone ever plays heavily on 6, 13 or 34 – and the dealers would try to aim for this area. It didn’t matter if they missed: they’d just ‘top-hat’ whatever the winning number turned out to be.
There was an incidence of this scam in Britain where the dealers only did the top-hatting when no managers were around; there were some inspectors in on it as well, which helped enormously. The fraud went on for more than a year, with the casino losing thousands every week. In the end, the players were barred, this time for ‘being too lucky’.
Think about the previous scam and then imagine that a dealer could spin a certain section of the wheel. This is a much better scam because there’s no evidence: any of the dealers seen palming a chip would have given the game away instantly. Also, no matter how many managers or cameras are watching the table, there will be no way of knowing what the dealer is doing; furthermore, 99.9% of casino personnel don’t believe it’s possible, despite there being an actual casino term for it – ‘section-spinning’. But for a dealer who does master the art, the potential profits involved are astronomical.
Most dealers try to section-spin in the early days of their career, usually to try to beat a player who is winning large amounts of money. Eventually, though, it proves either impossible for them, or just too difficult and distracting to do on a long-term basis. Moreover, most players lose all their winnings anyway. However, those dealers who practise constantly, seven hours a night, five nights a week, can, occasionally, on some wheels, with some balls, at certain times, absolutely slaughter a winning player.
And some of these dealers, later on in their career, when they’re making the casino £10,000 a night but being paid £50, decide to spin-to-miss certain big players and pay out certain other players – that is, their friends, who will be playing the numbers opposite on the wheel to where the whales are playing. Their table results always show good wins, while they skim a couple of grand a week from the big players, cutting out the middleman – the casino – altogether.