Inside Asian Gaming

INSIDE ASIAN GAMING | Oct 2007 46 Casino Scams S everal sleek and high-tech casinos scams have recently made interna- tional headlines. In May we heard of the multi-million-dollar international mini- baccarat scam. Then in June it was hidden cameras spying on players’ hole cards in a high-stakes poker game at the Borgata in Atlantic City. Reports of these scams have been glossy and even Hollywoodesque, with the Borgata scam being likened to scenes in the James Bond film Casino Royale . But it’s not always high-tech gadgetry that gets the money from casino coffers. In fact, I never used any- thing of the sort to cheat casinos out of mil- lions. All I used was my wit and my guts, and of course a little creativity. By wit, I mean the use of psychology to control my adversaries: casino personnel. It was psychology, more than a magician’s sleight of hand or a warrior’s fearlessness, that made me so successful against all those cameras trained on the tables. I used it so well that I controlled casino personnel like puppets on a string. How did I do this? Mainly by dividing cheating moves into three separate phases, each of which further enhanced my control of the situation by making dealers, floorpeo- ple and pit bosses believe I was a high roller and not a cheater, all the while keeping sur- veillance in the dark. To illustrate a classic example of psychol- ogy at work, I am going to take you through each phase of my favorite roulette cheating move. Like most of the moves I fashioned during the eighties andnineties,it was a past- post move, getting the big-denomination chips down after I knew I had a winning bet. The ploy is to pastpost two $100 black chips straight up on a winning number for a payoff of $7,000, which is within the maximum lim- its in many casinos across the world. Granted, I was able to lay the two black chips underneath the dolly marking the number when the dealer’s eyes left the lay- out for a split-second. But that dexterity alone is not enough to get the money. After all, two unseen black chips screaming for a $7,000 payoff will certainly get the attention of surveillance for video verification—unless, of course, I was able to figure out a way to prevent that from happening. I doubt you’re thinking that I failed to prevent that from happening—but you’ll still get a kick out of seeing how it was done. For this move,I will be the mechanic,the per- son at the bottom end of the table who past- posts the two black chips.The pretty woman on my cheating team, whom we are going to call Dawn, will be the claimer, the person who takes the $7,000 in ill-gotten chips off the table. Two other teammates will serve as checkbettors, the term I used for people making pre-designed bets around the lay- out that forced the dealer to make certain movements which facilitated my having the split-second necessary to make the move. The psychology involved is all related to Dawn’s presence at the table, so I will take you step by step through everything she does from the moment she sits down until she gets paid and leaves the table. Dawn approaches Dawn approaches the roulette table with five black $100 chips and sits at the top section across from the dealer. She tosses one black chip on the layout and buys in for minimum-value roulette chips, which are $1. We’ll say that the dealer gives her a hundred brown $1 roulette chips,five stacks of twenty each. Once the dealer pushes the five stacks of twenty chips to Dawn, she immediately puts them into a 2-2-1 formation in front of her. This means there are two stacks in the front closest to the dealer, two stacks behind those and one stack closest to her, which is shielded from the dealer by the double row of two stacks in front. But then Dawn surrep- titiously slides her remaining four black $100 chips into the bottom of the rear stack clos- est to her, completely hidden from the deal- er.She does this in a one-atop-one sequence, meaning that the bottom chip is a brown roulette chip, the one atop that a black $100 chip, the one atop that another brown rou- lette chip, then another black and so on.This furtive stack is called the “mix-up” stack and remains hidden from the dealer until the crucial moment, which you will soon see. Now Dawn begins betting her brown roulette chips on the layout, carefully mak- ing sure not to disturb the mix-up stack in the back. If her chip reserve dwindles from losing spins, she buys more brown chips in order to prevent the mix-up stack from be- ing exposed.In her first betting sequence she lays three brown chips on a bottom number in front of me, and I quickly scoop them up unseen while making my own bets.Then she proceeds to bet five brown chips on each of the bottom nine numbers straight up, num- bers 28 through 36. Meanwhile, I already have two black $100 chips in my posses- sion. I quickly mix them in with Dawn’s three brown roulette chips that I had removed from the layout. The result is that the five chips now palmed in my hand are identi- Psychological Warfare After making away with some US$20 million over a 25-year career as a casino cheat, Richard Marcus now consults for casinos around the world to help prevent them becoming the victims of scams He explains how psychology, more than high-tech gadgetry, can often be the most potent weapon in a cheater’s arsenal Richard Marcus at the ready at the bottom end of the table