Thursday, February 15, 2018

Has Casino Game Protection Gone too Far? Or Should we just Change its Name?

Just Game Protection...ONLY!
I recently received an email from a reader of my blog criticizing me and others in the game protection industry for "just going way too far." He said that we are covering things that simply have nothing to do with casino game protection. He cited the October 1st Las Vegas massacre as a prime example.

The writer is someone who is not in the business but whom I know well for having made several worthy comments to me over the years. So I began to think about what he said and soon I found myself asking if his critique did indeed have merit.

Has casino game protection gone too far?

We all know that the number-one horror story in Las Vegas, and in the entire United States for that matter, during the year 2017 was the terrible mass-shooting committed by Stephan Paddock. Fifty-nine people died and hundreds more were wounded in this unbelievable senseless act of terror.

The shooting also seemed to be the number-one story for casino game-protection-related websites and blogs, especially those operating from Las Vegas.

We all certainly appreciate the loss of life, destruction of lives and the terrible suffering that this tragic event caused, and I certainly appreciate the roles that casino surveillance and security must play in order to better prepare for these types of events and maybe even help stop them before they happen or at least minimize the devastation.

But what I am suddenly not so sure about is that terrorism and mass-murder, whether it be internationally inspired or the work of some madman (or in Paddock's case a seemingly sane guy seeking revenge for gambling losses), should be so directly related to all the topics and practices that fall under the umbrella of what you and I call "Casino Game Protection."

I have followed just about everything online about casino game-protection since I first got involved in it after a 25-year-career cheating casinos that culminated in my writing a book and finally becoming a casino game-protection trainer myself.

For the first few years during my transition from an interested person to an active participant in game protection, "game protection" simply meant protecting casino games from cheats, thieves, crooked employees and advantage players. It was nothing more than training casinos how to protect their table games and slot machines from those looking to take advantage of weak internal controls and other flaws to take money out of the casino cages.

But it surely began to evolve after 9/11.

I first noticed it when an Israeli anti-terrorism expert gave a gruesome presentation at the 2007 World Game Protection Conference at which I was the first speaker. Although I was a bit surprised by his very presence there, I certainly understood it. Of course there was the real threat of a terrorist attack at a Las Vegas or any other American casino.

Next came the computer hackers and high-tech fraud experts. I understood that as well. Hackers and fraudsters certainly had already invaded casinos' financial and information systems, so we did no wrong including these experts under the widening umbrella of casino game protection.

But then came astronauts and people whose areas of expertise I didn't even understand So maybe then I first had some inkling of doubt about the people getting involved in giving advice how to protect casinos, if not casino games. But I just shrugged it off and said to myself..."okay."

Finally, after that terrible event in Las Vegas, game protection did indeed do a major shift to where our experts (including myself) were now speaking out daily on matters that some may consider more apropos to SWAT teams and Navy SEALS.

The writer pointed out that we should not be voicing our opinions on how the Las Vegas Sheriff's Department and FBI were conducting their investigations and giving out information to the public.

That's where he said he drew the line.

He added that casino game protection people do not need to make public statements about mass killings and killers' backgrounds, nor do we need to be "criminal news agencies" transmitting photos of armed robberies, sexual assaults and murders even if they do happen in or near casinos.

Then he wrote, "Posting and Tweeting about Steve Wynn's alleged sex abuse under the heading of game protection devalues the integrity of what you do."

These comments got to me.

Upon serious thought, I can agree that those are not game-protection issues. They are issues that concern specific functions of casinos' security and surveillance staffs that have nothing to do with gaming. So maybe the guy's right. Maybe we should leave these issues to the very capable and dedicated casino security and surveillance professionals whose reality it is to deal with them.

There is one item coming off the massacre supported by game protection forums that does bother me. This is the promotion of software programs that inventors say can track degenerate gamblers' playing patterns and behavior at the tables to identify which ones are more likely to go back to their rooms and get their guns and grenades after taking a bad loss at blackjack.

Come on, gimme break!

This is just some innovator's way of profiting off the hysteria. There ain't never (pardon this double-negative onslaught) gonna be no software to tell us which degenerate gamblers are going to go on a casino rampage, no more than there's gonna be software to tell us which high school wacko-psychotic posting his love for killing online is gonna storm into his classroom with an AR 15.

Please don't buy that crap.

Although the school shootings have been very repetitive in nature, the Las Vegas-style massacre will probably never happen again. And if it does, there is not much we would have been able to do to prevent it...except maybe if by some miracle the gun laws change. (I don't want to get political here--because doing so is CERTAINLY NOT game protection! LOL).

So maybe game protection needs to stay more focused on what it is (or was)--simply protecting casino games and gaming operations. In my eleven years training casino and surveillance staffs in game protection, never once have I uttered these words during a seminar: terrorist; tracer bullets; automatic weapons; active shooter.

And not one attendee has ever asked me why not. 

Finally, my opinion is this: We should probably continue talking about these issues but not overdo it. Unless, of course, we want to change the name of what we do to something other than "casino game protection" if we're going to be so all-encompassing.

I expect you might have some diverse comments, so keep 'em coming!

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Table Game Protection Dilema: Should Casino Floor Staffs Receive Game Protection Training Together with Surveillance Staffs?

This is a very common question.

The worry that most casino upper managers have is that if Gaming Floor People are shown all the cheat moves that Surveillance Personnel are, the result might lead to more inside dealer/floorperson/surveillance scams against the casino, or simply that casino floor people should not have as much knowledge of scams as surveillance, so that they might not be tempted on their own to cheat their tables.

I have always conducted my game protection training with the two groups together. I feel strongly about this because I believe the casino staff on the floor must be on the same page as the surveillance staff "upstairs."

True, there are potential negatives, even dangers. But let's look at a few facts first.

The first is that collusion scams performed by casino floor staffs very rarely involve surveillance people. So by that alone, you can rid yourselves of the worry of a major scam going down in your casino from the bottom all the way up. That can only happen in a casino that has disastrously poor internal controls and game-protection policy, and complete lack of adherence if there is any game-protection policy in place.

Second: There are always some dealers who turn to cheating the house. This can NEVER be avoided. But the global percentage, even in casinos with poor internal controls that are literally asking their dealers to cheat them, is extremely low, probably lower that the vast majority of worldwide industries.

With that in mind, excluding dealers and floor supervisors from knowledge of the inner-workings of table scams being taught to surveillance staffs will have a negative impact on your casinos.

Why?

Simply because your dealers are your first line of defense against ALL casino scams not involving dealers. If they are ignorant to a particular cheating scam happening on their tables, then, unless a very sharp supervisor behind them takes notice of the moves going down, surveillance immediately becomes your FIRST line of defense.

Now I have absolutely no bias against surveillance staffs, but in my 25-year casino-cheating career, not once has a cheat-move of mine been spotted on time or stopped by surveillance alerting the gaming pits.

I mean NOT ONCE!

This is not to say that surveillance operators aren't efficient. By and large they do a great job, especially if they have good training and follow internal policy. But it is much too difficult to spot the majority of professional moves when you're away from the table--no matter how good your equipment is.

Remember, good game protection must come from the floor up. Surveillance serves best when the floor staff alerts them to something suspicious. Then they can focus in on whatever it is going down on the tables, and then mobilize the entire casino to eradicate the problem.

So all that said, it is firmly my opinion that you should train your floor staffs in game protection, cheating and advantage play as you do your surveillance staffs.

However, I do suggest that if dealers are participating in game protection training, they should not be present when inside-dealer scams are being presented. They can learn these when and if they become supervisors.

All that said, this does not mean that floor personnel and surveillance staffs must be trained together in the same place at the same time. It just means that they should learn the same material, albeit perspectives unique to each department should be addressed to both.


Friday, July 15, 2016

How Bad Ass Casino Dealers Cheat Your Ass

Watch out!
Most casino gamblers believe that casinos do not need to cheat the customers because their profits are huge enough on the square.

What they overlook is that the vast majority of cheating in brick and mortar casinos is done by dealers in business for themselves who keep their casino bosses in the dark.

Suspicious gamblers, especially losing ones, will say that all dealers cheat at one time or another, and often bend their own bad-beat stories into horrific tales of being the victims of cheating dealers.

So what’s the truth?

It’s simply that casino cheating scams engineered by dealers or other casino employees are of a small proportion, but since there are so many casinos with so many tables, there are several episodes of dealer-cheating in all major casinos across the world—every day.

How do they do it?

They cheat in two basic formats.

One is to partner up with an “agent” to cheat their own casinos for individual profit. The other is to cheat legitimate players at their tables in order to replace the chips missing from their dealer chip racks.

That’s to say if Dealer-Peter is cheating the casino and dumping off those chips to his Partner-in-Cheating-Paul, he then has to cheat Poor-Innocent Mary out of her chips to balance out his chip rack and avoid suspicion.

5 ways Dealer-Peter cheats his casino and gets the chips to Partner-Paul
      
P    Paul plays at Peter’s mini-baccarat table. On a baccarat score card provided by the casino, he charts the exact order of the cards dealt from the first hand out of the shoe until the last hand.

Peter then performs a false shuffle of the six decks of cards and puts them into the shoe. Paul, knowing the exact order that the cards will come out of the new shoe, bets accordingly and kicks the casino’s ass.

Peter and Paul divvy up the money outside the casino after Peter’s shift.

      Paul next sits at Peter’s roulette table and buys in for chips. Peter, who has mastered the craft of roulette “section shooting,” by which he can control the ball so that it drops into a certain six-number quadrant on the spinning roulette wheel a fair percentage of the time, carefully monitors both the speed of the wheel’s revolutions and the speed with which he lances the roulette ball, and hits the desired quadrant more than probability would dictate.

Once again, Peter and Paul divvy up the cash over a cold one at the neighborhood tavern and play some live video poker.

3       Paul now strolls up to Peter’s blackjack table and takes a seat. He knows Peter will help him along in various ways.
        
a) Peter will “push” or even pay Paul’s losing hands.
b) Peter will overpay Paul when his hands do win.
      c) Peter will help Paul steer tens and aces to his hands off the top of the shoe through a method of controlled-shuffling whereby he protects the order of certain cards or clumps of cards.

      d) When dealing handheld blackjack games, Peter will take a surreptitious glance at the top card of the deck that Paul would receive on a hit, double-down or split. He will signal Paul how to proceed.

This time when the party’s over, they split up the booty in Peter’s apartment, which happens to have a blackjack table in the dining room so that Peter can practice his dealer-cheat moves.  

     
4        Paul takes a long walk to the other side of the behemoth live casino. Lo and behold, his buddy Peter is dealing a lively craps game, which is flowing along at an impressive pace. He hunkers in between two players along the human wall surrounding the craps table.

As is common with today’s craps tables, there is no supervising boxman seated at the middle of the table between Peter and the other dealer at the opposite end of the craps table.

a)      Paul makes a $50 bet on the Don’t Pass Line.
b)      The shooter rolls the dice and they come out 5-5 for a total of ten.
c)       Paul lays $100 double-odds against the shooter rolling another ten before he rolls a seven-out
d)      The shooter does roll the winner-ten and Paul’s bets lose.
e)      Paul quickly swipes his $100 double-odds bet off the layout before Peter can collect it for the house.
f)       Peter sees Paul do this but purposely ignores it.
g)      Paul loses only the original $50 Don’t Pass bet.
h)      The shooter rolls the dice and they come out 3-1 for a total of four.
i)        Paul lays $100 double-odds against the shooter rolling another four before he rolls a seven out.
j)        The shooter rolls the seven-out.
k)      Paul leaves both his winning bets on the layout.
l)        Peter pays them both.
m)    Paul wins $50 on each bet for a total profit of $100.

Paul continues swiping his losing odds bets off the layout in the dark, but leaves them intact when they win. Peter, knowing there is no one supervising him, just keeps paying Paul’s winners and ignoring the losers that Paul swipes off the layout.

This time the casino-cheating pair split up the profits at Paul’s house.
             
5       Finally Paul finds the brick and mortar poker room where Peter is dealing a $10-20 hold’em game. He sits down and immediately plays a hand. He receives his two cards face down and is delighted to see a pair of black aces. He tucks his cards underneath his chips in a predetermined way which signals the value of his hand to Peter, who immediately peeks at the top card to be burned before the flop.

By golly, he notes it’s a pretty red ace!

Instead of burning it, Peter holds it atop the deck and peels off the second card and burns it. Then he turns over the flop which contains the red ace. Paul goes on to make an aces full house and win the hand.

Paul continues playing with the artful dealer’s help and cleans up the poker game.

This final time, the happy boys cut up their ill-gotten gains at their girlfriends’ house (they’re sisters.)
  
Did we forget about Poor-Innocent Mary, the victim whom Peter has to cheat to hide the cheating-profits he made with Paul?

We did not!

So how does Peter cheat Mary?

The same way he cheated the casino with Paul, but in reverse.

When Mary sits at Peter’s blackjack table, he shortchanges her on winning hands, sweeps her bet on push hands, and just takes her losing chips when her hands lose.

Of course Mary might catch on and claim that Peter shortchanged her or took her chips on a push hand, to which Peter will apologize, make the correction--and then wait for the next “Mary” to hit his table.


The same vicious cycle continues on all the other games that Bad-Ass Peter deals in the casino.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

How Pro Casino Cheats Psych Out Their Casino Victims

Casino Cheat Brain Power
The world´s best cheats use a powerful and proven 10-step method to dummy-up casinos into believing their cheat moves are legitimate bets and that they’re legitimate high rollers.

1)    Buying the chips they need away from the table they’re about to move on.
When a casino-cheat team wants to do a blackjack move using $1,000 chips, they get those $1,000 chips at the craps or baccarat table, thus avoiding any heat on obtaining large-denomination chips at the blackjack table they’re targeting. This gives them the element of surprise when putting them into dishonest play.

2)     Making set-up bets to establish credibility as a high roller.
When the team pastposts or bet-switches a $1,000 chip, the person who will claim that phony        bet will first make a legitimate bet using the same denomination chip. The dealer and supervisor will both remember this big original bet and not be suspicious when the same high-roller appears claiming a bet-switch containing a $1,000 chip.

3)    Using a little psychological “force” when possible.
When trying to manipulate a dealer’s mind, a little physical touch can go a long way. As casino dealers are almost never touched, a switched-bet claimer can reach out and gently tap the dealer’s hand to alert him to the cheat-move and speed up the process of getting paid. This soft touch has the effect of whacking the dealer’s head with a baseball bat because he’s totally shocked at being touched at all by a player. The result is that he forgets what he´d seen in the betting circle and therefore cannot contest the cheat’s claim as to how much is in the circle now.

4)    Betting back after the switch goes down and gets paid.
The best way to avoid post-move heat is to cool the casino down. Doing this entails a bet-back, which is the same as the set-up bet but placed after the move goes down. If the cheat-move earned $1,000, then a bet-back or two of $200 will do the trick. Of course those bets are at risk, but in the long-run the cheats will only lose a small percentage of their cheat gain.

5)    Being gabby from the start to the finish.
The best way to control the situation at a table and avoid having it turn negative is to create the mood the cheat-team wants, which is obviously a jovial one. When there is talk and laughter at the table, it is much more difficult for negative reaction and suspicion to surface. With this in mind, the cheat who is raking the cash off the layout engages his gambling neighbors in affable conversation during the entire time he’s at the table.

6)    Chumming-up the supervisor.
The cheat wants to immediately establish a rapport with the supervisor, who is the second most important person at the table and the one who ultimately determines whether or not the cheat-move will be paid. As most supervisors come over and greet the players, especially those showing big action, the cheat wants to ingratiate himself right away. He thus accepts the supervisor’s offer to rate his play in order to qualify for casino comps. What better outcome to get paid on a cheat-move and then wine and dine yourself as the casino’s guest!

7)    Not coloring-out chips at the table.
Although the cheat wants to leave the victim table as soon as possible after the move and subsequent bet-backs, he doesn’t color-out his chips to a higher denomination. Doing so gives the impression that the cheat may have finished his gambling and is headed to the casino cage to cash out and then leave the casino. Not doing so leaves the impression that the cheat who has just been paid on a bet-switch is still ripe for lots more gambling and will probably give the casino back its money at another table.

8)    Tipping the dealer.
Last thing a top-cheat wants to do is leave the table having an unsatisfied dealer. If the dealer is a little suspicious or upset, he might nudge his supervisor to call surveillance to have them take a closer look at what went down on the table. A good secret that cheats know is that a nice tip will remove most of the doubt from the dealer’s mind.

9)    Leaving the table aggressively.
Another last thing a cheat wants to do after cheating a casino game is leave the table as if he’s trying to escape. Doing so will pop red flags in casino-employees’ minds. Leaving sheepishly or in a hurry does not seem natural for a high roller who’s just won a grand or more at the table. So the masterminding cheat walks off with tailing conversation and laughter, maybe even a friendly slap on the back or handshake to his neighboring player.

10)   Avoid talking to the teller at the casino cage while cashing out chips.
The chatter cheats use to control the atmosphere with neighboring players and supervisors at the table is not needed at the casino cage. Skillful cheats just lay their chips on the counter and wait for the cash. If the teller has any questions as they sometimes do, the cheat just answers them succinctly. As the casino cage is a prime locale for money-laundering and other serious criminal operations, the less felonious casino-cheat just wants to get outta there as soon as possible.

Total psychological effect

Psyching out the casino is probably the strongest weapon in the skilled casino-cheat’s arsenal. Most actual cheat-moves are quite easy to do and contain nothing more than good timing and hand-coordination. But the key to cheating-success is to keep the casino oblivious to the very fact they are being cheated, and the only way to do that is by building a psychological step-by-step ladder that leaves their personnel so dumbfounded that they just go along for the ride.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Game Protection--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

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

The Importance of Proper Blackjack Shuffle Maintenance


Are your dealers boxing?
The shuffling procedure of brick and mortar casino blackjack is extremely important. When it is done correctly, many forms of cheating and advantage-play are wiped out before a player even has the chance to implement his attack.

What I have noticed lately during my worldwide casino travels is that many casinos are letting their regular brick and mortar blackjack shuffle procedure be affected by the shuffle procedure they use on their online live blackjack games.

Of course there are valid reasons why live blackjack shuffles differ from those used in the brick and mortar casino, but this must not influence how shuffles are done when real human players are at the table.

A good example of this problem is the stacking of packs of cards after the riffles into several small stacks across the entire perimeter of the insurance line. This is real dangerous on brick and mortar games as it opens up cheating opportunities, especially the thievery of cards at the end positions of the table.

One player could distract the dealer from first base during the shuffle and another can then pilfer a card or two from the stack so close to him at third base. Then of course these cards can be switched into play at key moments for the cheats.

So it is imperative that the stacking of cards after the riffles be done into no more than two stacks directly in front of the dealer. And equally important is that all brick and mortar blackjack shuffles contain strips which prevent ace and key-card tracking, and "boxes," which is the 180 degree turn of packs of cards within the stack to offset the possibility of edge-sorting scams.

Here is a good video on proper blackjack shuffling and dealing procedures.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

State of the Art Casino Surveillance Systems: Where's the problem?

They See it all, right? WRONG!
We have all seen countless TV programs depicting just how impossible it is to cheat in  modern gambling casinos in Las Vegas and across the world. Surveillance and security gurus like the Atrium's Ted Whiting give us demonstrations how they use this ultra-high-tech equipment to monitor their casino floors and then film and nab the casino cheats after gathering all that video evidence. Then, of course, come the big-bad agents swarming to the tables to bust the cheats.

Slam-dunk, right?

Not really.

All those surveillance-camera video sequences you see on TV that lead to putting cheats in jail and saving the casino millions of dollars are certainly true when they happen.

And that is the key: WHEN they happen. The reality is that when you take into account the tremendous volume of cheating that goes down in casinos, all that high-tech video surveillance rarely comes into play--in fact, surveillance itself rarely comes into play.

What am I talking about?

I'm talking about the problem. Which is that what Ted Whiting and the other TV casino-surveillance stars fail to mention on the broadcasts.

It is simply this: the more sophisticated that surveillance systems become, the less capable casino floor personnel become. And this is not difficult to understand. Casino floorpeople and pit bosses lose their motivation to learn and understand casino-cheating because they know that the casino's video cameras will record everything, and all they have to do is wait for the surveillance department to call them and report that they have picked up on a casino cheat and now they, the floorpeople, can go and catch him.

But what they don't know, or at least not take into account, is that the cameras cannot initiate anything themselves. They cannot tell the casino employees on the floor that they have just recorded a cheating incident and that someone should call them, the cameras, for details. Video cameras cannot tap a floorperson on the shoulder and say, "Hey, Mac, a guy on blackjack table #4 just capped his bet after getting blackjack," or, "that girl with the blond wig just pastposted a bet on roulette table #2."
It has to work in reverse. The employee on the floor has to see...or at least suspect...a cheat-move going down, and then he has to call the surveillance operators and report his findings so that they can go review the video evidence.

This is how it should work--but it rarely does. In fact, during my twenty-five-year cheating-career, never...and I mean NEVER...did a surveillance operator upstairs catch on to one of my cheating moves. 

And what compounded the problem for the casinos is that their employees on the floor rarely got suspicious of anything I ever did at the tables. And that's because they simply didn't know what to look for because they figured the cameras would do the looking for them.

And imagine how much worse this problem is now. I've been retired from active casino-cheating for 16 years, and surveillance equipment has only improved exponentially. Which of course means that the capacity of casino floorpeople to recognize scams on their own feet has declined, maybe not as exponentially, but certainly significantly.

So what I suggest to Ted Whiting and any other directors of casino surveillance is to get some good training programs into action to teach their casino floor employees a thing or two about spotting a cheat on their own and protecting their gaming tables.