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.

How Live Casino Surveillance Communication Fails

Do I see it?
An integral part of the surveillance and security apparatus protecting live brick and mortar casinos is strong communication between surveillance operators upstairs and casino personnel on the floor working table games. This will not only better protect the casino where a cheating sequence occurred, but it will also serve other casinos down the block quite well.

Without it, protecting casinos will not get optimum results from all that state of the art video and audio technology.

A prime example of the failure of these systems occurred when I was active cheating casinos.

I was pastposting $5,000 chips (called “chocolates” in some high-end Vegas casinos) underneath $100 chips, known almost everywhere as “blacks.” This was a major move taking five grand a pop out of casinos, sometimes ten when my teammates and I used two chocolates at a time.

After an incredible run of consecutive successful chocolate-chip pastposts in July and August 1995, we finally had a “miss” on a Caesars Palace blackjack table when a pit boss refused to pay the pastposted bet. In the aftermath, the heat that came down inside the Vegas casinos was a helluva lot hotter than the scorching desert air outside.

Griffin Investigations and the totality of Las Vegas casino surveillance shot into action to try and put my team and I out of business. They immediately flooded Vegas with circulars (no widespread Internet at the time) advising casinos that a pastposting team was running amok slipping chocolate $5,000 chips underneath $100 blacks.

It was enough to make us stop using that move—but not enough to put us out of business.

We discussed our “big heat” problem and soon came up with a very clever idea that enabled us to go right back into the hot casinos:

Pastpost yellow $1,000 chips under $25 greens.

True, the change was a reduction in our profit-per-move, but taking a grand off the table each time was better than having to pack up and leave town.

So we went on another casino-cheat rampage doing the reduced pastpost move, the same exact move with different value chips. Right back inside Caesars, we encountered another steamy situation. The floorman was suspicious but still ordered the dealer to pay the bet.


Because the intercasino advisory warned of chocolate $5,000 chips being pastposted underneath $100 black chips—not $1,000 yellow chips being pastposted underneath $25 green chips.

For this reason, we were able to continue doing the same move as if we had never been doing it with the chocolate chips. After bunches more of the yellow-green combo, we took heat again, and then, believe it or not, went right back into the casinos slipping $500 purple chips underneath $5 red chips. With no problems getting paid.

Even I couldn’t believe it!

Where’s the surveillance communication failure?

Simply its lack of communicating the totality of the move. The advisory should have given a description of the move AND advised that it could be done with other high-denomination chips besides the $5,000 chocolates.

This failure of proper and complete communication between casino surveillance departments and the casino personnel in the gaming pits still exists today, in spite of all the technology. I realize that what happened back in the mid-90s could not happen today, but this was only an example to show the damage that miscommunication between the floor, surveillance and associate casinos can do to any casino and all casinos.

Proper communication is always one of the key points I make to casino floor and surveillance staffs when I train them in the field of casino table-game protection. 

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Game Protection Post: Top-10 reasons why state of the art surveillance systems do not always protect casinos from cheats and advantage players

Many of you experience the latest state of the art surveillance video systems at the World Game Protection Conference, but what you should also know is that in many cases it is not enough to stop the casino-cheats and advantage-players.

Here is a top-10 list why:

1) Casino personnel depend too much on them.
2) Casino personnel lack ability to spot cheat scams on their own.
3) Professional cheats have much more knowledge about cheating than casino personnel.
4) Lack of proper and rapid communication between casino floor personnel and surveillance operators.
5) Casino personnel lack ability to pick up on cheats and their scams before they’re put into operation.
6) Failure of casino personnel to understand how cheats silently communicate in casinos.
7) Failure of casino personnel to recognize how casino cheats obtain large denomination chips without their knowledge.
8) Failure of casino personnel to differentiate between a set-up bet and a completely honest bet.
9) Casino personnel lacks understanding of the psychology casino cheats use to control them.

10) Casinos do not implement proper cage operations to pick up on cheats cashing out chips.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Casino Game Protection--How I Do It

Many of you casino executives may have attended the recent World Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas and listened to various game-protection consultants present their methods and credentials. However, if you want the best to come to your casino and train your staff, this is how I do it.

My main goal in training casino floor staffs is to make them as efficient and knowledgeable as possible without depending on the video and surveillance systems. Simply put: to learn and recognize all facets of casino cheating and advantage play before it gets to the surveillance-department stage. As an ex-casino dealer who has performed many highly-effective inside casino scams, followed by 25 years as a professional casino-cheat, I can offer pretty good insight on how these things work from both sides of the tables. 
My main goal in training sureillance staffs is to remove them as much as possible from their video equipment and technology. In other words, teach them to be highly efficient even in the hypothethical circumstance that cameras did not exist. This is because floor supervisors and surveillance departments have become so dependent on the technology that many of its employees have very little knowledge of what cheating and advantage play is really about. I always like to say, "A camera cannot tap you on the shoulder and tell you there´s a cheat-move going down on BJ 4." You´ve got to be able to identify what you see on the video or what you´re watching on the live game. If a floorperson does not recognize a cheat or advantage-play team at the tables, the cameras above are not going to alert them to it. Game protecftion must work from the floor up.  
If you have read anything about my cheating days, I was able to use cameras and surveillance departments to actually help me cheat casinos (see the Savannah move on my website). Capable cheats can actually separate the casino floor from surveillance departments by using psychology that overcomes game-protection procedure. For example, I was able to place $5,000 bets without dealers notifying supervisors, and as well was able to prevent the floor from notifying surveillance when I was actually caught cheating, all by use of psychology. 
Normally when I conduct seminars, the audience is a mix of floor and surveillance people. I find that this works well because communication between the two and working as one is integral for good game and casino protection. In more casinos than not, surveillance and the floor are not on the same page.
One thing I like to do is have a member of the casino floor staff, unbeknownst to the rest of the seminar attendees, participate in my cheating demonstrations while their peers are also seated around the gaming table. I have already met with this individual before the seminar and taught him how to do cheating moves. Then when he actually does a cheating move during the seminar, the audience is shocked to see how easy it was for him to do it. This type of active-attendee participation works really well in generating more interestest and closer attention from the audience.
I do not do any tired-old powerpoint presentations.I do not waste much time going over videos of moves you have probably seen a thousand times. Everything is hands-on work on tables and throughout a casino. I not only teach how casino cheat-moves and advantage-play teams operate at the tables, I stress how they prepare inside the casino before their moves, how they communicate on and away from the tables, how they cash out their checks, and all the other necessary facets that must be known in order to have a chance of spotting the professional teams before they leave the casino with your money. I have found over the years that casinos have very little idea how cheats communicate, nor do they invest much time in learning how cheats, especially those working with high-denomination checks, obtain them and cash them out without drawing suspicion.
For example, in my later cheating-days I worked exclusively with $5,000 checks and on some nights had more than $50,000 of checks to cash out, However, I never once in my life cashed out a single $5,000 check. So how did I turn them into cash without raising eyebrows?
As far as direct training to surveillance depts alone goes, I like to put them in the shoes of a cheat or advantage player, show them how they think, plan and act. As I do with the floor staff, I take one member of the surveillance dept. and work with him alone before I meet the rest of the attendees. Then I teach him some cheating moves, and later we do a demonstration on the table while the rest are watching. As everyone is thinking I am going to do the cheat move, the surveillance guy does it and of course no one sees it go down. The point of this is twofold: firstly to  show how everything at a suspect table has to be watched; the second, how the best cheat moves are so easily done. My Savannah move, which arguably was the best low-tech move of all time, could be taught to you in under five minutes and can still be done at any casino if the staff cannot properly defend against it..
We would also discuss the high-tech scams, the baccarat edge-sorting and other hi-tech scams, but remember, the vast majority of casino scams are not high-tech. We would also spend time talking about inside-dealer and floorpeople scams, on which I have much experience. As a dealer back in 1977, I was probably the first to do the infamous false-shuffle baccarat scam later done on a huge scale by the Tran organization 25 years later. 
Another thing I like to do out the outset of the seminar is give a 20-question quiz to everyone entitled "How good a casino cheat and advantage player would you be?"
Then we go over it without giving the correct answers, and then at the end of the seminar the same quiz is repeated, and we compare the scores to see how much the attendees have learned and retained.
This is a general overview of how I work. Of course each training/seminar is tailored to the property epending on your exact needs and who will be attending.