Despite the image portrayed by Hollywood, nowadays, if you’re caught cheating in a casino you’re unlikely to come to physical harm but, depending on what you do and where you do it, you could find yourself in serious trouble. By definition, cheating is illegal, but punishments for cheats, or suspected cheats, vary from casino to casino and from jurisdiction to jurisdiction.
If you’re caught cheating, or even just suspected of cheating, you can reasonably expect to be detained and interrogated by casino security staff. In Nevada, for example, casino staff need only identify probable cause to detain suspected cheats, as long as the conditions under, and the length of time for which, a suspect is detained are deemed ‘reasonable’. If, following interrogation, the casino finds evidence of wrongdoing, you could be charged with a felony; if convicted, you could be liable for up to six years’ imprisonment and/or a fine up to $10,000, plus restitution to the casino.
Nevada casinos can also, legally, seize your winnings if you are suspected of cheating. Furthermore, if your cheating is warranted serious enough, your name could be entered onto the Nevada Gaming Control Board (GCB) Excluded Person List, colloquially known as the ‘Black Book’. The Black Book is essentially a ‘Who’s Who’ of charlatans, crooks and rogues from the past two or three decades – including infamous cheats, such as Tommy Glenn Carmichael and Ronald Dale Harris – who are, or were, permanently excluded from every casino in Nevada as a result of their illegal activity.
In Texas hold’em poker, it is not uncommon for the dealer to accidentally expose, or ‘flash’, one or more cards, such that the rank and suit of the card(s) can be seen by one or more players. If the first or second card dealt is exposed, or more than one card is exposed, the mistake is considered serious enough to warrant a misdeal; in that case, the dealer should collect all the cards, shuffle the deck and start dealing again from scratch.
However, aside from the first or second card dealt, a single exposed card does not warrant a misdeal. In fact, the dealer should complete dealing hole cards to each player before dealing the player with the exposed card a replacement card, face down, and announcing the rank and suit of the exposed card. Play continues as normal, except that, at the end of the first round of betting – when the dealer would normally discard, or ‘burn’, the card at the top of the deck before dealing the flop – the previously exposed card becomes the first ‘burn card’ instead.
If the dealer, by the act of dealing or otherwise, causes a card to fall off the table, the card should be considered exposed, regardless of whether or not it has been seen by any of the players. In the event that one or more burn cards is exposed – at which point there will, by definition, already be bets in the pot – the dealer should return the exposed card(s) to the deck, shuffle, burn another card and continue dealing as normal; no misdeal should be called.
In a famous scene from the 1988 Oscar-winning film ‘Rain Man’, an apparently-savvy casino security guard says, sagely, while watching main protagonist Charlie Babbit playing blackjack at Caesars Palace, ‘You know there’s no-one in the world that can count into a six-deck shoe.’ However, as anyone familiar with the ‘High-Low’ card counting strategy can testify, this statement is completely untrue.
When using High-Low, a card counter starts with a ‘running count’ of zero at the start of a shoe and adds to, or subtracts from, the running count as each card is revealed, according to the point value assigned to each rank. Aces, court cards and tens are assigned +1, twos, threes, fours, fives and sixes are assigned -1 and sevens, eights and nines are assigned 0. The next step is to divide the running count by the number of decks remaining or, at least, a rough approximation of the number of decks remaining, to establish the so-called ‘true count’. In other words, anyone capable of basic arithmetic is capable of counting a six-deck shoe, or an eighty-deck shoe for that matter.
It is understandable that Barry Levinson employed dramatic licence to make card counting the preserve of those, such as the autistic savant character Raymond ‘Rain Man’ Babbit, endowed with extraordinary mathematical skills, but the mundane fact is that, with practice, just about anyone can do it. Any casino security guard worth his salt would have known this, even in the late Eighties, but such a revelation would have ruined the plot.
On the physical layout of a craps table, the pass line is a long, narrow bar that extends along the sides and front of the table. In a bricks-and-mortar casino, the pass line is readily accessible by all players at a table, who can place chips upon it without assistance from the craps dealer.
The pass line is significant because the pass line bet is, far and away, the most popular bet placed on any craps table. According to one estimate, nine out of ten craps players favour the pass line bet. The pass line bet is, essentially, relatively simple. A player placing a pass line bet is betting with the dice or, in other words, betting that the person throwing the dice, known as the ‘shooter’, will win.
If, on the first roll of the dice at the opening of a game, known as the ‘come-out’ roll, the shooter rolls 7 or 11, the pass line bet – which always pays even money – wins. If, on the come-out roll, the shooter rolls 2, 3 or 12, he or she is said to have ‘crapped out’ and the pass line bet loses. If the shooter rolls any other total on the come-out roll, he or she establishes, or sets, a ‘point’ and the pass line bet enters a second phase. Once a point has been established, pass line bettors require the shooter to roll that same point total again, before rolling a 7, to double their money. If, on the other hand, the shooter rolls a 7 before rolling the point total for a second time, the pass line bet loses.