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Card Counters Catch a Break

 By Jake Earl © Copyright 2006

It is the business of all casinos to take your money, and generally, they do it very well.

The big casinos supply free drinks, reduced (or free) room rates, show tickets, etc., to entice the player to continue to gamble.  The obvious reason is the house edge, which varies greatly from game to game.  The house edge is the reason Steve Wynn can build another casino; why The Bellagio can change their carpet every year; and why Indians learn the casino business so quickly.  Casinos make money.

Yet in this universe of “We ‘gotcha.” there lies a precious few methods in which the player can turn the cards to his advantage.  In Blackjack, the method is called card counting.  It is well documented that a good counter can win money at casinos.  Through a complex system of counting and remembering cards, a counter can achieve a slight advantage over the house.  For brief periods, the counter bets and wins.  And he wins enough to make the casinos sit up and take notice.

Casinos hire surveillance employees that do nothing but monitor play at their casinos.  If you are winning big, say over $5,000., you can safely bet that your play is being watched very carefully for counting.  But casinos have a counter-weapon at their disposal… Nevada law allows casinos to prohibit play for any (or no) reason at all.  If a player is winning too much, they can ask them to leave the casino.

They cannot, as many casinos have found out, rough-up players.  In the old days, casino personnel could (and sometimes would) take a player out of guest range, and “discourage” his behavior.  There are many instances of players being beat-up and threatened.  Towards this end, he would also be placed into a blacklist.  One of the main blacklists for casinos all over America was formally the blacklist book kept by Griffin Investigations.

But, we are a litigious society.  Back in 2000, Gamblers Michael Russo and James Grosjean were called “cheaters,” and were improperly “detained” at a major strip casino.  They were also placed into Griffins’ book of undesirables.  This was business as usual for casinos.

Only Russo and Grosjean sued. 

They were not found with any cheating “devices.”  They did not steal casino chips, either from the players or the casino.  They simply used their minds well enough to beat the casino with their style of play (counting cards).  And they successfully argued that the casinos and Griffin Investigations had no right to improperly detain them or blacklist them.

In September, 2005, Griffin Investigations filled for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, citing the large financial awards against them by Russo and Grosjean.  And you can also bet the casino lawsuits have changed casino policies towards counters, too.  Not that they will allow counters to win huge sums of money, they just can’t take them into a back room anymore.   "Gentlemen, we do not want your play." will be about the toughest thing a casino can say or do to card counters. 

Huge lawsuits have a way of changing behavior; even in Vegas.

  

Jake Earl is a staff writer for TrueCasinoStories.com

 

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