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Casino Countermeasures

The casino discourages winners, and especially winners who are card counters, and they'll take whatever measure is necessary, short of cheating, to harass and beat them. I leave out cheating because, despite what several writers have written of casino cheating, it's been my experience that casinos won't resort to this measure because they have too much to lose. For one thing, a license worth millions of dollars can be forfeited if cheating is discovered by Gaming Commission investigators.

When a player has an endless run of bad luck, it may appear that he's being cheated, but that's not really the case. I used to spend hours practicing the game, dealing out hands to myself, acting as both the player and the dealer. There have been times when I lost so many hands that if I didn't know I was dealing to myself, I could swear I was being cheated.

Sometimes, as dealer, I would hit four or five hands in a row, and make a stiff hand into a solid twenty-one. It was terrible for the player in that imaginary game, but the cards just ran badly and there was nothing that could be done. If you play long enough, you'll run into incredible strings of bad luck. You'll have a very favorable count and watch helplessly as the dealer draws the last 5 in the deck to form a 21 out of a worthless 16 hand. It happens all the time, and a player must expect bad luck as well as good luck. The important thing to remember is this: Luck evens itself out, but skill remains a constant. That's a principle an astute player should live by.

The following are countermeasures and what steps the player should take if they occur:

  • Shuffling up
    This is the first and easiest of the casino countermeasures. The house, to bother, harass, or invalidate the card counter's methods, will order the dealer to shuffle up every time the player raises his bet. When this happens, the player should make no comment, but simply leave the table. Or the dealer may shuffle up after depleting only a small part of the deck, so the player never gets a chance for a favorable run of cards. Again, no comment is called for. The player should simply get up and go to another table or another casino.

    Sometimes the harassment depends on the particular shift at a casino. One shift may be easy on card counters while another is murder. If you face trouble at the graveyard shift, from midnight to H A.M., it may be that the day shift will not care at all about your betting methods. If one shift gives you heat, try another shift. If that's the casino policy, then play a different casino. But remember, at a crowded table with a single-deck game, the usual policy is for no more than two rounds of cards to be dealt out. That's pretty standard, not a casino countermeasure. Sometimes you can turn the countermeasure around and make it work for you. I did this once at the Dunes on the Las Vegas Strip. I rarely played there early in the morning, but one day at F) A.M. I found myself in the casino after saying goodbye to a couple of friends who were staying at the hotel. I went over to an empty $25 table and sat down. The dealer shuffled up the cards, I cut them, and the game began.

    From the moment I sat down, a floorman came over and watched my game. He had the usual floorman smirk, waiting for a loser to get tapped out. I made a $50 bet, won my first hand, and the deck became slightly favorable, so I raised my bet to $75. As I did this, the ftoorman walked by the dealer's side, tapped his arm, and the cards were reshuffled. I brought my bet down to $50 and again the cards were cut and dealt out, with the floorman watching from about six feet away. I lost this hand; the deck became unfavorable, and I lowered my bet to $25. Again the floorman came by and tapped the dealer's arm, and the cards were once more shuffled up. On my next $50 bet, it was a standoff with a neutral deck, so I left the $50 bet stand. This time the floorman did nothing. On the next hand I lowered my bet to $25, and back came the floorman, with the cards shuffled up again.

    I realized that every time I altered my bet, whether up or down, the cards were going to be shuffled up. I didn't know why this was being done. I had never seen this particular floorman before. Perhaps he was playing a little game with me to pass the time of day, or perhaps he was a sadist at heart. The dealer realized my predicament, looked me in the eyes, and shrugged. I put out a bet for the dealer to show him that it was nothing personal between us. With the new round starting, I made another $50 bet. I won it, and the deck became favorable. I kept the $50 bet going. It stayed favorable for four hands, with the $50 bet remaining, then became unfavorable. I raised my bet to $100. The deck was now terrible for me, but the dealer obligingly shuffled up.

    My new bet was now $100. I kept this bet constant so long as the deck was neutral or favorable. When it was unfavorable, I raised it and had the cards shuffled up. So now I had a perfect situation, playing only with a favorable or neutral deck. I started to win some heavy money as a result. Meanwhile the floorman conferred with another floorman, both watching my play. What could they do? I was making constant bets, and never was allowed to raise my bet without the deck being shuffled. How could I be winning? So these wise men let me play on and on. After about an hour I left with my pockets bulging with Dunes casino chips. The last time I saw that floorman, he was no longer smirking.
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When to Play Poker
You can play poker whenever you like. Casinos in Nevada and New Jersey are open 24 hours, as are most cardrooms in California. Many Indian casinos are open all the time, as well as some riverboats with cardrooms. In some cases, you are limited by operating hours, because some close for a few hours at night. Some casinos in Europe close for eight hours or so. But with the explosion of Internet poker, you truly can play 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
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