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:
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.
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.