THIEF! The Gutsy, True Story of an Ex-Con Artist

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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Slick's Las Vegas Then & Now: 26th in Series

Tips from an Old Timer 

If I said I could tell you how to win at any casino game, I’d be lying. And if I actually knew how to win, I’d be doing that instead of writing this book. What I can do after 60 years of gambling is to offer a few tips on how to get the best value for your money. Of course, there’s always the possibility that you know more than I do. If so, I’d like to hear from you. Maybe we can make some money together.

First, you need to look out for cheaters. There are more of them around than you might think. So, if I’m going to gamble, I go to a licensed casino, and I don’t mean the Internet. Once you’re there, you should play the game you have the most knowledge of.
At blackjack, always play with a bankroll you’re comfortable with and have a plan for what to do when you’re winning and losing. I’ve seen more people double their money when they’re losing. If you’re losing, that’s the worst thing you should do. Instead, head to another table or head out the door. There’s always another day. Pit bosses love it when folks throw good money after bad. With the odds in favor of the house, the longer you play, the better your chances of losing. When you’re winning is the time to double up. It’s in your best interest at least to acquaint yourself with Basic Blackjack Strategy which is available in most bookstores, Online and even at some casinos. There’s more to playing good blackjack than meets the eye. Learn how to increase your chances of winning by reading one or more of the many books on the market that spell it all out.
Don’t camp out at the crap table after a good roll. That’s when you should maybe take a hike to the sports book where you can catch almost any sporting event on TV. If you make bets in your mind, then all you lose is your mind. If one of the dice flies off the crap table I off all my bets. I’ve seen the dice 7out over and over after the dice have skipped off the table. It’s so easy for a dice mechanic to replace the good dice with doctored dice using sleight-of-hand.
When playing poker, wait for a good starting hand, unless you have your own strategy. If you catch trips (3 of a kind) on the flop and lose, go home. In Hi/Lo, if you don’t start with the nuts (ace/deuce), fagetaboutit, as the Sopranos would say. And if you’re playing Omaha and catch 4 of a kind, throw them in the muck.
Regarding roulette, the worst bet is black or red. You have a 50/50 chance of winning or losing. How good is that? Look for a roulette wheel that has only one zero which, with one less number, offers better odds than two zeros. You might have to go to England or France to find a single zero roulette wheel, though. Other than that, you’re on your own.
In Keno and slots you probably know more than I do.

Even though I mentioned cheating earlier, I want to emphasize a few things. You can thank the licensed casinos for plugging most of the cheating holes with their state-of-the-art surveillance techniques. Cameras are now so sophisticated, that some can even see through synthetic fabrics. So pay careful attention when selecting your underwear on a gambling day. Notice the casino rules such as not touching your chips once you’ve bet. Most rules are really necessary for the protection of the casino and honest players. You’ll occasionally find cheaters trying to switch cards or cap a bet, but that’s extremely rare these days and their actions don’t affect you.
In poker, collusion teams signal their hole cards to one another. Sometimes they do this by the way they place their chips or cards. You would rarely encounter such action in the higher limit games.
In 1979 I worked with Eric Drake to make all Las Vegas poker room rules the same. Today these rules are nearly universal:
·         Only one player per hand. (No help from anyone.)
·         Check and raise is permitted. (Some casinos disallow this.)
·         Four raise limit with three or more players; no limit of raises with just two players.
·         All games are table stakes. (Table stakes means you must leave money on the table when winning; if losing, you get action for any money on the table until you leave the game.)
·         A called hand may be seen by anyone at the table.
·         String bets are not allowed. (A string bet is when you throw a bet into the pot and reach back for more chips to raise; you must call the raise; you can only make one motion when betting chips.)
·         Cards hitting the muck are dead cards. (The discard pile is called the muck; you can’t retrieve your cards once they’re mucked; also, cards that are too few or too many when the dealer misdeals are dead.)
·         Seating changes must be approved by the floorman.
·         Maximum rake is 10%. (Rake is the money, expressed as a percentage of the pot, that the house charges players to play and is taken out of the pot during each round. Most casinos stop taking a rake after 10%.)
·         English is the only language spoken at U.S. poker tables.
·         Indecent language will not be tolerated.
·         No smoking allowed in the poker room. (A relatively recent rule.)
·         Management is not responsible for chips left on the table.
·         The floorman’s decision is final.

I hope this clears up many questions. Remember, the dealers are there to help you. Don't forget to sign up at the podium for a poker table that spreads the game of your choice as soon as you enter. You might have to wait for a while if there's a long list. As a rule, your spot will be held for an hour.
Someone once said, the difference between praying in church and praying in a casino is that in a casino, you mean it. Good luck.

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