Gut Rumbles

May 17, 2005

gambling vs. cheating

I've been following a series of shows on the History Channel called "Breaking Las Vegas," and the shows are about the most notorious cheaters, scammers and con-men of all time. At least MOST of the shows are. Last night, I watched one about ken Uston, who was probably the best card-counter of all time at the blackjack table.

He was banned from gambling in casinos, not because he CHEATED, but because he was too good at what he did. I have a problem with his story.

Every game in a casino is structured so that the house has a slight "vigorish," that over time, guarantees a profit. If you use marked cards, loaded dice, X-ray glasses or some kind of electronic tool to beat the odds, then you're a cheater and you deserve to have your ass whipped and go to jail.

But if you are a mathematical genius who can keep track of what's left in a dealer's shoe with five decks in it toward the end of a blackjack game, that ain't cheating. That's just being better at the game than the house expects you to be. The house loses money, and the house doesn't like that.

Yeah... I know he organized a "team" to count cards all over the place, but that doesn't change my opinion. The guy had a unique skill. The casinos banned him from using it because he WON--- in my mind, fair and square--- but casinos aren't in business for you to win. They love a sucker, but they don't want to be played for one themselves.

If you ever get a chance to see that show, watch it. Let me know what YOU think.


That shit has always bugged me. It's one reason I don't gamble in casinos (not that I'm a card counting genius or anything).

Those cocksuckers set the rules, and when you win too much they take their ball and go home??


Posted by: Graumagus on May 17, 2005 09:08 PM

"Slight vigorish"? Try 3 to 30%. Check in with:

Posted by: Max on May 17, 2005 09:20 PM

Casinos are in business to MAKE money. Not give to you a "fair shot". They are quasi-public places. As such, they have the right to tell you to take a walk.

Don't like it? Open your own casino for card counters. Good luck.

Posted by: rightisright on May 17, 2005 09:21 PM

I agree with Rob; Counting cards isn't cheating. If the casinos have a game that appears to be a game of skill and the rules don't say "Don't think about what you're doing!" then the players can be expected to think, except for the suckers. If the rule structure allows enough people to think deeply enough to cause the casinos to lose money on the game, then they should drop blackjack and replace it with Old Maid. Skill at anything is to be developed and used. Maybe the casinos should slip jokers into the mix, or leave out the jacks at random intervals. Maybe they should just draw straws to see who wins. I got no sympathies because they occasionally lose money to people who have enough sense to learn and apply the rules.

Posted by: Steve Lassey on May 17, 2005 09:56 PM

Casinos are in business to MAKE money. Not give to you a "fair shot". They are quasi-public places. As such, they have the right to tell you to take a walk.

And I have the right to say "Fuck'em" and not give them my cash.

Gambling doesn't hold much of a thrill for me anyway

Posted by: Graumagus on May 17, 2005 10:49 PM

"And I have the right to say "Fuck'em" and not give them my cash."


Posted by: rightisright on May 17, 2005 11:05 PM

Last night's episode depicted a Spanish family that noticed that every roulette wheel had a 'bias' - a tendency to produce certain numbers more frequently than others. They researched each table for weeks at some casino in Spain, calculated the probablity of numbers at each specific table, then went in and cleaned house. Their philosophy was not to play to win tonight, or tomorrow, but to simply let the Law of Large Numbers do it's thing. The longer they could play, the more spins of the wheel they could play, the more they would end up being ahead. Their downfall at this first casino? The father refused to allow any team member to tip the croupier, as he considered their work to be a business, not a charity. It's what drew attention to the team. They ended up traveling the world, hammering casinos everywhere. It truly was enjoyable to watch these folks beat the houses at their own game, using the same probability theory. Of course, they got bounced from everywhere eventually, simply for winning. That sucks, but - it IS private property, and they can exclude whomever they want for any bullshit reason.

Posted by: Pete the Streak on May 18, 2005 06:51 AM

Sounds like a leftist point of view: competence=cheating.

Posted by: Brett on May 18, 2005 08:40 AM

Many years ago my pop caught me playing a bingo type pin ball machine that paid off in games which could be cashed in for money. He advised me that anything that put its back to the wall and challeged the whole damn world was either not going to last long or was gonna kick my ass. It took a few years but I finally learned he was right.

Posted by: GUYK on May 18, 2005 09:21 AM

For years I have used wheel clocking to play at and regularly beat casinos. But besides, clocking a roulette wheel, I keep track of the hottest numbers for dealers at a particular wheel. You can see more information ahout the tools I have developed to do this on my

Posted by: William Schmidt on May 26, 2005 02:44 AM
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