Casino Player December 2022


Words of Wisdom

I frequently ask readers to share their comments and experiences about a wide range of gambling topics.The list has included game strategy, favorite slots, best (and worst) casino trips, biggest wins and more.The response has been more than I expected,as readers have stepped up in droves to share their unique stories. Last month, I received a letter from a reader asking about the rules when it comes to card counting while playing blackjack and posed the question: “Isn’t it true that blackjack is a skill game, and a player cannot be arrested for counting cards, rather it’s a policy of the casino to escort you out?” So, what does happen if someone is caught card counting in a casino?To get to the bottom of the question, I reached out to blackjack expert Don Schlesinger for insight into the reader’s query. For those of you who don’t know, Don is the leading authority when it comes to the game of blackjack.He is a gaming mathematician,author, lecturer,player and member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame,and his work in the field has spanned more than four decades. Here’s what he had to say: There is a range of possibilities, varying in severity, so let’s start with the most lenient. If a casino determines that you are counting cards, it’s quite possible (although not very likely these days) that they will do nothing at all, choosing instead to continue to monitor your play over time. It is said that many casinos have what is com monly referred to as a“choke point,”which is that amount of money they will permit a counter to win before “pulling him up,”or ending his play.And, clearly, that amount will vary from one casino to an other. If you will permit a personal anecdote, for many years, I used to play the Riviera’s very fine double-deck game in LasVegas.After a while, it became apparent to me that they realized I was counting. And yet, they never stopped me from playing. I had a personal philosophy of winning“tastefully,”which was not to try to win all the money I could at any one playing session but rather to limit the time of my sessions (usually an hour or less) and never to attempt to get even if time was up and I was losing.Booking losses is a good strat egy for counters. Much more likely, however, is that, if a casino detects you as a card counter, they will bar you from playing any more blackjack. The great majority of barrings these days are quite civil in nature, because many major casinos are owned by large, public corpora tions, and they can’t risk the adverse publicity and potentially huge lawsuits that might ensue from a rude or physically intimidating barring or“back-rooming,”as was more customary in the older days, when manyVegas casinos were run by the Mob.So, a“polite”barring goes something like this: A pit boss, a shift manager, or even the casino manager, walks up behind you while you are playing and asks you politely to please take your chips and step away from the table.He or she then tells you that they have determined your play is

“too strong”and that they have no edge playing against you, so you may no longer play blackjack in their casino.They may add that you are more than welcome to play all their other games and frequent their restaurants, but no more blackjack. Sometimes, this conversa tion takes place at the casino cage, as you attempt to cash out your chips. The style varies by casino. Consider yourself “backed off” and leave the casino. Finally, there is the much more aggressive form of permanent barring that is a trespassing. Here, you are asked to sign a paper (which they can’t force you to do and that you should decline) acknowledging that not only may you no longer play blackjack in their casino (and perhaps any other casinos owned by the same chain/corporation), but should you return, you will be arrested for trespassing.I won’t get into the legalities in my response, but it is gen erally acknowledged that the best way to react in these circumstances is to be very calm, never touch a security guard or any officer who may accompany the casino representative, lest you be falsely accused of assault, and simply walk out the front door peacefully and quietly. Should you be asked for ID, you are not legally required to furnish it, except if asked by local law enforcement.You should simply state, “I’m going to leave now,”and keep walking out the front door. Readers should understand that there are entire books written on these topics, such as Blackjack and the Law (by Robert Loeb), so the above is simply a very cursory review of what can happen if some one is caught counting cards in a casino. At the end of the day, the casino wants your business.And while card counting is frowned upon in the casino and may get you banned, a card counter still needs luck to win, even with the odds ever so slightly skewed in their direction.Before you ask yourself if card count ing is legal or not, you should make sure you learn optimal blackjack strategy or your gameplay will result in nothing as you will still not have the edge over the house. Finally,over the past year,I’ve had the honor not only to help guide the voice of Casino Player magazine, but to use my platform as pub lisher and editorial director to speak directly to our readers. It has been an honor and a privilege presenting the magazine to you month after month, answering your letters and helping you track down the best games, places to play, promotions and more, so keep them coming! With that,we bid farewell to 2022.With all of the exciting changes and innovation in the gaming industry this past year, it’s been a great year for gaming enthusiasts—one that’s gonna be tough to beat. I can only imagine what new gaming wonders 2023 will bring us.Stay tuned and happy holidays!

Cheers to good health, good luck and winning days! Lisa Robertson-Dziedzic Publisher & Editorial Director

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