While Working in Surveillance I Caught a Rookie Dealer Dealing the Second Card.
August 5, 2011 § 8 Comments
During the late ‘80s I was working in a surveillance room—which at one time was referred to as the “eye in the sky”—in a major Las Vegas casino.
The casino employed me because of my knowledge of stealing and cheating. I had “turned my collar around,” as the saying goes. I was from a different era, before cameras and video recorders. The old adage, “It takes a thief to catch a thief,” holds true. Also knowing the owner on a personal level helped me to get hired.
With the advent of video cameras and recordings it was a smart thing to not try and do the things I used to. Not that the cameras and video recorders catch anything—it is the surveillance operator that must do the observing and catching. However, the average surveillance operator knows nothing about stealing, either.
Floor help or a surveillance operator rarely catch cheaters and inside thieves. They are usually fingered. It is usually pretty much the same story: a disgruntled ex-girlfriend, ex-friend, ex-wife . . . Some people steal and tell more people about it than need to know. If you need someone to cash out chips for you, it had better be somebody you know really well and trust.
When I caught this young dealer, a kid really, he was about 22. I had been watching him for more than a month off and on, as I had other things to do besides watch him. He was dealing a single-deck game and he caught my attention by making a false move, pretending to deal the second card from the top of the deck. I was quite familiar with this, as I used to do the same thing.
This false move is done on purpose to “warm up” the floorman, or perhaps surveillance, to this second-card move, so they are accustomed to seeing the hit-card delivered to a player in this manner. He was also simultaneously moving his deck-hand too much when he was making his false move, a giveaway for a poor second-card dealer.
I felt that he was going to do something and kept watching him. I wasn’t sure if he was planning on just practicing under live action the way I used to when I was roughly his age. I used to practice dealing the second card without knowing what it or the top card was. I was just practicing dealing the second card during live action and getting my confidence level up. It is one thing to practice dealing the second card from the top of the deck at home in front of a mirror, without feeling any pressure, but it is much different to do it live with real players and the pit boss and floormen behind you.
One night the kid was standing at a dead game, which means there were no players. A player walked up to his game. This player was a regular player in the casino. I put the kid’s game up on several monitors simultaneously, zoomed in a couple of cameras from different angles and kept a couple backed out.
The player played three hands betting $75 a hand. I could see it coming. The kid had a face card up, a value of ten. He looked at his hole card. The player didn’t hit the hands he should have. This player was an experienced player and I knew he knew better. The kid had to have signaled the player that he had a stiff hand, a bad card in the hole for the dealer. It’s called “sitting on a stiff.”
The kid had a terrible peek, obvious. I had an affinity for the kid, but I knew I was going to nail him. His hands were shaking. He went for the second card and missed it. He started snatching at it, trying to grab ahold of it. I knew the feeling. I could empathize with him. I actually felt bad for the kid; he was falling apart. He finally got the second card out and busted his hand.
He took chips out of the rack to pay the player and he was still shaking. He tried to cut into the player’s chips to pay him off but he was spilling chips, shaking, trying to control himself.
He took a chance and had performed terribly for half of $225 (three times three $75 bets). The player got up and left. If the kid had been any good and didn’t get shook up he could have dumped off a lot more money if I wasn’t watching. In this casino three $75 bets was nothing.
If I were to offer the kid advice before he did this for the first time it would have been to go have a couple of drinks or take a Valium to calm himself.
I reviewed the tapes a couple of times and debated with myself as to whether I should finger the kid. I knew the owner personally and he had put me in the sky and was paying me to catch this type of thing. The owner was a really nice guy and had been in this business all his life and was in his early 50s. I knew he wouldn’t want this kid to go to jail. He had kids just a little older than this young dealer. I had a son 18.
The Gaming Control Board fraud agents would have watched that tape, had me explain it in court, and that kid would have gone to jail with the wolves for seven years. This kid barely shaved. He had skin like a girl.
I called down to the casino manager. He was a clean-as-a-whistle guy who had been in the business a long time but didn’t know about stealing or cheating. He knew the games but that was about it. He had a couple of teenagers, boys, he was raising by himself.
He came up and watched the tapes. He was excited to see something like this. I asked him if he wanted this kid to go to jail and end up being some con’s punk. I could see his wheels turning. “That kid isn’t much older than your boys,” I said.
“Shit, what do you think I should do?”
“Go down there and take him aside. Tell him you just watched him in action on videotape with that player and he was terrible. Rake him over the coals a little, scare him.”
“Christ, Curley, rake him over the coals? You know it’s a crime not to inform Gaming about this kind of stuff.”
“Quit worrying about your key license. Tell him that when Gaming agents see that video he’ll be arrested, prosecuted, convicted and end up in Nevada State Prison in Carson City where he’ll be raped for seven long years. Let him plead for a while. Then tell him you’re going to give him a pass. Tell him to quit and go on down the street and look for another job. Tell him he can use you for a recommendation, but he’s going down in this casino as a not-to-be-rehired. He’ll never forget you and what you did for him”
I watched on a monitor as the two were talking and the casino manager was acting animated and looked like he was doing a good job of chewing this kid’s ass.
The casino manager came back up to Surveillance and told me what the kid had said, that he was practicing some magic tricks that somebody had shown him.
“What did you say when he said that?”
“I told him to shut up, that I wasn’t stupid and I was keeping the videotapes.”
We agreed to not tell the owner or anybody else about this.
I wonder whatever happened to that kid?