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The Tech Used to Catch Vegas Cheats

samzenpus posted more than 9 years ago | from the can't-fool-the-machine dept.

Technology 321

Black Jack writes "Interesting piece on about the technology used in Vegas for catching the cheats. It goes into detail on a number of things from facial recognition and RFID to some CIA-developed systems for background checking staff. Surprised they're so open about what they do! ...or is this just the stuff they admit to?"

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FP! (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357633)

First post!!!!!!!!!!

Fucking terrorist blackjack card counters! (-1, Troll)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357636)

Better catch those sumbitches!

Re:Fucking terrorist blackjack card counters! (3, Informative)

TheCabal (215908) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357678)

Actually, card counting is legal. Casinos don't like you doing it, but they can only ban you from the property.

Re:Fucking terrorist blackjack card counters! (3, Insightful)

Phisbut (761268) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357753)

Actually, card counting is legal. Casinos don't like you doing it, but they can only ban you from the property.

I think it is only legal if you do it by yourself, with no help from any electronic/mechanical device, like a system conceiled in your shoes or something like that.

Re:Fucking terrorist blackjack card counters! (2, Interesting)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357818)

The simplest card counding method:

Start at zero when the dealer uses a new deck
+1 for a 10 or face card
-1 for every card below 10

When the count is -5 to +5, bet nominal
When the count is below -5 bet higher
When the count is above +5 bet lower, or bet nominal, depending on how much you want to give away

The most difficult part is catching everyone's cards at the end of the hand to get the count for the next hand. There are also doubling down rules that add to the complexity, but I don't have the matrix for that with me.

Caveat Emptor. This is easiest to do when you are playing alone against the dealer, but also the easiest to detect as well.

Re:Fucking terrorist blackjack card counters! (1)

stanmann (602645) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357854)

Of course in order for card counting to be effective, you do need to know "basic strategy" which can be found online.

Re:Fucking terrorist blackjack card counters! (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357893)

True, knowing how to play the game and having experience playing is needed first. Who was it that said "you have to know the rules in order to intelligently break them"?

Re:Fucking terrorist blackjack card counters! (1)

stanmann (602645) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357937)

and of course correctly using "basic strategy" reduces the casino's take from ~10% to ~1%

Not giving much away (4, Insightful)

It doesn't come easy (695416) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357637)

Surprised they're so open about what they do!

It's one thing to say you do something, it's an entirely different thing to say how you do it. For example, saying that you have an RFID chip in every casino chip is one thing. Having a monitoring system that can quickly and automatically identify a RFID position and movement anomaly among millions of active casino chips is something else.

Re:Not giving much away (4, Insightful)

MBCook (132727) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357680)

One of the major points of the RFID in the chip is that when a chip is played in a slot machine or some such, they can check if there is a chip there and if it's valid. If it's not, the machine can automatically alert the casio at that moment that there is someone using fraudulent chips and arest the person. Same could be done on a table when the dealer collects chips. It's not neccessisarily about finding out who is doing what when and their patters (although they want that), it's about finding fraud faster.

Re:Not giving much away (0)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357728)

But what really stops somebody from forging an RFID-enabled chip? It doesn't matter what criteria you use to try to validate the chip: the diameter, the weight, the material, specially-placed holes, ridged edges, RFID, etc. Whatever method is chosen can be easily faked.

Re:Not giving much away (5, Insightful)

AuMatar (183847) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357831)

THe id in an RFID would have to match the database, and known not to be in play (if the same id is supposed to be in slot machine 3 and 5, one is a fake).

Its not about making it impossible, its about making it extremely hard.

Re:Not giving much away (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357855)

RFID has enough data capacity for each RFID tag to be uniquely identifiable and cryptographically signed. Think PGP. Even if an attacker could clone chips atom-for-atom, once the system detects a duplicate signature, it can generate an alert.

Re:Not giving much away (3, Informative)

servognome (738846) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357875)

Whatever method is chosen can be easily faked.

Easily faked, but not necessarily usable. Imagine if each chip had a unique encrypted serial number, and the casino had the ability to track each chip's location and compare to a central database.
If you duplicated the RFID on a chip, you'd set off alarms, as there would be 2 of the same chip in the casino. If you managed to crack the encryption and create your own unique serial number you'd set off alarms as chips would be in the casino which were not in the database.
Even a simple system which doesn't need to be aware of all chips in circulation offer great security. Just track the RFID of the chip when it is played to the database of chips in the bank, and in circulation. If the ID is in the bank, or doesn't appear in the database then you know a dupe has been played. Other dupes of the same chip could not be played without setting off alarms until that first chip has exited the bank, which could be a long time (and it would be very difficult for a player to know when or if it happens).

First (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357639)

First post

Spellchecks don't do miracles (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357641)

"It's" -> "It"
"they" -> "the"

Making Your Own Tokens (5, Interesting)

MBCook (132727) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357649)

There was a special about a month ago on Discover or one of those channels about this guy who made his own tokens for use in casinos and how he went about doing it, including having to figure out the right metal combinations, making the dies, getting giant press machines to form them, and everything. It was facinating. The way they finally caught him was the counts of tokens would come out high (they should have 100 $50 tokens at the end of the day, they'd have 120). Then from that they were able to go find him (eventually spotted him using them in a slot machine, and when the machine didn't like a token he put in, he just kept going where anyone else would complain LOUDLY about it).

Facinating to watch.

Re:Making Your Own Tokens (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357733)

yah facinating for his time (1960, 70's?).. Nowandays almost every single slot machine produced will not accept metal money. Dollar bills only, or a casino credit card is the only way you will get credits on machines now. Can't deny people like him made the industry change to the new methods of accepting money.

Re:Making Your Own Tokens (4, Informative)

Gogo Dodo (129808) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357748)

It was the History Channel. Breaking Vegas [] , Counterfeit King episode.

scare off the wanna be's (1)

Brigadier (12956) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357658)

You figure this is a good deterant for any wanna be's. just like i'm sure the show CSI diters many would be murderers..

Re:scare off the wanna be's (1)

Adelbert (873575) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357735)

CSI also makes it harder to convict murderers. Firstly, forensics teams are under a lot of pressure to piece together events from not much (ever notice how on CSI they see a drop of the victim's blood and say "so John Doe did it with the axe in the dining room!"?), but juries are now harder to convince unless a strand of hair was found at the scene.

Interesting (scary?) how the media shapes our perception of crime and criminals...

Re:scare off the wanna be's (1)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357767)

That's not a bad thing at all. It's very good that the police and investigators are forced into building an extremely strong case in such incidents. Strong cases built on real evidence is what true justice is all about.

Re:scare off the wanna be's (1)

tacarat (696339) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357930)

Getting a Grip on the 'CSI Effect' []

While accountability and honesty is expected of police and investigators, I think the real problem comes in when juries expect a Hollywood based CSI budget for equipment, staffing and training. By that I mean DNA testing for everything, enough investigators that they only have to work one or two cases at once and that everyone is a PhD in several areas. More than that, I'd be scared to death if my fate basically hinged on some know-it-all juror's ability to recall the mating habits of a fly from CSI season 1 rather than a juror who was paying attention during the proceedings.

Re:scare off the wanna be's (1)

TobyWong (168498) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357783)

No in CSI they always find a rare beetle/leaf which can only be found in one place in the entire world and there is only one person on the planet who came into contact with said beetle/leaf in the past decade.

Re:scare off the wanna be's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357911)

just like "Silence of the Lambs"

Re:scare off the wanna be's (1)

Alex P Keaton in da (882660) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357913)

Well in the US:
Uniform Crime Reporting Program Releases Crime Statistics for 2002 ... Murders were cleared at a rate of 64.0 percent...
So it looks like the chance of getting away with murder is around 4/10...
The casinos want us to think there is as much tech as possible thwarting theives and cheats. If the theft protection was that great, they would just arrest everyone cheating and not bother to saber rattle. They want to scare off the small time amateur casino cheat....

Re:scare off the wanna be's (1)

Chosen Reject (842143) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357950)

"so John Doe did it with the axe in the dining room!"

I believe it was Mrs. Scarlett.

Re:scare off the wanna be's (4, Insightful)

Haydn Fenton (752330) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357823)

Funny, every time I watch a show on "hey, look at how these criminals did x, and look at how were so smart that we still busted them!" I think to myself.. well, you've given us all the info on how the criminals used to do it, and told us that it still works on a large number of cases, and now you've told us how you catch people, so we can avoid doing that in future. Although I can never be bothered to get into the business of it all, mainly cos it costs a fair bit (or you need to know people) to get started and I'm lazy and don't have the money. But I'm sure for every TV show on how to bust people, you simply introduce a whole number of new crooks to the game, with bigger and better ideas.

What about online poker? (3, Interesting)

OnceDark (155468) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357663)

Anyone have information as to how cheating scanning relates to online poker?

I enjoy playing a hand or 2 of poker, but have been reluctant to try online poker as the chance of cheating seems very high in terms of people working in pairs and sharing information.

Anyone ever see someone accused of cheating on one of the poker sites?

FUD? (1)

mfh (56) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357804)

Not sure if this is FUD or not. I've seen a lot of the celeb poker tourneys where they would promote a particular brand of online poker or another. I would think that if anyone could clamp down on cheating it would be the online rooms mostly because they could run stats realtime to be sure or not if a pair were duping a table. Just because they can run stats and check people out online, doesn't mean they do. I guess it's a matter of caveat emptor, or in this case: Adversus solem ne loquitor.

Re:What about online poker? (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357805)

If cheating seems pretty likely, then your best bet is to not play the game...

Personally, I think that with online casinos in general, cheating, whether on the part of the players or the house, seem very very possible. Online casinos aren't audited like the ones in Vegas -- where they actually have a gaming commission that ensures that the casinos aren't using loaded dice, fixed roulette tables, hacked slots, etc.

Re:What about online poker? (3, Informative)

BridgeBum (11413) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357826)

The sites do monitor for abuses like that as best they can. (Checking IPs, etc.) However, there are limits to what you can do in poker anyway. Collusion is possible, but there are also so many tables in play simultaneously that if you suspect there may be collusion going on, you can move to another table very easily.

I've been playing online for some time now and I haven't noticed anyone cheating. It's been fun and profitable for me. YMMV.

Re:What about online poker? (1)

fdiskne1 (219834) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357839)

While I haven't seen anyone accused of cheating in online poker, the fact that it would be pretty easy for someone to be on the phone with someone else at the table, plus the fact that no technology is perfect and someone could theoretically see other players' cards or cheat in some way makes betting money online seem to me to not be a smart thing to do. I enjoy playing online poker on for play money. This way I can enjoy a game of poker and get some practice while not being a victim of some scammer. I would only play for money while actually sitting at the table with the other players. If you are interested, I use

That all being said, don't expect everyone to be great players or great sports. You always see people that will go all-in with every single bet and some that will cuss you out or threaten you for having a lucky flop. I suppose there's some in every crowd.

Re:What about online poker? (1)

tringstad (168599) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357894)

Anyone ever see someone accused of cheating on one of the poker sites?

Anyone who hasn't seen someone accused of cheating on an online poker site simply hasn't played on an online poker site.

However, this is hardly specific to poker. Lamers, Newbs, and all of their pathetic whining exist in all forms of online gaming.


Re:What about online poker? (3, Interesting)

Danga (307709) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357921)

I have never seen anyone cheat or get caught cheating at any online poker sites (although I am sure it has happened). However, I do play online poker a few nights a week and I believe as long as you stick to the tournaments you should be ok. I usually play in 30+ people tournaments and even if there were people working together it would be pretty difficult to do. Everyone is randomly placed at tables of 10, so you do not know if you will even be at the same table as the people you are working with. Now, I guess a large group could have an advantage, but I don't think the reward would be worth the effort.

I also know that a lot of the website operators look for playing habits, such as if you ALWAYS play with the same group of people. Now I guess there would be ways around that, such as always using new accounts, but I do not believe that occurs very often.

Stay away from the small 10 person money games and you should be alright as well as have a great time. It can be really cheap and fun entertainment. There is a tournament every friday on one site I play at which costs US$5 to join and between 1500-2000+ people sign up. So you get a few hours of poker and if you are decent usually at least get your buy in back. I have won a couple times and 1st place has been between $250-800, not bad for 5 dollar buy in. Hope that helps.

Re:What about online poker? (1)

spencerogden (49254) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357923)

I'm not a big poker player, but how would you cheat online? You can't manipulate the deck, you can't see other peoples , etc. I suppose knowing one other persons hand might give a bit more knowledge about the cards in the deck, but how big an advantage would that be?

I guess if you got into a game with 5 other people who were all working together, they could fleece you?

Better technology .. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357665)

The real action in vegas [] may involve cheating, but it isn't in the casinos.

Not surprising at all. (2, Insightful)

RandoX (828285) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357670)

Let's face it, their goal is to stop people from cheating. Catching people that cheat is one part. Convincing the rest that cheating is a bad idea is the other. It's a deterrant.

'cheat' is realative (5, Informative)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357677)

Catching an employee in the counting room taking his work home with him or a crooked dealer is all well and good, but card counting and varying your bet amount isn't cheating, it's playing shrewdly within the rules. This is where the casinos, IMO, are going over the top with the spying.

Re:'cheat' is realative (1)

TheCabal (215908) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357712)

You're at a private property, if you don't like the amount of surveillance being pointed at you, go somewhere else. If it were just card counting or varying bets (a telltale signal that surveillance uses), then such extensive measures wouldn't be required. It's the people who use computers, mirrors, pass posting, ink tags, counterfeit money and chips and other tricks that require such security

Re:'cheat' is realative (1)

prgrmr (568806) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357747)

I understand that there are an abundance of people using devices to circumvent the rules. All I'm saying is find those people, and leave the card counters alone. The ability to do math in one's head isn't cheating.

Re:'cheat' is realative (2, Insightful)

TheCabal (215908) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357791)

A property can toss anyone out and tell them that they are no longer welcome at the property from now on. A casino's purpose is to part players from their money and anything that shifts the odds even in the slightest towards the player is going to cause a reaction. It's in your right to count cards so as long as you are not using anything other than your brain, but it's also the casino's right to toss you for looking at the pit boss crosseyed.

People are fortunate today- back in the bad old days here when the Mob still ran things, you wouldn't just get escorted out the front door and told not to come back.

Re:'cheat' is realative (1)

fireboy1919 (257783) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357796)

That's not true at all. Card counting and varying bets are more than enough to stack the odds in your favor, and were the reason that MIT team - who never actually cheated - weren't allowed in casinos anymore.

Extensive measures were put out to specifically stop them, and to stop anyone else from repeating what they did.

Re:'cheat' is realative (1)

stanmann (602645) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357905)

And yet the MIT team keeps raking the cash in. Contrary to popular mis-information, they haven't gone away. They still recruit freshmen.

Re:'cheat' is realative (4, Informative)

dr_dank (472072) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357745)

Pretty much anything that doesn't make you a loser and part you efficiently from your money is verboten. If they allowed people to win too much, they'd be out of business next week.

While card counting and strategies like it (by natural means, not counting using a computer or some such gimmick) isn't cheating, they are well within your rights to refuse to offer you a particular game or bar you completely from the premises. Most casinos share this info with each other since it is all within each others best interests to keep these people out, and before long, a cardcounter is persona non grata pretty much everywhere on the strip.

Check out Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich.

Re:'cheat' is realative (1)

op12 (830015) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357769)

If it's going to significantly cut into their profits, it's in their best interest to stop it from happening...whether it was within the limits of the rules or not. They can decide not to let you play if they don't want you to.

Re:'cheat' is realative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357790)

Since the house makes the rules they can make card counting against the rules. Then it is cheating.

Re:'cheat' is realative (2, Insightful)

BridgeBum (11413) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357876)

Not so. The Nevada Gaming Commission oversees the creation of those rules. They say it isn't cheating.

Re:'cheat' is realative (2, Insightful)

the gnat (153162) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357807)

card counting and varying your bet amount isn't cheating

Most reasonable people would agree. Casino operators, however, are very adamant that it is cheating, I guess on the grounds that it eliminates pure chance from the equation, and it's cheating to use your brain. Or something. Although they've recently adopted measures to make card counting far more difficult, in the past a skilled enough gambler could exploit the odds (possibly as part of a group) and win big. Casinos don't want any skill involved, just dumb luck - otherwise they'll always be paying out to a few professionals.

Personally, this sort of attitude just makes me really, really want to fuck with them. Another ten years or so and you'll have professional gamblers armed with nanotechnology and remote computers analyzing every move. I can't wait.

Re:'cheat' is realative (1)

geoffspear (692508) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357906)

If the technology gets so good that offering blackjack is no longer profitable for the casinos, you can bet they'll just get rid of the blackjack tables altogether.

Re:'cheat' is realative (5, Informative)

JustAnotherReader (470464) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357817)

Absolutly true. Consider this:

If a game is not a game of chance, but a game of skill, then the law does not allow casinos to host that game. So on one hand, casinos want to ban card counters, but on the other hand they don't want to admit that skillfull players can play better than players relying purly on luck. Blackjack brings in a LOT of money for casinos. They want to keep that money stream coming.

Re:'cheat' is realative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357846)

It's a good thing they don't host poker games then...

interesting point, skill and card games (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357947)

Mod parent informative.

Any card game is only a game of pure chance when using an infinte-sized deck or when the previously-turned outside of your own hand are completely unknown at the time bets are placed.

Poker, by its very nature, is a game of skill.

I was unaware that casinos could not host games of skill.

Re:'cheat' is realative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357949)

It's not really a skill at all. There is still a whole lot of random chance involved with card couting but what counting does is shift the odds using statistics so that they're more in your favor.

Most casino games are set up so that the odds are heavily in their favor; the one exception is craps which is about 50:50. It's actually slightly in the player's favor by a percent or two

Their house, their rules (4, Insightful)

jfengel (409917) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357842)

Basically, they get to throw you out if they catch you counting because it's a private establishment. They can throw you out if they don't like the color of your shirt.

Honestly, I agree with you: it's dumb to throw out players just because they can play better than you allow yourself to. (The percentage comes mostly from the fact that the dealer must hit on 16 and soft 17 no matter what the count looks like. A smart dealer would have a huge advantage, with the player having a chance to bust first, but they don't want to make it a skill vs. skill contest.)

In Atlantic City, it's actually getting harder to find a straight 21 game. They have a lot of variants of it, and although I haven't done the math I bet they eliminate your percentage in the game. Your percentage is small and it's not that hard to eliminate it with a few rule changes. But I guess the Vegas houses feel strongly about the traditional game.

Still, it would be a lot cheaper to change the game than to try to catch people based on what's in their heads. (Or in their shoes, if they're using an illegal computer. At least there they're trying to restrict the game to skill, including memory, although again a rules change could eliminate the advantage of having a computer.)

I suspect that they like the fact that people know that there's a percentage to the player in 21, even though most people don't know how to get it. And unless you're playing on a team it's hard to make money fast at it. (If you can play well enough to get a 1% advantage, you win an average of $1 per hand at the $100 table, which comes out to perhaps $30 an hour. Real money, certainly, but a lot of work for it.)

So if there are 6 players at the table and 5 of them are losing because they don't play the game very well, and they can catch you if you're making the big money playing on a team, it may still be to their advantage to leave the rules as they are. I've never heard of them messing with a small-time card counter, even though it's obvious they're counting.

Sounds dumb to me. There's a lot more vigorous cheating going on (stealing chips when people aren't looking, for example) that's easier to catch.

Re:'cheat' is realative (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357880)

FTA, the card counting and wildly varying bets isn't what they nail people on. They flag the customers for further observation based on it. And it's also used to weed out people who are varying bets not based on gambling strategy but in order to milk comps out of the casino. And in security like this, you have to take the red queen hypothesis of immune system evolution: you have to keep running faster and faster just to keep up. Wow, that was convoluted logic that somehow came back to the topic: start with gambling, go to security, from security to immune systems, from immune systems to the Red Queen, herself a playing card.

Re:'cheat' is realative (1)

wafath (91271) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357919)

It would be trivial for casinos to eliminate card counting as an effective "cheating" tool. All they have to do is close the game after x% of the deck has been played. (I don't know what x is, but I am sure someone could figure it out.) Card counting is only effective once you have played a certain percentage of the deck. If you never get there, card counting will be useless.

I suspect that casinos don't do this because they know that if you screw up the count, you push the game back in their favor. So they make money off of the people who think they can count, but can't. The few people who can count can be asked to leave when they are caught, and the losses are compensated by the gain of everyone else.


Marked cards?? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357683)

Carol Pride, CIO of Caesars Palace, told that many casinos favour chips and playing cards marked around the edges with invisible inks and barcodes, enabling optical monitoring of their movement and authenticity. Such a system is non-pervasive and reliable and currently far more cost-effective than RFID.

What filters are required to view these markings? I'm cool with RFID chips, but this is not at all good. Well.... It is not good until I have lenses with the right filters.

Cheating (2, Interesting)

kevin_conaway (585204) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357689)

There are two types of cheating. Cheating the house and cheating the other players. I have a problem with the former and not the latter. When you're playing against the house, the odds are severely stacked against you.

However, the best defense for any kind of cheating is, and always has been, a set (or multiple sets) of well trained eyes.

Re:Cheating (4, Insightful)

RzUpAnmsCwrds (262647) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357878)

"There are two types of cheating. Cheating the house and cheating the other players. I have a problem with the former and not the latter. When you're playing against the house, the odds are severely stacked against you."

No, they aren't. Sure, if you play Keno, your odds suck. But if you play basic strategy (not hard to learn) and find a decent Blackjack game (NOT 5:6, etc.), the house edge is frequently below 0.5%.

And cheating is cheating. If you don't like the house edge, don't play. Stealing chips from a casino is exactly the same thing as stealing real money.

Remember, the cameras aren't just there to prevent you from cheating - they are also there to prevent the house from cheating. The NGC is, thankfully, a bunch of hard-asses who will pull licenses if the casinos don't play on the straight and level.

In Vegas, the games are fair. Sure, the house has the edge, but the deck isn't stacked and the slots really are random.

Playing BS Blackjack at $10 a hand, with a decent game (house edge 0.5%) costs only $.05 a hand. At 100 hands an hour, that works out to $5 an hour. It's every bit as cheap as a movie, and you get free drinks. Moreover, if you play for a few hours, you can probably get a comp for the buffet.

Know how much you're willing to lose (and stick to it), know which games to play (and what the house edge is), know the rules, know the basic strategy, and have fun.

Re:Cheating (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357898)

Cheating the house and cheating the other players. I have a problem with the former and not the latter. When you're playing against the house, the odds are severely stacked against you.

I assume you meant you approve of the former and not the latter? I would hope you're not saying it's wrong to cheat the house, but right to cheat other players, when you continue to say that the odds are stacked against you playing against the house.

They want people to know - deterrent value (5, Insightful)

jratcliffe (208809) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357696)

While the casinos might not want to let every detail out, they certainly want people to know if they have impressive anti-cheating capabilities. The casinos would prefer you didn't do X in the first place than catch you doing X, and if you're aware that they can catch you doing X, they've solved a lot of their problem right there...

Re:They want people to know - deterrent value (1)

seanmcelroy (207852) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357814)


"or is this just the stuff they admit to?" ..or is this just the stuff they want you to think they do? ;)

Re:They want people to know - deterrent value (2, Insightful)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357884)

In fact it wouldn't surprise me in the least if they weren't overstating their capabilities deliberately. I mean it's the threat that's important. As long as you believe they can catch you doing X it doesn't matter whether they actually can or not.

I've worked for a few different Las Vegas casinos doing data analysis. My job was more to do with maximizing profits rather than catching cheats, but it did involve analysing a lot of the same or similar data. In many ways casinos are indeed remarkably advanced in this, but in many ways they aren't. It's a surprisngly conservative industry in many ways. I suspect much of this is boasting rather than actual practical systems that they make serious use of.


Redundancy (2, Funny)

WTBF (893340) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357707)

Harrah's, the largest casino group in the world and on the Las Vegas Strip

Welcome to the department of redundancy department.

Re:Redundancy (1, Insightful)

MarkGriz (520778) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357815)

"Harrah's, the largest casino group in the world and on the Las Vegas Strip"

Not redundant at all. Las Vegas is an *entirely* different world.

Re:Redundancy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357928)

A company could be the largest casino group in the world without having any casinos in Las Vegas. There are plenty of other cities to set up shop you know.

Internet Casinos (5, Interesting)

Eightyford (893696) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357714)

I'd like to know what kind of technology is used to catch cheaters on internet Casinos. Sites like Pokerstars must have some pretty complex systems in place to catch cheaters, as it seems so easy to cheat at first sight. I mean, how hard would it be to have your friends play at the same table as you while on a conference call with them? Maybe I'll try that right now actually...

Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357717)

Now how about catching some of the cheaters in my engineering classes?

Re:Awesome (5, Insightful)

CyricZ (887944) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357795)

Now how about catching some of the cheaters in my engineering classes?

Don't worry. They'll be caught in the real world when the buildings they design collapse, or the machine they design breaks apart and kills someone, or when they can't design a functioning 4-bit comparator.

Re:Awesome (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357924)

No, they get caught on their FE (Fundamentals of Engineerinng) exam (or other similar exam for professionals). At least hopefully. A cheater in a casino causes a company (that is already rich) to lose money. An engineer that got through school cheating can cause someone to die.

Card Counting is NOT Cheating!!!! (5, Informative)

riptide_dot (759229) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357719)


On a behavioural level such intelligence could also flag up 'one to watch' - for example a player laying $5 bets while sitting with $100,000 of chips in his or her pocket. This is certainly no cause for concern in its own right but such behaviour would in the past have caught notorious card counters waiting for the odds to fall in their favour or getting their eye in and honing a system.

While I will agree with the casinos' rights as a business to ask ANYONE to leave their casino for whatever reason, I just want to point out to everyone that card counting is NOT cheating and that people who in engage in card counting are simply using the casino rules and game's strategy to their best advantage. Both Las Vegas and Reno gambling laws state that cheating is defined as manipulating the rules of the game, or using devices to get around the rules of the game, not using the rules to your advantage, thus card counting is not illegal according to Nevada state laws (and many, if not all other state laws as well).

Re:Card Counting is NOT Cheating!!!! (1)

Neil Blender (555885) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357776)

Yeah and NOT wearing a SHIRT is NOT against the LAW but most restaurants won't let you through the door if you aren't wearing one.

Re:Card Counting is NOT Cheating!!!! (1)

shawb (16347) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357929)

Customers not wearing shirts or shoes is a health code violation in many areas.

But honestly it seems that they don't really try to kick the card counters out, they just conspicuously don't comp them. And they flag them for observation in case they are using some mechanical means or collaborating with other players to beat the table.

Re:Card Counting is NOT Cheating!!!! (1)

Flying Purple Wombat (787087) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357936)

Yeah and NOT wearing a SHIRT is NOT against the LAW but most restaurants won't let you through the door if you aren't wearing one.

I always laugh at the "No shirt, no shoes, no service!" signs. I'm tempted to strip off my pants and see what they do, but I never have the guts to do it.

Re:Card Counting is NOT Cheating!!!! (0, Redundant)

Nuttles1 (578165) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357802)

It may not be illegal to card count, but the casino can still ask you to leave. Good thing there a soo many casinos!

Re:Card Counting is NOT Cheating!!!! (3, Insightful)

szquirrel (140575) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357856)

card counting is NOT cheating

This perhaps offers the best insight into why the casinos are so hot to catch counters quickly. Catch a cheater and he's going to jail, and the casino can probably collect nice damages.

Catch a card counter... and do what? Ask him to leave? Not give him any more comps? He's not doing anything illegal so the casino won't be getting any money back. Better catch him quick then, before he relieves you of $50,000 at the blackjack tables.

Masking (1)

dotslashdot (694478) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357723)

Time to start wearing a mask everywhere you go if you want to protect your privacy.

Mitch Hedberg found dead! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357724)

Early in the morning, Hedberg was found dead in a New Jersey hotel room, reportedly from heart failure. He was 37 years old. His death was first announced by Howard Stern on his morning talk show and later confirmed by the Saint Paul Pioneer Press [2] from his home town of St. Paul, Minnesota. Hedberg had reportedly been preparing for his first HBO special.

The specific cause of his heart failure remains unknown. He was born with a heart defect for which he received extensive treatment as a child, and the effect of drugs on this condition has been cited as a possible cause of death.

Truly an American comic icon.

Maybe they show you on purpose. (5, Insightful)

GecKo213 (890491) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357729)

Surprised they're so open about what they do!

It shoudln't suprise you. It's the same reason the police officers drive around in very obvioulsy marked cars while on patrol. (Except for undercover cars of course, but they are doing a different type of work) While driving for instance, when you see a policeman pull up behind your car the first thing that comes to my mind at least is some form of "am I doing anything wrong at this point in time?" and that's kind of the effect they're after. They want you to know they are there and patroling hopefully keeping you from doing something you shouldn't because you just saw a cop.

I think the same thing goes for a Casino owner. The more that you know about the measures they are using to keep you away, the more likely you are not to try to cheat in the first place. There is also a show on TV currently on Court TV [] called The Takedown [] . It's a team of prior casino cheats and thieves that are now hired to go and test the security in casinos by beating them at their game. Interesting show, even more interesting concepts.

Not really.. (2, Insightful)

Jason1729 (561790) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357732)

Surprised they're so open about what they do! ...or is this just they stuff they admit to?"

They can still have excellent security while being totally upfront about it. It's only certain governments that feel the need to hide everything about "security" in the shadows.

This is also good customer friendlyness. If I go to a casino and there's a big sign that says they do facial scanning to catch cheaters, I have no problem with their scanning and I'll still go in. If they do it sneakily and I find out later, I'll feel violated and never go back to that casino.

Who's the cheat? (1)

Malc (1751) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357760)

Who's calling who a cheat? They can change the take percentage on their slot machines from the other side of the country? Not taking enough money and giving away to many winnings? Click the mouse a couple of times and fix that.

It beats me why anybody would go to a place like Vegas, which is all about having your money taken away from you. Or if you prefer, it's a place to give your money away. Personally, I think the homeless people on the streets around me are more deserving than those fat corrupt corporate pigs in Vegas.

Re:Who's the cheat? (3, Interesting)

richmaine (128733) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357857)

There are plenty of good reasons to go to Vegas for business meetings. Good airline connections, decent hotels at reasonable rates. Good food. All subsidized by those fools who go there and leave their money on the tables.

Now if you go there to gamble, that's a different matter. But other people should continue to do that in order to keep subsidizing my meetings. :-)

Re:Who's the cheat? (2, Interesting)

brianinswfla (871709) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357864)

Who's calling who a cheat? They can change the take percentage on their slot machines from the other side of the country? Not taking enough money and giving away to many winnings? Click the mouse a couple of times and fix that.
I worked at a casino in Louisiana for about 6 years and still have relatives that work there. The only way to change the hold percentage is by changing the program chip which is locked down and taped in the presence of the state police. Get caught with the tape broken and the casino pays lots of fines. It's been awhile so perhaps technology has changed but I doubt what you're suggesting is happening, at least not in Louisiana.

Re:Who's the cheat? (1)

ShoobieRat (829304) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357870)

Maybe so...but the homeless guy on the corner doesn't have a high-class hotel with excellent service, a great chef, entertainment and...women...

Re:Who's the cheat? (3, Informative)

TheCabal (215908) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357925)

Uh, no you can't do that. Gaming regs here prevent casinos from doing that. If you advertise a 99% payout on a bank of slots, those slots HAVE to have a 99% payout (mind you, it's over the lifetime of the machine).

Payout schemes are locked in each machine in the presence of a gaming control agent. They have ways to tell if a machine has been tampered with. Gaming in Vegas is quite on the level- people just forget that a casino won't engage in a game of chance unless it is favored to win.

And there's plenty of homeless people on the streets here in Vegas, so come on down with your roll of cash...

Duh! (1, Funny)

decipher_saint (72686) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357761)

Look for the guys who are winning.

If you want to catch a Vegas cheat... (0)

BitwizeGHC (145393) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357766)

Look for the little yellow fuzzy guy with black spots on his back, says "meh" a lot, reports to a shady sort of wrestleman character, sometimes answers to Ilko Skevüld.

The Cheat (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357779)

Leave poor The Cheat alone.
Casinos should go after Homestar Runner or Strong Sad instead :)

Aren'te they more worried about employees... (1)

geoffrobinson (109879) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357803)

than the patrons? Obviously, they are looking for patrons who are doing something wrong. But I would assume they are more worried about dealers dealing from the bottom of the deck, etc.

RFID's a great idea (5, Interesting)

dlt074 (548126) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357845)

back when i worked in a casino i had this guy buy in for a couple hundred bucks on a crap game. i was handing the money into the box person and was joking that the money looked fake. he thought i was serious and so looked at it a little more then i had. turns out it was counterfeit and security pulled the guy off the game. turns out after talking to him and running back the tape, he was passed the bogus money from our our cash cage!

the RFID in the chips is a good idea. we once had some bogus 100's come in one afternoon and everyone knew about them but i was still finding them a day later in "clean" banks. if they were all RFID'd you could scan a whole bank and see if it matches what you have down on paper as the proper amount. short a few 100 then there must be some bogus chips in there someplace better take a good long look.

as far as the cheating goes. the only place it's even worth trying is on a crap game with two of the dealers in on it. when the stick person is watching the dealer who's in on it, that's when you pass off a stack of chips. nothing too high for you might call attention, maybe $ only do a few hundred a night on a BUSY game other wise they will spot you quick, greed is bad. craps is a very verbal game, unlike BJ where everything is done with hand gestures and easy for servailance to watch. in the years that i dealt craps never did servailance call down and ask about a payout we made or about any of the action on the game. it moves too fast and is too verbal for them to know what's going on. if you have a busy game and no box person or floor watching, you could very easy hand off a "payout" that was not legit and nobody would ask or care. there were many many times where i would book a bet verbaly without seeing the actual money on the table and the dice would roll and the person would either win or lose and they would payup or i'd pay them and there was NO money any where to be seen before that moment for the camera. which is why you are always nice to the crap dealer in front of you and watch what you joke around about, i've booked bets that people were joking about, at that point they pay up or they get escorted out of the casino. that was always my favorite way to get rid of people that pissed me off.

Article ignores crackdowns on legal card counting! (4, Insightful)

VidEdit (703021) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357852)

The odd aren't just stacked in the casinos favor, they also throw out players who win too much. Casinos use the surveillance systems and facial ID systems to detect and bar players who are card counters. Card counters are not cheaters, they are people who are really good at math who carefully observe what cards have been played and place bets accordingly--just as expert poker players do consciously or unconsciously. Cardcounting can give these blackjack players an extremely small edge. But casinos don't like to lose even to legitimate players. Rather than make adjustments to the game of blackjack, casinos throw winning cardcounters out and pass a blacklist of photos to other casinos around the country. This unethical practice of baring players merely for winning should be illegal, but the gambling influenced laws in places like Las Vegas fully support it. Casinos hold out the promise that you can win if you are good, but balk at actually letting you play if you are really good. Using high tech security to bar non-cheating players for winning is unethical and should be banned. The article should be condemned for giving the false impression that casino security is only used to catch cheaters.

'70s Roulette cheating with computers (1)

davidwr (791652) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357869)

I saw a show recently about some grad students who used computer-aided counters to "time" the wheel and get a sense of when to place their bets for maximum gain. They wound up with something like 40% profit.

This was back in the '70s and the casinos weren't looking for such devices.

All this proves.. (1)

Viceice (462967) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357871)

All this just proves that nomatter how the 'Holier then thou' like to spin it, our vices will forever be the driving force behind our technological development.

Think about it, blood lust drove nuclear research, porn drove Internet penetration (No pun intended) and now we have gambelling (not some war on terror) driving survallience and crowd management.

Open (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13357881)

Reason for them being open is to "scare" cheaters. Been like that in Vegas forever.

Also used to catch legitamite gamblers (4, Interesting)

hellfire (86129) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357895)

Under law it's illegal to tamper with slot machines, use slugs, play with tampered cards, etc. It's also quasi-illegal to do things like posting, which means changing your bet after the game has started. There are tons of gambler cheats.

The most common "cheat" which isn't a cheat, however, is card counting in Black Jack. Casinos have been known to harass and eject gamblers who are expert card counters. The process is not illegal but they are labelled as cheats anyway. Card counting is little more than being really good at math and concentration and coming up with a consistent pattern. Casinos don't appreciate it because most games have an automatic "profit margin." Roulette, for example, has lots of ways to bet, but if you were to down the same amount of money on every number, you'd end up with winnings of only 80-90% of what you initially put down, essentially losing money. Mathematically they are designed to win unless you cheat.

Blackjack is not the same. You can beat blackjack because the odds say if you play things right, you can come out on top even in the long run. That's why so many organizations have popped up in the past few decades running "black jack" companies. They are made up of math wizzes who train at card counting.

Then the casinos find them, repeatedly showing up, figure out they are counting cards, and then eject them from the casino. It's completely legal so they can't arrest you, but because it's a private company they can refuse your business and ban you from their business, and future excursions to their casino would be considered trespassing.

It's pretty scummy, though I must say it's an improvement over getting your knee caps shot off for being a good poker player, like in the good old mob days.

If you read the first story of Kevin's new book... (1)

papaia (652949) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357902)

... it would make you wonder how many of the preventative measures, and their technological implementations, get - in fact - to be learned, reverse engineered and then avoided by same (or more skilled) level of people, as those who have designed them. Link to the book here [] .

They nailed Carmack.. (4, Interesting)

xTK-421x (531992) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357922)

JC made a post talking about how the casinos nailed him for card counting:

A few of us took a couple days off in vegas this weekend. After about ten hours at the tables over friday and saturday, I got a tap on the shoulder...

Three men in dark suits introduced themselves and explained that I was welcome to play any other game in the casino, but I am not allowed to play blackjack anymore.

Ah well, I guess my blackjack days are over. I was actually down a bit for the day when they booted me, but I made +$32k over five trips to vegas in the past two years or so.

Taken from here: ack/ []

conspiracy? (1)

SolusSD (680489) | more than 9 years ago | (#13357951)

Surprised they're so open about what they do! ...or is this just the stuff they admit to?"

Is the submitter trying to encourage conspiracy theories about Vegas security?... this should be a funny thread. Insert conspiracy theories below. ;)

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