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4 ways you should never cheat at blackjack, Vegas style

Mar 30, 2014

blackjack-cheating-250314Don’t cheat!

Cheating at blackjack is all part of this age old casino game. Until you get caught that is.

Playing cards is one of the most easiest and care-free activities one can do, if you’re doing it honestly, that is.

However, over the years we have witnessed many gamblers take a different approach to gambling. This approach does not involves scrupulous gambling methods, but rather relies heavily on deception, cunning and perhaps just a smidge of luck, after all it is gambling.

Blackjack is one card game that has perhaps seen the most abuse by cheating gamblers. The game’s simplicity can be turned into something so complicated, because everyone wants to win, so why not pick a card game that maintains plain and straightforward rules.

Here’s a list of 4 major examples of blackjack con artists that managed to win big using illegal schemes, until they were caught.

Simple cheating for a simple game

As a former baccarat and blackjack dealer, Marcus had a glimpse into the world from the other end of the table. The job gave him valuable experience which he later used to his advantage to cheat the casino.

• Popular con artists – Richard Marcus, Archie Karas, Keith Taft, Deborah “Debbie” Heidekrueger

• Popular schemes – Ten-Oh-Five, the Savannah

• Blackjack – most attractive game for con artists

His cheating practice did not involve exquisite cunningness or superior intelligence for counting cards, but rather concerned the negligence on the dealer’s part.

For example, he would place two red $5 chips on top of a $500 brown chip. The trick was that through the dealers’ eyes, it seemed as if all three chips were red, totaling merely $15.

If fortune favored the dealer, then he would simply exchange the brown $500 chip with another $5 chip, while the dealer looked carelessly away.

On the other hand, if he won, then he would remind the dealer to take a closer look at the chips, a value that far exceeded a meagre $15. With this tactic he would win over a grand, that is if everything went according to plan.

The scam worked until he was caught and banned from casinos indefinitely. Now he gives tutoring lessons and blackjack tips to aspiring players.

Greek card marking at its finest

Born in Greece, Karas emigrated to the US in the 1960s initially settling in Los Angeles where he was acquainted with card games.

Later he moved to Las Vegas and started winning big. So big in fact that by staring out with a mere $50 wager in 1992, he ended up accumulating a massive fortune of $40 million in 1995. In the gambling world, this period is often referred to as “The Run.”

Unfortunately for Karas, like always, the winning streak came to an end. Right after the peak of his gambling success in 1995, he virtually lost all of his wealth in three weeks.

Last year, the popular Greek player has been arrested after marking cards at a blackjack tournament in a California casino.

One of the things he was oblivious to were the surveillance cameras. The cameras recorded him dropping small spots of dye on the backs of aces, kings, queens and jacks.

With this method he was able to identify which cards were higher and which were lower in value. Obviously, this gave him an unfair advantage that enabled him to bet correctly.

He was successful at raking up $8,000, before the security team noticed the trick.

Computerized cheats, before people even knew what computers were

In 1972, before everyone knew what computers were, Taft developed a revolutionary way to scam casinos of their money.

He used a computer that he created, to do quick calculations about odds of upcoming cards. The device was massive, and it is rumored to have weighed almost 7 kilograms. The main computer would be attached to his stomach, with a forest of wires stretching along his body.

Whenever he would receive cards, he would tap to his toes to the amount of the cards value and the computer would calculate odds and send red flashing signals to friend’s glasses. This was in fact one of the first computerized card counting systems.

The problem was that he didn’t always succeed to win with his initial device, that he named George.

With his second device, called David, he achieved instant success, winning $40,000 at blackjack tables the first week of operations.

After he was caught in a casino, and questioned by the FBI and the Nevada Gaming Control Board, he decided it was time to abandon this technique, and opted to sell David computers instead.

“Ten-Oh-Five” – the infamous blackjack move

Debbie is known for teaming up with a blackjack dealer, one of the most common cheating clichés right?

She met Mark “Balls” Abramowitz in Aruba, who worked on a blackjack table. The two of them decided that their partnership could be a fruitful gambling relationship. He was convinced that many casino bosses wouldn’t suspect a woman such as Debbie to be a cheat.

He taught her the popular blackjack scheme called “Ten-Oh-Five.” This trick involves the dealer being careless, as the players try to conceit the chips that they have bet. If the player wins, then the player will claim to have placed a high wager. However, if the player loses, then there’s an opposite claim.

With time, winning at blackjack proved to be quite rewarding, but Debbie got sloppy. She got arrested for going the Ten-Oh-Five at Caesars Tahoe, and spent six months in jail.

She quit gambling for a while, but returned with a new learned gambling scheme, the infamous “Savannah” which has boggled casino bosses for years.

Perhaps the best way to go about cheating is to adhere to the old classic rule: “Quit while you’re ahead!” However, greed is inherent in human nature, and there’s not much one can do about it.

But if you are going to cheat at a blackjack game, you should be vigilant at all times, because nowadays everyone is watching you.

Make sure that you are not using any device like our buddy Keith, because that is just calling for attention. Casino security in today’s world is suspicious of everyone and everything.

Perhaps your best option is marking cards, but not with special dye, like Archie did, but rather by marking them with a nail scratch or a slight bend might do.

However, this also takes some practice, because if the dealer notices the mark, the cards will be replaced, or worse you’ll be kicked out.


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