It Could Happen To You…
The video above titled “Maryland Live – 2nd Degree Assault” posted on Youtube is an interesting story that has made the local news in Baltimore, Maryland. A man was caught counting cards after about an hour of play at the Blackjack table and was escorted out by security. The Maryland Live! Casino sent the man, Justin Mills, a letter banning him from the casino for life. Mills made the issue public by suing them and stating that a battery had been committed against him when one of the security members grabbed him by the arm. When the casino was asked for comment, their reply was basically, “Anyone can play here as long as they follow our rules.”
This reminiscent a recent story about the Game King Twins who spent no small amount of time finding out the best way to take advantage of a programming logic flaw present in all Game King video poker machines. After winning hundreds of thousands of dollars and avoiding detection, greed eventually caught up with them, but the casinos unsuccessfully attempted to prosecute them under Federal law. In this case, a man who used a well-known method of counting cards in Blackjack, which is possible with a little math and memory skill was kicked out, but no attempts at prosecution were made because this type of “cheating” is not prosecutable.
The message being made here is that players are welcome to the casinos with the understanding that any out of the ordinary, even slightly in a attempt to actually win, whether it is table games or the video video slots, will simply not be tolerated. Like many words that have been redefined in the 21st century, “cheating” has now become a relative definition based on who stands to lose the most in the gambling industry.
Cheating the casino now means the mastery of a system that gives an advantage to the player, one that has been used since the invention of the game. Maryland Live! suggests that if a player knows something that other players at the table do not, they are cheating.
So What I Just Like Spinning a Few Slots, Can’t Cheat There Right?
What this has to do with the regular player is that the odds are no longer an issue when determining your chances of winning the better you get at gambling. Recently I went to Buffalo Thunder, my local joint, to intentionally play a Williams game that is unusually running pretty warm. I’m talking about the physical temperature of the machine, not its payouts. Several minutes into playing, the spinning paused and the message “Performing memory check” appeared on the screen. Several seconds later, the spin resumed without incident. No winner.
For the sake of argument given the latest crime blotter, let’s presume that instead of losing on that next spin after it briefly overheated it’s memory banks I had won the progressive jackpot. Because it is computerized, records of the play, including any malfunctions are logged. Experienced players know that in the event of a machine malfunction all winnings are forfeited. Based on this hypothetical series of events, though only slightly askew from reality, the jackpot had the potential of being wiped out. The machine log could have been examined and at the point of the memory error occurring, any winnings after potentially could have been forfeited.
One of the issues I have with this is how the media presents it to the non-gaming public. Here is this guy who is not doing anything illegal, at all, yet is pictured as being a cheater and deceiver, and was “violently thrown out” according to Mr. Mills. Since most people who do not go to the casino regularly are unaware of what actually goes on in the day to day of a skilled gambler, their perception is often handed to them by the media, making it look like knowing how to play blackjack right is criminal.