10 ways people try to cheat at the casino



Casinos have it tougher than you think, and since the first casino opened doors, people have been actively trying to beat the house – in many cases, by cheating.

Call it human nature, call it the thrill of the chase – call it fraud if you will. People do try to cheat at casinos, and if your dealer seems a bit on edge, that’s because he has seen human nature in action.

Of course, this is not to say that we are all cheats. I know for a fact that I have never even thought about doing anything underhand. Beat the casino by leveraging smart strategies? Sure, but never cheat.

You might riposte here and say, ‘hey, what’s the definition of a smart strategy?’ and you will be correct. Today, though, I am here to talk about the most common ways people (try) to cheat at casinos. 

But first, allow me to begin with a simple piece of advice. 

Why You Shouldn’t Cheat at a Casino

Let’s be honest – cheating is wrong. There is pure objectivity to this statement and one that I don’t have to defend. 

But to put things in perspective, other than the embarrassment of being manhandled by the security personnel, there is also the legal matter to deal with.

You have, but one name and it makes very little sense to try and sully it forever by trying to take a pot shot at the casino. Yet, many people do try, and here is how they do it – and often fail to their great detriment.

1. Bet After the Outcome Is Known

It seems bizarre, but people do try this. And quite often, they succeeded – at least until casinos began relying on advanced CCTV and Artificial Intelligence (AI). The AI is ominously known as “The Eye in the Sky.” 

How this type of cheating works – or often fails – is for a group of friends to feign they are strangers and sit at the table. One or two of them will try to distract the dealer. Meanwhile, the designated cheat would use his agility to quickly place a bet on the winning outcome.

This type of cheating is very, very difficult to pull off, and it requires superhuman composure and reflexes. 

What do casinos do to bust cheaters?

The Eye in the Sky is an ominous Terminator-esque technology that has an uncanny ability to pinpoint and catch you cheating. You might think that you are quick, but nothing ever eludes the inexorable stare of the eye

fake chips at casino

2. How about Fake Chips?

Many people think they can get the currency they need to bet as a DIY project. Yet, you can’t really counterfeit casino chips. Plus, stealing them from a casino with the help of an insider is really not an option.

Casinos continue to report at least a hundred or so cases of chips that have been tinkered with every year. Yet, the frequency of catching those culprits suggests they have become increasingly adept at spotting the wrongdoers.

How do casinos catch counterfeit chips?

It’s easier than you think! Each chip has RFID tags, which make it virtually impossible to steal or even use a dud in its stead. The only theoretical way in which you could cheat using counterfeit chips is if the manufacturer and someone in the casino itself helped you. That is an improbable scenario.

3. To Cap or Pinch, This Is the Question

There is a practice – or rather a set of practices – known as pinching & capping. These actions refer to how you treat your bets after some information about the game has been revealed. 

Let’s assume you are playing blackjack, and the dealer has just revealed a three against your 10. Now, obviously, you are more likely to win. So, capping your bet with an extra chip without the dealer noticing would be best.

Yet, you carry the risk of being spotted, and if you ask me – you shouldn’t even try. 

How do casinos deal with this?

Once again, casinos spot you in the act. Sooner or later, the AI above your head will see you doing something dodgy. And guess what? Security personnel will be dispatched to your table. You could try with some lower-tier casino, but chances are if you get caught there, you will be handled differently and with less of a decorum.

4. When You Have a Friend in the Dealer

Teaming up with a mate of yours, especially if they are the dealer, makes for a killer combination. Many people have been tempted, and some have succeeded. However, a fair few have ended up in jail, too.

Cheating by colluding with the dealer is a rather popular way of giving yourself a slight edge. And besides, it’s not too difficult to spot. If you win too much, the casino catches you. If you win too little – the risk isn’t justified, and the casino eventually catches you.

How do casinos spot the dodgy dealers?

Look, it’s not going to be easy for a dealer to hide favouritism. It’s borderline impossible. The company’s revenue is analyzed continuously to avoid situations where someone is colluding with the customers. Therefore, partnering up with a live dealer is a short-lived adventure at best.

5. Stealing Chips – A No-No 

As with counterfeit chips, stealing chips is really a far-fetched idea. All chips have a unique identifier that will make them useless outside the casino. If you do end up stealing – the casino would know.

All that the casino has to do now is to wait for the culprit to come back with the stolen goods. Some people still think they can use a distraction to palm some chips unnoticed. Yet, a chip deficit always shows up in the end. And, once the casino knows an amount is missing, they are on the lookout for whoever the guilty party is.

How are stolen chips found?

This requires a combination of staff effort, the artificial intelligence system and video footage. In the end, you can rest assured that the combined efforts of every competent man, woman and piece of technology are going to lead to the person who has stolen the chips. 

6. Counting Cards – Why Is It Cheating?

Of all the forms of cheating at a casino, counting cards is the most honest one. It requires a relatively advanced understanding of mechanics, a lot of rote learning, superhuman concentration and other qualities that would, under normal circumstances, draw praise.

The best card counters are genuinely worthy of admiration. Yet, the casinos have an elementary rule about blackjack cards – don’t, hoping that the terseness of the message would stick with people.

Nevertheless, it not often does, and someone who’s got their way with numbers often finds themselves tempted into giving the casinos a good jostle. Besides, casinos don’t treat card counters too harshly, but they do issue bans for visiting the property.

How do casinos find out who’s counting cards?

There are so many ways to do that. The Eye in the Sky helps as card counters work in pairs with partners who wait for the table to prove an excellent place to start. Yet, there is more. More often, there is a card counter in the casino’s security staff.

That’s true – many people who have been caught counting cards have been offered an honest day job as part of the casino staff to help them root out the other card counters. So, you are suddenly not only against the dealer – there is a fellow player actively trying to hunt you down, and they always do.

7. Marking Cards

This method is, in fact, very straightforward, and its success rate is dubious. If you somehow manage to mark your cards, you might be able to get an edge, but as I have said before – the risk is slightly justified.

Anyway, there are many ways to do it. Some people try to use something as quotidian as ink or pen, but this leaves too many traces. In any event, the dealers won’t idly stand by as you try to mark a card. 

Quite to the contrary, they are dab hands and trained to spot aberrant behaviour. Even more advanced marking techniques might soon fail. 

Checking for marked cards

While dealers may not try to catch you marking cards specifically, they will often do some fail-safe shuffles. For example, the Riffle Test is one common way to determine if a deck has been tampered with as the top cards are picked off the deck and bent to see if there are any markings.

8. Playing in Groups to Share Information

Players are naturally supportive of one another. They often cheer at other’s success and even share some of their winnings if they feel other competitors deserve it, too. Yet, some players could get a bit too familiar with each other.

And so, some tables would get a group of strangers who are signalling each other what cards they have, when playing Texas Hold’em, for example, to give the player with the strongest hand in the group the most significant chance to win.

The player, of course, would also need to keep raising to make sure everyone participating in the scheme can be covered when the winnings are divvied up, so it’s not an easy thing to do.

How are the groups of cheaters caught?

Casinos are very clever, too. You might think you have the secret handshake or code words, but casino employee specialists use CCTV, train their dealers and ultimately spot any abnormal behaviour. If you are innocent, you have nothing to fear, but my experience shows that not even the best cheat can hide too long from the casino. 

counting cards at blackjack

9. Spotting Unfair Defects in the Cards 

It just so happens that not all casino cards are top-quality and sometimes, finding defects in them can be quite helpful to those of a nefarious turn of mind. Even respected blackjack and poker professionals have been tempted to go down this road.

In my opinion – they should have never done it, but that’s up for everyone to decide on their own. Nevertheless, some cards might show some defects, which makes them easy to spot. 

Now, sometimes this can go unnoticed, surprisingly. Still, likely, the truth will out, as it happened in Phil Ivey’s case, a respected poker player who won millions playing in casinos using the “edge sorting” strategy.

Eventually, a judge ordered Mr. Ivey to pay back the amount he had won, a development that in itself is beyond the point. Far more importantly, his reputation has been sullied. 

How casinos spot the exploiters?

It all boils down to behaviour. In Mr. Ivey’s case, he asked a croupier to deal the cards in a particular method which, to the dealer, was all a matter of the player’s idiosyncrasies, but as it turned out, Mr. Ivey knew something. In any event, exploiting defects will usually result in being caught – one way or another. 

10. Online Casinos: When Cheating Is (Mostly) Impossible

Online casinos have dispensed with a lot of the problems that regular casinos tend to have. For starters, you will not be able to count cards or even use ‘strategies,’ as the casino first shuffles the cards after each time it deals and secondly – strategies might go against the Terms & Conditions of a casino. Yet, people do try to cheat – not by designing a system to game the casino, but by trying to abuse the bonus system.

Some players open multiple accounts or at least try to. Others try to trick the casino’s software into thinking that a bonus has been “rolled over” and can now be cashed out immediately.

How do online casinos handle casino abusers? 

Such attempts to game the casino are usually caught right away, and they lead to account suspension. The individual is banned across the entire network of online casinos owned by the same operator. Is it worth it trying to abuse casino bonuses? My experience shows that there is very little real return, and the risk is not justified.

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