What really happens to casino cheats when they get caught?

Despite well-executed depictions in blockbusters such as 21, The Cooler, Rain Man and Maverick – Cheating in casinos isn’t just a thing of the movies. It is very much a real problem for both land-based and online casinos. Even though these establishments rake in close to $70 billion dollars’ worth of revenue every year, there are still small group of players in this world who believe they can outsmart the system removed from normal betting strategies.

Many have tried and failed in the past, and a select few have actually succeeded, but that does not mean it is a risk worth taking – especially with operators clamping down harder than ever to keep up with sophisticated hacking technologies, and those putting on more than just a poker face at the gaming tables. That’s why we’ve outlined the different approaches people have taken in the past to try cheating the casinos, and the consequences involved for getting caught!

Account Cloning

This act of cheating is mostly applicable to online casinos, and is one which they all struggle to tackle on a daily basis; hiding the players IP address using hidden VPN software, allows fraudsters to create multiple accounts and receive multiple deposit bonuses that generally go unnoticed by the house. It has caused some of these establishments to pull back and no longer offer such bonuses in the past, but these days most real money casinos have sophisticated security software in place, which monitors all accounts being created. Nine times out of ten the software acts as a successful prevention method.

The net result? Your accounts will be blocked and the player is banned from that casino’s brands for life.

Card Counting

Card counting is definitely one you would have seen in the movies, and funnily enough it is actually legal! Even though practically all casinos heavily frown upon it, and may even ask you to leave the venue if you are caught. It involves players keeping track of the cards that get laid out on the table as they are dealt. This then gives them an indication of how many high cards are left in the pack in contrast to the low value ones, and thus helping them decide on what move to make next in a bid to win the game.
Get caught and you’re shown the door.

Card Switching

Also referred to as “hand mucking” this act of cheating does what it says on the tin. Back in the days before it was such a known thing, players would conceal extra cards up their sleeves, but these days there are actual ‘holdout devices’ – a mechanical contraption which also sits up the players sleeve, which they can dispense during a point in the game where they may have an advantage or opportunity to gain a stronger hand. Even though it’s generally only one card out of 52 that’s used, that one card can alter the odds of winning drastically.
This actually is illegal and those caught will first be escorted to the door, only to find the local police waiting.

False Shuffle

This con is more based around the dealer of the game, and involves them looking like they’re shuffling the cards as normal, but what they are actually doing is leaving a select few in certain places of the pack. The other players (who are also in on the scam) then keep tabs of when the unshuffled cards are dealt, and make their next moves accordingly. Even though this is quite an uncommon way to cheat these days, one gang walked out of a casino with $7 million dollars, just from using this method.
Get caught and you’re not just blacklisted from the particular casino, you’ll get your name in the permanent black book, known as the Excluded Persons List in Las Vegas and disseminated to all casinos by the Nevada Gaming Control Board and well as see some jail time and possible fines.

Hacking

Again this one is more tailored to online casinos, and you can probably guess what it involves! Programmers crack the gaming platform’s systems using an intelligent software, which allows them to manipulate the gameplay and the overall programming codes. Even though most casinos are fully aware this happens and attempt to combat it with their own anti-hacking software, some still manage to get through.
If you get caught here you’ll find your account immediately frozen, funds confiscated and be banned for life by the online casino’s fraud department.

Hole Card Reading

Like card holding, this isn’t considered a cheat or scam as such – but it does give the players an added advantage if successful. Hole Card Reading is mainly used in games like Blackjack or Three Card Poker, and literally entails the player trying to spot the dealer’s ‘hole card’. It only becomes a crime if the players are caught using a hidden camera or small mirror to spot the card.
Get caught with either of these devices and you’ll find you’re banned for life as well as the police waiting.

Hidden Camera

Which gracefully leads us onto one of the most risky methods of cheating in casinos – the hidden camera! Just like something out of James Bond or a classy spy film, hidden cameras are very much available on the market and although casinos are very aware of this, they’re not always the easier scams to spot. The cheat is most common in games like baccarat and blackjack, and involves the player recording the cards that are cut and dragged over the top of the deck. The player with the camera then records each card, whilst their ally keeps a look out and relays the information back to the executor through an earpiece.
Get caught with this one and you’re likely to get a pretty violent bums rush, lifetime ban and a nice pair of bracelets from the local police.

Marking Cards

One of the most common methods, and one which has been used in casinos for years. It’s very simple in the sense the player literally marks a specific card by folding a corner, scratching it slightly with a sharp object, or dotting it with a pen or ink. If the game involves chips, they may put a dent in it or mark it in other ways. When the card is laid out during the game, the player already knows what is on the other side, and thus, giving them the upper hand.
Again, this is cheating, your winnings will be forfeited, and you’ll likely be detained until the police arrive.

Past Posting

It’s not so easy to get away with this cheat these days, but it’s one of the oldest tricks in the book. It involves players placing their bets/chips on a winning number, but they do this after the ball has dropped and landed in a pocket on the roulette wheel. This method is only successful when the croupier is distracted by someone else the moment the ball lands.
As this one is usually hard to prove and can be seen as negligence on the casino’s part, is you’re suspected of past posting you might be harassed and intimidated by the pit boss, presuming you’re dealing with low stakes, to get you to leave. If you’re playing for and winning high stakes and the casino suspects you’re past posting but their cameras can’t prove it, you’ll be forcibly shown the door.

How casinos combat cheaters

Cheating is nothing new in casinos, and is something that people will continue to try to get away with regardless of the consequences. Thanks to modern technologies, it’s much easier to spot a hustler these days than it was 30 years ago, and gaming operators both online and in brick-and-mortar casinos have much tougher security measures in place. Some of these include:

• CCTV – Security cameras are usually set up all around the casino floor, and are monitored 24/7 by staff

• Card Dealing Shoe – Also known as an ‘Angel Eye’ – this is a relatively new tool, which casinos use to spot marked cards. The Angel Eye reads each card before it is dealt and makes a note of the cards each player is dealt. If a card that was not in the deal is placed down, the tool will identify it immediately.

• Watching the Dealer – As some of the best scams have involved the dealers themselves over the years, casinos now monitor both their and the players losses, and always require the dealer to show their hands to the camera before a game begins, ensuring they are not committing foul play.

• Using Multiple Decks – This helps eliminate those marked cards people try to use. By using cards from several different packs, it makes it much harder to for the player to know which card is in play.

• Random Number Generators – Mostly applicable in online casinos, but this actually gives the players themselves peace of mind to know a casino is producing fair and honest results.

Back in the day, the easiest way of dealing with cheaters would be to escort them quietly into a back room, where they would have the living snot beaten out of them by several large men. Fortunately those gangster –style measures are outdated now, and would technically mean the casino themselves would be committing a criminal act if they were used today.
In this era, if a casino discovers a person cheating in their establishment, it usually results in them being asked to leave the building, an arrest, a ban, or possibly all three, even if it’s over a small amount of money. After all, cheating is against the law. If the scam is a lot more severe however, the offender could face serious jail time, paying huge amounts in compensation to the operators in the process.

Gambling should be an act of fun and source of entertainment, not an opportunity to get one over the casino. It’s not worth the risk. You can still do that by playing fairly – it just requires patience, skill and a little bit of Lady Luck. Hitting a jackpot is not that unrealistic, but attempting to cheat a casino sure is, and can be a very dangerous endeavor if you get caught. So, our best advice? Simple – just don’t!

John D. Gardner

John spent the last twenty years teaching advanced statistics at a community college before leaving to pursue his love of writing and strategy games. Combined with his extensive teaching experience, John has made it his mission to guide aspiring gamblers to their biggest wins.