At the recent World Game Protection seminars, casino expert Sal Piacente said: “Advantage players don’t want to cheat and aren’t doing anything illegal, but instead use their minds to beat the game, whether watching to see if a dealer exposes a hole card or by card counting.”
I’m not so sure.
For any group of 1,000 advantage players, you’ll have 1,000 different conclusions on how close to the line — or how far over the line — they are willing to go to collect money from casinos and others.
Richard Munchkin has said on the air that he and the teams he belonged to used electronic devices to help them play blackjack when it was legal, but when it became illegal, they stopped. I believe him. But I also believe that there are still APs today who use illegal devices to assist them in beating casinos.
Piacente spoke about card counting and hole carding. Those are legal maneuvers in many, but not all, jurisdictions. Try card counting in London and they’ll likely keep your money if you lose and not cash your chips when you win. Get caught hole carding at certain tribal casinos in Michigan and elsewhere, and you probably won’t be paid.
In video poker, most casinos say you can only play on your own player’s card and not anyone else’s. I’ve successfully played on both my card and my wife’s card at many casinos. I don’t consider that cheating. Occasionally a casino tells me I shouldn’t do that anymore, and when that happens I honor their directions.
There are players, though, who regularly play on 20 or 60 different cards. They find casinos that give generous mailers and other benefits for a minimum amount of play. I believe this to be fraudulent. I see this as very different from me playing on my wife’s card. Clearly others don’t make the same distinction I do.
I’m not claiming that I’m a saint. I’ve written about various things I’ve done in casinos and elsewhere that don’t pass the “smell test.” Most I wouldn’t do today.
Many players have the attitude of, “If you can get away with it, it’s not cheating,” while others have a more restrictive code of, “There is right and wrong and one should not confuse the two.”
In no way am I arguing that all APs cheat. That’s nonsense. Many of my best friends are APs and I trust them completely. But there are many other APs I do not trust. Richard once said about a famous AP, “I like him, but I would never do business with him.”
I’ve been burned before by strong players. Just because you can count cards successfully doesn’t mean you’re trustworthy. With that said, however, I do believe that there are a large number of players who win just by using their brain and skills without cheating at all. That’s how I like to think of myself — although I know that I’ve not always risen to that standard. But that’s my goal and I keep trying to achieve it.