Thoughts on Casino Behaviors for Card CountersBy: Ed Teller
Since we all know we are on surveillance watchful eye at some time or the other, let's look at some things to consider with our behavior that might improve our possible longevity. As we all know, there is not silver bullet to insure longevity and the development of an act with tactics that work for you is necessary. Hopefully, these will give you some ideas.
Please add your with responses!
These are in no particular order and are an amalgamation of forums, books, articles and sharing among advantage players I have known.
- Don't worry about disguises too much if you go to a place regularly – of course. Even casino employees can tell if you are wearing a lot of makeup. Besides, it seems that disguises don't work very well. However, you could grow a beard then go in and play next day with it shaved off AND wear different clothes. They might not notice it. BTW a member of one of the MIT teams said that disguises don't work that well. How you act is much more important. Remember, if you are going to use a disguise then shave the beard, cut the hair. wear a different look. It's best to remove the look and try a new one than to add to a look. One last note on this is a disguise doesn't work for everybody. Such people as myself since I am a recognizable type person; 6'3”, etc.
- Hesitate when making a decision. Only do that for a second or so. This has fooled even people who know I'm counting. (One person came up to me when I left a table and said “I noticed you hesitated when making a decision.” I said to him “It's just an act.”) Good hands to do this on are the unusual DDs such as an A(whatever) vs 6, A4 vs 4, etc. Also occasionally hesitate when and appear like you are thanking about splitting tens. Sometimes just glance up like you are thinking. That way they think you are trying to remember how to play the hands.
- Bring a Basic Strategy Chart with you. When you go off B.S. and someone asks – which they do – just say that you don't strictly go by it with some hands due to experience. Don't refer to the BS chart all the time. Only for hands that “seem” tough to remember. Show the chart to the PB before you start: just so they don't come over and ask later on. If you can't get one's attention then mention to the dealer that you are using a BS chart. You just want to keep things very straight lace.
- Counting and not looking like you are counting. This is where your training comes in. One thing I had mentioned in my Training Tips is a purpose is to take away the countenance of concentration. Aside from bet spreading that's a primary way PCs can tell if you are counting. You should be able to glance at a table and update the count.
- Don't act like you are checking the total of the dealer's cards after a round. There is pretty much always some moron at the table who says “Are you counting the cards?” Or “Are you counting cards?”
- Don't give advice at the table unless someone asks for it! If they do ask you just say “The charts says to …...........”
- I'm a believer in if the PCs are giving you “the stare” then talk to them. Act clueless. Just say “Hi” or ask them a question. If they get grumpy then leave. If their tone changes then stay a while then leave. The main point of this is to appear like you are doing nothing wrong in their eyes.
- Mannerisms. Don't worry about this unless you've been BOd at the same place. One way the EITS and the PC can tell is mannerisms. Make sure to change those.
- Tattoos. So that “Mark of The Beast” tattoo should be covered up along with any other tattoos as that can make the PCs notice that you have played there before.
- Act as dumb as a brick. This might be kind of tough, for some, but just observe the other players who are playing at the table. Lol.
- The ADDer. As with any act don't over do it. With this just look around occasionally and be distract-able. Take a stack of your chips and move them back and forth in your hand. Act like you are not totally focused on the game. Mention that you are taking Ritalin.
- Have an occasional twitch in your neck. Great cover to look at the cards.
- You might want to take a couple of lessons from an acting coach. Not a regular acting teacher but an acting coach. The money you pay them might go a long way.
- Just the way things are going. That's how you explain different plays you make. However, the first thing you do is say nothing. If they ask again then answer. So if they say “Why did you take insurance this time?” Just say “Just the way things are going.”
- Believe it or not a acting smart can probably work too. When at a table and acting like you are deciding to take a hit, etc., look like you are thinking about what you are doing. But don't keep this up for too long as it actually looks like you are acting. As James Grosjean said “Sometimes Naked is the Best Disguise.” But don't get too technical with the play, that is, the composition of the hands. After a while at the table you can put in the minor hand composition, i.e. not hitting a 10, 6 vs 10 if the count is 0. Another good response to someone is “Somebody at work taught me.” Or a smart alack answer is “Well, I use a Fibonocci sequence along with the Fourier Transform to approximate e to the i pi bringing about a well conditioned approximation thereby hitting (DD, etc.) upon the given hand. Why? Was I supposed to invert it?”
- Don't over act! Just let it come naturally. Have you seen some people who over act in movies? It doesn't come off very well.
- Most employees do not care if you are counting. This includes dealers and some PBs. Especially if you are a low stakes player they probably think it's “cute.” I once was talking with another AP outside and mentioned that the count dropped so I might as well leave since, I played for a long time. As we were talking I looked behind me and didn't realize there was a dealer who was listening to us. He got a laugh over it. BTW he became a PB later on and still doesn't care. I was talking to a dealer one time when she mentioned that I got brought up in a conversation in the break room. She said”Oh he's a card counter and very nice, polite guy.” Now, the floor supervisors, etc. will boot you under almost any level you are playing. However I heard from one AP that one of the rudest BOs he had was at the same place. So like I said that it might depend on what level you play.
- Getting on their good side. This is especially true with new dealers. Remember most dealers have to put up with crap that most people who work for the public will never experience. I've heard dealer's stories of getting threatened, trying to turn tables over on them and having drinks thrown at them by players. It seems that every ignoramus goes to casinos and has a lack of social skills. So talk friendly to them. They will appreciate it. And - I know this goes against what some pros say but - tip them once in a while! The same applies to waitresses - from what I hear the wait staff gets to keep their tips and not split them. Besides if a BO comes then they will be even more polite to you. Lightly kidding them with good humor also helps. I said to a dealer who was observing a new dealer “Should I tell her all same jokes she's going to hear? What's the difference between people who pray in a church etc.?” They both got a laugh over it BTW. Also, defending a dealer against a rude player is also good. Once in SLT I there was this a dealer who said that she has to go on break and one player said “What are they going to do replace you with an uglier one?” A tear came out of the dealer's eye. I was ready to deck this one player. So I said “Hey what did you say that for?!?!” But this guy was useless. He left the table shortly after.
- Giving them your name. My impression is if you are a low stakes player and there is no heat then get a card. If your are a high stakes player then don't. I have seen people who don't want a player's club card who I know are not AP. The PC doesn't give them any problems at all. They just assume the person is private. If a PB keeps after you about getting a card then leave in a short time. They are either on to you or they are being a pain and you should leave anyways. However, for low stakes players you might want to get one since they give coupons, match plays and sometimes free hotel rooms which is great EV. This is especially true in Reno where they are so hard up places like Harrah's are giving away three free nights a month to even red chip players! Again, if you are playing at a higher level I wouldn't give your name. If they really push it tell them your name is Ed Thorp (done very tongue is cheek.)
- Other games for cover. For cover maybe Bacarrat, Video Poker is best, maybe craps but that's it! Forget Slots. Even the penny ones, as even those can chew up your money. Remember that in a casino there are people who play only one game. So don't worry about it. I guess if you really have to play something else then go to video poker (VP). But pretty much with the rest you are throwing your money away. (BTW I like craps but the odds are against you.) Also, slots is a real “brain builder” as you just sit there and push the button. Besides, slots is for losers. If you want to play a “carnival game” for cover then play Keno. The only reason I say this is at least it goes very slow and you won't lose as much per hour.