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Cheatin' Man

A Notorious Cheater Reveals How He Beat the Casinos for a Living
Michael Konik
From the Print Edition:
George Burns, Winter 94/95

(continued from page 3)

Now the crew goes into the four-corner offense, slowing the game down. They ask for change. They pause before requesting a hit. They consult the pit boss for advice on how to play a pair of eights. They buy the Wiz time to crunch the numbers through his computer.

Minutes later, a runner meets the escort in the ladies' room, where she receives a $100 bill that has the Wiz's computer-generated "answers" scribbled on it, numbers like 51, 50 and 42. These numbers instruct the players to play five spots and take one hit; play five spots and take no hit; play four spots and take two hits and so on. Given the sequence of numbers that has just run through the target table, the Wiz's computer has derived an optimal playing strategy that will bust the dealer virtually every hand.

The dealer comes to the end of the shoe. As he collects and pays off the final bets, the big shots split up, taking seats at the two blackjack tables on either side of the target table. They each plunk down large cash bets, in this case, $1,000. The surveillance cameras on either side of the target table zoom in like Patriot missiles on the big-money action, leaving the middle table unwatched. The pit boss snaps out of his reverie and takes a step closer to one of the big-money tables.

The dealer at the target table calls out "shuffle!" Without looking away from the big shot, the pit boss calls out "go ahead."

At that moment, the stud starts shoving an accomplice, who, on cue, has started a fictitious argument. They swear and yell and push each other to the brink of punches. All eyes in the pit, including the boss', turn to them. With neither spectators nor supervision, the dealer at the target table splits his cards at the lug mark, divides the decks into two stacks and proceeds to "shuffle."

But the cards never change place.

As taught by Mickey Swift, the greatest card manipulator in the business, the dealer executes a "zero shuffle," a blatantly false mixing action, similar to the "pull through," that, when viewed from the security cameras above, looks like the real thing.

As the dealer squares the cards back to their original, prerecorded order, the escort approaches the pit boss and asks that some complimentary Champagne be sent to her table. The boss gives her a yellow grin and happily obliges. Without letting his eyes leave the escort's alluring backside as she sashays to her table, the pit boss says, "OK, good luck, fellas."

One of the shills cuts to a "crimp," a small, signatory bend between two cards, bringing the computer-analyzed "cooler" (prearranged sequence of cards) to the top of the shoe.

At that moment, the seat stuffers decide they've had enough. They cash in their chips, sheepishly ask for a comp to the coffee shop and say good night. The big shots move in.


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