Cheating is the worst gamble


The Third Annual Chicago Poker Classic takes over The Venue at Horseshoe Casino in Hammond for events starting Feb. 23 and running through March 5. The Chicago Poker Classic player point leader will win $50,000 and the Turbo Series point leader will win a 2012 Chevy Camaro V8. For point rules and details of the structures, visit

Even with a dealer, a floor supervisor and a pit supervisor, and even with electronic surveillance, sometimes things happen on table games that shouldn’t.

Payout mistakes are made, and usually caught. A player is mistakenly given a card he doesn’t want, and that gets corrected, too.

But a reader relayed to me something he’d seen at a blackjack table that no casino wants to happen. I’ve been playing for a quarter century, and I’ve never seen this:

“I saw something odd happen, and was wondering if you’d ever seen this,” he wrote. “The player to my right had an 11, and the dealer had a 5. The player said, ‘Double for less,’ only the stack he pushed out was bigger than his bet. He put it right next to his bet, and the dealer didn’t seem to notice. To be honest, she’d been acting pretty bored all along, moaning about when her break was coming, and I don’t think she was noticing much of anything. When he said he was doubling for less, I guess she was expecting to see two different stacks, and it never dawned on her that the bigger stack came last.

He won the hand, and the dealer paid him on both the original bet and the double for ‘less.’ He left a few hands later. I guess the casino would have been pretty upset had they caught it, huh?”

They’d have been upset all right. Adding something extra to a double-down bet is cheating just as surely as past posting in roulette — putting down a wager after the winning number is known — or trying to add chips to your main blackjack bet after seeing your cards. Casino personnel from the dealer to the surveillance room are trained to look for scams like that.

Had the dealer been alert, she’d probably just have told him that was too much, to adjust his bet. And had security caught the move, maybe all they’d have done is demand he return the overage. Maybe they’d have gone further, especially if they’d spotted a pattern. He could have been barred from the casino, blacklisted, even arrested on felony charges.

The potential consequences are far greater than the gain. Don’t even try.

John Grochowski is a local free-lance writer. Look for him on Facebook (; Twitter (@GrochowskiJ) and at