In the casinos, there are two things that are directly after you. You certainly know one of them. That’s the house edge. More, that’s the house edge in every game and almost every moment in every game. It waits for you and it wants to take you down. You know that or, at the very least, you should know that.

The casino has created a house edge that all players must go up against almost all the time in every game. That house edge undoes us almost all the time too. Certainly the longer we play, the more likely we will be behind. I know that, you know that, and almost all casino players must know that. It is a general rule we must fight against.

Indeed, we can learn the best strategies for whatever games we wish to play. Some of these strategies can be sophisticated and somewhat tough to learn, as the computer-derived basic strategy in blackjack can be. Or some strategies may be simple, as in just knowing what slot machines have a better chance of returning more money to us over time. (The non-progressives!)

With all that said, there is a second “they” that lurks in most (if not every) casino. This “they” is not some house percentage edge over you but a breathing, living, thinking, often nasty stalking human being, looking to take you down – or at least take your money and perhaps your health away too. And the “you” here is literally you. And it is not a game. It is the real deal. It is you.

This “they” can be found in every city and perhaps every town in America and the rest of the world too. Bad people going after good people (and you belong to the good people is my guess). 

Sadly, they can be found in casinos. Oh, yes, the casino is the house of money where plenty of people have plenty of money ripe for the pickings. 

The casinos know this. Those “they” know this too. Often the folks who don’t know this are the players who have come to the temple of chance to try their hand at turning the gambling world into their pot of gold.

I have asked many casino players if the fact that there can be crime in casinos a worry. Low-rollers don’t really consider it. (“After all, who wants my red chips?”) Medium rollers have some concern and high rollers without their own private security really know this.

But like walking down a city street, be it in the dark or even in the bright sunshine of a beautiful day, everyone should be aware and concerned about literally getting hit upon. Meaning getting hit in the pocket or purse or worse.

I’ve had 40 years in the casinos and I have heard about the various scams and tactics of some of the casinos’ multifarious criminals. I’ve even taken some courses some years ago to get a handle on this problem – and make no mistake about this, it is a problem. 

Some of these stories came from corrupt dealers but most of them came from that “guy over there following me” or that pretty woman who wants to talk to me in the elevator at my floor. There were even some “slight of hand” professionals, who could take your chips from your pockets without you knowing it. Magicians are not just in the theaters. 

Here are some examples of what can help you avoid trouble in the casinos and in your rooms and on the streets. It is not an exhaustive list but it will get you thinking about your safety and the safety of your valuable stuff where that valuable stuff is located – and, yes, please consider yourself valuable stuff too.

Your Room is Your First Defense

“Okay, let’s head for the casino!” she says.

“But first,” he says.

“Keep the set on in a way that makes it sound as if we are actually listening,” she says.

“Yep,” he says and increases the volume enough that it can be heard somewhat by anyone standing outside their door.

Sound coming from your room is a good thing. That placard that says “Silence: Room Occupied” or something to that effect should always be placed on the door when you are not in your room. This is a big help in letting people know someone is in that room, right this moment, even if someone isn’t.

Of course, someone can knock but that will not usually happen. There are many fish in the casino ocean. Why take the chance on your room that has television sounds coming from it?

If you are a known high roller, the area of the casino where you are lodging will (must!) have plenty of security in that area. That is a self-defense position by any casino protecting a high-rolling player. 

Down We Go!

Guys and ladies, you are now heading down to the casino. Where do you keep your buy-in money? Please not your purse, ladies. Don’t even keep your room key there. Guys, no, no, not in your wallet! Keep your money loose in the top pocket of your shirt – your buttoned top pocket of your shirt! Make the bad person have to face you or at the very least have to reach around you to try to get that money.

Make everything “they” have to do be something of a chore. Nobody likes chores. Nobody. Even bad people don’t like chores. The more chores a thief has to do, the worse it is for the thief.

And what about that elevator? You came down in it and you’ll have to go back in it to get up to your room. You might have a lot of money with you when you go back up.  So, what about it? Simple, if you are the least suspicious of anyone about to get on the elevator with you – do not get on the elevator! You owe no one an explanation for why you aren’t going back up. Just step out and forget about the people in the elevator.

Going down can be a bit of a burden. If someone is on the elevator and he or she looks suspicious, don’t get in. Going down isn’t usually a problem because most people don’t go down to stop at any floors. They are usually going down to play or eat, etc. Still, be aware.

Oh. And be aware that some thieves work as teams; many pick pockets do.

Casino scams

Charge Your Credit Card and/or Room

You do not have to pay cash for very much in a hotel or casino. As much as possible, everything should be on a credit card – and, if you can, make sure your credit card has your picture and place on the back of it and you want the vendor to have you prove you are you. Any thief seeing this can’t usually charge your credit card. 

At the Table 

If you have discipline, having a credit line at the tables is usually a good thing – but you have to be disciplined and in control of your emotions. Too many players will drain their credit line if things have been going against them. So many players will even take money out of their credit cards – no, no, no to that too; the interest rate is ridiculous doing something such as this. 

Do not buy into a game with loads of money if you don’t actually play loads of high-valued chips during your session. No point in doing that. I mean the dealers will usually call out what you just bought in for.

“Hey, everybody, Janet just bought in for ten thousand dollars!”

“Oh, yeah, Ralph her besotted husband just bought in for ten thousand one dollars!”

“Announcement! Announcement! Any thieves in the area please come to table 111 and see if you can strike up a friendship with these two! They are a little lax in handling their money.”

Don’t Be a Slobbering Drunk Jimbo

A lot of people enjoy a drink or two at the casinos. Fine. I do. 

But some casino patrons are under the impression that they must get so drunk they can’t remember their room numbers. They are asking for trouble, not just from their livers either, because drunks can be easy marks for the fast-moving casino sharks looking to take a quick bite out of them.

You impress no one by putting a lot of money up that you aren’t actually going to play with. Keep it with you. Someone walking by a table or walking into the high roller room wants to see the chips piled high. Better still, they want to see you coloring up to larger denomination chips to take to the cage for cash. They will love that you are tipsy. You see, you being tipsy is actually topsy for them.

As you are carrying your loads of chips – which are almost spilling out of your hands – get to the cage fast! Someone wants to talk to you?

“Sir, sir, can we have a conversation?”

Pass ‘em by. Better still, never, ever be afraid to call security because they are there not only to secure the casino but they are there to secure you.

Winning Money is Fun

Okay, you’ve won some money. To a normal person, you have won a lot of money; maybe you actually have won a lot of money and maybe you are carrying those high denomination chips – loads of them to the cage; what do you do? 

If you want to go back to your room – maybe it is a fine high-roller suite reserved for the best of the best players (meaning players who spend a lot of money) – that elevator better not have anyone on it that looks suspicious or presses your floor number after you do. If so, vacate the elevator. Now go to security and ask for a security guard to escort you to your room.

Some patrons of casinos worry that if they don’t get on an elevator with that “other” person, they are making that other person feel bad. Okay, so what? 

If you are alone in the elevator, feel free to go up. A lot of people is usually a better thing too. Stand with your back against the wall if you can.

Indeed, having security escort you to your room is not a sin. Losing a load of money to a thief is a sin – and the thief should have true justice for his crimes.

Casino clothes

Dressing Up or Dressing Down?

I love fine restaurants. That I do. They are rewards for me for doing my work or not doing my work and rewarding myself for taking some time off from the labors of making a living, or gathering with friends and beloved relatives and always and always with my wife the Beautiful AP.

Therefore, if you enjoy fine dining, good for you! Dress up, head to the gourmet restaurant at your favorite casino, in fact, go to your favorite restaurant at your favorite casino. Enjoy fine wine. Enjoy the whole experience. Yum, yum, yummy!

When dinner is finished, sign the check over to your room, give a good tip to the wait staff, and then head back to your room and change out your dinner clothes. That’s right. You aren’t going to be trodding the casino floor in your fine dinner wear are you? That’s a sign that says, “Hey, everyone, I got some bucks so that I can afford these clothes!”

Advertising ourselves is not the best example. If you look really good, you might look good enough to go after. Sharks are sharks, right?

Now, I do understand that many casinos and hotel bars and nightclubs exist for people to meet each other. For that, I do not have the best recommendations. I met my beautiful wife when we starred in plays together. I wasn’t a good bar patron. I was, however, a decent actor.

Thankfully, she fell in love with me ... and I forgot the changing of the clothes! Sorry about that.

Dress down for casino play. You don’t have to light up the casino; it’s bright enough already. Dress in a way that makes you look as if you don’t have enough money to waste robbing you. Sharks want meat so try not to look as if you are human chum.

All the best in and out of the casinos!

Frank Scoblete grew up in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn. He spent the ‘60s getting an education; the ‘70s in editing, writing and publishing; the ‘80s in theatre, and the ‘90s and the 2000s in casino gambling.

Along the way he taught English for 33 years. He has authored 35 books; his most recent publisher is Triumph Books, a division of Random House. He lives in Long Island. Frank wrote the Ultimate Roulette Strategy Guide and he's a well known casino specialist.