Marking (and Stacking) the Deck

People have been gambling since we crawled out of the sea. I wouldn't be surprised if history's first bet was made between two primordial humans on how many legs they would eventually have.

Marking (and Stacking) the Deck

Bruce Koloshi has an interesting strategy for winning at poker. Cheating at poker, I should say.

Koloshi pleaded guilty last month to cheating at poker at the Mohegan Sun casino in Connecticut. It appears that one night in September 2013, he somehow managed to mark the cards at a poker table with what he thought was invisible ink. He had special contact lenses so he could detect the invisible ink and rake in the dough.

He ran into one little problem: Evidently, someone sold him defective invisible ink. The surveillance cameras picked up the markings.

Boy, it’s getting so you can’t even trust invisible ink salesmen to be honest anymore. What’s this world coming to?

The story that came out on his guilty plea—he got the 10 months he already served in exchange for the plea—said the reason he was trying to cheat was because he needed money to make bail in Louisiana, where he was facing felony charges for the same kind of invisible ink caper.

You don’t suppose he went back to the same invisible ink salesman after he was busted in Louisiana, do you? Some people never learn.

Or maybe it wasn’t the ink at all. Maybe the contact lenses were defective. I’ll bet he bought them from the same guy who sold him the ink.

Or, maybe he just bought regular ink and convinced himself it was invisible. Once, I sprayed myself with this spray I thought was going to make me invisible, and waltzed right into a casino cage. They saw me right away, and wrestled me to the ground. “Thought you’d get away with the old invisible spray trick, did you?” I remember one guard saying.

Well, just as soon as I made bail (I got the money marking cards in a poker game), I went right back to the invisible-spray salesman and demanded my money back. Would you believe it? He tried to sell me invisible ink.

As it turns out, Koloshi has prior cheating convictions in Illinois and Iowa. Clearly, he needs to change professions. He’s just not very good at poker cheating. Maybe some night school? Barber college? Clown college?

OK, now that I’ve strangled all the shtick out of that story, let’s go to New England. It says here that Massachusetts could have a vote in November to repeal its casino law because of market saturation, and because some religious leaders think gambling is immoral. And it says here that a new study has concluded that Maine could easily handle the business of another casino.

First of all, to the anti-gaming forces in Massachusetts: You’ve got a point about oversaturation, but get off your moral high horse already about gambling. People have been gambling since we crawled out of the sea. I wouldn’t be surprised if history’s first bet was made between two primordial humans on how many legs they would eventually have.

And to Maine: Have you not read the news at all this year? Do you see what’s happening to my beloved Atlantic City, where the only secure job is at the company that prints the WARN notices?

News flash: We have too many casinos in the Northeast. Even in Pennsylvania, recently the Golden Boy of Gaming, there are too many horses at the trough. The greater Philly area has so many casinos they’re thinking of putting neon on the William Penn statue on top of Philadelphia City Hall.

When I started writing about this industry, there were two gaming states: Nevada and New Jersey. That was it. Everyone in the industry knew each other. Going to a trade show was like going to a family reunion. One with, like, lots of liquor.

Now, the industry’s spread all over. You can’t walk out your front door without tripping over a craps table. OK, it’s not that bad, but when the strip mall in Bensalem, Pennsylvania is as close to a casino as the Forum Shops at Caesars, I pretty much think we’re good on capacity.

Heck, I just read that they’re opening up a pachinko parlor in Utah. In Utah. Yes, it’s only pachinko, but isn’t that just gambling for prizes instead of cash? Talk about moral objections to gambling. In Utah, they have moral objections to taking cough syrup.

Oh, what the hey? For all I know, we’ve turned the corner with this saturation thing, and from this point forward, any new casino opening in the Northeast can be assured a steady stream of gamblers and millions in tax money for state coffers.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have an appointment with my invisible ink salesman.

Frank Legato
Frank Legato is editor of Global Gaming Business magazine. He has been writing on gaming topics since 1984, when he launched and served as editor of Casino Gaming magazine. Legato, a nationally recognized expert on slot machines, has served as editor and reporter for a variety of gaming publications, including Public Gaming, IGWB, Casino Journal, Casino Player, Strictly Slots and Atlantic City Insider. He has an B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in communications from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. He is the author of the recently published book on gaming, How To Win Millions Playing Slot Machines... Or Lose Trying.