Self-professed “professional casino cheater” lets us in on the secrets of his lengthy and successful career.
It all started innocently enough when Marcus, an avid but legit gambler, celebrated his 21st birthday with a massive Vegas spree. Then Lady Luck turned on him, and Marcus found himself sleeping under a bridge. Though he was saved from destitution by a job as a mini-baccarat dealer, the straight and narrow held no appeal, and our man jumped at the chance to join veteran scam artist Joe Classon and his merry band of grifters. After proving his mettle with a scam of his own invention, Marcus went on to learn at the side of the master. The next couple of decades were spent with Classon on an extended tour that looped repeatedly through Vegas, Reno, assorted Indian reservations, riverboats, and much of Europe. (For those who might wonder, the author assures us that although he felt an immediate bond with Classon, he could tell his mentor “wasn’t gay or weird.”) Much of the narrative focuses on the specifics of how the team worked its moves, most of which boil down to lightning-quick sleight-of-hand coupled with specific phrases that cause dealers to doubt their own eyes. Sometimes Marcus would slip high-value chips in winning slots; other times he’d pull off high-value bets before a dealer had time to sweep his chips away. If the author is to be believed, he never got caught, despite some very near misses at the hands of casino detectives. The closest shaves seem to have come at the hands of women, who rarely enter the story unless it is to ultimately betray one of the boys.
More workmanlike than thrilling.