When I first met crooked-gambling expert Darwin Ortiz at a lecture for magicians in Glasgow, I was eager to pick his brains.
In Glasgow’s famous Tam Shepherd’s Trick Shop, a
gathering place for local conjurors, I remember asking Darwin how cheaters
could beat the game of roulette.
Despite answering a question with a question,
his answer was quite direct:
Past Posting – A Risky Roulette Cheat
Past posting is a simple idea.
After the ball lands in a number, a cheater (or
team of cheaters) attempts to add a high value bet to the layout without the
dealer noticing the discrepancy.
To the average player, this might seem like an
excellent way to get caught and enjoy the hospitality of a casino’s back room.
In fact, it is a bold and risky strategy but can
be effective if the cheater has the skill, timing and awareness to pull it off.
Dealers often balk at the idea that these moves
could slide at their table but in the heat of a long shift and with countless
distractions around every spin, even the most alert croupier might be
vulnerable to the simplest of past-posting techniques.
Using Past Posting To Cheat At Roulette
Professional past-posters limit their activity
to occasional shots taken at the right moment under appropriate misdirection.
The simplest and easiest targets to hit on the
layout are the red and black bets.
With an experienced cheater sitting close to
those options, a check can appear as if by magic after the ball lands.
The classic technique is to rest one’s hand on
the layout with a chip hidden underneath.
With an imperceptible snap of the thumb, that
chip slides quickly and quietly across the baize to settle on the red or black
It takes practice to know how hard to push a chip
– and to do so without any motion of the hand to betray the action – but timing
is also essential.
As a ball drops into the rotor, players might
lean over the table to get a better look and if a partner is trained to do so
naturally, he or she might cover the move from the eye in the sky while the
slider watches the dealers to make sure there’s no heat when he kicks the
A more sophisticated approach is to reach
forward and slide a chip under the forearm and there are many strategies to
excuse this action.
One method is to buy into the game for more
money and to reach forward with some cash.
Another is to apparently begin making bets for
the next round, only to be dismissed by the dealer who would instruct the
player to wait until the table is cleared.
Both of these methods might be used since
neither should be repeated with the same dealer or at the same table, but past
posting is rarely a repeatable strategy since each shot you take risks waking
up casino staff.
There’s a “Walter Mitty” shot that supposedly
allowed teams of players to repeatedly place a stack of chips with a ledge over
the bottom chip to disguise the lowermost check, which is a high value bet.
I have every confidence this could be successful
once or twice but the claim that it could be repeated constantly is pure
fantasy (in my opinion) unless the dealers, the bosses and the security team
upstairs are all in on it.
Tricks For Added Deception
By passing off high-value to checks to secret
partners around a table, cheaters can place a high-stakes player next to the
wheel then use lower-stake bets to cover past-posted bets.
Imagine you’re that high-stakes player with a
stack of purple checks, each valued at $500 and you arrange these to conceal
the fact that you’ve palmed away five chips and passed them to a partner who
sits at the opposite end of the table.
That partner can now drop your chips onto the
layout while you watch the wheel and sip your free watered-down drinks!
With the slide technique described above, an
expert might be able to place your purple check across a nearby number when it
And if the team is bold and well-practiced in
misdirection, you might speak to the dealer at the instant the ball drops to
distract him or her from the appearing chip on (or across) that winning number.
By passing chips this way, another cheater can
approach the table and buy in for a small amount of cash but use that money to
cover the drop of a check onto the layout – just as the ball lands!
An even bolder (but effective) approach is to
slide a late stack of chips onto the layout, so the dealer is caused to return
that stack to the errant player. At the bottom of the stack is one or two
high-valued purple chips that are off-set to look as if the late stack was
placed onto those chips, which were supposedly already there.
Having tried this last strategy for The Takedown, there’s a perverse pleasure in watching the dealer correct a player by removing their late stack while leaving behind the big bets that were never there before the move was attempted.
The Problem With Past Posting
Each of these techniques can work in the right
place and at the right time but if there’s the least suspicion on the move,
then a rewind of camera footage will quickly betray the deception.
What makes these methods successful is a sense
of when and where to attempt them, either by profiling weak dealers or
manipulating each situation so that a discrepancy might go unnoticed.
Playing the turn (distracting the dealer) in
these situations can be an art in its own right and expert scammers can play
entire teams of dealers and their bosses like an orchestra whether by “charm or
harm” so that the appearance of a big bet is the least concern to whoever is
managing the game.
The real danger for past-posters is that modern
security systems can potentially track all bets on a layout and detect if
anything is added after the dealer calls “no more bets”.
So, if you’re ever tempted to kick a check
across the baize, be ready to say hello to the backroom boys.
More casino-related articles from R. Paul Wilson
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