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How to Catch a Card-Cheater: Interview with Sal, The International Casino Expert

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Sal Piacente has been working in the casino industry for many decades as a supervisor, player and dealer. In 2015, he uses his massive experience and knowledge of this business to spot those who try to beat the system. His worthy advice: “Trust no one”.

How to Catch a Card-Cheater: Interview with Sal, The International Casino Expert

Sal Piacente is an international card-cheater catcher, a policeman of the casinos worldwide, and he is very proud of his title. According to him, there are two main types of cheats.

“Amateurs and professionals.”

Sal speaks with a typical Brooklyn accent that would be perfect in a mob movie.

“The main difference between card cheaters is the method they use against you”, Sal Piacente says. “Most amateurs just make the move and pray no one’s looking at them. It’s obvious that casinos have hundreds of cameras, yet there are only a few people watching them. So the amateur will make his move and pray it will finish well.”

What about the professionals?

“The professionals? They will sit at home and just practice and practice, and practice. Hundreds, thousands of times. They aim to get the move perfect, so that even if you are staring right at it, you will not catch it.”

How to Catch a Card-Cheater: Interview with Sal, The International Casino Expert

Sal Piacente owns and operates a company with his wife, Dee Piacente, 51. UniverSal Game Protection Development, Inc has more than 10 years since has been advising private venues and casinos around the world on how to catch card cheaters and protect themselves against such issues.

Sal is the man who has been in the casino industry for more than 30 years, and has worked just about everything: he has been a supervisor, a dealer and also worked in surveillance. What’s essential: he’s been a player, too. The art of catching cheaters is all about figuring out how to cheat – at the highest possible levels.

There is a specific amount of brazenness, glee, in his tone as Sal explains his efficient card-catching method. Sometime you can feel admiration on his face and in his voice. Yet that admiring tone is not reserverd for everyone – only for the right kind of people.

“That’s because in many cases, stupidity and greed work perfectly to the benefit of the people trying to catch card cheaters.”

During the interview he recalled an incident in which a supervisor working in the casino became somewhat opportunist. Categorized as just an “amateur” – he went every night in the chips area and put thousands of dollars’ worth into his big pockets. The man was caught during one of his night runs cashing in the chips at a nearby casino.

“There’s no surprise at all that a surveillance employee was doing that. You should never trust anyone in this industry. No one.”

“Usually you don’t suspect employees. But I know one casino where a woman was caught cheating and she was named employee of the month. Who would raise suspicions if everybody loved her? When I train people I show them that you can steal from many positions within a casino, from law enforcement, to supervisors to dealers.”

How are pros doing their job?

How to Catch a Card-Cheater: Interview with Sal, The International Casino Expert

“False shuffles. The professional can use that very well”, Sal explains. “What’s a false shuffle? When the dealer shuffles the cards, or just makes it look like he is shuffling those cards, yet he’s keeping a small order, or a small packet, undisturbed.

“Average people see the cards being shuffled, but if it is a professional who’s doing that, you would swear on the Bible that everything is okay. The cards were mixed correctly. The thing is, they aren’t being actually mixed.”

This is not a hard skill to learn. Hand dexterity with nice memory skills can create a big talent. Sal pushed himself to outrageous limits to teach his mind how to memorize sequences of cards in a deck almost instantly. If you give him a date from the 20th century, he will immediately tell you the day of the week.

“Memory is a very interesting topic for me because of the scams. Cheaters usually write down the information in the majority of scams. And then I thought to myself, wow, if they could only memorize that information and the dealer performed a false shuffle, then the scam would rapidly become almost impossible to catch.”

Sal Piacente pointed to a dealer in China who got arrested for this talent. The interesting fact is that he was reported by a friend, and not because he got caught while performing the scamp. Sal has some kind of respect for these cheaters.

Yet the ethic code can make you ask yourself if these cheaters might deserve to get away with this. “Sal has a very good answer to this question. Scammers cheat and do something wrong, that’s why they have to pay for their crimes. Yes, I would have a form of respect for their ability to perform high, but that’s all.

I guess sentencing people based on their skill level is the best way to make them pay.” Amateurs behind bars, hard-working guys, well…

Sal Has 5 Top Tips For Catching Card-Cheaters

Always be humble.

“I never underestimate people, cause I know anybody out there on the field can outplay me.”

Trust no one.

“The most important rule in this industry is to trust no one. You should point suspicions to everybody. Everybody.”

People who watched The Usual Suspects should know this. OK, if you didn’t, just learn now. Your lover? Your best friend? That gorgeous old lady sitting on the bench? Everyone could be fooling you perfectly.

People lie. Science and math don’t.

All the games are scientifically designed for the venture to win. If the games don’t win on a VERY consistent basis, then something’s wrong.”

Do you want to cheat? Be smart and get out fast.

“Besides amateurs and professionals, there are other two large categories for cheaters. Either they get too greedy, or they do something really stupid.”

In case that you want to get away with cheating, just perform it well, and quit when you are ahead.

…or become a “professional”

“My opinion is that professional [card] players are those who play for a living and they will strive to get an advantage. When they can count those cards, trust me, they will. If they see a marked card, they will damn use it to gain advantage.”

There’s a very, very fine line between a talented professional card player and being great at cheating. Explore that line.

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