American Roulette: How I Turned the Odds Upside Down---My Wild Twenty-Five-Year Ride Ripping Off the World's Casinos
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|Rating: 5 A con man's fascinating tale of ripping off casinos
Whenever a con man writes his memoirs, I always wonder if the reader is being conned too. What are the odds that Marcus has embellished his story to sell more books? In any case, this was a hard book to put down. Richard Marcus claims he earned a good living as a professional casino cheat, and although dealers and security staff frequently caught him and banned him from many casinos, he was never arrested. Marcus worked as part of a team using sleight-of-hand in which low value chips were replaced with high value chips while playing roulette and blackjack.
Marcus portrays himself as a sort of honorable gentleman-thief. Even if he can rationalize stealing from casinos, how does he rationalize stealing from other players (another one of his tricks)? The author's low blow was when he framed an innocent player for cheating, leading to the innocent player being taken away in handcuffs. If the author wanted to gain my admiration, he failed miserably, but he has written an entertaining page-turner.
|Rating: 1 Don't waste your money
Really, while "Richard Marcus" seems to be a very good story teller, in my opinion, this book is total b.s. The moves he talks about are incredible, and there are so many amazing coincidences throughout it, that it seems impossible that all of this happened the way he wrote it. I do have to say that I never gambled in the 70s, so, obviously many things have changed, but I find it hard to believe that his group continuously got away with the same scams over and over, and for the most part the gambling industry was none the wiser.
If you want a good book on gambling, buy "Bringing Down the House," by Ben Mezrich. Now THAT's a good read!
|Rating: 4 Fascinating and Compelling Reading --- A Great Book!
First of all, I must confess that I know next to nothing about gambling. I don't know the rules of any card games, and the intricacies of games such as roulette and keno are lost upon me. My experience in casinos is limited to dropping a quarter into a slot machine and pulling a lever, and that is just for grins and giggles. Accordingly, AMERICAN ROULETTE qualifies for me as a great book, given that it deals with a topic that I know very little about and makes it the subject of fascinating and compelling reading.
AMERICAN ROULETTE is about gambling, but it is more about cheating at gambling, or more specifically, systematically cheating at casino gambling. Author Richard Marcus made a very nice living for decades by cheating casinos. He is unapologetic about it; in fact, he is quite proud of the methods he used. His justification appears to be that casinos cheat their customers, so he is merely getting his own back. This is arguably a self-serving view. Anyone entering a casino has at least a rudimentary idea of whose side the laws of chance reside; one either chooses to gamble or not. Philosophical considerations aside, however, AMERICAN ROULETTE remains a fascinating study in the hows and wherefores of casino cheating, as well as casino security. Casinos, understandably, are not in the business of losing money. While the individual scores that cheaters like Marcus might inflict may individually be relatively small, taken in the aggregate they could constitute death by a thousand cuts. Casinos accordingly are quite interested in stanching the flow and are constantly playing Tom to Marcus's larcenous Jerry.
Marcus describes in AMERICAN ROULETTE how he first became involved in casino cheating. He actually started off as a casino dealer. One night he received an interesting proposition from a man named Joe Classon. Classon offered Marcus a spot on his "team." The entire purpose of Classon's team was to cheat casinos out of money. It quickly becomes evident from reading AMERICAN ROULETTE that great casino heists are not carried out individually. A well-disciplined, well-oiled team is an absolute must for any chance of success. Classon, from this account, had one of the best. He became teacher, leader, mentor and father figure to Marcus, instructing him in the methods of casino cheating and encouraging him to devise methods of his own. Marcus for the most part does an incredible job of explaining the methodology of both the games and the methods of cheating that he utilized to beat the casinos. Notwithstanding my unfamiliarity with such games as blackjack and roulette, there was only a time or two during AMERICAN ROULETTE when I felt lost at sea.
After Classon retired, however, Marcus began leading his own team and utilized his potential as a casino thief to the fullest. Marcus is quite straightforward in explaining his techniques. However, though he does so in a step-by-step-manner, this is not a "how-to" book. If anything, one who would seek to follow in Marcus's footsteps would be dissuaded by AMERICAN ROULETTE. It is obvious from reading the book that a casino thief requires a combination of skills --- coordination, nerve, sleight of hand and patience --- that is rarely found in combination in one individual. Additionally, a successful casino thief needs at least one assistant that can be totally trusted. And then, of course, there are the casinos, which understandably frown on cheating. While the days of cheaters being dry-gulched are reportedly over (and I'm not entirely convinced of that) the legal penalties are quite severe. Penalties can only be imposed, however, if one is caught; and even then, as Marcus demonstrates in AMERICAN ROULETTE, they can be avoided.
Marcus waited until retirement to write his "tell-all" book, which serves as an interesting counterpoint to the investigative television shows one stumbles across randomly on cable television that concern casino security. While technological advances have made things more difficult for the Richard Marcuses of the gambling world, they have not made it impossible. And while Marcus is hardly a role model, his account is an interesting and often suspenseful glimpse into a world of which relatively few are aware. Recommended.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
|Rating: 5 Gripping and fun
This hugely entertaining book takes the reader through casinos across the world with a group of nervy and sophisticated roulette cheats. The brisk narrative follows the career of Richard Marcus from his adolescent wanderings, through his tutelage by an older casino cheat, and into his formation and leadership of an expert roulette crew. Close calls are many, mistakes are costly and rewards are great.
I have no opinion on the veracity of Mr. Marcus's story, but I know an entertaining book when I read one. This is an exhilarating read!
|Rating: 4 Interesting Read
I've always found the stories of crews scoring big in casinos fascinating, and so picked this book up when I saw it. This isn't a do-it-yourself book, but rather a memoir of a long time casino cheater. A recount of his 25 or so years cheating casinos. The action is interesting and I often found myself getting nervous for them as he recounted his crews escapades. While illegal, casino cheating seems like robbing already stolen money and thus is more palatable. I was turned off when the guys would occasionally rob casino patrons when the opportunity arose. The author uses the "F" word repeatedly throughout, so if that bothers you you may want to reconsider. All in all I really enjoyed the book.
|Rating: 4 Interesting, Exciting and Thought Provoking
Allowing, as the professional reviewers did, for some hyperbole and creative embellishments, this is still a remarkably interesting story. I told my wife that if only 10% of the stuff in this book truly went down the way it is described, it's still one helluva trip. Interested as I am in sleight-of-hand and con-games (and the romps in this book require both in spades), the escapades in this book fascinated me.
For anyone with an interst in cheating, sleight of hand, casinos or just getting over on the "big boys," this book is a must read...
|Rating: 5 The BEST Casino Cheating Book Ever!
I thought that I knew everything about casino cheating. Boy was I wrong.
This book really informed and enlightened me. It's nice to see the casinos lose for a while. Next time I go to Las Vegas I'm not going to forget to pack this must read.
|Rating: 5 Vicarious Thrills
After seeing the author featured on Entertainment Tonight, and reading Howard Schwartz's review on CasinoCityTimes.com, I picked up this fascinating memoir. I found it pleasingly reminiscent of Catch Me If You Can, another highly recommended title in which a con man through ingenuity and boldness exploits various cracks in a system for profit and excitement.
While Richard Marcus's "moves" are certainly clever, especially in the latter stages when he turns surveillance cameras to his advantage (a method briefly showcased on Entertainment Tonight), that they require chutzpa more than MIT intellect makes this adventure comprehensible and plausible vicarious fodder for a non math genius.
In the end, what really made this book a worthy read are the adventure of close calls with casino personnel, and the cheaters' need to continuously update and modify their cheating methods and locales.
For those like me who have no desire to personally experience being chased down the Vegas Strip or jump off a riverboat casino, in order to elude casino 'steam' yet still hold a fleeting desire for a glimpse of such adventure, I recommend Richard Marcus's story.
|Rating: 4 You'll never view casinos the same again...
Not all my recreational reading is fiction... :-) I recently finished American Roulette by Richard Marcus. This book tells the story of Marcus and his 25 year career of cheating casinos all over the world. While a little repetitive at times, it's a fascinating look into a world that many of us know nothing about.
Marcus started out as a dealer in Las Vegas after losing a bundle and ending up sleeping under a bridge. His personality attracts the attention of a team of casino cheats who enlist him into their group. He learns the art of "pastposting", which is learning how to switch chips after the outcome of a game is known. This can involve either adding more chips to a winning bid or removing high-value chips after a loss. This pastposting routine is used successfully at roulette, craps and blackjack, and Marcus starts to travel the world. His team quickly becomes known world-wide by casino management, but they are unsuccessful at catching and stopping the team. He "retired" a couple years ago, never having been caught and convicted during his 25 year career.
The story is an interesting look at the mentality of casino and cheats, as well as the psychology involved in pulling off successful scams. It's also interesting to see how the team progresses from $100 moves to $10000 moves over the years. I'm a little surprised that he would be as detailed as he is, as it seems like law enforcement could use this as a "confession" of sorts to prosecute him after the fact. Regardless, it's a good read that will make you view casinos in a new light.