Wednesday, December 24, 2003

Posted by Dr Fro 3:21 PM
How I got permanently banned from a casino

Not many people have been banned from a casino. I think that casinos and churches are the two most welcoming places in the world, so to be banned from a casino, you would have to do something very naughty. (As a side note, I once wasn’t allowed into a church, too)

This is how I got permanently banned from a casino

We were playing in a pot-limit Texas Hold’em re-buy tournament at the International Casino Aberdeen (UK) on December 2, 2002. The buy-ins, re-buys and top-ups were 20 pounds and I had paid a total of 120 pounds that night, or 6 buy-ins. A total of 40 players were there, with an average of 4.2 buy-ins per player and a pot of 3,360 pounds. First, second and third place prizes were 2,016 pounds (60% or $3,306), 840 pounds (25% or $1,378), and 336 pounds (10% or $551), respectively.

I played pretty tight. Heck, I chunked an AKo, once because there were two raisers. I later got lucky when my K-rag in the blind caught a K on the river, which kept me alive. I played tight, but I attacked this one maniac that would play with anything. Next thing I know, I am the chip leader and there are 4 of us left, including Stephen, Arab, and Jerk.

It is now 2:10 in the morning and I remember that there is a rule at this casino that if the tournament is still going at 2:30am, the prizes will be given based on who has the largest, second largest and third largest stack. Only once in two years had I seen this rule come into play, but the large field combined with the tight play at the final table made this one really drag out.

Stephen, Arab and I make a very generous offer to jerk to split the money up 50%, 25%, 15% and 10%. Jerk had so few chips this was very much in his favor, but he declined. He actually made a bit of a scene about this, which I found odd. Just decline the offer and play, dude. Then I ask the dealer if I am right in recalling the 2:30 rule, and he says, “Yes.” I also ask if a player gets 2 minutes for each decision and he again says, “Yes.” I then employ the only logical strategy. I call on each street, taking 2 minutes per decision, making each hand last a minimum of 8 minutes, ensuring no more than 3 more hands will be dealt and that I get my 60% prize.

Well Stephen and Arab quickly figure out what is going on and they join in my strategy, which basically assures that this will be the last hand. Then, Jerk freaks out and starts telling me he is going to kill me with his bare hands because I am a “cheat.” Being a foreigner and being the youngest kid in the joint, I keep my mouth shut (and if you know me, you know how rarely that happens.) The dealer suspends play to discuss the situation with the manager.

I am sitting there thinking that there are really only two possible outcomes:
1) They decide what we were doing is ok and that I get my 60%
2) They decide that while we did not break the letter of rules, we broke the spirit of the rules and force us to make decisions in something below 2 minutes, say 30 seconds.
I have so many chips that really under option 2, I do not foresee any chance greater than 1 in a 100 of losing first place.

They come back and decide option 2. OK, Let’s play. No, Jerk says that he hates me so much that he refuses to play with me under any circumstance. So, the manger reverses her decision and says we’ll split the pot 4-way evenly. WHAT?

I have not heard a worse decision since the AFC Championship Game in 1979.

I decide to put the 840 pounds in my pocket before I speak up, because the current trend is for each decision to be worse for me than the one before. I collect my money and talk to the manger. We decide that it is best for us all to go home (it is quite late) and she’ll be happy to discus it further the next day. She tells me, “It is all ok, you did nothing wrong and Jerk is a, um, jerk.”

I get busy at work, so it takes 5 days for me to get to the casino to discuss with her. When I check in, I am told that I have been suspended and must immediately leave the premises. I ask why and ask to speak to the manager (who told me it was ‘all ok’) but am just told to leave. Later I get a letter which is pretty vague about everything except that I can’t play there for 3 months.

Stephen calls me and tells me that he played there 2 days after “the incident” no problem. However, when he returned 3 days after that, he learned he had been suspended for “his behavior 5 days earlier.” He asks why he was allowed to play just 3 nights ago and all of a sudden he now can’t play. He is told it is a private institution and that they can suspend membership for any reason at any time and they do not need to justify their actions.

Stephen did some research and evidently Jerk was overheard telling the manager a few days after the “incident” that if he ever saw me, Stephen, or Arab there again, he would never come back. The casino decides to suspend me and Stephen, but not Arab.

Stephen explained to me that Jerk and Arab both dump a ton of money on the blackjack tables on a regular basis. Basically, the casino made a decision to favor good customers at the expense of two disposable customers.

I call the UK Gaming Board and launch a complaint. They perform an investigation, including interviews of the casino employees. The casino is told that if everything I allege is true, then they will lose their gaming license. The casino employees get their lies straight and tell a very different story than the one I just told. The inspector, after his 2 month long investigation, tells me that he apologizes, but since the key facts on which we disagreed can’t be proven (there was no “eye-in-the-sky”), there is little he can do. The only condolence he gave me was that if what I said was true, I got hosed and the casino deserves to lose their license.

It might not surprise you that shortly after the investigation was complete, I received a lifetime ban from the casino.

True story.

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