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Best of John Grochowski

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A big law case and tipping

14 February 2016

QUESTION: Is there anything you can tell us about the court case over Mississippi Stud Poker? Two men in Illinois were charged with felonies when one could see the flop card and signaled it to the other.

ANSWER: On Dec. 9, a judge in Joliet, Illinois, gave a directed verdict of acquittal after the prosecution rested in a felony case where two Michigan men were accused of signaling face-down common cards in Mississippi Stud Poker at Joliet’s Hollywood Casino. The men, who could have faced one to three years in prison and a lifetime ban from Illinois casinos, were represented by defense attorney Bob Loeb, co-author of “Blackjack and the Law.”

Mississippi Stud involves each player receiving two cards face down, and three cards common to all hands also being dealt face down. There are rounds of betting after players see their own card, after the first common card – the flop – is turned face up, and after the second common card – the turn – is turned face up. The final common card – the river – is then exposed, and winners are paid according to a table that starts at a push on a pair of 6s.

The accusation was that one player could see cards as they were dealt, and was tapping his fingers to signal to the other.

Judge Edward Burmilla issued a directed finding of acquittal before the defense even began presenting its case. This is in line with the history of hole-carding cases in the United States, that it is the casino's responsibility to train dealers not to flash the value of face-down cards to players at the table. There have been no convictions for hole-carding in any court in the United States, even when players who can see face-down cards signal another.

The famous, precedent-setting case came in Nevada, with Steven Einbender and Tony Dalben accused of cheating at blackjack at the Golden Nugget in 1983. Einbender could see the dealer’s hole card, and signaled to Dalben. The Nevada Supreme Court ruled that their actions were not illegal.

Courts have held that casinos are private clubs and can bar players, and the more measured response of asking the players to leave would have been a better solution in the Illinois case. Arrest and prosecution, with the accompanying cost in time and money for both the accused and the state, shouldn’t have happened.

For a more detailed view of the case, see Eliot Jacobson’s A.P. Heat blog, http://apheat.net/2015/12/12/mississippi-stud-hole-card-case-sides-with-players/


QUESTION: Is there any guide to what you can and can’t do in toking the dealer? In blackjack, if I split or double for myself, I split and double for the dealer too. But I was at a Three Card Poker table where they said I could only ante for the dealer, I couldn’t add a bet.

ANSWER: Toking policies are up to the individual casinos. I’ve never run into the issue at Three Card Poker, but I ran into a similar situation at Caribbean Stud a number of years ago. I’d just learned about the game and was working on a magazine story about it, so I gave it a go at two. At the first, players who tipped the dealer were making both antes and bets. At the second, I had a couple of nice wins, and put out an ante for the dealer. When I reached to make a bet, I was told I could only ante, not bet, for the dealer.

There is no hard and fast rule. It’s one of those things you’ll just have to learn at each casino as you play.
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski

John Grochowski
John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By John Grochowski