This month’s interviewee, Sal Piacente, is the world’s foremost expert on casino gaming protection—meaning he knows how to spot a cheat from a mile away. We couldn’t fit every one of Sal’s stories into our short interview, but here are a few more great stories from our chat.
Club 808 asked: How important is it to follow your passion?
Sal answered: When I lecture for children in schools, I tell them, if you can take something you’re very passionate about and turn it into a career, you have life by the nuts. When you get up in the morning, there’s nothing worse than going to a job you dread. That’s like the life of a prison sentence. So I was very fortunate when I was able to turn a great passion of mine—slight of hand cheating, casino industry—into a full-time profession where I lecture to casinos.
Club 808 asked: Why do casinos trust you, especially when you were starting out?
Sal answered: I’ve never cheated a day in my life. There’s one guy out there, real idiot, and he talks about how he was the greatest casino cheat and how he went around—and now all the sudden he wants to be a consultant to [the casinos]. Then he wasn’t getting the business, so now he wants to train people on how to cheat the casinos, and it’s just bad. I’ve never cheated. I could be licensed anywhere in the world… I wouldn’t blemish my career.
Club 808 asked: What’s your favorite casino you’ve worked with?
Sal answered: Out of all the places I’ve traveled all over the world, by far, my favorite place I’ve been to has be Macau [in China], for a simple reason. [In other casinos’ surveillance rooms], you have three people watching the entire casino. You have people BS-ing with each other; you have people not watching the screens. That’s just the way it is.
But in Macau, I went into a surveillance room where they had over 200 people working, and it was so professional. You saw people sitting there watching the monitors, because out there, you can bet 3 million in one hand. If you did a scam in the United States, [you’d win] 5,000, 10,000. How much are you really gonna make out of that? But if you do a scam in Macau, it’s life altering. You’re done. Do it once. In the United States, if you do a scam once, the chances of you getting caught are very slim, but it’s not gonna last long. You’ll do it again, and you’ll do it again; you’ll get greedy and you’ll get sloppy. [In Macau], do it once and you’re done for life. So they were a lot more professional.
Club 808 asked: How do you train personnel at casinos?
Sal answered: When I train casino personnel, it all depends on who I’m training. We were just out in Minnesota, and I trained dealers. You don’t show dealers anything they could use against the house. You show dealers what players can do to them. Lets face it: in a casino dealers are your first line of defense. When you talk about casino surveillance, it’s not like TV. You don’t have 200 people looking at 20-inch plasma screens. You have three people watching the entire casino. And many of them don’t even know the payouts on the games.
The dealers are your first line of defense so show them what players can do. Show them how players could mark cards, how to switch cards, how to slide dice, how to switch dice, types of crooked dice, how players pass post, how to pinch bets, how to press bets, then show them how they can deter that from happening by following certain procedures. In the casino business you’re shown things, but you’re never told why. Explain it to them. Then of course full time supervisors show them everything, and surveillance shows them everything as well.