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Best of Donald Catlin
Back in December of 1978 I played in the first Blackjack tournament, which was called The World Championship of Blackjack. It was the creation of the Fishman brothers and was held at the old Sarah Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas. (See my article entitled "What Goes Around" in the archives on this site.) I played in several more of these tournaments in succeeding years and one of them was memorable, though not for what you might think.
In one of these tournaments I made it out of the first round a winner and a ribbon was attached to my ID badge declaring such. Players were advised that television cameras would be around filming the event so I wore my three-piece charcoal pinstripe suit. It was a nice suit that I had had tailor made.
After playing in and winning the first round I headed to the regular Blackjack tables to play some more Blackjack. I was warm in the casino so I hung my suit jacket on the back of my chair. When I got up to leave some 40 minutes later my jacket was gone. My fried Jocko and I searched all of the bathrooms (we even got permission to search ladies rooms) and all of the bushes outside but to no avail. How had someone managed to swipe my jacket? Then I remembered.
As I was playing, two women and a man approached our table. The women were wearing long coats. The man had severe palsy. In fact it was so bad that the poor dealer couldn't tell if the man was just shaking or if he was scratching the table to indicate a hit. Needless to say it disrupted the game and focused everyone's attention on him. He left the game five minutes later and I'm sure my jacket went with them under one of the ladies coats! That ribbon on my jacket was an indication that my jacket might well contain my winnings and attracted these scammers. There was no money in my jacket so they lost out, but I had a nice suit ruined.
So ladies and gentsc There are folks just waiting for such an opportunity. Ladies always keep you purse in front of you, preferably with a strap attached to your person. With the advent of TITO (ticket in ticket out) the old scam of a passerby telling you that one of your coins is on the floor and grabbing your bucket when you reach down is almost a thing of the past, but there are still coin machines around. And Craps players always stack your high denomination chips in the center of your chip rack with dollar chips at either end of your stack. If you have a large win, ask security to escort you to your room or your car. If possible, stay at a hotel that has a room safe. If not, you can always get a safety deposit box at the cage.
Now here is another tip that I learned from this experience. If you ever have anything stolen in a casino, don't depend on hotel security to write up the theft as a theft. In my case they wrote it up as lost. So I called the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police and they made out a police report clearly stating that my coat had been stolen. They mailed the report to my home. I'm glad they did because my homeowners insurance covered the loss and I got a brand new tailored suit for no charge. The police told me that hotel security is only interested in protecting the hotel. So, always call the police. See you next month.
Don Catlin can be reached at email@example.com
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