Many people seem to be interested in whether Magicians are banned from casinos.
I guess people see an obvious correlation between sleight of hand tricks and playing card games.
Are Magicians Banned From Casinos? The law in the USA and the UK do not ban magicians from visiting casinos, however since they are usually private clubs, they can bar entry to anyone, as long as it is not on the grounds of Race, Sexuality, etc.
Table of Contents
Why Would a Casino Ban a Magician?
Before he was famous, one of the top magicians in the UK, Derren Brown, used to frequent casinos quite regularly.
According to a Casino Employee (a valet girl), Brown began by just playing the slot machines and was surprisingly successful with them.
He then began to sit and watch the card tables for long periods of time, before placing a small bet, which invariably won.
People started to notice this young man who was so incredibly lucky and people began to pay attention to him.
He became very popular with other players who quizzed him about how he was so successful.
Gradually Derren began to increase the amounts he bet, and he would bet more often, at which stages the Pit Bosses began to pay attention to him.
It became so that the moment he entered a casino the pit bosses would alert each other to his presence.
Because Derren had become so popular the casino wanted to avoid having to publicly eject him so they began to restrict his entry to the casino so that no scenes took place inside.
It became impossible for Derren to enter the casinos (even with a disguise) and so he began to travel further from home, but gradually it became impossible to enter casinos.
As it happened this was when he started to become famous as a magician, so Derren switched his career direction.
We can see from this story, that although there is no law that says magicians are banned from casinos, the private member status of the casino is an adequate measure to ensure they do not.
How Do Magicians Do So Well At Casinos?
Magicians tend to be very organized people who have good memories and an ability to understand how processes work.
They generally will “count cards,” which again is not illegal, it is simply utilizing a skill that allows them to improve the odds of winning.
Casinos work on the basis that they have the advantage and skilled players who can count cards changes the game, so the card-counter has the advantage.
Once identified as a card counter, a player soon finds that he is not welcome at a casino.
The History of Card Counting
At this very moment, somewhere in the world, there will be casinos engaged in a battle to identify and ban card-counters.
They have a host of technology these days that assist them with this, including facial recognition software that scans the casino and looks for matches with known card counters.
Players are being watched by experienced Pi Bosses, and from security staff (often ex card counters) through security cameras trained on each table.
It was not always like this, in the early days of Blackjack, the advantage was much more with the card-counter.
The game that became known as Blackjack has been around since at least 1440 in Europe.
The game spread to the USA and somewhere around World war 1, one casino introduced a bonus for any player who received an Ace of Spades and a black Jack.
The idea caught on and very soon the game was widely known as Blackjack.
Legal games with the house as bank popped up in New Orleans in 1820 and eventually around 1931, Legal Games where the house was the bank, ruined the game for the many sleights of hand magicians who were able to deal and touch the cards in the illegal games that had spread everywhere.
Nevada, in 1931 was where the modern casino game truly began.
For the next thirty years a few individuals became famous for their success, using variations on card-counting, but in 1962 a book called “Beat the Dealer,” was published.
Edward O. Thorpe & Computers
Thorpe made a detailed study of counting cards to see if it did give a genuine advantage to a player.
He used early computers to do the calculations required to check this theory. Eventually, he was convinced that card-counting would give a player a statistically quantifiable advantage.
Thorp devised the “Ten Count System.”
I am not going to take the time to explain this system to you because it is no longer workable.
At the time of its introduction casinos only used one deck at a time and so the system was quite manageable for most people.
However, on examining the system and realizing how it was done the casinos started using an ever-increasing number of decks, and the sheer number of cards made it only of use to a few people capable of rapid mental calculations.
In a twist of events, casinos found that the idea that a system could beat the dealer made the game more popular and there was a massive increase in the number of tables.
Although patrons came planning to use some system, they usually lost track and just gambled and lost.
Swearing next time, it would be different.
A new system was introduced by computer scientist Harvey Dubner.
The system called “Hi-Lo count,” and this was included in the second edition of “Beat the Dealer.”
This system was still practical with multiple decks but people who had half-digested the system and who got carried away with the game still were the majority and the casinos still raked in the cash.
It was not unknown for dealers to hand out cards with the basics of the system to players, knowing that most would still lose.
This same concept of probabilities is the basis of many magic tricks we see performed today.
There is great synergy between the professional magician and the card-shark.
The system did work, and if followed correctly with the right play strategy would give the players an advantage.
These successful players, like Derren Brown, were the players who found themselves ejected from the casino or barred from entry.
A Private Detective, from Las Vegas, Robert Griffin started to publish a regularly updated directory of known successful card-counters and sold this to the casinos who now could bar the players who would win using a system, while allowing people to come to the casino armed with a system, which they did not carry out correctly and thus lost. The casinos were actually profiting from the books that touted systems.
How To Count Cards
According to the specialist Blackjack School (Blackjack Apprenticeship), there are four stages to counting cards
- Give value to every card
- Keep a “Running Count” of the value of each card dealt
- Obtain value for the Running Count of each deck in use (The True Count)
- Change your bets depending on how the true count rises.
Step 1 – Give Value To Every Card
Give each card a value – cards between 2 and 6 are worth +1, So when those cards are dealt change your total by ADDING 1
Cards between 7 and 9 are worth 0, so when these cards are dealt make no change to the total.
Cards between 10 and Ace are worth -1, so when these cards are dealt change your total by SUBTRACTING 1
Step 2 – Keep a Running Count
Keep a running count for the shoe that is in use, adding or subtracting as needed. UNTIL THE DEALER SHUFFLES THE CARDS AGAIN.
If the running count increases the advantage for the player will grow.
If the running count decreases, then the advantage swings to the casino.
Step 3 – Obtain Value For The Running Count
In an attempt to thwart this system, casinos started using multiple decks.
This complicates it as there is not just one shoe to consider.
TRUE COUNT = Running count divided by Decks remaining
Just knowing the value of the true count is giving you some advantage but It is much more complex than this but beyond the remit of this article.
To learn more visit here
Does a Magician Have an Advantage Playing Blackjack?
So far we have only looked at card counting.
In my opinion, the type of mind that can successfully get away with card counting is that of a professional magician.
With the ability to memorize information while distracting the audience (Pit Bosses) he would have a clear advantage.
However, sleight of hand skills and any other magic skills would have no value in a casino as players, do not touch the cards and are under constant close up surveillance.
That is not to say I would be so confident paying blackjack with a magician in a social setting where players take a turn to deal.
Learn Magic Tricks!
If you’re interested in learning magic tricks, make sure to check the following lists I prepared for you:
These are the best resources you can use to learn magic tricks!
Just the fact that an individual is a magician has no impact on whether he is banned or not from a casino.
With modern technology and close-up camera surveillance, together with trained staff watching for anomalies, there is very little chance of someone successfully counting cards for long, and absolutely no chance of any sleight of hand trick succeeding.
Whenever you are visiting a casino your face is being scanned by facial recognition software and compared against computer records of known card sharps.
Even if you are not already on that register any big wins that look the slightest bit suspicious will have casino staff paying very special attention to you.
If after watching you they decide even that it could be card counting then you will be out the door and next time you enter a casino they will have you flagged.
So, as a magician, you have no lesser or greater chance of being banned than any other player.