Players Advantage: 'Most wanted' casino cheater used old tricks, police say
A fugitive cheat did himself in by providing his real name and address when joining a players club at a Pennsylvania casino, authorities say.
Jubreal Chahine, 40, of Las Vegas, who had been among the Nevada Gaming Control Board's seven most wanted offenders, was arrested July 23 at the Sands in Bethlehem.
State Police Cpl. Robert Glad of the unit stationed at the casino says Chahine is not accused of cheating there. Chahine was playing at the casino — Glad didn't know which game — and gave his name when applying for a players club card. Casino staffers did a standard check and learned Chahine was wanted on multiple felony counts in Nevada. They notified police, who arrested him without incident.
“It is surprising” that Chahine used his real name, Glad says.
But as Karl Bennison, chief of enforcement for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, tells Player's Advantage: “He seems to get caught a lot.”
Chahine was represented by a public defender in Philadelphia. The office did not return a call for comment.
At a July 31 court hearing, Chahine was ordered extradited to New Jersey to face charges there. Bennison says he will be transferred to Nevada later.
Bennison says Chahine has five convictions for a variety of Nevada offenses plus six outstanding warrants. Many involve altering or making bets after the winning hand or number has been decided. In one case, he is accused of trying to replace a green $25 chip with a purple $500 chip on a winning blackjack hand.
Bennison and casino security consultant Sal Piacente say capping, pinching and past-posting bets are longtime cheating methods that remain popular even with the availability of miniature cameras and computers.
“As soon as cards were made, people were thinking about cheating,” says Piacente, president of UniverSal Game Protection in Florence, Ky., and host of “Game On, America,” a Travel Channel series that exposed secrets behind carnival games, bar bets and other come-ons that separate people and their money.
Dealers and pit supervisors are responsible for keeping an eye out for cheats and making sure the games move smoothly.
“The industry is growing so fast that it's hard to get qualified help,” Piacente says. Supervisors once responsible for watching four games now must oversee eight at a time, he says, and the emphasis on customer service sometimes overshadows a house need for dealers to keep a suspicious eye on players.
Some dealer training skimps on how players can pinch or cap bets, past-post, mark cards or slide dice.
“Dealers are never shown any of this, but they're held accountable for what happens on their table,” Piacente says.
Pinching, capping or past-posting does not require a magician's sleight-of-hand skills but only a moment of distraction.
“It's a fast move. You act like you're straightening your bets,” he says. “When the dealer gets distracted, bam, he's going to get hit over there.”
Piacente says blackjack and other table-game dealers can protect themselves with two simple steps: “walking the game” and keeping track of the bets at the end spots.
“Walking a game means taking a step to the left or to the right so your peripheral vision broadens and you can see the end positions or the whole table. If I step to the left and turn my body, I can look (a player) right in the eye and still see my betting areas.”
Dealers should memorize the bets at the end seats, because almost all capping and pinching action happens at those spots, he says.
Piacente says many cheats are caught after other players tell a dealer or pit supervisor about suspicious activity. He recalls working with a Colorado casino that years ago had a $5 maximum blackjack bet.
Even at such low limits, some players were caught capping or pinching a $3 bet, he says.
Mark Gruetze is administrative editor for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-320-7838 or firstname.lastname@example.org.