Nobody can confuse the casino for a haven of proper behavior and lofty moral endeavors. Gambling’s undisputed capital is called “Sin City,” after all, and its millions of faithful followers visit to indulge in every vice under the sun.
But as you begin to spend more time in and around casinos, your ethical boundaries as a player will soon be put to the test – and in more ways than one. I’m not here to tell anyone how to behave, but I do find it useful to ask readers to ponder a few ethical dilemmas frequently encountered when gambling for real money.
An Inexperienced Dealer Exposing Their Hole Card in Blackjack
One of the most common ethical tests gamblers are subjected to involves the dealer not doing their job.
They might be baby-faced rookies fresh out of dealer’s school or grizzled vets of the game who couldn’t care less with retirement in sight. In any event, blackjack dealers who don’t protect their hand by concealing their hole card are a dime a dozen.
And lo and behold, you start winning at a much steadier clip than you would when playing the game straight up.
You don’t have to imagine the extent of that advantage, as “hole carding” has been the proverbial Ace up the sleeve wielded by advantage players for decades now. In this case, blackjack pros surreptitiously scan the room in search of weak dealers who flash their hole card while drawing it from the shoe. Once they’ve spotted their prey, a hole carding expert pounces on the table with a series of big bets before the dazed dealer knows what hit ‘em.
Based on the mathematical analysis of hole carding’s impact on blackjack probability, hole carding combined with basic strategy provides the player with a 13 percent edge over the house. That’s right, you read the data correctly… you can turn blackjack’s usual 0.50 percent house edge against you into a massive 13 percent edge in your favor.
So what say you reader? If the dealer didn’t know they were showing you their hole card ahead of each hand, would you tell them?
You know what they say about ill-gotten gains, not to mention the guilt associated with letting a hapless casino employee sign their own pink slip.
Or would you feel perfectly comfortable taking full advantage of the rare opportunity to beat the house at its own game?
Major casino corporations have billion-dollar balance sheets, so it’s not like they’ll miss a few thousand bucks. And if a dealer isn’t trained properly before they get in the box, that’s not really your fault anyhow.
Think about both sides of the coin for a moment before asking yourself how you would handle this tricky, yet all too common, casino ethics test.
You Find a Lost Casino Chip That Is Worth a Pretty Penny
Another easy way to pad your bankroll without incurring any risk is by simply saying “finder’s keepers, loser’s weepers.”
Every day, hundreds of thousands of chips are handled by players, dealers, floor staff, runners, cashiers, and cocktail servers. And that’s just in a single casino alone…
The majority of casinos use chips instead of cash, and with so many of them being passed back and forth, splashed across the felt, and hurriedly stuffed into pockets and purses, accidents are bound to happen. When they do, anything from a dirty white $1 chip to a sparkling purple $5,000 “cranberry” can tumble to the floor and find a hiding spot.
More often than not, the previous owner never even notices their chip go missing, so they obliviously leave the scene none the wiser.
Now then, what happens when you happen to stumble upon a misplaced chip? Will you stride right past it and keep it moving, or maybe alert the nearest dealer so they can check the cameras and possibly locate its rightful owner?
Or will you stop on a dime and tie your shoe, palming the chip in the process and pocketing an instant profit?
That’s a moral quandary to be sure, and one you can inevitably expect to confront at some point in your gambling escapades.
I’ll let you decide how you’d play this one out, but fair warning… some states like Colorado actually criminalize keeping a “found” chip. Apparently, the chip reverts back to its status as casino property the moment it finds the floor, so adding it to your bankroll is actually considered theft.
A Poker Opponent Accidentally Flashing Their Hole Cards
If ostensibly well-trained dealers working for a living still manage to flash the occasional hole card, just imagine what a drunken tourist can do at the Texas holdem table.
The poker room is home to more inadvertent card flashing than any other area in the casino. Some players simply squeeze their hole cards too high while taking that initial peek. Others are distracted by their phones, food, or significant others. And many normally sensible folks become inebriated to the point where flashed hole cards aren’t even a bother.
In any case, you will eventually find yourself in a seat in which your neighbor’s hole cards become visible before the hand gets underway. At that point, the ethical predicament begins in earnest.
For many types of poker players, informing an opponent about their flashed hole cards every time is a point of personal pride. Honor among thieves and such, I suppose.
I’ve also known players who let the card flasher’s personality dictate the outcome. Annoying, rude, loud, obnoxious – folks defined by these personality traits won’t be told a thing. But a pleasant and polite opponent who is good for the game will receive a friendly tap on the shoulder before any damage can be done.
To increase the drama, picture yourself in the following scenario. It’s late in a tournament you’ve been dying to take down. The best player at the table briefly flashes their A-K before going all-in, right before you squeeze poker’s prettiest sight – pocket Aces.
Do you punish their mistake by going for the kill shot? Or do you abandon the monster A-A vs. A-K cooler in your favor by pausing the game to do the “right” thing?
Only you can answer that one…
A Problem Gambling Regular Asks for a Loan
One of the toughest decisions a gambler has to make occurs when a fellow player’s addictive demons come calling.
Do you throw them a buy-in hoping to help them get back in the black, despite knowing additional losses will only continue the vicious cycle?
Or would the desperate loan-seeker be better served by being cut off? Haven’t you ever needed a quick pick me up after a rough run when you’re tapped out at the moment?
These are the questions we all ask ourselves when defeated gamblers hold their hands out.
The Roulette Croupier Slid You a Stack of $5 Chips Instead of $1
For the final ethical test, put yourself at the roulette table with a fresh stack of $1 chips to play with.
Everyone else is betting $5 chips, and the overwhelmed croupier is having trouble keeping up with the payouts. You dwindle down to your last few $1s, toss them on good old Black 28, and watch the wheel fly.
Bingo! The white ball nestles neatly in its Black 28 space, turning your $4 bet into $140 at 35 to 1 odds.
The only thing is, with another player’s red $5 chips on top of yours, the frazzled croupier gets mixed up. They slide your small chips into their tip box, but before you can protest, they proceed to slide you seven stacks of 20 $5 chips.
That’s a $700 payout, and all because the croupier repeated the other player’s payout while sliding your stacks over.
So what do you do here, say mum’s the word and play another spin before getting out of dodge?
Or fess up and let the croupier know you’ve been overpaid by a significant sum?
Evaluating Your Gambling Code of Ethics
Judging a gambler’s personal code of ethics is really an exercise in futility. So many unusual circumstances can arise on the casino floor with players from every conceivable walk of life, how gamblers should act when gambling will always be in question.
Of course, we all have to live with the man or woman in the mirror when it’s all said and done. Now that you’ve thought these five casino ethics puzzles through, I hope you’ll be better prepared to handle gambling’s moral morass when the time comes.