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by Basil Nestor

Basil Nestor is author of The Smarter Bet Guide to Craps, The Smarter Bet Guide to Blackjack, and other comprehensive gambling guides. Got a question? Visit and drop him a line.

Itís a valuable tactic, even though it has a bad-sounding name. Ratholing is a technique of stealthily slipping chips off the table and into your pockets to make you look like a loser.

Why would you want to look like as a loser? Itís all about comps and cover.

Casinos initially rate you for comps with a standard calculation called "theoretical win" (what they expect to earn from your action). But if they see you consistently beat them, or lose less than anticipated, then they lower your rating. Generally, casinos wonít admit this, but comp adjustments happen, invariably, somewhere in the accounting. Do you win a lot? Do you win consistently? Sorry, the room is free, but you have to pay for the champagne and the gourmet meal.

Of course, if youíre a professional blackjack counter, then you probably play incognito, and visit casinos only for short sessions, so comps mean nothing to you. In fact, the last thing you want is a comp because youíre trying to stay off the radar.

But if youíre a casual counter, or you play only basic strategy, then comps do matter because a large chunk of your net profit may come in the value of casino freebies.

And ratholing can also serve as a type of cover if youíre counting and (for whatever reason) play a longer session. Losers attract less attention than winners.

Be Careful

As with counting cards, ratholing is legal in most situations (except as noted below), but the tactic is not welcome in a casino. If youíre caught ratholing, the pit supervisor will know instantly that youíre an experienced player and your rating may go to zero, or you may be ejected.

There are various techniques for ratholing. The easiest is...

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