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Vinny DeCarlo is the author of How to Beat Casino Surveillance ĖAn Insiderís Secrets for Card Counters. He is a retired veteran casino man with over 20 years of upper management experience. His expertise covers the pit, security, surveillance, and he even served as a General Manager for two different casinos. Currently, Vinny travels the states as a freelance reporter and a personal consultant to many Indian casinos. According to Vinny, there are two types of casino employee people; those that know him, and those that claim to know him; so, never believe what you hear.


How long have you worked in the casino industry?

I started in the mid 70ís when, well, when the likes of Spilotro and Sarno walked the dirt streets of Paradise City.

What was your first job?

My first position was a concierge to the top talent. That didnít last too long because I caught the eye of a suit and was pretty much juiced until the late 80ís when the bean counting mob took over Vegas.

What were some of the positions that you held with different casinos?

Iíve been a concierge, change seller, security guard, valet parker, dealer (I did all games), floor supervisor, pit manager, shift manager, surveillance supervisor, surveillance director, and finally assistant general manager. That was about as much as I could take and still be sane.

Where have you worked?

In the early days, if you knew your stuff and were willing to travel, you were in need. I took the ticket and ended up traveling to the Islands, England, Germany, Switzerland, Monaco, Belgium, Canada, Vegas, Laughlin, Detroit, Jersey, California, Mississippi, New York, Australia, blah, blah, etc. Letís just say I filled three passports with stamps (and they werenít the S&H Green type stamps).

Why did you choose the casino industry as your path through life? Would you do it again?

Thatís easy Ö. itís easy! The casino industry is unlike any other business in the world. If you know what youíre doing, you can coast for years. I happened to be a math wiz and it was easy to talk over the heads of my superiors and impressed them, all the while scaring them to engage me in conversation. This allowed me to prosper unabated in my field. I took this time to learn and do my job to the best of my ability. Today, every jackass seems to be skating, unwilling to learn the job they were hired to do because cousin Bob wouldnít fire them anyway. You see, Cousin Bob, the surveillance manager, looks up to Jackass because theyíre pals, they like the same teams, drink the same beer, they watch the cameras, and laugh at the same jokes. The industry has changed. I would never do it again.

What got you interested in the surveillance end of the business?

Truth is, I got tired of seeing players get beat up, short paid, cheated, etc. I was the one that separated the two entities via a letter I wrote to the powers-to-be, asking that surveillance be the final in-house call on any dispute before the casino contacted gaming control. They liked my ideas so they pushed me into the head-monkey position. After the word got out, I was being call from all corners of the globe, including a diamond mind in Africa, and a new casino built on the DMZ line of North and South Korea. I was very popular and I helped many people.

How long have you been a consultant to casinos on surveillance?

Since about 1990. This is when my Ďlegendí began to slow down and I had time to take on small, weekend sideline projects to help casinos find the true reason for their financial leaks, instead of the surveillance room blaming it all on "those cheating card counters."

What were a few of your major accomplishments in casino surveillance?

I was behind the legalization of gaming in a couple of states, I started the original Surveillance Net, I testified in several casino surveillance cases as an expert witness, and I didnít always find for the surveillance side. In fact, I was usually hired to show the incompetence of some casino surveillance individuals. No, I didnít feel like a traitor. Believe it or not, I was always on the side of the truth and not for convenience or favors.

How long have you been a card counter?

I started playing with the idea back in the mid 70ís but I didnít get any good at it until the early 80ís. Now I have materialistic items such as a Harley, antique casino-items collection, a corvette, etc. that are named after casinos. And why not, they bought the stuff for me.

What counting system do you use?

I stuck with the Uston simple plus/ minus on shoe games, and Reppert on double-deck games. I also played with Bryce Carlsonís Omega count system and did very well with it. Simply put, Iíve used 2, 3, 4, and even 5-stage count systems. I even invented my own based on what surveillance looks for and how to fool them. Do I have a favorite? Naw, itís more of a matter of convenience for me, and how tired I am and how many decks are in play, how deep the penetration is, amount of players at the table, table min and max, etc.

Did you play solo or in teams?

Why yes, yes I do. This too depends on the criteria listed above. I have rubbed elbows with some of the undisputed best count teams in the U.S. and even some non-U.S. teams.

Have you ever been a consultant to card counting teams?

Yes, I have been called upon for advice pertaining to the laws and how someone was mistreated or had their winnings confiscated for no other reason than having been seen in the black book of undesirables.

Some players see you as a traitor for working for the casinos. What is your response to their criticism?

Uhm,ÖF- You! I would have to tell them to get f-ed. Yeah, thatís it, get F-ed. The way I see it, I kept the playing field level for both sides. I didnít throw people out for being good players; no, quite the opposite. I had proof that card counters were not as dangerous to the casinos bottom line as all the other chickens were bitching about the sky falling. If you play cards and consider yourself an advanced player and youíve won some money, you owe me a sincere thank you. Now kindly f- off.

What was the reason you wrote this book for card counters?

Iím saddened by the way things have turned out. In my opinion, there is very little talent in todayís surveillance rooms. Instead of stopping the theft and real cheating (most of which is from within the casino and not the players), they try to blame everything on "Joe Weekend Warrior Card Counter."

How did you get all that insider information on surveillance for the 25 Las Vegas casinos that you wrote about in your book?

In the early days, I was invited to almost every one of these rooms as an advisor. I even did some wiring in a few of them, while in others, the folks running the room were personal friends of mine and, thereís a good chance that I trained them too. I still have many friends out there and if you read the book, youíll learn that there are many disgruntled surveillance and casino floor employees and they need to vent to someone.

If you had to tell a card counter why they should buy your book, what would you say?

Iíd say, "Donít buy it!" Let the smart ones get a hold of it and make some money first, before every bastard and his brother gets the book and starts to flock to Vegas and send the suits running to hire people like me to fix their problems and low holds.

Arenít you concerned that your identity could be compromised and the casinos will find out Vinny DeCarloís real identity?

A few of the top dogs already know of my plans and their take on the subject is: "Wake their asses up. Make those suits work for a livingÖagain."

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the best, how precise would you consider the information?

First of all, this book should be considered entertainment and nothing else. You shouldnít empty your accounts, go to Vegas, and bet the farm based on this book. Plain and simple, you should consider it just another tool to use in your quest to win money while playing casino games. With that said, Iíd have to rate it a 10 since the powers that can rectify their shortcomings have not been privy to the book (as of yet). In fact, Iíd bet that the changes they make to combat the information in this book will leave even more holes for advanced players.

Do you consider yourself an expert in the casino field?

No, but many people do. I donít even consider myself good company but hey, maybe my standards are a little to high. I worked from the ground up, know some of the most influential people in the industry, and well, letís just say I know where the bodies are buried.

What are your plans for the future?

Continue to search and expose weak spots in other casinos located around the world. Try to stay out of Vegas, plastic surgery, maybe get my name changed, move back to Italy, stay away from Indiana cornfields, go into the card counter witness protection plan, and go to Disneyland. Not really sure.

If a casino wanted to hire you for your knowledge and abilities, would you take it?

I would consider almost anything at this point in my life. However, I have not and never will sell out. My book is based on what actual surveillance people have told me and shown me, and my actual past experiences, not to mention what those surveillance people are saying about each other and how theyíre slamming the floor people too. Meanwhile, the floor people all see the surveillance people as a bunch of chumps. Itís quite the industry.

How many real card counters do you suspect are out there and a real threat to the casinos?

Maybe 3% of the so-called card counters pose any real threat. The casino suits assume any chimp getting off the plane that just read John Patrickís "So, You Wanna be a Card Counter" is a serious threat. Little do they know that these are their best customers. My creed has always been "anyone can count cards, but not just anyone can be a card counter."

Do you have any interesting stories about casinos, surveillance, card counters, etc. that you could share with us?

Oh, gee, only by the pound. Maybe Henry will start a small column on his site called "Would you believeÖ" I guarantee each story will blow your mind. Mind you, I only have a few thousand I can share.

(Editorís Note: Vinny will be sharing some of his interesting stories in his column in the Blackjack Insider Insider. Stay tuned.)

To read more about Vinnyís groundbreaking new book, click here.

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