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by Joe Pane

Joe Pane is a skilled advantage blackjack player and an experienced tournament player who has won over half a million dollars in blackjack tournaments. Besides competing in tournaments around the country and on the Internet, Joe writes the "House of Pane" column for "All In Blackjack" magazine. His peers consider him to be one of the strongest blackjack tournament players on the circuit.


You would expect that when you are in Las Vegas and you put your cash on a gambling table in exchange for casino chips that those chips would have the same value as the cash that you just gave to the dealer. After all, this common casino transaction is not like the volatile stock market where your stocks, bonds and mutual funds will fluctuate up and down in value according to market trends. Or is it?

The casinos, of course, always prefer that you wager with their chips and for a damn good reason. Most players would think long and hard about pulling out a pile of Benjamin Franklins from their wallet or purse and place them into their betting spot, but to bet a couple of black clay chips, well, itís just not the same cause itís like Monopoly money (and thatís what the casinos hope players will do). Human nature tells you that your local utility company will not accept these black chips to satisfy your current bill. So hey, why not bet a stack of them on the next hand of blackjack?

But itís not the black $100 chips that seem to be the current problem in Las Vegas, more specifically, at the MGM Grand Casino. You see the MGM Corporation is under the opinion that if you are in possession of one of their $5,000 casino chips, you better have a complete diary showing the amount of time that the chip has been in your possession, and what table and game you received it (no kidding). That seems preposterous, and you would think that a major casino corporation would never do this to a customer that was in possession of one of their chips, especially if the chips were never reported stolen or missing. The exception would be if something unexpected occurred, like what happened the night of the Mike Tyson vs. Evander Holyfield fight, where some tables in the high limit pit were turned over and chips were knocked all over the floor and picked up by players, who had no right to them. In this case, the casinos certainly have the right to place a "casino chip hold" on those scattered chips until it could be determined who was the rightful owner of them.

But recently, Nolan Dalla, an honest customer, and Media Director for the World Series of Poker (and someone I personally know), plus an employee of Harrahís were cashing a winning sports book ticket at the MGM Casino plus a $5,000 chip that Nolan received from another friend/poker player...

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