Source: Casino Creations

The following was originally in the October 2001 issue of Native American Magazine.

Table games: 
Voodoo as a table games operational method

Vic Taucer.

    When I was a young man breaking in as a dealer, way back in medieval times, circa 1975, the operational methods we used in making decisions in table games were very much different than today. In those days, the old time pit bosses lacked a basic understanding of casino mathematics principles and analytical methods. This group of managers relied on superstition much more than fact to make operational decisions. Who could blame them for this? The industry was in its infancy with no formal educational information available about gaming at this time.

    But sometimes I have to look at the calendar to see what year we are in because some of the methods I see in use in certain table games operations smacks of the old time superstitious, voodoo type methods that these old time pit bosses used. Especially when it comes to the use (or misuse) of personnel and the changing of operational methods to try in some ways to beat the player.

    What do I mean? Here is what used to happen in those medieval times…

  • When we had a player who was winning on a given table the pit boss would constantly change dealers to find the “lucky dealer” who could beat this player.
  • If a player were winning at a blackjack table, the pit boss would tell the dealer to change his shuffle procedure while that certain player was on the game. You know, try to find the “lucky shuffle”
  • If the dice were passing on a crap table, the pit boss would take one of the five dice off the table, you know because he only wanted the “lucky dice” in play.
  • If the game were dumping the pit boss would perform the necessary (he thought) methodology needed to change this disaster. If you were around in those days you remember those steps, turn the paddle around, change the cards, shake some salt on the game, all with the thought of finding the “lucky method”

    Those pit bosses actually believed that there was something that they could personally do to seemingly change the natural course of gaming events that were happening. They felt that they could dictate the luck or aura if you will on that games event.

    In most casinos of today the effective table games manager knows that game outcomes are based on basic casino mathematics and not finding the lucky dealer. Although luck is a factor it is not the determinant of most table games managers decision. At least it better not be! 

    Most educated table games staff knows that casino games make money based on a simple mathematical formula not on luck. 

The formula: Casino Advantage x Decisions Per hour x The Bet 

    It’s a pretty simple thing. The customer makes a bet on the outcome of an event. The casino makes a payoff of an amount less that the probability of the event dictates, thus creating a casino advantage. The dealer cranks out a certain amounts of decisions per hour. 

    The pit personnel’s role is to insure the formula stays intact. If we do not change the casinos advantage (changing payoffs), if we insure the right amount of decisions per hour and keep chips in the betting circles, the pit makes money.

    Over the years I have produced a training course for table games supervisors called Pit Boss 101. I have produced this training course for over 100 tribal casinos, I am writing this from a casino in the mid-west where I am producing this program at the moment. The first hour of this program is designed to insure the pit supervisor understands that mathematics is the determinant not superstition.

    What never ceases to amaze me is the amount of table games staff I run into that are still in tune with the old school, Voodoo type methods they believe can in some way alter this formula. In the last few years I constantly run across pit bosses that use superstitious methods I have not seen done in a successful commercial casino in decades!

    Hey table games managers, you know who I am talking to. Get a clue here!!  

  • There is no such thing as a “lucky dealer”
  • There is no such thing as a “lucky shuffle”
  • There is no such thing as “lucky cards or dice”

    There is nothing, I repeat nothing, that you as the pit boss can do to change the naturally course of events in a game. All the things you do to, at least in your minds eye, to change luck does not work. In actuality, those Voodoo like moves you make are hurting you and your operation. 

    Mind-boggling as it seems to me, I still see in many Indian casinos:

  1. Pit bosses who purposely rotate dealers into a game to try to beat a player
  2. Pit bosses who change cards to beat a player
  3. Pit bosses who change a shuffle procedure to beat a player
  4. Pit bosses who will chose which game to open or close using luck as a determinant.

    When you as a pit boss use any of the methods above to try to change luck you a perfect example of an exercise in futility. Spinning your wheels? Definitely!

    When you rotate dealers or change your shuffle or change equipment in search of a luck change all you are doing is destroying both the integrity of your casino and the business itself. Get real here, its 2002 for crying out loud!

    A number of the casinos I work for as a trainer are in the Caribbean. A number of years ago on one of the islands one of my clients told me that his ancestors were witch doctors who practiced Voodoo. As a gift he gave me a Moko Jumbe, a kind of Voodoo doll.

    Maybe I should get some of these voodoo dolls for the pit bosses that are still using these old methods. Do you think sticking some pins in a Moke Jumbe has the same effect as changing the dealer?

Vic Taucer is president of Casino Creations; a Las Vegas based casino educational and consulting company. A current professor of casino management for the University & Community College Systems of Nevada, Vic has recently served as Director of Casino Training for the Paris resort in Las Vegas. 

Vic can be reached at 702-595-7800 or at
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