This Blackjack Forum article is about casino dealer cheating at blackjack by peeking and dealing second card.
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Cheating at Blackjack: The Laughlin Lay-a-way

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Dealer Cheating at Blackjack: The Laughlin Lay-a-way

By Sam Case
(From Blackjack Forum Vol. II #3, September 1982)
© 1982 Blackjack Forum

I met Crazy Bob in a bar in Calgary (Alberta, Canada). I knew it was him by his "Crazy Bob No Autographs, Please!" t-shirt. We had more than a few Molsons, and he turned me on to a dealer cheating technique I was unfamiliar with.

He had seen it executed by a sweet little old lady dealer on a blackjack table in Laughlin. Done casually, it took him a while to spot it. He said that the dealer would peek at the top card, and if it were a ten or an ace, she would simply lay it down with the discards. Nasty.

Even a blackjack dealer who never practices enough to become a good card mechanic could effectively cheat using the lay-a-way. After speaking to Crazy Bob, I worked out several variations on this cheating technique.

Blackjack Cheating Variation One: The Simple Version

Take a deck of cards, burn the top card, and deal out 4 or 5 hands. Put a ten on top of the deck. This is the card we'll lay-a-way.

Say we're at the point where the dealer has paid off all the players and is about to pick up all the discards. Reach over with your (empty) right hand towards third base and start to scoop up the cards. Let your left (deck) hand casually drift to first base. It's going to look as if you're going to put that hand down for balance, but here's where the dirty work happens.

As your deck hand moves, you turn it over so the back of your hand is uppermost (the deck is upside down). When your deck hand is almost over the first base cards, slide the top card slightly towards the right with the fingers of the left hand. This is where you can peek. (If the dealer didn't know there was a ten on top, she would now. If she saw a small card, she would simply slide it back and keep it in play.)

But since we have a ten under control, we lay-a-way the card as follows: press the ten down onto the table with the left thumb, while releasing it with the left fingers.

You can plop it down where the next first base hit card should have been and keep it covered by the rest of the deck, held close to the table.The main work of the lay-a-way is now over. The ten is lying face-up on the table, hidden by the resting left hand.

Meanwhile, the right hand has been scooping other hands. When it reaches first base, move your left hand away as the right scoops up the cards, and WHOOSH! That's it. The whole thing takes place in a couple of seconds.

The main tip-off is placing the deck hand on top of the table on or near cards already on the table. Players are not allowed to touch cards on the table and neither are the dealers, except as required by the necessary procedures of dealing the game. Beware of any dealer whose hands ever, however casually or briefly, touch or rest on or near a played hand.

Blackjack Cheating Variation Two: Harder Version

For this version the cheating dealer must be able to execute one of the standard peeks (back peek, gambler's peek, etc.). Since the value of the top card can be discerned before the lay-a-way move, the dealer can do the slide differently.

She could slide the card to the left, using her thumb, and she could extend the fingers of her left hand to press the card down. Everything else would be the same, so the main tip-off still works.

A dealer might also lay-a-way the card on her own hand, rather than the first base hand, so the dealer can use this move in head-on play also. When you're playing head-on, you're pretty busy, so when you look away, she may try:

Blackjack Cheating Variation Three: Bastard Version

Technically, this is not a lay-a-way, but a one-handed top card burn. It works like the lay-a-way in that it removes a good card from play.

The fingers of the left (deck) hand peel off the top card and slide it under the deck, face up. If left uncovered, this move is as obvious as a pregnant nun, so you can spot it if you keep the deck in your peripheral vision.

The only useful cover for the move is to hide the deck from view for a split second with the other hand. Be sure to follow the Case Cardinal rule: Never Play Against a Dealer Who Hides the Deck, Even for a Second.

Thanks again to Crazy Bob for this variation on the second deal. If any readers spot cheating or suspicious moves with cards, please alert Arnold Snyder. These old moves are all showing up again now that there are all of these 6:5 handheld games. ♠

[Note from Arnold Snyder: During a recent period of intense play on handheld games in Las Vegas, we were averaging one cheating blackjack dealer per week. Never let your guard down on handheld games, even on the Las Vegas Strip.

For more information on dealer cheating moves at blackjack and how to detect them, see Steve Forte's Gambling Protection Series (3 DVD Set) and How to Detect Casino Cheating at Blackjack by Bill Zender.]

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  Dealer Peeking and Second Dealing: the Laughlin Lay-a-Way
This Blackjack Forum article by Sam Case discusses methods of second-dealing he has encountered with casino blackjack dealers. The Laughlin layaway is one type of this second dealing. Sam Case also discusses other ways to cheat at cards in blackjack and poker in the cheating section of the Blackjack Forum library.