Pinching a Bet

(bottom chip)



Get QuickTime
Requires QuickTime

duration:  00:16;29
file size:  344KB
image size:  240x180
open video in new window

This is an eye-in-the-sky view of a bet reduction. This procedure is called "pinching", or "dragging". The purpose of the move is to reduce a bet after the cards have been dealt out, if it will most likely be lost; and keep the bet when it stands a good chance of winning.

For clarity only one blackjack hand is being played in this video clip. In reality casino cheats like to rely on natural distractions of a busy table with a lot of action. The presence of other active players (some perhaps even doubling down or splitting) also reduces the chance of the dealer remembering the initial amount of chips played.

In this video the player places a stack of three black chips ($300) into the betting area. After receiving a bad hand totaling 16 (10S, 6C) the player decides to reduce the bet. He does so by knocking the bottom chip away from the stack, and under the awaiting left hand. The removal of the bottom chip is not seen by the eye in the sky because the left hand passes over the path of the chip in motion, at the precise moment when the chip passes from the stack to the hand.

Since it is very likely that the player decides to pinch the bet when the dealer is showing a 10-card, it is very likely that the mechanic times his move right when the dealer is checking his/her hole card. In any case, the mechanic will have plenty of opportunities to pinch the bet while other players are asking for hit cards, which they most likely will if the dealer has a 10 up.

In our case three chips of the same denomination were used to play the initial bet. However, if a player wanted to make a stack containing chips of mixed denomination, casino procedure would require that the higher denomination chips be placed on the bottom of the stack. A player could bet a black chip ($100) and cap it with two red chips ($5 each), thus betting a total of $110. Furthermore, the player could offset the bottom chip so slightly that the dealer may not even realize there is a black chip under the red ones, especially considering the fact that black blends well into a shadow. The player now has several options: if he catches a good hand, he can just play out his $110 bet; if he catches a bad hand, he can pinch the black chip.

Dealers are required to case the bests, i.e. make the stacks neater, if they happen to be misaligned. In our case, if the dealer happens to case the $110 bet, he would realize that it contains a black chip at the bottom. A cheat not willing to take any risks (those guys are not there to gamble) may also realize at the same moment that he "mistakenly" placed a black chip on the bottom. He can then simply remove it and thank the dealer for bringing this to his attention. Of course such actions may arouse suspicion. But if the cheat is table-hopping from casino to casino, they would not have much against him because of a one time incident, which could theoretically be attributed to sloppiness.