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Don’t Walk Away Renee

Author: Mark Pilarski

Dear Mark:
I was playing roulette, and because I was going to return after a quick break, I took my remaining 20, $5 chips with me. I then got sidetracked by a couple “paying” slot machines, then went to dinner. After a few hours, I went to the cashier’s cage to cash the chips in and was told they would not take roulette chips, and that I must exchange them for casino chips on the roulette table where I was playing. When I did and asked to change them into casino chips, the dealer said she could only replace them at the table minimum price of $1 per chip. I complained to the pit boss, but to no avail. Is this collusion between the cashier’s cage and the roulette table to pay me only the minimum amount?
R. S.

When you consent to buy into a roulette game, you are given your own color of chips for your current stay at the table. The use of separate roulette table chips of assorted colors is to distinguish the different players in the game. You also designate the chips’ value when you buy in. For instance, if you gave the dealer $100 for 20 green chips, this consigns them a value of $5 apiece.

Your problem, Renee, was that each colored chip will have different values over the course of a day calculated by the per-chip price the player paid. The cashier would have no way of knowing their value during your table stay so your roulette chips would have no value at the cage. The cashier was correct in sending you back to the roulette table where you had been playing.

Another issue is that a missing stack of 20 chips can easily go unnoticed. On a jam-up game, the dealer could have neglected to see that the roulette table was short one stack, out of 20 stacks, of 20 green chips. If it been any number other than the accepted stack of 20, the dealer probably would have noticed it.

Your gambling timeline was also a factor. A switch of dealers, swap of a pit boss or two, or a change of shift, and you fell through the cracks.

It could also be possible that the dealer noticed she was short a stack, told the pit boss that 20 green chips are out with a value of $5. The pit boss should have made note of it at the pit stand, so upon your return, your chips would have been reclaimed at full value. She didn’t, so the casino looks at this as someone buying something on sale, then returning it to the store for full market price.

The solution would have been to roll the proverbial tape. Observation may have been recording that game, and if given an approximate time of your buy-in, they should have been able to observe your original transaction. I am a bit struck by the fact it wasn’t proposed as a resolution. To keep you as a satisfied returning customer, that would have been my avenue of action playing pit boss.

What your transaction was not, is some grand conspiracy between the cashier’s cage in cahoots with a table games supervisor. The simple lesson here is don’t Walk Away Renee (Left Banke, 1966) before you have the dealer exchange your roulette chips for regular casino chips.

Gambling Wisdom of the Week:
“The roulette table pays nobody except him that keeps it. Nevertheless a passion for gaming is common, though a passion for keeping roulette tables is unknown.” – Bernard Shaw