Tuesday, September 15, 2009


By Pauly
Los Angeles, CA

In the trailer for The Informant, a new Matt Damon movie, one of the characters mentions seeing four suits huddling together, "That's not a business meeting, that's a crime scene."

Just turn on the boob tube and the hysterical talking heads in the mainstream media are hell bent on exposing the crooks on Wall Street and in board rooms across America. Meanwhile, the poker media is focused on online cheating scandals, bad TV shows, and re-writing press releases. While that went down we almost forgot about the shenanigans in your local card room, and I'm not talking about crimes against humanity such as a soused hipster sucking out with a two-outer.

Poker rooms have been crime scenes in the past. I heard stories about former poker room managers chopping up the bad beat jackpots at casinos in Tunica and New Orleans, but they were never dumb enough to get caught, or maybe they were smart enough to pay off the right guys. Mohegan Sun's poker room was shut down in September of 2003 because of a hookers and blow scandal. During Operation High Roller in November of 2007, the feds pinched a couple wiseguys from Philly/South Jersey running a bookmaking operation in Atlantic City out of the Borgata's poker room. Not to be outdone, the poker room at the Taj (most known for a cameo in Rounders) took center stage when two men began an altercation over an open seat. The spat escalated into a knife fight into the valet on Virginia Avenue, which is a hot zone for the infamous Atlantic City hookers.

Now, the poker room at the Planet Hollywood is the latest crime scene. Instead of drugs, prostitution, and/or bookmaking, this crime was good old fashioned embezzlement. Here's the twist-- the crooks involved were casino employees who were not stealing from the casino, rather, they were stealing from the players by falsifying high hand documents. They created fake names and pocketed the money, thinking that their paper trail could cover up their crime. What they didn't factor into their scheme were that the powers of video surveillance and someone who ratted them out.

The "Planet Ho 4" dropped the ball big time. They should have hired Danny Ocean as a consultant, but instead decided to screw over tourists and try to outwit the almighty security apparatus that very few of us get to see. The result? They ended up inducted into the Stupid Poker Hall of Fame.

There has been a lot of chatter about the guys getting caught over a small sum of money, which they did by authorities, but all signs suggest that they were running this scam for a while, so who knows how much money they siphoned off from the high hand pool. I hope they stole enough loot to cover their legal fees and to buy enough smokes in the jail to insure their assholes are a no-fly zone.

I'm not justifying corporate embezzlement, but on an average day, I'd rather see a bunch of ordinary guys stick it to the Man and rob a greedy inept corporation. We're in the middle of a cold war between the haves and the have nots, but fucking over innocent civilians is not within reason.

Why would anyone steal in the first place?
1. Money Woes. I read the news today, oh boy, and this country is going straight into the financial shitter. We're all going to be speaking Madarin within a decade if where not careful. Americans have been brainwashed since birth to be voracious consumers. We go ape shit when banks extend credit (in form of loans and credit cards) and burn through it like daddy's little girl on a shopping spree at the mall. The result? An entire populous spending way beyond their means. Toss in shrinking job numbers, rising health care costs, and then you have a recipe for a desperate situation. That's when people shed their moral rectitude.

2. Compulsive Gambling. It takes amazing self-control to live healthily in a gambling town. I wonder if any of the guys who got busted were poker players, or should I say, losing poker players who needed to steal in order to scrape together for a buy-in for the 11pm Caesar's tournament.

3. Feeding an Addiction. Perhaps gambling is not the root of all evil in Las Vegas. There's booze, blow, and meth which keep the city (and the locals) pumping and jumping at all hours. There's also the temptations of the sex industry. Strip clubs are a huge life leak. Plus, if you want to bang a decent looking hooker without track marks or open sores, then you're gonna have to fork over the big bucks.

4. Tourists Suck. If you ever worked a summer job in a vacation spot or worked within the tourism industry, you know about the resentment and bitterness that swells up after dealing with pretentious snobs on a holiday. Vegas is infested with packs of drunken hyenas overindulging in excesses. After a while, you just want to punch the next drunk that spills a drink on you. I can understand all of that tension boiling under the skin. "Why give the tourists money they don't deserve?"

5. Hatred for their Employer. Bosses can be assholes. Corporations are insensitive. Negative work environments foster vindictiveness among their employees. Let's face it, Planet Hollywood is a perfect example on how NOT to run a business and Strip casino. The parent company itself filed for bankruptcy twice. Event the Governator pulled out as an investor. The casino lost 12 million last quarter and despite dropping the price in rooms, they are still having a tough time attracting customers.

6. Shitty Employees. The majority of companies that fail are comprised of employees who have zero respect for their position and feel as though they have a sense of entitlement. What they claim as social injustices are simple excuses for them not to do their work. That disdain and malaise generates friction which sends people over the edge. It's one thing to steal a box of Post-Its. It's a whole other to steal a high hand jackpot.

7. Crime of Opportunity. The best poker players know how to recognize an edge and exploit that to their advantage. Maybe they saw a chance to buck the system without any repercussions and they took a shot?
So, what went wrong?

I heard one rumor that Planet Ho 4 were ratted out by a security guard who was previously on the take. The security guard stopped working at Planet Ho, so the gang ceased paying him off. The former guard grew agitated and dropped a dime on them. Isn't that how it always works?

Once the eye in the sky knew what to look out for, the thieves were fucked. It was a matter of time before a case was built up against them and they were busted.

The Planet Ho 4 are lucky that it's 2009 and not 1979. Thirty years ago, they'd be listed as missing persons with their bodies nowhere to be found. Back in the rough and tumble days when the mob ran Vegas, if you got caught stealing from a casino, you'd end up in a hole on the edge of Death valley sleeping with the scorpions.

Original content written and provided by Pauly from Tao of Poker at www.taopoker.com. All rights reserved. RSS feeds are for non-commercial use only.

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