I’m fascinated by this story.

Hours after a judge ordered the Golden Nugget Atlantic City to let gamblers cash in nearly $1 million worth of chips they won in a card game where the decks were unshuffled, the casino’s owner overruled his lawyers Friday and agreed to make the payments.

The judge’s decision drew an angry reaction from casino officials, who called it “an ambush” and vowed to file an appeal first thing Tuesday morning.

But Tilman Fertitta, the Texas billionaire who owns the Golden Nugget, said he decided to pay the winners to make the whole thing go away.

“Without question, the mini-baccarat game that took place on April 30, 2012, allowed $10 bettors to realize a gambler’s dream and enabled them to beat the house out of $1.5 million,” he said. “Even though we can appeal the court’s ruling and take full advantage of the appellate process and legal system, and tie the matter up in litigation for a number of years, the Golden Nugget is a people business, and is prepared to allow the gamblers — most of whom continue to gamble at Golden Nugget — to realize the gambler’s dream of beating the house.”

The casino also will let gamblers keep more than a half-million dollars it already paid them from the same disputed games.

“I wasn’t cheating,” one of the gamblers, 51-year-old Michael Cho of Ellicott City, Md., said after the judge’s ruling. “I didn’t do anything illegal. It wasn’t right for them to get the money.”

I know nothing about baccarat, but obviously in any such game if you can tell what cards are coming, you’re going to do well. As Cho said, the players weren’t cheating, just very lucky to be in the right place at the right time. It was correct for the casino to pay them off and go after the cardmakers for recompense. I guess you can keep this story in mind the next time you sit down at a casino table. Maybe some day the cards will all be right for you, too.

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One Response to Baccarat

  1. Buhallin says:

    I’ve always been more than a little baffled by the rules casinos operate under. The run games of “chance” but if you’re actually good at them, and win (say by counting cards) then they don’t let you play. How it’s legal to operate games where you take money from a great many people but can refuse anyone who might take money from you is confusing. They’re basically massively expensive hotels that run legal cons.

    National Lampoon’s Mafia – HORRIBLE movie – did have one perfect moment… The main character has gotten into the casino biz, and at one point says “The smart ones just came in, gave us their money, and left.”

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