HOW ROADGAMBLER KEEPS HIMSELF SAFE (AND I’M TALKING ABOUT MORE THAN JUST THE CRIMINALS)
Some Background About RoadGambler Before He was RoadGambler
Many years ago, I did a short stint as a police officer. I spent 26 weeks in the police academy, a few months as a trainee, and then a few months on patrol.
It wasn’t a career that suited me. I was one of those cops who wondered, ‘why does everyone waive their Miranda rights when I just flatly told them that everything they say will be used against them?’
Ask any cop and they’ll tell you that almost everyone waives their Miranda rights.
On top of my personal conundrum, I also had problems with authority. Society was better off with ‘baby RoadGambler’ out of the force, and I was better suited in another profession. In support of my former colleagues, the vast majority of them do an excellent job and are good-hearted public servants.
Despite my early failed career choice, I learned some life changing skills during my short time in law enforcement. The training and experience transformed me from being a nerdy introvert to an outgoing extrovert with a sense of self-awareness.
I wouldn’t be where I am now if I hadn’t undergone that transformation.
I also learned how to protect myself, and self-protection became second nature to me.
I’m often asked why I carry around so much cash. If you watch my videos, you’ll see that I carry around a significant amount of cash for my buy-ins. There’s a reason why I prefer cash, which I’ll get to below.
Also, these are the ‘layers’ I use to keep myself safe when visiting casinos. They’re personal to me, and you should take them with a grain of salt. Personal safety isn’t always a ‘one size fits all’ solution, but maybe some of these steps may inspire you.
I think of personal security as layers of safety; like a concrete onion or a vault with me at the center.
Nothing you do will ever stop the most determined criminal, but if you make it hard for them to victimize you, they’ll move onto the next target. Unlike the Hollywood portrayal of criminals, most criminals who commit larceny or property type crimes (such as pick pocketing, street robberies, muggings, etc) look for the path of least resistance.
If you harden yourself by creating layers of security, you’ll be less likely to be a victim.
Layer 1. Preparation: Always Know the Name of the Street where the Casino is located and Know the Name of the Casino
On my first day in training, my training instructor had me drive around the city in a patrol car. As a newly minted badge wearing cop driving a black and white unit for the first time, it was a feeling of awe. I had spent 26 weeks in the academy to get to this moment.
Unexpectedly, my instructor, who had a reputation as a hard-ass instructor, was weirdly nice. We drove around the city, and he acted more like a sight seeing tour guide than Full Metal Jacket type instructor. But then, like a dog that ran into a window that had just been cleaned with Windex, I got hit in the face with a dose of training when my instructor started yelling in my right ear and demanded to know what street we were on.
‘You’ve been shot! You’re bleeding! You need backup! Do you know where you are? What is the name of this street? What is the crossroad? Tell me damn it before we die! WE WILL DIE!!!!!’
Teaching methods aside, in the end, he taught me self-awareness of location. To this day, when I make a turn on a street, out of habit, I look at the street signs. It’s a habit that’s now second nature, and I don’t even think about it. I almost always know the name of the street and crossroad when I’m driving around (on a side note, he also ingrained in me the habit of quickly scanning every room I enter – ‘slicing the pie with your eye’ as he called it – something which I do to this day out of habit).
Ideally, you should become familiar with the area that you are gambling in. We’ve become dependent on our phones to guide us and get us around, and as a result, most of us have no idea where we are at any given moment. That can be a recipe for disaster.
If you’re going to a place that you aren’t familiar with, pull out your map on your phone and look at the location. Know the names of the streets around the casino.
If the above advice doesn’t suit you, then at the very least, know the name of the street that you are staying at and the name of the casino. Plenty of people visit casinos and have no idea where they’re at. Next time you visit downtown Las Vegas and pull into a nondescript hotel parking lot, ask one of your passengers if they know the name of the hotel parking garage that you just pulled into. You might be surprised how many times people don’t know.
In places like downtown Reno or downtown Las Vegas, the casinos can all blend into one. If something happens, and you need to call 911, dispatch may not be able to help if they can’t pinpoint your location.
Too many people take for granted that GPS will keep them safe and secure, however, if something happens while you are in the parking garage and you call 911, and you don’t know the name of the casino, emergency responders may not be able to find you. https://www.wptv.com/news/local-news/investigations/why-911-cant-always-find-you-if-you-call-from-a-cell-phone
Don’t rely on 911 to be able to geo-locate you based on your phone.
I was not a police officer in Nevada, but I responded to quite a few calls where the caller did not know their location. Sometimes, the result of the delay was not pretty.
When moments count, you need to know your location.
Layer 2. Assessing the Greater Danger: Despite the Risks of Carrying Cash, I Still Bring and Use My Own Cash
Life is all about mitigating risks. Sometimes, by focusing on one risk, we lose sight of other risks that lead to bigger and more permanent dangers.
When I talk about safety and security before visiting the casino, I’m not just talking about protecting myself from the robber or the guy with shifty eyes; rather, I’m talking about protecting myself from lawyers, debt collectors, and other powerful entities that may do much more long term harm than losing a stack of bills. This is what I mean by protecting myself ‘from everyone bad’. I don’t lose sight of the greater danger.
For that reason, I prefer cash. I’ve been carrying cash safely and without incident for over 20 years.
I hate casino markers. I hate them with a passion. I have never used casino markers and I will never use casino markers. The day that I am even tempted to use a casino marker, I will stop gambling forever.
For those who don’t know, casino markers are a form of credit that the casino extends to players so that players don’t have to carry cash.
First off, markers make it easy to overspend on your gambling. It’s the same concept of using a credit card to pay, versus using your own cash. Studies have shown that you will spend less and control your spending better if you use your own cash.
Secondly, and most importantly, in the state of Nevada, use of markers opens you up to criminal prosecution for what should be a civil matter. If you use casino credit, and you fail to pay, the casinos can go after you criminally under the theory that you wrote a bad check.
Imagine if your credit card company could have you charged with a felony because you didn’t pay your credit card bill. That’s the power of the casino lobby.
Nevada, which is the most popular gambling destination in the United States, effectively runs a debtor’s prison under the guise of bad check writing.
That bad feeling from being mugged will go away after a few days or months, but in the event that one day you go on tilt, lose control, and gamble with money that you can’t repay, you may end up with a felony conviction that will ruin your life forever.
If you end up in prison and marked as a felon for the rest of your life, good luck getting a well-paying job or obtaining any type of substantial financing for a business. Welcome to the poorhouse…for life.
That’s why you should fear the use of markers.
And don’t let the host tell you that they’ll protect you by limiting your credit. That’s just bullshit to get you to spend.
I do not use markers, ever.
Front Money is my preference
I prefer front money for large buy-ins. Front money is when a player deposits or wires money from their account to the casino. Front money is a good solution if you’re thinking of bringing tens of thousands of dollars (or more), but even then, there are limitations. Most casinos will not wire money from one casino to another. They’ll issue checks that you can take to other casinos, but those checks can cause delays.
I’ve had bad experiences with casino checks due to delays. I once took a large check that was issued by Caesars over to MGM, and it took 2 hours to clear the check and get my money. The same delay happened when I tried to cash a casino issued check at the Cromwell in Las Vegas.
In the end, I find that it’s most convenient to just carry cash from casino to casino. One just has to evaluate the risks and mitigate the risks.
For the gamblers who bring smaller amounts, I still encourage you to bring your own cash. Using the ATM has fees and costs associated, but more importantly, ATM use in a casino can lead to poor bankroll management decisions. Bring your budget and stick to your budget.
If you want to use an ATM, then use the ATM that’s not in the casino. At the very least, taking a break and driving to the nearest bank, rather than using the ATM that’s located in the casino, will give you time to cool down and go off tilt, hopefully.
I urge you to gamble by bringing and using cash and have your cash ready either at the cage or on you before hitting the casino.
Bringing your own cash is good for your financial health and security, which is why I do it.
Layer 3. Creating Contingency: RoadGambler Keeps a ‘Robbery Stack’
Let’s now talk about the next layer, which involves addressing the guy with shifty eyes and evil intent, who waits for you to lower your guard so he can take your money. No, I’m not talking about your casino host. I’m talking about your common criminal.
I carry what I call a ‘robbery stack’ of cash. I take about ten one dollar bills, fold it three ways, and keep it bound with a rubber band, like this…
If someone robs me, they’re most likely not going to wait and count the money. They will take what they see and run.
When I walk around, I keep the robbery stack in one pocket and my wallet or cash in the other pocket. I keep the robbery packet in the pocket that is on my naturally dominant side. During my short six month stint as a police officer, one of the things I learned is that in a time of crisis, your mind will default to an instinctive reaction.
Unlike what happens in the movies, an actual robbery or mugging under the threat of force is actually a short duration event that will be over rather quickly. You will not have time to think. If you are being robbed under the threat of force or violence, and you are forced to comply, you will probably instinctively reach into the pocket that is on your natural side. So if you decide to keep a robbery pocket, keep it on your dominant side because that’s where you will reach in moments of instinctive self-preservation.
Of course, it’s best to not be in places or situations where you might be robbed, but when you’re carrying around and playing with cash, people will see that you have cash. In places like downtown Las Vegas, or in economically challenged locations (where many casinos are located) you never know who is watching you. When in doubt, ask for a security escort to your car or as far as security will take you. I do it all the time.
Remember what I said about personal safety not being a ‘one size fits all’ solution? There are many personal safety advocates who would tell you to just surrender your personal valuables, and having something like a ‘robbery stack’ can just anger the criminal in the off-chance he sees that he’s being ‘had’. I can’t disagree with that line of thinking. In the end, the only thing that’s irreplaceable is your life.
The ‘robbery stack’ that I carry is an added layer of security, but it may not be something that suits your risk tolerance. If that’s the case, in the event of an armed confrontation, just hand over your wallet or purse. Your physical possessions are not worth your life.
In all my years of gambling with cash, I’ve never had to surrender my robbery stack. It’s just there…just in case.
Layer 4. Prevention: I Carry my Wallet in My Front Pocket, My Gambling Buddy Lauren Carries Her Purse in Front
Most people think of pick-pockets as smooth operators, like Linus in the movie Oceans 11…
The problem is that nowadays, pickpockets do not work that way.
The crime has changed and devolved into incidences of violence. https://slate.com/culture/2011/02/the-lost-art-of-pickpocketing-why-has-the-crime-become-so-rare-in-the-united-states.html
Most likely, the criminal will use some sort of hard physical contact or violence to distract you, then swipe your wallet or purse.
When I was doing my short stint as a police officer, as the rookie trainee, I took lots of reports involving thefts that involved some sort of physical contact, with varying levels of violence. The suspects are usually not skilled operators who spent years training in the art of distraction and lifting; rather, they’re usually drug addicted persons who spot moments of opportunity and act impulsively.
To reduce your chances of being a victim of someone who will steal your wallet, stack of cash, or purse from you, carry your wallet, stack, or purse in front.
Do you know that the reason Wal-Mart brought back the greeters was to reduce theft? https://www.businessinsider.com/wal-mart-brings-back-greeters-to-reduce-theft-2015-6
Wal-Mart greeters reduce theft because potential criminals know that someone has seen their face. Their face and presence are acknowledged.
When the criminal has to approach you from the front, he knows that you will see his face. Most criminals who commit property thefts will seek the path of least resistance and want to stay anonymous. If they have to victimize you from the front, where you can see them, they’ll most likely move onto a softer target that isn’t staring them in the eye.
Be like ‘billion-dollar Wal-Mart’ and let that criminal know that you’ve seen his face. It’s a simple method of prevention.
Fellas, even if you don’t care about being a victim, carrying your wallet in your back pocket is bad for your health.
Ladies, when carrying your purse, learn to carry your purse to your front, rather than on your side; and for the love of all things holy, please do not hang your purse on the back of your chair at the table.
Layer 5. Self Reliance: Do Not Rely on Casino Security or Anyone Else to Protect You
People are under the illusion that casino security will protect them. The primary purpose of casino security is to protect the casino’s assets. Your safety and security, from the casino’s perspective, is only a utilitarian obligation to making sure that the tourists are not scared away by crime; in other words, you are secondary in importance. You have to protect yourself.
Remember the Resorts Atlantic City craps video I posted. Surveillance caught none of those mistakes. What makes you think they’ll notice a fleeing pickpocket who knocks you over and makes off with your wallet, stack of cash, or purse?
At the end of the day, casino security is comprised of human beings who get bored and miss things. They miss lots of things.
There are many more layers that I have for keeping myself safe, physically and financially. I’ll go into more detail in the further, but whatever layers I create, I rely upon myself to keep myself safe. Of course, it’s nice to have back up and we hope that others will have our backs in times of need, but safety starts with us, individually. Just remember that as you create your own layers of safety and security.
FINAL WORDS FOR THE DAY
Gambling is a great form of entertainment that can lead to serious wins and fun stories that will last a lifetime, but it comes with risks and dangers from different angles and corners. Don’t just think of the guy who will rob you; rather, think broadly about how you can be harmed or how your life can be ruined. Once you identify those dangers, you can begin to mitigate those risks.
Simple little steps will get you into the habit of thinking about your physical and financial security. My layers which I described above aren’t the only steps I take. I have other layers which aren’t in this article, and some of those layers are more controversial. I’ll talk about one of those layers in the future.
Like I said earlier, personal security and safety isn’t a ‘one size fits all solution’, and I don’t claim that all my layers are proper or suitable to you.
I began this conversation so that hopefully if you haven’t thought about it, you start taking your safety and security seriously.
In the end, you have to be responsible for your own safety and security. No one else will protect you and no one will care about you as much as you do. You are your own first line of defense.
A joke I often heard was, ‘when seconds count, the police are minutes away’.
Safe gambling, ladies and gentlemen.