Investigating Winning Players: Drilling Down through Charting

Table game expert Bill Zender gives a sneak peak of what he’ll be covering during his intensive seminar offered at the World Game Protection Conference, February 15-17 at the Tropicana in Las Vegas.

Investigating Winning Players: Drilling Down through Charting

As many of you know, I will be speaking at this year’s World Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas Nevada. The conference will be held from February 15 through 17 at the Tropicana Resort. Willy and Jo Allison sponsor the conference and this year’s main attraction (after a Covid hiatus) is Willy’s CORE training sessions. It’s a one-day event on the first day, targeted at assisting gaming executives to recognize and evaluate operational “risks.” The acronym CORE represents Casino Operational Risk Education and covers casino related topics from simple theft through cybercrimes.

Earlier this year Willy approached me about conducting a three-hour seminar on how I, as a gaming consultant, investigate winning table game customers. Even though I would be giving away some of my professional secrets, I found the idea fascinating. During the three-hour session I plan to show the attendees the exact steps I take when tasked with analyzing and evaluating a high limit winning player.

My primary focus on this session will be to illustrate the importance of “drilling down” into the suspected customer’s play and betting patterns to find out their decision strategies. Based on my findings, I either recommend an action to mitigate the customer’s legal or illegal advantage, or I deem their play as fair and honest and recommend the customer should continue play. To drill down deeper into their play in the primary casino games of blackjack, baccarat, alternative games, and even the game of roulette, I will explain the practice of charting the customer’s observed betting and hand decision activity. Charting is the only method which will allow the investigator to evaluate, in detail, play at the table allowing him or her to isolate specific characteristics of that table activity that video view alone will not catch.

Chart a Winning Blackjack Player

Not to get ahead of myself but here is a small sample of what I will cover at the conference. Following are the steps I take when evaluating the play of a winning blackjack customer:

  • Video review: First and foremost, you need to review the entire video footage. This will give the investigator an idea about the general betting/playing pattern and will also allow the investigator to discover or rule out “strong arm” forms of cheating like bet capping and card switching.
  • Charting to rule out card counting: Next, if I haven’t seen anything wrong in the video review, I chart the hands to see if there is any indication of card counting. Card counting is the most common method most executives focus on which causes me to prioritize it and get it out of the way first. I layout the chart to record the count of each hand and compare the converted “true” count to the customer’s betting pattern. If I find a correlation between a player profitable true count and wagers in the upper area of this bet spread, I have strong evidence the customer is counting cards (profitably). I need to look at several shoes/decks before I can confirm or deny.
  • Charting to rule out betting to the top card: Since looking for counters relates directly to betting, I stay on betting as the focus. One of the more common attacks from marking cards is betting to the known value of the top card of the shoe or deck. Since the cheaters will usually mark Tens and Aces, I look for a correlation between the first card appearance of a Ten or Ace, and a top bet in the customer in first table position.
  • Charting to determine customer hand strategy: My next step is to concentrate on the winning customer’s hand decision strategy. If after several shoes or decks the customer shows evidence he is following basic strategy or common strategy (common deviations from basic), I can usually determine at this point the customer’s win was fair and honest.
  • Charting to determine the use of hole-card information: What I look for in this situation is a customer who is basing the hand play decisions on a combination of the dealer’s up-card and hole-card. If I find evidence the customer is using this information, I investigate to determine if the customer is somehow glimpsing the dealer’s hole-card through dealer sloppiness. If that is not apparent, I attempt to isolate how the cards have been marked to facilitate this information. Investigating to determine the source of the marked card is also examined in the session.
  • Charting to identify using top card information: I also investigate the possibility that the customer is using top card information from the deck or shoe. These cards can either be marked or exposed intentionally.
  • Charting to find out if a player is manipulating the dealer’s outcome: This is by far one of the most unanticipated and undiscoverable scams involving marked cards. During the investigation it is established that the customer in question is using almost perfect basic strategy and flat betting, however the customer is gaining a huge advantage using marked cards and the table play of a “low limit” player on the table.

In addition, I will be examining in depth baccarat and wheel bias in roulette. The beginning of the session will be spent charting and examining the game of Three Card Poker. The CORE sessions as well as the rest of the speakers and events at the 2022 World Game Protection Conference should make the conference extremely interesting and enjoyable (as always!).

Note: I will be speaking at the WORLD Game Protection Conference. Be aware that there is a conference on the same dates that uses the word “global.” Please do not get these two confused. For more information go to Home – WGPC 2022 (

Articles by Author: Bill Zender

As former Nevada Gaming Control Agent, casino operator, professional card counter and casino consultant, Bill Zender has been involved in various areas of gaming and hospitality since 1976. In the past, Zender has instructed courses on game protection, card counting, advantage play and gaming operations at various colleges and institutions throughout the country. As a member of JMJ, Inc., Zender was an owner and operator of the Aladdin Hotel and Casino and has additional operational experience in card room casinos in California and is considered an expert in Asian gaming. Besides his practical gaming experience, Zender holds a bachelors in hotel administration and a masters in business. As a gaming author Zender has penned seven non-fiction books on gaming including Card Counting for the Casino Executive, and the Casino-ology series. Owner/consultant of Bill Zender and Associates, Zender spent was general manager at a major California cardroom casino from 2018-2019. For more information, visit