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"Chinese" Style Justice In A Corner of the United States

There is, unfortunately, at least one corner of the United States where Chinese style judicial rules apply. That is in Las Vegas casinos, specifically at blackjack tables.

Unlike other games, where the rules entirely favor the house, blackjack can be beaten by "skilled" players called card counters. Such people will play "Deal or No Deal" by watching or "counting" the cards as they leave the deck, thereby inferring what's left in the deck. For instance, if a bunch of small cards (good for the house) comes out, they will raise their bet sizes to capitalize on remaining "ten" value cards. If the "ten" value cards come out disproportionately, they will lower their bets (or head to the bathroom) to reduce their "exposure."


In Atlantic City, there has been a standoff.  Card counters are allowed to play, but the house is allowed to use defensive measures like shuffling after every deal,  or restricting variation in bet sizes (the counters' main tactic). It is in Las Vegas, however, where things get sticky.

Card counting, in and of itself, is not illegal. (Using a "device" such as a computer to do so is a felony in Nevada, however). But casinos in Vegas are not willing to limit themselves, to "normal" defensive measures as in Atlantic City. Once a card counter is detected, they use extralegal measures like taking card counters to "back rooms" for harassment, followed by permanent explusion for the casino for "trespassing, all with the connivance of the local authorities. And following a successful "raid" by MIT students, casinos have hired detective agencies to spy on incoming classes of MIT students. Some casinos abroad will threaten deadly force against card counters. Even innocent, non-counting SUSPECTS (like MIT students or obvious "geeks") are often treated this way.

As in many Chinese cases, the accused have done nothing "illlegal." But they have violated an unwritten rule--that the house always wins.