Imagine being so good at the game of Blackjack that your face is known in most major Las Vegas casinos? There are many players who have become so successful that their faces are entered into security software that can identify them the moment they enter the building. Others are just well known by their abilities, becoming a sort of alternative celebrity. That is exactly the challenge faced by competitive Blackjack player Jimmy Pine.
Known throughout the world of professional card players, Pine is unwelcome at most casinos. He is frequently tracked upon entering and usually told to leave when he tries to enter into a hand of Blackjack. The casinos are happy to make an exception to their standard rules however when Pine is playing in any of the organized competitions such as the lucrative “World Series of Blackjack”.
Why is he so notorious? His skills at card counting are profound, and have allowed him to win vast amounts of money in tournament and professional play. For example, he frequently places and competes in the television series the “World Series of Blackjack”; he has won a one hundred thousand dollar jackpot in another competition, and has no need for a regular “day job”.
Pine is known to have been a professional singer whose resemblance to Tom Jones has brought him even more attention. His friends on the East Coast have given him the nickname of “Young Jimmy Dine” which is a pseudonym he is happy to frequently use. He is known for his animated mannerisms, his stocky figure and his disarming methods.
Currently he lives in Rhode Island and travels into Connecticut to play at the famous Mohegan Sun. He makes a point of cheering on the player, exalting in any victory against the “house” or casino by shouting out his own distinct catchphrase – “Pay the little man!” when he witnesses a player’s victory.
It is this attitude perhaps that has only added to his general lack of welcome in the professional gambling establishments and casinos. There have been years of controversy between the casinos and those they regularly ban from play, with dozens of lawsuits usually winning in favor of the player.
Laws generally do not allow discrimination against “professional” players or “advantage” tactics such as card counting, but that hasn’t stopped casinos from looking for ways to prevent the skilled players from sitting at the tables. States like Nevada can refuse to allow anyone to play, as long as federal discrimination laws are upheld, and this is how Pine and others like him are kept away from the tables, except for the televised programs (which bring attention and interest to the casinos who host them).
A significant issue for many large Nevada casinos however is having staff adequately trained to distinguish a card counter from a cheater. Most opt to rely on under trained staff and simply prevent the known, skilled Blackjack masters from taking seats at any of their tables.
If Jimmy Pine wants to make an unrestricted visit to any of the Las Vegas casinos he is going to have to do what many other like him have done – resort to disguises and costumes in order to play and win his game of choice.