Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Hell just froze over

Yep, I actually found something else I agree with Mason Malmuth about. Earlier I found myself in agreement with him about PPA (my feelings about Poker Players Alliance might be a little stronger than Mason's feelings about them.)

This time I'm in agreement with Mason about MGM's behavior in the Case of Nolan's 5k Chip. For those of y'all that haven't heard, Nolan Dalla tried to cash an MGM $5k chip that he'd gotten from a 3rd party. They wouldn't cash it. Nolan got upset about it. 2+2 magazine published an article by Nolan on the event. Mason commented that he agreed with MGM's behavior and thought Nolan should have known better.

Two Plus Two magazine only keeps it's stories online for a short time, so I'll quote liberally from it here.

To start with, Nolan was given the chip by someone he won't name in payment of a debt.

He went to the cage at the MGM Casino and handed them the chip. They asked what game he'd gotten the chip from.

He told them he did not get the chip from a gaming table, that he'd had it at home.

They asked why he had kept the chip at home.

He seems to have gotten really vague with them, avoiding telling them where he'd gotten the chip.
I do not come into the MGM very often. It’s been sitting there about a month or so, but I want to cash it since I’m here today.

Now, I don't know if he was intending to be vague. I'm guessing that he was thinking it was none of their business where he got the chips from. But such vagueness does tend to set off alarms among casino bosses, whether it's the pit or the cage. In the cage everyone is trained to be alert for signs of avoidance, not just the bosses. It's best to be straightforward with those critters.

The cashier asked if he was a player, he told them yes, but he didn't have his players card with him.

He gave them an id and they looked him up.

Mr. Dalla, I do not show that you have any recent table-game activity.

They still don't know where he got the chip. They're telling him that they don't think he got it from them and he's really not being responsive to that when he responds

Yes, that’s correct. But, I am an MGM customer. I play poker here, bet on sports, and play some video poker.

Well, he didn't get the chip at any of those places. The cashier gives up on Nolan and goes to consult with the cage boss.

The cashier comes back and they have a short exchange
Cage Manager: Sir, we have a problem. You say you did not get this from a gaming table here at the MGM?

Nolan Dalla: That’s correct. It’s been sitting at my home. I obtained the chip at the Bellagio Poker Room about a month ago from a friend.

He asks Nolan why they guy gave him the chip, and Nolan says it was a repayment for a debt and he thought such 3rd party chip tranfers were common and no big deal.

The cashier corrected on that thought -- telling him it was a big deal and asking him who the chip belonged to.

Now Nolan gets smart, not a good idea. "It belongs to me", he tells them.

They want to know where he got the chip. For example, did he get it from an MGM table games dealer? But Nolan isn't telling them. That's got to look bad from the cage point of view. What's Nolan trying to accomplish here?

They asked him again where he got the chip. Finally he tells them. They look up his friend and find that his friend hasn't been rated at an MGM table game in years.

Now things are looking bad for Nolan and his chip.

The cage confiscates the chip, refusing to cash it and refusing to return it. They give him a receipt for the chip.

Then Nolan says something which just isn't true. He says,
Let me be perfectly clear. I am an MGM customer. I produced a valid ID. I told you where I got the chip. In fact, I got it at another MGM property which has never refused to cash chips of this size. I have never heard of a licensed Nevada casino refusing to pay a customer.

He's being misleading when he says he got it at another MGM property (Belligio). Yes, he got it from there. But he didn't get it from them. They had nothing to do with the transaction between him and his friend and his mentioning the location is just a misdirection.

But that's not what just isn't true. The part about never having heard of refusing to pay is not true. There was a well publicized law suit against Becky Behnen and the Horseshoe that he's well aware of when they refused to cash a chip from some poker playing friends of her brother.

Maybe Nolan just forgot.

I'll finish this later.

Update: I fixed a typo, making an above clause read "he's really not being responsive" when I'd said he was responding.

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Blogger StB said...

Good to hear the whole story. None of the questioning by MGM has been talked about (from what I have seen).

Based on what Nolla has said and the history of the two players, I would think MGM should be doing their best to investigate on the origin of the chip.

Makes me wonder if there was something else the may have made them believe the check was a forgery.

12:57 PM  
Blogger Gary Carson said...

I've had a smaller casino quiz me about $100 chips. I don't understand how Nolan could have been surprised.

A dealer palming a chip and getting a friend to cash it in is not an uncommon event. Nolan has to know that and realize that his responses would have seemed evasive to them.

I'm not suggesting that Nolan had anything to do with stealing a chip, but it sure does seem to have a suspicious provenance.

Do you know who the other person is?

2:06 PM  
Blogger Drizztdj said...

He said he got it from the Belliago, one would stand to reason it was someone in a "Bobby's Room" game?

Do players at other games in that room regularly hold $5K chips?

12:13 PM  
Blogger StB said...

No clue who the other person is.

It got me to thinking about the book American Roulette by Richard Marcus. Not sure how much of his story is actually true (his claim is it is non-fiction), but he tells of his team redeeming big chips in small quantities weeks after they would hit a casino.

Doesn't take a rocket scientist to read the book and change some cage procedures.

12:53 PM  
Blogger Gary Carson said...


No, he didn't say he got it from the Belliago. That's part of his misdirection. He got it at the Billiagio. He got it from a friend, another player.

In the poker room, the parking lot, the street corner, it doesn't matter, he didn't get it from the Belliago and he didn't say that, but he did say things in such a way that a reader who wasn't following closely might misunderstand and read it like you did.

The guy's a professional writer, a professional PR writer. When his language uses misdirection I gotta think it's intentional.

9:01 PM  

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