Dealing With Toke Hustlers
Some casinos are very poorly run. It’s no coincidence that I play in a lot of these casinos. It’s also not a coincidence that degenerates who angle shoot by “helping” people win for a tip also play in a lot of these places.
I’m usually the biggest action in these types of places, so I encounter these people on a fairly regular basis. They like to watch others gamble because if these gamblers win big, they may be able to hustle a tip from them. They are sick gamblers and are just looking for money to get their gambling fix because they already lost.
It’s sad that these people even exist, but they do. If you play professionally, or for high stakes in general, you’ll encounter these degenerate gamblers. I call them “degens” for short. Degens are not to be confused with the attractive female toke hustlers found in more upscale casinos in Las Vegas, which are a whole other topic that I’ll cover another time. For now, I’m talking solely about people who are casino regulars who have lost all their money and are desperate to play. They have probably been tipped many times before by other gamblers. They are desperate, and they are addicted.
I believe the degen situation is much more of a pain to deal with on any type of machine game, as opposed to table games. This is because you’re not playing with other players, or a pit crew, or a dealer. You may not want anyone in the casino to know how much you’re up, what you’re betting, or what you’re doing, so the presence of degens playing the role of your friend in order to extract tips is a problem. Immediately stopping any back-and-forth with these types is key in all situations, but it is especially so in solo situations.
Let’s say you’re jamming away on Kitty Glitter for a slot promo because it’s a great play that day and you like cats. The machine has a lot of credits on it, and this has attracted the attention of the degen.
Degen: “hey there, mind if I watch?”
You: “Yes, I do. I’m losing my ass here and I need to concentrate. I can’t seem to line up the three calicos. Please don’t bother me.”
Don’t even look at them and try to sound as irritated as possible. This may or may not work to get rid of this person but it’s far better than the worst thing you can do, which is to engage them. A firm but non-aggressive “no” is mandatory. A follow-up explanation may not be necessary, but it usually won’t hurt.
Why not just tell this person to go beg somewhere else and leave you F alone? That may also work, but when I’m in a casino I want to go undetected. I don’t want any attention, I don’t want a scene. These degens are sick, desperate, and unstable individuals with nothing to lose. They likely gambled all of their money away and are desperate for a few more bucks to play their favorite game. There’s no telling what they might do if you get overly confrontational with them.
If a firm “no” and subsequent cold shoulder doesn’t work, I suggest cashing out and going to a different part of the casino. Or, if you need to play a particular machine or bank of machines, take a break for a bit and come back, and they will have likely moved on. If leaving is not an option, reiterate that you don’t want to be bothered. Blaming losses on the degen is another option (“You’re really unlucky—I’ve been losing ever since you came around. Please leave.”).
On table games, the same rules apply. Don’t engage degens, don’t allow them to sit in an empty seat next to you, and if asked about observing, say something like, “no, I don’t like being watched, and I need to focus—please don’t interrupt me.” If that doesn’t work, even a poorly-run casino’s pit boss will likely intervene if someone not playing is harassing the big action on the floor. Feel free to ask a pit boss to put a stop to it.
Casinos are interesting places. They’re where I make my living, but they’re also where a lot of seedy people hang out and/or make a living. Unwanted interactions with these types is a bit of an occupational hazard. Having a plan to deal with these interactions is key to not letting someone ruin your play or cost you money due to their own gambling addiction.