Live Poker Safety Tips
Poker players lead a fairly risky lifestyle and not just at the card table. For a poker player to do their job, they use money as a tool. Unfortunately, carrying this tool in and out of live card games renders poker players something of a target in the eyes of thieves.
Here are our tips for mitigating the risk associated with participating in live poker games:
Avoid Illegal Games
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Illegal live poker games exist in all corners of the world. These games are huge marks for criminals looking to make a quick score or for police looking to turn over an accomplishment to their superiors. Playing in illegal live poker games is just stupid. Even if you completely trust the person running the game, it doesn't mean the game is immune to being held-up or busted.
No matter how bad the competition is, no illegal live poker game is +EV enough to accept the risk of being robbed or ticketed for participation. An underground poker game is a stupid place to attempt to do business.
There's no reason to take your entire bankroll to the casino. Bankroll management 101 dictates that you would never need your whole roll for a single session. Before leaving your home or hotel for a live poker game, make a reasonable estimate for the most amount of money you might need for that game and leave the rest in the safe. Leaving the house with your whole roll and no plan is a recipe for disaster.
Carry Cash and Valuables in Front Pocket
Front pockets are harder to pick-pocket than back-pockets, cargo pants pockets, or jacket pockets. Keep your most valuable items such as cash, passport, chips, credit cards, etc in your front pocket. When walking through crowds and unknown areas, keep your hands in your pockets on your belongings for assurance against them being lost.
Ride in Marked Taxis Only
In many parts of the world, unmarked taxi cars present a risk to travelers. If you are offered a ride from someone posing as a taxi driver, use common sense. If there exists any doubt as to whether the individual offering you a ride is a licensed taxi operator, say no thanks and seek out legitimate transportation.
Register Your Piles of Cash
When traveling by flight, there exists limits to the amount of unclaimed cash you may travel with on your person. However, there is very little downside to declaring your piles of loot with the proper authorities prior to traveling. If you are carrying more than $10,000 onto a flight, it's hardly an inconvenience to fill out the proper paperwork declaring this money. The alternative is having to guard against being discovered with the money upon which it could be temporarily seized or confiscated while investigators pry into your motives. Don't take shortcuts when traveling with money; do the sensible thing.
Use ATMs in Casinos
A nice alternative to carrying an excess of cash to your next casino poker trip is to just hit up an ATM at the casino. Plan in advance with your bank to ensure that your daily withdrawal limits are sufficiently large enough to accommodate your plan to get cash at a casino. Additionally, use only ATMs in highly trafficked areas with security cameras. Banks and casinos are fine places to use an ATM. The back alley convenience store is not. Many ATMs in areas unprotected by surveillance cameras are susceptible to scammers who install card-readers to steal your personal information during a transaction.
Use a Lock Box
If you grind at the same poker room on a regular basis or are spending more than a few days at a single poker room, consider leasing a cash box with the casino's cage. For a nominal fee, you can secure your money behind a protected cage immediately following a live poker session. Taking it a step further, consider wiring money to your next live poker venue in lieu of carrying money there yourself. Almost any poker room in the world will accommodate your request to wire money ahead of your trip. The peace of mind that your money is secure and out of your personal responsibility while traveling is worth the few dollars it costs to send it ahead.
Use Common Sense
Finally, use common sense when participating in live poker games.
•If the self-parking area is poorly lit or unguarded, valet park your car.
•Travel with a friend and look out for one another.
•Don't flash your gangster roll in public.
•Trade in chips for cash before leaving the casino; chips are a lot easier to misplace.
•Don't walk around alone at night especially in unknown areas.
•Don't loan money to strangers regardless of how harmless their request might seem.
•When asked by strangers what you're traveling for, just say you're in town for a convention.
•Make use of the safe in your hotel room; discard envelope containing room key which indicates your room number.
Playing live poker doesn't have to be a particularly dangerous activity. Take a few extra minutes to make sensible precautions to avoid placing yourself in a situation where you might be viewed as a target.