If the chips fall against them, serious gamblers call Bob Nersesian.
The 58-year-old attorney is the go-to guy for card sharks who claim they’ve been roughed up or feel they’ve been cheated by the house. His clients are often well-versed in card counting, a practice he says is just skillful betting.
“It is not illegal and it is not cheating,” says Nersesian. (In 1982, a New Jersey state judge ruled as such.) “Card counting is nothing more than playing the game offered by the casino.”The Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas.Ph
A stocky, aggressive pit bull of a man, he has, over the past 21 years, spearheaded 70 such cases and won millions of dollars for gamblers. He details his legal exploits in his forthcoming book “The Law for Gamblers” (Huntington Press, March 31).
“Casinos everywhere like taking shots at ripping off players,” says Nersesian, who is based in Vegas but has taken on gambling dens in New Jersey and Connecticut. “[They] will detain players or not cash their chips for any reason imaginable.”
Nersesian says the laws vary from state to state as to whether or not a casino can kick a player out without cause, but that it’s always illegal not to redeem chips that have been legally won or to physically attack a patron unless it’s in the name of defense.
“Clearly, they don’t want certain people near their games,” he says.
“But if they offer a game to the community — and it’s their odds, equipment and rules — [how can] they exclude smart people from participating?
A few years ago, Nersesian helped a professional Atlantic City gambler who games under the name Keith Burks take on a casino. He was playing blackjack and smartly monitoring the deck when a floor supervisor came over and grabbed Burks’ cards.
“He killed the hand!” Burks recalls. “Things got heated. Security guards ended up tackling me and handcuffing me. I woke up Bob with a phone call.”
While the terms of Burks’ settlement are confidential, Nersesian says he’s won verdicts as high as $600,000 for gambler clients.Thom Kho
Thom Kho, a 24-year-old barber from Piscataway, NJ, hopes the attorney will be able to get him a six-figure sum.
Last summer, Kho, a skilled card counter, was playing blackjack at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas — the same gambling den that Ben Affleck was kicked out of in 2014 for card counting. Kho won nearly $6,000 his first two days in Vegas, and was actually losing on his third day, when a Hard Rock employee abruptly stopped him.
“Cash in your chips,” the casino suit said. “You’re done.”
The man demanded that the baby-faced Kho show his ID, and when Kho refused, because he’d already given it to the dealer earlier, he was handcuffed and bullied into a back room. A guard rifled through his cargo-short pockets and removed his wallet, cellphone, $3,625 in Hard Rock chips and an envelope containing nearly $30,000.
An hour or so later, Kho was released and given his possessions back, but the casino wouldn’t let him cash out the chips.
‘Casinos everywhere like taking shots at ripping off players.’ - Bob Nersesian
“Next morning, I called Bob,” Kho says.
When he told Nersesian what had happened, the lawyer laughed and said, “If they did exactly what you say, we can make a lot of money.”
Court papers have been filed and the case is ongoing.
Though Nersesian makes a handsome living from taking on casinos, he insists that there is more at stake than money.
“It’s about bringing thugs to justice,” he says.