I have two distinct lives. One in the trenches of low-budget film and television, the other in professional gambling. Because of the feast-or-famine nature of show business I need a reliable income... gambling. So here you will read about both worlds. Enjoy!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Disguise Part 2

In part one I talked about some disguises that didn't work, and a few that did. The bottom line is that everyone I know gave up on them because they were too much of a hassle. Now I want to talk about the things you can do that are more practical. Here are the things to work with: Hair, facial hair, hats, glasses, clothes, physicality, and a few random extras.

First I want to make special mention of your home casino. If you have a home casino you probably spend tons of hours there. When you eventually get backed off there, (which will happen if you are a winning player) it will take a very long time for them to forget you. Do not be the guy who is everyone's friend, the guy who knows every dealer, and boss, and how many kids they have, and what their hobbies are. That guy they are never going to forget even if you come dressed as a Klingon. If you are a guy who keeps his head down, and never talks to anyone you will have a chance of coming back in a year with a change of look. Especially if you avoid certain bosses and dealers.

Hair is your biggest asset since it can be changed the most, and has a big effect on your look. You can play with the length, (from completely bald to "get a job, hippie.") color, and texture. Perms can be a hassle, but once they are done they last quite a while. I think hair that obscures part of your face is much better than long hair pulled back in a ponytail. When it comes to facial hair I think more is better. A thin mustache doesn't change your look much, but a full beard can change the shape of your jaw or chin, and hide a lot about your face.

There is some controversy regarding hats. Some people claim they bring extra heat. Here is my answer - tough. Maybe it is true, but whatever slight amount of heat you avoid without a hat is greatly overshadowed by the difference in the picture they take of you. Have you ever watched surveillance footage on the news? Do you want your flier to look like the first guy, or the second?
By the way - wearing a hat backwards is the same as no hat at all.

By the way, it doesn't have to be a baseball cap. Nothing wrong with these looks in a casino.

Hats should be as nondescript as possible. There is a big difference when one boss tells another, "Hey, watch for a guy in a red hat with Bugs Bunny on it." versus, "Hey, watch for a guy in a black hat." Once you have had any heat in a particular hat get rid of it.

Speaking of nondescript, I ran into an AP in Las Vegas on 3 separate occasions. All three times he was wearing the same shirt. The shirt was meant to be ironic, but it is very memorable. First of all, I hope he does a lot of laundry, and second this is a really bad idea. Anything that makes you memorable is bad. I'm sure if I wrote here what it said on his shirt I would get several emails saying, "I know that guy." Actually, I will probably get several without revealing what it said.

When it comes to glasses bigger is better.

Wear glasses like this and they will remember the glasses, not the face.

What if you knew that sometime in the future the casino was going to take your picture, and distribute it? You do not that! If you are any kind of serious player it is just a matter of time. Have you prepared? You know this is going to happen, so how are you going to change your look? Once you realize this it is kind of liberating, and you can do some serious planning. Every time you walk into a casino it should be with the idea that "today they are going to take my picture."  I believe that it is a bigger change if you remove things than add them. You can cut your hair and beard in an hour; you can't grow them back quickly. I would try to grow as much hair as possible, add a hat and big glasses, and when the eventual flier comes, take it all off.

Go from this...
To this.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I always argue against using a players card. All this discussion is mute if you let them scan your ID into their computer when you got that players card, because now they have a full frontal photo of your FACE in the computer from that scan! I hope the free buffet was worth it.

When it is time to change your look remember to change your whole persona, not just your hair, hat, and glasses. If you used to look like a poker scrub then the new look should maybe be business suit. You should also consider your posture, and mannerisms at the table. Try to change those along with the look, and make sure to get rid of any distinctive jewelry. More than one AP has been picked off by a distinctive watch or ring.

Have you ever seen a friend from behind, but you know it is him by the way he walks? Think about changing your walk. In acting classes they teach you to alter your gait by imagining a rope attached to different parts of your body. We have all seen guys who look like they are being pulled forward by their chest; imagine instead the rope was attached to your chin, or your hips.

Here are a few random extra ideas. These include casts, bandages, and fake tatoos. Imagine you are recruited to be a big player for a large team for a weekend. You know that you will be betting huge amounts of money, and you will play until barred. You will get massive exposure, so you want something that will make you look as different as possible so when it is over you still will be able to play. I would consider something drastic. Maybe a fake face tatoo, or a large bandage on one side of my forehead. Obviously you need a story to go with the bandage, but that is no problem. Most people see others in generalities: the guy with the cast, or the guy with the tatoo on his face. A month later when those things are gone you will be hard to recognize.

Note to my female readers. Women have a lot of advantages in the changing looks department. Since I am not a woman I'm sure you already know far more about how to go about what works for you.

I hope some of these ideas have been helpful, and as always I welcome your feedback.

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