If you own a casino, a woman known as Miss Brown ranks among your worst nightmares. And you treat her that way. Over the last 10 years, she's been tossed from gambling joints, tackled by security guards, charged with trespassing, handcuffed in back rooms, relentlessly interrogated, arrested, and relieved of her hard-won earnings. She doesn't cheat, but she does play in a manner that casinos despise: using more advanced, so-called advantage-playing techniques that have won her some $3 million since 2006.
Largely raised in Nevada by a casino dealer mom and a dad who, lore has it, dabbled in some bookmaking, Brown, now 38, first played slot machines and video poker with her aunt at 15. After a short run at UNLV, extra work in movies like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, a stint playing guitar in casino-lounge funk bands, and too many lost nights on ecstasy, she decided to follow in her mother's footsteps and become a dealer.
When mom suggested that her daughter might do better as a card counter, Miss Brown ignored the suggestion. It wasn't until a few years later, in 2003, after a fellow dealer announced that he was quitting to card-count blackjack and take a shot at poker, that Miss Brown remembered the motherly advice. She figured that if he could do it, she could as well. She stocked up on instructional books, taught herself to beat casinos, and got to work. It went well -- at least before it went off the rails. Here she is, in her own words: