Secret shopping at the blackjack table

Mystery shopping at a casino can be a lot like the games played in one. There may be a great reward at the end, but it is also high in risk.

Mystery shopping at a casino can be a lot like the games played in one. There may be a great reward at the end, but it is also high in risk.

Like many other companies in the service industry, casinos rely heavily on mystery shopping services to evaluate their staff and ensure their games are being run as well as they possibly can. That means a specific focus on the dealers, who interact with clients on a regular basis and can be a determining factor if a casino guest has a pleasant time. Hiring secret shoppers can be a great way for a casino to gain a true understanding of how their dealers engage with gamblers.

Casinos go to elaborate lengths to make sure their gambling floors are secure, meaning they can track every customer inside at all times. Anyone standing out, even a little bit, will be watched closely. For a secret shopper who is there to gain information, while also trying to blend in with everyone else, a casino can be a tricky place to navigate.

So how should secret shoppers go about reviewing dealers, all while keeping their identity guarded in the super-secure world of casinos? Here are some ways to do it:

Memory trick
Casinos are in the business of taking customers' money under the guise of gambling. Players do have the chance to win big, but the odds generally favor the house. With that said, there are ways for players to tilt the advantage in their favor. In blackjack, counting cards and tracking a dealer's cues can be a great way to see what's coming next. Because those acts help the customer, most casinos have outlawed them.

The same bans apply to writing information down in notepads or on your cellphone. Casinos don't want you doing or remembering anything that could give you an edge. This can make secret shopping tricky, because it is important to remember names and specific details of your visit. Without writing things down, memorizing is the only way to ensure you store everything needed on your trip.

A Psychology Today study suggests using the "Method of Location" theory of memorization.

"Mental images are attached to certain locations in a three-dimensional space imagined in the mind's eye," the study said. "The idea is to use objects in a familiar area as anchor points or pegs for hanging the mental images of what you are trying to remember. Surveys of competitive memory 'athletes' reveal that 9 out of 10 use some kind of imagined location device."

Secret shoppers are used to studying their surroundings and familiarizing themselves with the details of a location. A casino is a difficult place to do this, because of all the hustle and bustle that takes place there, but it can be done with a sharp attention to detail. Nearly every mystery shopping report involves knowing the exact names of people you interacted with and places you went, so a shopper cannot afford to forget these things when on location.

Fitting In
A secret shopper who makes it obvious what they are doing isn't so secret, so blending in with the crowd is important. That means knowing proper casino etiquette, including gambling when it is your turn to do so.

Before taking on a secret shopper job at a casino, read the contract closely to know when you will be reimbursed. You may have to spend some money in order to make it back, as most contracts indicate shoppers will be paid at the completion of their assignment, not the beginning. It is nearly impossible to get a lengthy and genuine interaction with a casino employee without putting some money down on the table, so gambling is essentially a requirement when reviewing a casino.

It's also important to know the limit on how much you will be reimbursed for. If you have a max on how much you can spend, look for lower-value tables to gamble at. You don't want to spend your entire allotment in one hand and then have no funds left to gamble with. Of course there is still the chance you could hit blackjack and win big, in which case you will make even more money than expected from your trip.