"My handshake automatically means a blacklist" — an interview with Dmitry Lesnoy

Интервью с Дмитрием Лесным

The kazino-game24.online editors continue their series of interviews with people whose profession is connected with the world of iGaming. Today, the main character of the publication will be Dmitry Lesnoy, the founder of the first poker school in the Russian Federation, a casino player, the president of the Sports Poker Federation, and the author of a series of books.

I want to give an interview

— » since the 90s. Has your attitude changed now? Or do they recognize and love in the same way?

— Well, as for “love”, I can’t say definitely, but such episodes testify to what they learn: the meeting place cannot be changed - we usually meet in a casino . I come to some institution in Northern Cyprus - there is a team of professional players from Kharkov. Seeing me - scattered. Yes, I myself would not approach them, realizing that my handshake automatically means a blacklist. I myself have a blacklist (prohibition to play) in almost all casinos in Northern Cyprus. And the guys came to play. Why should they lose such an opportunity? Somewhere on the side, in a restaurant, we communicate with great pleasure.

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Same in Monte -Carlo. You go into a poker club - a lot of tables where $100-200 and more are played. If you see ours, he already gives the “go-ahead” - a characteristic gesture - do not come near. He wants to be considered an amateur.

Основатель первой покерной школы в РФ
Dmitry Lesnoy

— What does gambling mean to you?

— I tried to formulate and define this term in my Gambling House Encyclopedia. Strong excitement, enthusiasm, enthusiasm, ardor, passion. In a game, this is such a state of a person when he does not notice anything but the process, strives to win in a state of strong excitement.

Выступление на конференции
Lesnoy at a poker conference

Gambling is a kind of entertainment, in which the winnings depend mainly on chance, luck, and to a much lesser extent on the skill of the participant. It is no coincidence that in the old days gambling was called fatal or courageous games. The first legislative division into gambling and non-gambling can be considered the Roman law Lex aleatori. In Russia, the first qualification of entertainment for gambling (prohibited) and "permissive" or "powerful" is found in the decree of Elizabeth Petrovna of June 16, 1761

European legislation distinguishes between Games of Chance and Games of Skill. But we, as a rule, do not care about "Western values". Although, of course, in vain. We can recall the precedent with the criminal prosecution of the Concord Card Casino in Vienna. The accusation of illegal games fell apart after it turned out that they only offered poker, and poker was Game of Skill.

— What are the consequences of gambling? Perhaps there is a difference for different segments of the population due to the difference in income and opportunities?

— The vast majority of people who gamble end up with a negative mathematical expectation. And that means most of them lose. In some disciplines, for example, in roulette and slot machines, the advantage for the participant is unattainable. Others, such as blackjack, poker Oasis, give you the microscopic edge that the pros use.

So the key is to understand what you're doing and what the consequences might be. If this is entertainment for you, select the amount that you are willing to spend on this leisure. Do you go to a restaurant, a circus, a theater or an amusement park with children - and you do not expect profit from this trip?

- About money given on loan. How do you feel about loans and credits during the game?

— The player's experience is like human wisdom. It is not limited to a set of rules and principles. Wisdom reveals itself in situations. A man in a casino comes up to you: "Lend a hundred." What do you usually do?

Personally, I gave away these "cells" a lot. In half of the cases - no return. Although I have long known the “precepts of Nekrasov” and I myself believe that lending money before a game is a bad omen. And I am convinced that my service is a disservice.

Игра в покер
Dmitry Lesnoy at the poker table

However, how not to give when a good friend asks? Or, when a less fortunate neighbor on the table turns, one might say, a comrade-in-arms, and this cell is only 5% of your winnings ...

In pre-revolutionary Russia, the attitude towards gambling debts was different. According to the court, it was invalid, as was the debt taken for the game, provided that the giver knew that the money was taken for the game. The legislative act states that "fathers and mothers of children who are not separated to pay for them card debts are innocent" and "the data from these last bills and mortgages are considered invalid."

Personally, I see such a difference between money lost and money borrowed : when you lose by a certain number and do not give back, you put your partner in unequal conditions. He would have paid if he had lost, not you. He knows that he would definitely give, no matter what the cost (debt of honor). And he is offended that you seem to take him for a fool.

And when you lend money, you do it voluntarily. And you yourself bear all the possible risks: that the debtor may “fall under the tram” or not repay for other reasons. Therefore, by refusing a person who asks for a loan, you seem to demonstrate to him your attitude towards his decency (if he is a professional player). And if you see that he just got smeared and is already “spreading off-road”, then it’s better to find a plausible excuse and break his game, make him quit.

Two cases from this series come to mind. The participants were Dmitry Lesnoy and Lev Natanson, as well as their friend Pavlik Portnoy.

The first case.Dmitry arrived at the Kosmos casino and saw Pavlik drunk and sitting at the blackjack table. His first line was: "Oh! Hello Dimul! Give me a hundred, please. The author, without going into special reasoning, answered very briefly: “Sorry, Pavlusha, it’s stressful with money.” And he didn't give any money.

Much later, Pavlik explained his feelings at that moment and his further reflections: “At first there was a feeling that I had doused with water. It's like he just sent it. It was only later that I realized how wise that was. Anyway, I would have squandered everything that was. And then this debt would put pressure on me. There would be a moral issue. And not only moral, because I really could not afford to lose even the money that was in my pocket. Not to mention a larger amount"

The second case.Ambassador Casino. Lev asks Pavlik for money, having lost all the $500 he had with him without a trace. At the same time, he also abused alcohol. Pavlik, who remembered a long discussion with Dmitry - both about the wisdom of the Russian legislator and about a disservice - refused.

The reaction is the same - an insult. In his heart, Leo went home, took all the cash that was in the house, went to the Treasure Island casino and won $ 3,000 - the biggest win, if not in his entire life, then at least recently.

I had to spend a lot time, explaining the nuances of Pavlik's experiences, forced to refuse a man whom he deeply respected, because it looked like a more correct decision. It turned out that such a decision also brought good - the casino changed, maybe time has passed. This is the will of chance, of course, but everything in the world is highly interconnected.

— How do you feel about the regulation of gambling. Many countries, including the Russian Federation, have introduced relevant laws. How important is this?

— Of course, gambling should be regulated by the state. But we need clear rules established by the government to ensure comfort and protection for all participants in the process: business, players, the state (with its fiscal interests). However, in reality, we see that the state cares about its own interests most of all.

As a result, it is not very convenient for me, as a player, to travel to a gambling zone thousands of kilometers away whenever I want to play. And the organizers of the casino in Azov City turned out to be completely unprotected from the arbitrariness of the state when it was decided to move the casino to Sochi. And they have already spent a lot of money.

— What should be changed in the laws of the Russian Federation in order to stimulate the gambling business?

— I'm not sure that it should be "stimulated". But, if there is a demand - an indestructible desire of people to play - it is necessary to develop simple and understandable rules. And moderate the appetites - both of business and the state.

Обучение игре
At the poker school

— Why do some states not consider the gambling business profitable? This is a stable replenishment of the budget. It is clear that there is criticism of this niche among the population. But is it possible to make it so that low-income people do not suffer from it?

—It is impossible! The worse the financial situation of a person, the stronger his desire to escape from poverty, "grab the firebird by the tail." This desire was the basis for the success of all kinds of lotteries (including state ones, with their predatory rules for the formation of the prize fund), "inflated companies", pyramids.

One of the tasks of the state is to protect its citizens from unscrupulous businessmen. But the state, unfortunately, cares little about its citizens, and thinks more about self-interest.

— European licenses cover dozens of countries. Licensing authorities receive millions of dollars for issuing permits. Is it possible to create something similar in the Russian Federation: a non-state or state body that will enter the jurisdiction of at least the former CIS countries, Asia? Maybe you are the one who can create an initiative?

— I definitely won't initiate anything like that. But in the digital world, such a goal is achieved elementarily. Up to a penny, the amount of money that the player has contributed, his winnings or losses, and the income of the institution are known. Propose a way to distribute these cash flows fairly and you will line up a line of license applicants! Even those who already have a license from another country will come. Online business certification is important. We now have a lot of offices that are scams. And who checks their honesty? Looking for independent labs? How to organize this?

At one time, when the Federation of Sports Poker of Russia was functioning, I wrote the terms of reference for the Antishuler program (as we called it). It was part of preparations for licensing large online poker clubs operating in the Russian Federation.

The task was twofold: firstly, to make sure the software was honest, and secondly, to check how the club fights unscrupulous players ( collusion game) — with lappers, etc.

I would not like to reveal the secrets and know-how of the algorithms of this program, but there is no doubt that we have found quite effective methods to combat cheating, both from sites and by unscrupulous players.

В ресторане
Lesnoy in the kitchen of the restaurant

We planned to offer applicants for a Russian license to pass a test on our "polygraph". First of all, we could be convinced of their own conscientiousness. And secondly, to identify a group of nicknames in respect of which the program would express suspicions. In the future, the club could use our services to ensure the fairness of the game. I think it would be in their interests.

— Let's remember Novy Arbat in the 90s. Now there are only boutiques and restaurants. Do you miss Moscow Las Vegas?

— Of course I miss you. Moscow casinos were a kind of clubs where you could meet friends, spend time talking (not necessarily playing). These clubs were unsurpassed in terms of comfort, quality of cuisine, the ability to rent a room if a friend came from another city. When Moscow casinos were closed, a problem arose - where to meet.

If you make an appointment at a restaurant, an hour later the waiter begins to cough, asking: “Will you order something else?”. And we just haven’t seen each other for a long time, we want to communicate, drink tea. One could spend time in the casino all day long.

— How does the Russian gambling business differ from the foreign one? Here you don't mean laws, namely organization, consulting?

—In terms of organization, Moscow casinos were the best in the world! First, the variety of games. So many varieties of poker against the casino could not be found anywhere else - neither in Las Vegas, nor in Monte Carlo. The competition between the casinos prompted the owners to invent new incentives, bonuses, and good rules for the players. Every day draws, lotteries, concerts with the participation of stars...

And what a cuisine! Arkady Arkanov, who lived on the Arbat, went to dine at the Crown casino almost every day. He liked to play slot machines and management (I suspect) set him up with a 1% or even 0% return. But what an advertisement! You go into the casino - Arkady Arkanov sits and wins.

Фото казино
Cosmos Casino in Moscow in 2006

In the "Crown" it was arranged like this: 1% of the amount of money exchanged at the cash desk went to the card casino, which could be paid in a restaurant. I had so much money on the card that you will not spend it in a lifetime. I brought the delegates of the Poker in Russia Conference to dinner at Korona to show how guests should be treated. Table for 10 people with caviar, white and red fish, julienne and other delicacies. Expensive drinks, excellent hot. I see that my guests got nervous - they offered to participate in paying the bill. I proudly refused and signed the bill with my gold card. But, since the purpose of the visit was educational, I showed them the bill - 3,000 rubles for everything about everything! The money on the account was debited from the card, I left 5000 for tea to the waiter.

And what a show! Suffice it to recall Strip-Jack, which was hosted by the unsurpassed Valera Zakutsky at the Korona casino. The show attracted crowds of people - a girl-model was handing out blackjack, who took off a piece of clothing every time she lost. The player also played “for stripping”.

— How beneficial do you think it is for people and the state to legalize casinos and poker rooms on the Internet? Rather, it is correct, but not profitable! The United States, for example, initially banned everything, and now they are expanding opportunities for gambling. Maybe the experience of "dry law" remember?

— Speaking of online poker in the US, it's good to remember the history of the issue. The first poker clubs like Paradise PokerPartypoker operated in the United States with a dubious license from the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, an Indian reservation in Canada. About 70% of the income of these companies was brought by American players. The US government received nothing. Naturally, this state of affairs did not suit them.

In 2006, online gambling was banned. Moreover, the ban was included in the law on the protection of seaports and countering terrorism - this is so as not to enter into disputes with the powerful gambling lobby.

Now one state after another legalizes online gambling. But at the same time, they limit the ability to accept residents of other states into the pool of players. For business, this is detrimental (the more players, the more diverse the games). But, probably, legislators prevent the flow of money to another state in this way - so that New Yorkers do not beat New Jersey residents. But I hope common sense will prevail over time.

With today's technical capabilities, it is quite possible to create a system in which all player data would be taken into account, and income and taxes could be proportionally transferred to the budgets of the relevant jurisdictions .

— Have you thought about creating your own online poker room that will operate legally in gambling zones? The law regulates this ambiguously - it seems it is possible and it seems impossible. There is no legal practice, of course.

— The Internet is extraterritorial. Being registered in the gambling zone, the club will start attracting players from other regions. As far as I know,PokerStars has full halls in Sochi tournaments as satellites. Everyone is happy - both the regional administration and the owners of premises in Krasnaya Polyana, but there are problems with the license. As for my personal plans, they were during the existence of the Poker Federation. Now it's in the past. Bingo, lotteries - in every bookmaker's office in Russia. These are the same slot machines, but slightly veiled. The gambling business finds a way out. Why wasn't poker legalized? After all, this is an intellectual game.

Yes, I am surprised by the slyness of businessmen - to show on TVa slot machine and offer to bet that three cherries will fall . And "work" under the banner of a bookmaker. But, apparently, they know how to grease the wheels of their cart. But poker has not yet learned.

- How do you feel about the fact that the lottery machine is different from the slot? Knowing mathematics, and especially the theory of probability, can they be legally equalized? Of course, there are unspoken limitations.

— Fundamentally, the lottery drum is no different from a slot machine. But some activities are allowed, while others are prohibited. Who decides? Official. This has been the custom in Russia since time immemorial. Even under Catherine II, games were divided into gambling (prohibited) and power (allowed). The prerogative to classify this or that game as gambling belonged to the Minister of the Interior.

And so it is with everything! For example, I've been running a poker school for over 20 years. He has written and translated many books. But if you open a legal poker school, the official asks: "Do you have a poker teaching diploma?" I am not kidding. When we in the Federation planned to develop poker at the state level, I had to open a department at the Institute of Physical Education, where judges (tournament directors), instructors, poker teachers would be trained.

When I started "provocative" conversations with officials of the Ministry sports, I said: there is some kind of sport, for example, running or javelin throwing. This sport arose long before the appearance of the Ministry of Sports of the Russian Federation. Will it cease to be a sport if the Ministry of Sports does not recognize it? They answer: “You have wrong ideas about what is a sport and what is not. According to Russian law, sport is an activity entered in the Register of Sports.”

Покерная раздача
Dmitry deals cards at a poker school

Same problems in science, art, education, healthcare. If I treat people without having a doctor's diploma and the appropriate permit, my activity is criminally punishable.

The loto drum and the slot machine are not the biggest problem in Russia.

— You mentioned the poker school. Your school is the oldest in Russia. How did you come up with the idea to open it?

— Friends asked for an educational program. By that time, I had already translated Sklansky-Malmuth's book "Texas Holdem for Advanced Players", started preparing lectures, composing tasks.

— Did you start right away from the Internet or initially offline?

— Offline . This happened at the Kosmos casino in Moscow. I must pay tribute to the management of the casino, which supported all my undertakings. My students got excellent service, free food and drink.

— Can anyone be taught to play poker profitably? Some people don't have math skills. What should they do?

— A gardener can take care of a tree - water it, hill it up, protect it from pests... But the tree must grow by itself. In addition to mathematical ability (and poker math is not that difficult), many other qualities are important: perseverance, observation, ability to concentrate, the will to win, discipline, the hunter's instinct (killing instinct, as I called it).

Были у меня такие ученики, которым я не рекомендовал продолжать покерную карьеру. Если уж так сильно любишь играть — играй для удовольствия.

— You are a well-known person in your circles, a poker legend! But you are not difficult to find, you can call. You are open to communication. Not tired of questions and attention?

- Remember the old joke? empire state building. The visitor approaches the elevator. An elevator operator is standing there - a livery grandfather in a uniform cap. He presses the elevator button. The doors open, the elevator operator pushes another one, the lattice doors, lets the visitor go forward, enters himself. - Which floor? - 101st. The elevator man closes the lattice doors, presses the button for the 101st floor. The elevator begins to move.

—Tell me, dear, — the visitor is trying to pass the time, — is this how you ride up and down all day? Those are big pressure drops! At your age! How do you feel?

— Nothing, thanks, it's fine.

— What's the most unpleasant thing about your job?

— You know, sir, questions! Exceptionally stupid questions...

This is a joke. Seriously, don't get bored! This is my life. And I love it.

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— One piece of advice those who work in the gambling industry? And for those who are going?

— You can! And not alone.

I know some great poker and casino game players. They started out as dealers. But they were thoughtful about what was happening at the gaming table, and they themselves became extra-class professionals. I won't name them, in case they don't like it. But if they recognize themselves in this material, I would like to say that their path is worthy of respect.

I remember such a case: I talked with two girls, they both worked as dealers in a casino. I learned from them that all the players went through their casinos under offensive nicknames. In the girls' stories about the players, there was contempt and a sense of superiority - they were "meat" for them. I was offended to hear this.

I read Baudelaire's "Flowers of Evil" to them:

Under the dirty ceiling, from chandeliers that have not been washed for a long time

A yellow light falls on piles of silver,

On the gloomy foreheads of famous poets,

To whom the game costs in sweat and blood.

I said to these girls: “Imagine that in front of Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoevsky is sitting with you. Loses the last money. You are the personification of fate for him. Isn't it interesting to watch? You have such an enviable profession - you can tell a lot about the people opposite.

Thanks for an interesting interview!

I want to give an interview

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