Generally speaking, gamblers and lawyers don’t often have much in common. The same cannot be said of attorney Robert “Bob” Nersesian J.D. , who’s built an extremely successfully law practice by suing casinos for abusing blackjack card counters and advantage players. His contributions to improving the landscape for professional players have been so profound that he earned a place in the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2013.
A Well Educated Man
Bob may not be a mathematical savant or technical wizard like the rest of his Hall of Fame buddies, but his ability to study and retain information is uncanny. As a legal eagle, he can recite with ease just about any piece of legislation surrounding false imprisonment and civil rights violations.
Nersesian has an extensive educational background that spans seven years. After graduating high school, he enrolled in the University of Michigan in 1976. Shortly after, Bob transferred to Northern Michigan University, where he studied economics for two years.
Then in 1978, he moved on to Western Michigan University, finishing with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics, Marketing, Pre-Law and Sociology. Bob wasn’t done yet, though. He continued studying at WMU for three more years, long enough to earn a BBA in Economics and Pre-Law in 1982.
At the same time, Nersesian was attending Wayne State University in Detroit, where he completed his professional doctorate with a professional graduate degree in law, earning him the esteemed title of Juris Doctor (J.D.)
In 1986, after passing the Nevada State Bar Exam, Bob entered a joint venture with Thea Sankiewicz, launching their own law firm, aptly named Nersesian and Sankiewicz. Their office can be found at 528 South 8th Street in Las Vegas, NV.
Lawyer for the Players
With a prime location in the heart of Sin City, what better way to garner clients than by focusing on a growing problem throughout Las Vegas? After being approached by advantage players who claimed to have been wrongfully imprisoned and/or abused by casino security, Nersesian chose to specialize in that particular avenue of the law. It’s done wonders for his career, as well as the overall casino environment for his categorical range of clientele.
Bob has played a key role in countless cases of this nature, where professional blackjack players were “back roomed” after being suspected of counting cards and/or using computer devices to gain an advantage over the house. While using any type of assisting device is clearly illegal, counting cards is not.
The State of Nevada has declared on three separate occasions that there is nothing illegal about counting cards. However, it’s also a known fact that casinos do have the right to refuse service to any patron, so long as they follow apposite protocol.
In the majority of Nersesian’s cases, it’s the treatment of his clients that garners the favor of the court system. In many cases his clients have been falsely imprisoned, either carted off to the Clark County Detention Center without sufficient cause or held against their will for prolonged periods of time in the backroom of a casino; or sometimes both. In rarer (and generally older) cases, players have been physically abused by casino staff and/or police officers.
James Grosjean vs Imperial Palace, Caesars Palace, Griffin Investigations
One of the most famous cases ever handled by the team of Nersesian and Sankiewicz was that of another Blackjack Hall of Famer, James Grosjean. In 2005, Grosjean retained Nersesian’s services in pursuit of litigation against two Las Vegas casinos, Imperial Palace and Caesars Palace, and their hired Security team, Griffin Investigations.
The case stemmed from incidents that occurred in 2000.
First, on Easter Sunday, Grosjean and his fellow advantage-playing friend, Michael Russo, were detained by the staff of Caesars Palace for 5 excruciating hours before police decided to haul them to jail. Neither Grosjean nor Russo were ever charged with any specific crime, yet Russo spent 1 day in jail, while Grosjean was held for 5 days.
A few weeks later, James entered Imperial Palace. He immediately noticed heat from the casino and turned to leave without even playing, but the exit was blocked by security who handcuffed and detained Grosjean in a back-room holding cell. During his involuntary stay, Grosjean said he was interrogated, threatened and physically mistreated.
Nersesian handled the case against Imperial Palace first, where a combination of punitive damages, actual damages and legal fees earned James Grosjean $399,999 after a favorable court ruling. Bob then took on Caesars Palace and Griffin Investigations, again winning the case and awarding his clients, Grosjean and Russo, enough money to put Griffin out of business for good.
Beat The Players: Casinos, Cops and the Game Inside the Game
The following year, Bob Nersesian published his manifesto, Beat The Players: Casinos, Cops and the Game Inside the Game (2006). Notably, the publishing company was Pi Ye Press, founded by another Blackjack Hall of Fame inductee and author of over a dozen gambling strategy guides, Stanford Wong.
Nersesian’s text is considered a must-read for any professional blackjack player, teaching them exactly how to react and respond when casinos put on the heat. His transcribed legal advice has helped countless card counters and advantage players avoid sticky situations.
For casinos who don’t follow protocol in these circumstances, many gamblers who’ve followed Bob’s advice were able to stay calm, put on a perfect performance and sue the pants off the casinos that mistreated them.
Blackjack Hall of Fame
Although he doesn’t consider himself to be a professional blackjack player by any means, Bob does hit the blackjack tables on occasions. Living in Las Vegas and dealing with casino-related cases on a regular basis, who wouldn’t? But for the legal eagle, it’s not something he considers himself good at.
“I put casino executives’ kids through college” he joked once in a podcast interview with fellow Blackjack Hall of Famer Richard Munchkin.
But alas, you don’t have to win millions at the tables to be respected by peers of the blackjack community. It was all of Nersesian’s contributions to the profession—which surely did award him millions in his own right—that earned the esteem of the professional gambling community.
Bob Nersesian nearly earned his honorable induction with a nomination in 2011, but was beaten by Zeljko Ranogajec by just two votes. Two years later in 2013, Nersesian was bestowed his “just” rewards.