213 Double Down

It’s the application of probability theory to a game …

Summary: A murder at a casino leads to money laundering and a surprising revelation about Larry.

Original air date:
January 13, 2006 (US)

Written by: Don McGill

Directed by: Alex Zakrzewski

Opening numbers:
52: Cards
186,184: Combinations
3: Players
1: Tell

Family Concepts (character development):

  • Larry had a gambling problem while he was in grad school near Atlantic City in 1984
  • Larry gambled to prove the power of mathematics
  • Charlie has guest lectured at Huntington Tech
  • Larry’s given name is Lawrence

Episode Quotes:

  • Alan: Once again my living room has become a CalSci annex … Your living room.
  • Alan: All those schmucks who play the game for fun, they think it’s cheating.
    Larry: Those are the same schmucks who should stick to slot machines.
  • Megan: Brandi … with an ‘I’.
  • Colby: Looks like a bunch of dad’s got separated from their families on the bus to Disneyland.
  • Amita: If I could be as vague and opaque as Larry …
  • Charlie: Can’t you just see this as field work?
    Larry: Unfortunately, it’s a poppy field.
  • Colby: Meanwhile, back at the parking lot …
  • Larry: Poker is for professional card players and under-employed celebrities.

Episode Synopsis:

A Russian immigrant student, Yuri, is murdered outside a Los Angeles card club.  In his car, David finds a duffle with several notebooks of equations.  Don shows the notebooks to Larry and Charlie and they determine the numbers are probability equations, though Larry doesn’t say at the time they are for card counting.

While looking at video surveillance at the club, Larry breaks up the FBI research to tell them about how he and some friends would use card counting in casinos in Atlantic City when they were in grad school.  It was a way to prove the power of math and intelligence over cameras and thuggery in Larry’s words.  Larry also points out two other people in the casino the night Yuri was killed and states they were part of a card counting team.

David and Colby run a check of student ID’s at Huntington Tech against the two identified in the surveillance tapes and find matches: Jason Brewer and Ignacio Nagal.  They go to Jason’s parents home and discover a mini casino in the guest house where Jason lives.  They also find more disguises and white boards with very complex counting schemes.  When Larry sees the white boards he’s reminded of his college days and one of his friends, Leonard who used a similar system and couldn’t walk away from gambling the way Larry could.

Don gets a call that Jason has been found, dead, in at a bus terminal and Leonard is ID’d as being with him before he died.  Leonard denies he killed anyone saying he was the boys’ teacher he could never do such a thing.  Looking at a notebook found in Jason’s back-pack, Larry and Charlie figure out that the kids were shuffle tracking as well as card counting; and Megan learns Leonard was a consultant for the company that makes the auto card shuffler and that he stole the algorithm that randomizes the card shuffling.

Don confronts Leonard with this information and finds out the kids stopped using Leonard as a backer a month ago and Charlie discovers they have been laundering money through the card club with the help of the manager.  Don and David go to talk to him only to find him dead.  Thinking they are back at square one, Don and Co. are looking at crime scene photos from Yuri’s murder when Charlie notices where Yuri’s car was parked in relation to the door, stating it’s not mathematically logical for the car to be parked there.  When Don asks the valet why the car was parked so far away from the doors even though Yuri was there soon after opening, they find out that Ignacio was with Yuri and wanted the car parked there.

Ignacio is captured by Colby and David in the parking lot of the high school where Leonard is a math teacher.  Ignacio killed the others for getting cold feet in a scheme that could have made them all very rich.