What is a ‘Crossroader’?
A crossroader is another name for someone who professionally and habitually cheats in multiple casinos as a way of making a living. It is usually used when talking about someone who cheats at slot machines in particular, but can be applicable to different kinds of cheating in a casino environment.
The term ‘crossroader’ is a very traditional slang term for a cheater in a casino, and originates from the Old West. Saloons in the early 19th Century were where a lot of gambling and some less savoury entertainments took place – as well as being venues where alcohol was served. These saloons were usually located at crossroads, which is why the people who went to gambling establishments to cheat first became known as crossroaders.
A crossroader was a term thought to have originated in Nevada, where it meant someone who cheated at card tables and slot machines in a casino, particularly someone who would travel the country looking for opportunities to cheat in multiple establishments. The setting is key here, because if the cheating takes place away from a casino environment then it isn’t true crossroading. It may instead be hustling or other terms for cheating that could be applicable in any setting.
Because of the technical knowledge, tools and extra assistance required in cheating a slot machine, sleight of hand alone would not be enough for a crossroader to cheat the machine out of money. Therefore, the term crossroader reflects this more complex way of cheating.
It’s a chiefly outdated term now, because in its truest sense it referred to people who made an entire career from cheating in casinos. This type of habitual cheating is far less common today thanks to the prevalence of high tech surveillance and the sharing of information between casinos which keeps regular cheaters away.