Double Down is the thirteenth episode of the second season. It was released on 13 January 2006. Charlie and the team investigate a murder at a casino, a location which brings to light a dark, glossed-over corner of Larry's past. The murder itself also proves deeper and darker than it first appeared.
Three people are playing blackjack. One is having a very good night and wins big. He goes to the valet who says it’ll be a wait, but offers to tell him where his car is when he pulls out some bills. He goes to his car where he is shot. Don and David are at the scene. In his car are a lot of notebooks with numbers and equations. Colby is able to ID him from the cards in his wallet (the credit cards and any cash have been taken). He is a student at a local school named Yuri Chernov.
At CalSci Charlie is preparing an experiment (adding mentos to diet coke) with Amita and Larry when Don walks in. The soda geysers up when he drop the mentos in. Don gives Charlie the notebook. Larry recognises the equations and offers to take a closer look. Megan talks to Chernov’s ex-girlfriend. They broke up because of his obsessive gambling. He always won and got into the life hardcore. He called her a few days before and wanted to get back together, that he had made a mistake.
At the scene Don and Megan discuss the case. David and Colby roll up after going through Chernov’s place. He had fake IDs and a lot of different disguises. Charlie, Amita, and Larry talk about Charlie’s famous probability in gambling lecture that he gives. He had given it at Chernov’s school and wonders if he influenced him to get into gambling. Amita and Larry give various reasons on how he could have gotten into it other than the lecture. Charlie isn’t convinced. Larry apologises for not telling Don that he knew that the equations pertained to blackjack. He used to be into the game once upon a time and knows the math behind it well. Charlie explains the math behind blackjack. Larry explains some of the strategy.
The core team look at possible motives for murder when Charlie and Larry enter the conference room. Larry apologises to Don this time for not telling him sooner that he thinks that Chernov was a card counter. Colby says that he was throwing money around and drinking all night - not something that a card counter would normally do. Larry gets them to roll the footage of Chernov playing blackjack. He’s probably part of a team. A man in a purple sweater is likely the spotter of the team. Colby recognises a man that approaches wearing a green and yellow track suit with a woman on his arm from earlier footage where he was playing with the spotter. It is a three man team. Don, Megan, and David talk about the gambling team. David goes to see if he can track the other two down at the school. Megan brings up a backer for the team and posits that maybe they were tired of taking a cut of the winnings and wanted it all.
Larry is lamenting his gambling past. Charlie points out that it’s really no big deal. Larry goes into the whole story. David is comparing photos of students to the footage of the two players. He and Colby identify the spotter as Jason Brewer and the third man as Ignacio Nadal. Megan talks to the club manager at the casino. She asks him about casino policy regarding card counters. Policy is to escort them out. She gets a list of employees, particularly those on security. David and Colby talk Brewer’s mother. She hasn’t seen him in a month. She lets them into the guest house which is where he has been living. Inside there are gambling tables setup probably for practice. They take a closer look at what’s in the house. Brewer has a bag with disguises and ID too. David finds a board with precise records. They hope it will lead them to the backer.
Charlie, Amita, and Larry have setup in the living room and are working on the case. Alan comes home and sees them all there and calls card counting cheating which riles Larry up. He gets a brainwave. He remembers an old friend from his gambling days named Leonard Philbrick who was a mathematician. He lost everything including his career due to card counting.
David and Colby bring Don up to speed. Ignacio hasn’t been seen either. Charlie approaches them and points them to Philbrick who teaches math at a high school near the college. Don, David, and Colby get called to another crime scene. Brewer’s body has been found. Megan briefs Don. The type of bullet that killed Chernov killed Brewer. They find a notebook in his bag with links to blackjack. David finds out that Brewer bought a one-way ticket to Vancouver and that an older man paid for the ticket, not Brewer himself. They were able to ID Philbrick as the one who paid for the ticket.
Don and Megan talk to Philbrick. He is surprised to find out that he’s a suspect. The students approached him after finding articles that he wrote and asked for his help. He backed them until recently when they said they found a new backer. He only helped Brewer because he was scared and there was nobody else to help him. They put a trace on Nadal’s phone in case they can find him that way, but so far they had no luck. After going through more footage Colby noticed that the woman that Nadal was with the night of Chernov’s murder was also seen with the others on other nights. He tracked down her work place. She’s the main attraction at a local strip club. David and Colby head over at midday. Brandi, the woman originally seen with Nadal, comes out on stage. Colby says that they should let her do one song. They talk to her afterwards. She tells them that she left early because she had another ‘date’ with a married man. She divulges she got money by being their arm candy. She thinks they got made and that’s why Chernov and Brewer are dead.
At CalSci Charlie is going over the data again. Amita joins him and Larry. Larry is sitting there going over some papers. It’s information about the victims and Nadal. Charlie gets him to help him. Amita suggests they look behind the numbers. Charlie gets a brainwave. He believes they’re laundering money through gambling. Don, Megan, and Charlie believe that over the span of a month they laundered over $2 million, however the winnings were sent to an untraceable, offshore account so they can’t follow the money to the new backer.
Charlie, Amita, and Larry go to the casino. Larry isn’t feeling good about this. Charlie needs him to teach him to play so he can get experience and understand the case better. He suggests to think of it as fieldwork. Due to his past, Larry is still not feeling good about it and says that it’s a field of poppies for him. Nonetheless he goes in and plays with them. After a while Larry has lost his inhibitions and when Amita suggests they leave he wants to keep going. He tells them about the various things that he has seen other players do such as shuffle tracking. This interests Charlie. He learns that because a human can’t shuffle a deck perfectly casinos now use machines to shuffle and deal cards. The machines are supposed to create a random distribution of the cards, but they know that machines aren’t capable of doing this.
He tells Don, David, and Colby that Brewer’s notes are about the shuffle order from the auto-shuffler. They figured out the algorithm used by the machine and knew the order of the cards before they were even dealt. Megan comes in with the news that Philbrick was the math consultant for this company’s shufflers. He would have been able to make shorter patterns to make it easier for the three students to win. Don and Megan interrogate him. He says that Marius, the club manager, found out what they were doing the first day they did it. He blackmailed them to use dirty money to launder it. They believe that Marius doesn’t want to leave any witnesses to the laundering and Don and David rush to the club. The go into Marius’ office. They smell gun powder and find him dead on the floor. He was laundering for east coast drug dealers who Megan believes killed him. David finds it odd that calls were coming from his office in the morning when he said that he didn’t get to the club until 7pm that night. They think that maybe he didn’t want people knowing he was there when Chernov got there a 3pm. Charlie is confused as to why Chernov would have parked so far away from the casino when he would have arrived before the parking lot would have been busy. Don thinks he got valet service which the valet admits to. He also admits to getting $500 for parking Chernov’s car where he did. He identifies the man as Nadal. They believe Philbrick is the next target. The put eyes on Philbrick. Colby spots Nadal. David and Colby move into position and take him down.
At the FBI Larry and Philbrick see each other for the first time in 22 years. They talk about Philbrick’s recent conduct. Larry is disgusted. At the house Don, Charlie, Alan, and Larry talk about the outcome of the case. Don and Larry leave Charlie and Alan to play a game of poker.
The image comes from gambling, specifically blackjack, where the player is allowed to increase the initial bet by up to 100% in exchange for committing to stand after receiving exactly one more card. It is often done when splitting aces, face cards or tens. It is often used in the media to refer to a public figure reinforcing, rather than backing away from, a previously stated position, especially one seen as precarious.
Ethan Phillips who played Leonard Philbrick, would later on play Neelix on Star Trek: Voyager and he co-wrote the book "Star Trek: Cookbook"
When Charlie, Larry, and Amita are doing their "research" at the Bicycle Casino, you can hear the faint sounds of slot machines in the background. The Bicycle Casino does not have slot machines. It is a card club.
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To expose an addict to his addiction is highly unethical and way out of character for Charlie, especially considering Larry is his best friend.
[This appears on the beginning of the episode] 52 cards, 186,184 combinations, 3 players, 1 tell