Thursday, December 09, 2004

Best Roulette Cheating Scam Ever!

The recent UK roulette scam reminds me of one of the most spectacular French casino scams ever perpetuated. I included a description of it in my book even though I had no part in the particular scam (and I never would have because it involved using tools, which I never used on any cheating moves as they constitute evidence if caught). This earlier scam used different technology from the recent UK one but was surprisingly similar in the resulting odds it yielded to the crew perpetrating it.

The French scam took place in the summer of 1973. A ham radio buff employed as a roulette dealer at the Casino Deauville on the Atlantic coast built a radio transmitter into a pack of Marlboro cigarettes, embedding the tiny receiver into a roulette ball he snuck into play. His brother-in-law placed the bets while his sister, a sexy raven-haired temptress, softly pressed an invisible button on the cigarette pack as the ball was spinning, sending it into a controlled dive which resulted in the ball’s landing in groups of six numbers with ninety percent accuracy. In a week the Casino Deauville was beat for five million francs ($1 million at the time).

The owners of the casino could not figure out what was hitting them. First they thought the wheel itself was defective and that somebody had measured it. They had experts come in and completely dismantle the wheel, examine every working piece integral to the ball's spinning around the disk and the wheel's revolutions in the opposite direction. When the astonished owners were told that the wheel was in perfect balance, and that there was not even the slightest imperfection which could produce biased outcomes, they began suspecting the dealer. They watched him secretively from above, but his motion was the same every time; he was doing nothing out of the ordinary to control the movement of the ball. It always made the same number of revolutions before going into its descent.

The scam was truly a marvel, the best I’d ever heard, and neither the ball nor the cigarette pack ever malfunctioned. Like most ingenious scams do, it came apart for a reason that had nothing to do with the scam.

The problem was that the dealer's sexy raven-haired sister was a bit too sexy and drew the attention of the principal casino owner who wanted to make her his mistress. He had subtly approached her in the casino several times while she was working the gadget. Being a chain smoker, he was often asking her for a cigarette with his apologies. The raven-haired beauty was cool and able to operate despite the man's presence. She told her husband about his advances, but he replied that the owner's libido couldn't hurt the scam, so they continued.

Finally, the owner—realizing he was going nowhere fast with the temptress—began watching her from a different eye. Why was she so often in the casino, apparently alone? Why did she always stand by the same roulette table without making more than an occasional bet? And most of all, what was the connection between her and that table losing so much money whenever she was in the casino? All the answers came when the owners, at last suspecting some kind of radio interference with the roulette wheel, had an expert debugging crew come in and sweep the casino while the wheel was in action. The next time the principal casino owner asked the temptress for a cigarette, the chief of the Deauville Police Force was there at his side to confiscate the pack and put the lovely raven-haired beauty in handcuffs.

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Great Dostoyevsky Got Screwed Royally At The Princely Baden-Baden Casino!...And He Deserved It!

Dostoyevsky's card scam turns against himself!

The Baden-Baden casino in Germany is perhaps the most beautiful gambling palace in the entire world. When I was there with my pastposting team in 1994, I was so awed by the place that I couldn’t bring myself to do a move on its tables. The casino was more than just a casino; it was an art museum. Inside, below lustrous chandeliers hanging from towering ceilings were separate regal gaming rooms whose walls were lined with works of art by the masters. One of these rooms was reserved for a high-stakes poker game attended by European nobility from all over the continent.
The Baden-Baden poker game basked in the glory of its heyday in the 1870s when the famed Russian writer Dostoyevsky whiled away more time in the casino’s crowded roulette room than he did penning manuscripts. When his numbers went cold, Dostoyevsky was known to stroll up to the poker game and take a seat.
The casino supplied majestic European-style playing cards that were produced by a printer who was actually a descendant of Gutenberg and whose printing shop was located just five miles by carriage from the regal casino.
Well, as the story goes, one of the princes playing in this game was a degenerate gambler who lost so much money that he endangered both his castle and his princess. He was running up astonishing debts to the rest of the nobility in the game, which threatened to create a big enough scandal to aggravate even King Ludwig, who was already considered apathetically insane by most Bavarians. The prince didn’t know what to do, but one night while alone in his castle (his princess, furious with him for his gambling losses, had run off with a caretaker) he had a brainstorm.
One brisk, sunny fall afternoon, after another losing session at the poker game, the prince instructed his carriage chauffeur to take him to see the printer. After formalities were exchanged, he advised the printer that he had written a special poem of apology for the princess and wanted the printer to reproduce it with his most elegant calligraphy. But it was all a load of crap. What the prince wanted was a tour of the printer’s facilities, which he got from a very obliging printer who knew he would charge the prince a pretty shilling or two for his work.
Later that night, the prince drove his own carriage to the print shop, sneaked inside it and secretly altered the engraving plates the printer used to produce the playing cards for the Baden-Baden casino. The plan was that the printer would unknowingly supply Baden-Baden with marked cards.
At the time, cards were not nearly as mass produced as they are today, so the prince would have to wait a few weeks before the marked decks hit the poker table. He resisted all temptation and managed to stay away from the casino until he knew the marked cards were in play. In the interim he even had the good fortune to win back the princess, who found out that the caretaker had been two-timing her.
Naturally the prince went on a fabulous winning streak at the Baden-Baden high-stakes poker table. He busted out a collection of counts, viceroys, dukes, earls and even the great Dostoyevsky. In fact, he put such a hurt on Dostoyevsky that the famed Russian writer was forced to go home to Russia and write The Gambler, for which he received enough money to return to Baden-Baden and seek his revenge against the prince.
When Dostoyevsky returned to the casino, the marked cards were still in play. It didn’t take long for the prince to send him packing again. After writing yet another book to finance still another gambling binge, Dostoyevsky returned to the poker table yet again. This time after losing, the great Russian writer jumped up and accused the prince of cheating. When the prince, filled with indignation, demanded of Dostoyevsky to produce evidence backing up his accusation, the writer laid the printer’s business card on the table.
Stunned, the prince asked, “How did you know?”
Dostoyevsky replied, “I did the same thing but the idiot sent my cards to the wrong casino.”

Sunday, October 17, 2004

Launch of the first true crime blog

Since my book American Roulette was released last year I received more than a few questions about my career as a professional casino cheater. Readers have been curious for my perspective on current events surrounding the increasingly popular world of casino gambling (one in which I lived in full time for 25 years). I started this blog to answer many of the questions posed to me. I will make periodic entries (hopefully a few times a week) that will provide the thoughts of a retired professional casino cheater on current casino gambling news.

In doing so I plan to relay several vignettes and anecdotes that sadly did not make it into AMERICAN ROULETTE because of editors' concerns for length etc.

I will also provide updates from my former colleagues who are still "working" the world's casinos. To my knowledge, such an expose of actual contemporary crimes is the first of its kind, a groundbreaking feature, whose existence is only possible in the blogosphere. I'm excited to bring it to you. I am sure you will enjoy reading these UPDATES FROM THE CHEATER¹S WORLD as much as I used to enjoy living similar adventures.

Finally, I want to address one order of unfinished business for those who asked me for further proof of by bona fides as a casino cheater. As if the detailed content in my memoir AMERICAN ROULETTE was not enough to establish that for 25 years I lived the life of a professional casino cheater, I present the following photograph. Taken of me as I was detained in a particular casino's backroom after they suspected me of pulling off 'moves' in their casino. I later received it from an insider informant who I payed off to keep me apprised of my status within casino security circles.

The guys who detained me were of course right I was cheating them that night. In fact, if I recall correctly they only became suspicious (all they need is suspicion to backroom anyone on their property) after a particular good run that we had at their expense. Anyway, as we operated in ways that never allowed casinos to possess proof of what we were doing, no charges were ever filed. I walked away scott free with their money (as I always did - rarely even suspected - I was never prosecuted).
Even though I am now retired, my informants tell me that I remain on the suspect lists and records of the various casino security services that are subscribed to by every major casino in the world. For those looking for even more proof, look out for an upcoming special on The History Channel, about my exploits. Set to air this Spring, it features me as well as some of the leading casinos surveillance investigators, who attest to my casino cheating resume.