Saturday, March 08, 2008

Facebook Poker

Facebook Poker is becoming more and more popular these days. As with Scrabulous, the knockoff Scrabble game that has also been a rave on Facebook, Facebook poker is becoming the poker room of choice for those looking to play for free. In fact, more people are playing Facebook poker than in the fake-money games offered by the major online poker sites. What is funny about this is that I am reading stuff online about cheating Facebook Poker and am also getting a bunch of e-mails on the subject.

Come on, gimme a break! If you have to cheat on Facebook, do it in Scrabulous games! In fact, that's what I'm telling anyone who asks about it. Scrabulous is played on the honor system...and lots of Scrabulous players have been proved dishonest!

Cheat the Friendly Skies!

Remember the old United Airlines jingle..."Fly the friendly skies...of United?" Well, how 'bout a new Richard Marcus jingle..."Cheat the friendly skies..."

Have you heard what the billionaire casino magnate Sheldon Adelson has in the works? His casino empire, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, will soon have live casino gaming aboard its fleet of airliners flying high rollers from his flagship Las Vegas casino, the Venetian, to Macau, where the Venetian and Sands Macau lead the mega-development of Asia's casino boom. When I got word of this, my first thought was not, "How would I escape off a jet at 35,000 feet if I took heat doing a cheating move." That was my second thought! My first thought was, "Who the hell could arrest me if I did get caught and whose jurisdiction would it be?"

Well, my first thought is surely going to be a major international ball of confusion for whichever world courts and legal organizations have to untangle the web of possibilities created by a flying casino. Perhaps they might trick everyone and assign jurisdiction by altitude instead of what country or part of the ocean the casino planes are flying over. Say like, at 25,000 feet the jurisdiction is US, and at 30,000 feet China. Then 35,000 feet or cruising altitude could be...who knows...why not Taiwan? That would surely piss of the mainland Chinese! But in any event, maybe if I come out of retirement and book my cheating team on one of Adelson's flights, we better bring along our parachutes! I could imagine the scene quite well: We do a cheating move, get caught, then run back to our seats, grab our chutes out from under the seat cushions, then burst toward the emergency exit, yank the handle, and whisshhhhhh into the open air! Sorry if the rest of the plane freezes to death, but I gotta get my team outta there!

On a serious note, this news sounds exciting to me. Almost like I felt when the casino riverboats came into existence. Those of you who read my book "American Roulette" might remember the hilarious scene where my partner Pat Mallery, who had just taken some serious heat on a blackjack pastpost, actually dashed for the deck railing, and hurtled himself over it and into the drink! If airborne casinos ever do take hold and become widespread, you can bet whatever frequent flyer miles you have saved up with your favorite airlines that I am going to come out of retirement and become a very frequent flyer!

If you know what I mean!

Casino Cheaters Tracking Cards Inside Automatic Card Shufflers!

Jeff Jonas is an expert on the Las Vegas gambling/surveillance industry. As the founder and chief scientist of Systems Research & Development, he helped build numerous casino surveillance systems that are widely in use in casinos throughout the world. At a conference on emerging technology in San Diego on Thursday, Jonas revealed some secrets he learned about the casino industry, one of which even caught my eye. But first he stated his opinion that Vegas seems to put an enormous focus on high-tech security, but in some ways the casinos are just doing enough to get by. He pointed out that they spend the minimum amount of money on security and surveillance and would rather buy three more slot machines and make money. In other words, even though they spend a fortune on state-of-the-art surveillance equipment, it is a paltry sum compared to what they spend on raw gambling equipment.

A major casino like the Bellagio probably has 2,000 cameras connected to 50 monitors, with just a few people watching live surveillance, Jonas said. But the information is there to be scrutinized when casinos notice players winning unusually large amounts of money. In one case a dealer who claimed his family had been threatened helped players win $250,000 at a blackjack table when they passed him a "cooler" (deck of prearranged cards) to use in the game.

"They didn’t detect this as it happened," Jonas said. "Most of the videos the casinos collect are just used forensically. When the table loses a quarter of a million dollars they go back and replay it nice and slow, see that little piece of video, and it’s time to make some calls."

Jonas made references to the MIT Blackjack card counting team to show how easily surveillance departments are fooled in spite of all the equipment. He then gave examples of some really hardcore and effective scams:

The infinite hundred-dollar bill: One team took $1.2 million off a casino in two weeks when it discovered that a new hundred-dollar bill could be fed into a certain slot machine and, if they hit a button at just the right time, the machine would give them $100 worth of credit while spitting the actual $100 bill right back into the player’s hands.

The chip cup: The chip cup looks just like a stack of $5 chips, but it’s hollowed out and can hold a few $100 chips. Using the chip cup, a dealer and player working together can make a killing.

The palm: A player palms a card and trades it with a neighbor to make a better blackjack hand. This trick is decidedly low-tech, but nearly undetectable when done with great skill.

The specialty code: A programmer who worked on a video poker game snuck in some code that produced an automatic royal flush if a player followed a specific sequence of betting over the course of seven or eight hands.

But the best, and the one that really impressed me, was when Jonas showed photos of one player who was wearing buttons that were actually infrared cameras, capable of capturing the identity of cards as they pass through a shuffle machine. One shuffle machine in particular had a tiny hole that revealed each card, but not to the naked eye. The infrared camera illuminated the card, and the video images were transmitted to a vehicle in the parking lot, where collaborators slowed the video down and could tell their player in the casino which card was coming next. Hitting on 17 is a smart move when you know a four is coming next. Beating the shuffling machines is definitely avant-garde in the realm of casino cheating.

Jonas also enlightened the audience about how casinos constantly, almost obsessively, track their legitimate players. For tax reasons, casinos have to track players who cross certain winnings thresholds, such as $2,500 and $10,000, he said. If you win this much money, expect to be followed even if you haven’t told anyone your name. "If you show up and don’t tell them who you are, and play at one table and then move to another, and then move to an entirely different area of the casino and then you go to your room and change and come back, they’re obligated to try to track you through all of that."

I think that's a bit much!

Sensors are everywhere in casinos. Each resort has tens of thousands of sensors, every doorlock system, every slot machine, ATM machines, point of sale machines, it just goes on and on. "There might be more sensors per square foot than anywhere possibly other than a battleship," Jonas informed.

Then there's the criminal tracking side. For instance, casinos must do their utmost to ensure that people legally excluded from casinos by the Nevada Gaming Control Board do not enter their premises. These people sneaking through can subject casinos to large fines. The job gets harder for casinos when criminals start recruiting people to help them, in some cases people the casinos are unfamiliar with, and in other cases high rollers who have lost a lot of money and would therefore not be suspected of cheating. "They have false identities," Jonas said. "They just make up names, they buy fake credential packages. When you get to know who they are, they go distances far away, start recruiting people you’ve never seen. They train them in their own lab, so the first time they step foot in a casino, they’re a pro."

One system Jonas developed for casinos more than a decade ago uses facial recognition technology to quickly compare suspected cheaters with mug shots and uncover fake identities.

I must say that this guy Jonas is surely on top of his field.

Some Really Bad Luck for a Big-Time Casino Cheat

Imagine being incarcerated for having ripped off a casino in one state and then when you're released from prison, the moment you're stepping foot outside the iron gates into the fresh air of freedom, you're greeted by state troopers from another state who have a warrant to arrest you for another casino you ripped off two years prior and thought you'd gotten away with it. That's exactly what happened to Ellis Quinn Jr., a notorious craps pastposter, and I really feel bad for him because about the only craps pastposter more notorious than he...is the person typing these words!

Hailing from Tennessee, Quinn, who'd been imprisoned in Missouri, is now back behind bars in Shreveport, Louisiana, after being charged with pastposting (placing bets after the winning outcome) $60,000 of late winning bets at the Sam's Town Casino. He'd been in the Missouri prison for the exact same charges, which are called cheating and swindling casinos. Quinn had been captured on the Louisiana casino's video surveillance pastposting large craps bets on numerous occasions while playing craps between May 26 and 27, 2006. He allegedly pastposted on 32 rolls of the dice. This surely doesn't say much for the floor staff working the craps pit in that casino! But unfortunately for Quinn, the surveillance crew evidently stumbled onto his moves.

And if that doubleheader isn't bad enough, strike-three is waiting for Quinn in Nevada. There's an outstanding warrant for him in Las Vegas for...you guessed it!...the same craps pastposting charges. Much like the infamous craps cheater Brent Eli Morris (who is in my Cheaters Hall of Fame), Quinn, in spite of his talent, just didn't know when to stop. Greed obviously got the better of him.

Perhaps Doug Pierrelee, a police spokesman, said it best: "If you're a cheater, even a very successful cheater like Quinn, and you don't crap out with the casino, you will with the law."

I will not be putting Ellis Quinn Jr. in my Cheaters Hall of Fame anytime soon!

Friday, March 07, 2008

Poker Cheating: Men "The Master" Nguyen Accused Again!

I have heard poker cheating accusations leveled against Men "The Master" Nguyen before, mostly emanating from the Commerce Club and other poker clubs in the Los Angeles area. Most of these cheating accusations have focused on Nguyen running Vietnamese poker cheating syndicates in California's big cash games and mid-level tournaments. Men himself has openly expressed his desire and interest to help fellow Vietnamese players, but many believe that Men Nguyen's wishes have gone way beyond "help" and all the way to "recruitment." What do I think about this? Well, although I have no evidence of Men Nguyen's direct involvement in poker cheating, I tend to agree with the charges, the latest of which is a serious indictment of Nguyen and his play in professional poker player Justin Bonomo's blog. The post citing Bonomo's feelings is below. Before you read it, however, I will give you my reasoning for believing that the various negative rumors surrounding Men Nguyen are credible.

The first thing to take into account is that many of today's organized poker cheating syndicates are made up of members of the same nationality. First and foremost, there are the Russian cheating teams who've been making news both in brick and mortar and online poker rooms. I have even heard the term "Little Russian Poker Mafia" coined lately, though I can't be sure if it's referring to poker or tennis! As Men "The Master" is well-connected to Vietnamese players and often playing at the same tables as them, it is certainly just as reasonable to believe that something in the collusion category is going on with them as it is to believe it is with the Russians. There are other ethnic poker cliques playing together that may fit into the collusion-play category as well. As far as Nguyen's Vietnamese group being involved in anything more serious than collusion play and chip dumping, I've heard stories about his alleged involvement in a Foxwoods Casino tournament chip scam that is detailed in Bonomo's blog post below. Nguyen was supposedly banned in some capacity from that Connecticut casino in the scam's aftermath, but I am not sure that is true.

What I am sure of, however, and about which I wrote in great detail in my book "Dirty Poker," is that major big-money tournament cheating syndicates are not only prevalent on today's professional circuits, but their numbers are growing!


Here is Justin Bonomo's blog post:

I’ve publicly said in the past that I never outed other multi-accounters (of 2+ years ago) because they were good people, and that I have no reason to believe they’d ever cheat again.

I’ve been criticized a bit for this, so I guess I’ll give people what they want. Normally, I hate talking trash about people, but sometimes, it’s deserved.

For those of you that don’t know the story, a few years ago, Men “The Master” Nguyen and a bunch of the players he staked were in a hotel room together when the fire alarm went off. They were asked to leave the room while the fire was dealt with, and a suitcase full of tournament chips was discovered. This is a big no-no in tournament poker, so Men was asked to leave.

The theory goes (and I’m honestly not sure what proof there is for this, but the consensus seems to be that it’s true) that the players that Men staked were scooping off chips from the table in smaller buyin events, and giving them to Men (and possibly other winning players on the team) to add to their stack in the high stakes events. As far as cheating goes, it doesn’t get much worse than this.

The main reason I’m writing this, is because on a radio show with Gary Wise, I said something to the effect of, “I don’t really know the details of Men, so I’m not going to speak out on the issue. I know he was punished for cheating, and I don’t know if there have been any incidents of him cheating since. I’m under the impression that he’s not allowed to play at Foxwoods ever again.”

Well since then I’ve researched the issue, and even seen some of it first hand.

Daniel Negreanu has a famous (infamous?) post on NVG where he outs Men’s antics. Daniel went into detail, describing the rules the players Men backed were forced to follow. One of the rules Daniel listed was that if Men ever raises one of his players, that player MUST fold, regardless of the situation or what his hand is.

So I was playing at the Commerce the day before the main event started, and lo’ and behold, Men was at my table.

I’ve never really liked Men. He’s EXTREMELY abusive to dealers, and that kind of behavior is just absurd for a professional poker player to display.

I had played with him in tournaments before, where the players at the table didn’t really know him, but at this cash game table ($200/$400 mixed game), it became very apparent to me that the players at the table were all familiar with how big of a scumbag he is.

Within minutes, the whole table was making fun of Men for squeezing his cards. In triple draw games, if you draw one card on the end, and need a specific card (or type of card like in Badougi), squeezing is a fairly common method of slowly looking at your card, first the number of pips (i.e seeing that it’s 4 across and might be the 9 you are looking for), before fully revealing the card to yourself. It’s done for fun to add suspense. Personally I don’t like it because it slows the game down, but if it only comes up in big pots on the river, that’s not a big deal.

Men, however, squeezed his cards on every street. Even when the first 4 cards in Badougi are dealt, he would take an average of 10 seconds to look at them by squeezing them one by one. He did this in every game, on every single street where cards were dealt, and it was just absurd.

Another bad practice Men had was also folding his cards one by one. No big deal, right? Well it is a big deal when you fold every single one of your cards by throwing them directly into the dealers’ knuckles. After three to four hands of this, the dealer told Men to stop, and Men just glared at him silently. FWIW, it was actually a really good, really nice older dealer.

Men likes to make his actions and verbal declarations very ambiguous. This is often the sign of someone that likes to take advantage of things. There was a collection pot that was split between two players, and the players didn’t want to make change, so they made an equivalent bet based on the low card in the next seven card stud eight or better hand. Men made a side bet on one player’s card to be the lower one.

One player was dealt a 7, and Men’s player was dealt an ace. Men refused to pay, stating that ace was low. The whole table (except the one Men bet on) agreed that ace was high. In Stud 8, the low card brings it in, and the ace will never bring it in, because it is high. More plainly, if you are cutting decks for a high card, you want to get an ace, because it is obviously high. Despite the 6-2 vote at the table, Men and his Vietnamese friend refused to pay.

In this same session, I saw a form of VERY blatant cheating. It was in badougi (if you don’t know how to play badougi, pretend this hand is 2-7 triple draw, and the same concept applies).

There was an older Vietnamese player at the table (one from low card story above), that Men was talking to in Vietnamese. Men was taking chips out of his rack as if they were his own. I later asked if Men was staking this player, and someone at the table confirmed that he was.

The player in question is a tight player. He might limp an occasional bad hand in Badougi, but if he is raising and betting, he has a hand. Also note that bluffing is generally a bad strategy in Badougi, and if you want to bluff, it’s generally done by drawing 0 cards on the last draw.

VP (Vietnamese Player) Raises, Men calls, and 2 white guys call. Everyone draws 1 card except one of the white guys who draws two. VP bets, everyone calls. Everyone draws 1.

The bet doubles after the second draw. VP still fires out. By now it is clear to the whole table that he had a strong draw. Men raises. The two white guys begrudgingly fold, and VP has a very pained and angered look on his face as he is looking at Men. Men starts blabbering saying, “You know I got the goods!” VP then does something that is extremely bad in his spot… he folds. The odds that he doesn’t have a one card draw to a better hand are extremely low in that spot. Basically, the line he took is never correct, and would be absurdly uncharacteristic for this player to take in this spot… except for the fact that he is backed by Men, and his deal forces him to fold in this spot.

So I saw this and it looked really fishy to me. The player to my left (who I won’t name) was a very honest guy. He played these games regularly and new all the players in them. I thought I was clever when I told him my theory about that hand being fishy. His response to me was a slightly nicer version of the expression, “no shit Sherlock”. A couple of other guys that overheard me gave me a silent head nod.

To me, this is just disgusting. These guys know that there is blatant cheating going on, but since there is no proof, there’s nothing they can do about it.

I’m probably being na├»ve in hoping that sharing this story will somehow help solve the problem, but I wouldn’t feel right if I didn’t say something.

Interpret the facts however you want. This is just one person’s observation and impression of everything. I just thought this was something too disgusting to keep to myself.

Thursday, March 06, 2008

World Game Protection Star Speaker Jeff Murphy Caught Double-Talking in Catwalk!

Willy Allison's World Game Protection Conference, which supposedly sets out to educate casino surveillance people about how to protect casinos and poker rooms from cheaters and hustlers, puts out a monthly newsletter called "The Catwalk." The main featured writer of the Catwalk is Jeff Murphy, a surveillance and table games employee from the Seven Feathers Casino in Oregon. Murphy is also one of the too many annual speakers at the World Game Protection Conference and writes regularly for Casino Enterprise Management Magazine, giving the gaming world his "expert" advice on this gaming issue or that. However, Murphy's March, 2008 Catwalk article titled "The Godfather of the Game, an Interview with Tony Giorgio," an admitted longtime card hustler who claims he cheated people in gambling over decades, blatantly contradicts Murphy's January, 2008 Catwalk article to the point that it not only casts a shadow on his own credibility but also that of the entire World Game Protection conference.

In his January Catwalk article titled "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly: How to Pick a Casino Consultant," Murphy vehemently warns casino executives not to hire ex-cheaters as casino game protection consultants. His attack on ex-cheaters gone straight who want to share their knowledge with casino surveillance staffs was so vile that "way of the top" is an understatement. Here is some of what he wrote, about which Willy Allison, the WGPC president, wrote me in an e-mail, "I knew Jeff's piece would piss some people off, but I didn't think you would be one of them." Well, Willy was wrong.

JEFF MURPHY'S WORDS IN THAT JANUARY CATWALK ARTICLE:

"As gaming has gained popularity, now being worthy of numerous prime-time and cable television shows, everyone is looking to cash in on the current popularity. Once proclaimed cheaters are now looking to alter their questionable pasts because they surely have the casinos and your best interests at heart? I think not. The reality is these former cheats are naturally gravitating toward the money in vulture-like fashion. They are scouring the fields looking for a chance to partake and feed off the heightened celebrity of casinos as consultants. I liken this new fade (allowing these former cheaters the opportunity to consult and benefit from the success of casinos) to that of being mugged by a person one day and having that same person attempt to pull at your heartstrings while panhandling the next day. Either way this person represents character traits most would deem undesirable. With that stated, I very highly question a former cheater's value as a casino consultant.

"Casino professionals are hard working people providing effort to make our casinos run effectively. Yet for every hard working casino employee, there are multiple people of questionable back grounds, looking for the quick hit while providing equal effort toward under minding casino operations. These cheaters not only represent a threat to the casino and the assets, they represent a threat to any employee who could ultimately lose a job because of a cheater's under minding activities. Where does the honor in that rate? Why should the industry provide these folks with a platform to assist their success? Bottom line, we should not value these flawed individuals by offering "rock star" status to already perceived selfish individuals."

WELL, LO AND BEHOLD, Jeff Murphy in his March Catwalk article is singing a very different tune. Suddenly he is in awe of an ex-cheater to the point where his words in this interview/article are fawning Mr. Tony Giorgio, a self confessed cheater who Murphy envisions as a...what?...game protection consultant!!!" Here are some of Murphy's questions to Mr. Giorgio and some of his comments about Mr. Giorgio. After you read what Murphy has to say in this exchange versus what he said two months ago in his declaration of war against ex-cheaters turned consultants, you have to wonder what Murphy's motives were in each article. Surely he had good reason to so utterly contradict himself in front of thousands of trusting casino executives trying to learn who they can trust to educate their casino staffs in the very important fields of casino cheating and casino asset protection. In light of this, what are these casino executives supposed to think? First, Murphy is telling them never to hire an ex-cheater to protect their casinos, then, two months later, he's endorsing a notorious ex-cheater to these same executives?

MURPHY'S WORDS IN HIS MARCH CATWALK ARTICLE:

"Writing for The Catwalk has brought with it a plethora of interesting opportunities; none more fascinating than the different people I come in contact with through correspondence regarding my articles. The Catwalk provided me with yet another opportunity to meet a fascinating man; not for dating purposes, thank you very much. I'm happily married, yes to a woman, with a beautiful child. My sharing with you today is however, about an alternative romance and a life of true passion regarding one man's journey..."

DOES MURPHY really have to assure us that he's not gay? Why would he?...kind of makes me wonder.

"Tony Giorgio is the creator of an extensive training video revolving around the art of hand mucking and card manipulation called "The Ultimate Work." I have reviewed this training video first hand and found its merits toward casino training both valuable and educational. This training product is two full hours of step by step training in the art of hand mucking that even the best of the best can appreciate and gain from viewing. Tony offers his skilled art with an egoless charm and the true showmanship presently lost within today's mediocre training videos; making "The Ultimate Work" beneficial to all..."

DIDN'T MURPHY in January say something about not valuing ex-cheats as rock stars? Suddenly two months later he is all gung-ho for ex-cheats displaying their "showmanship" for people eager to learn how to protect their casinos from hustlers and cheats. Talk about hypocritical words!

"IT IS important to note, I'm not gaining any royalties by sharing these thoughts with you; I simply gain an opportunity by sharing and introducing a hidden treasure in the likes of Tony Giorgio..."

Come on, Jeff, we believe you're not simply out "hustling" Tony's DVD! Who would ever think that you're getting a cut of the profits?...Not me! And, by the way, as of this writing Tony Giorgio's website consists of nothing more than one page selling his DVD. So where is all the "beef" supporting this ex-cheater's alleged value to the game protection industry?

INTERVIEW QUESTIONS (COMMENTS) MURPHY ASKS TONY GIORGIO IN HIS ARTICLE:

"The Catwalk's readers will be interested in your personal history. Please share."

"Having reviewed The Ultimate Work, you appear to still have a great passion and skill to share. Any follow up productions slated to follow...?"

Sounds like Jeff is eager to get the sequel DVD going and to get Mr. Giorgio into a new role as a casino consultant, and just two months ago Murphy expressed such utter distaste at this very thought!

HERE'S THE COUP DE GRACE! Murphy betrays his nearly religious crusade-like anti-hiring-ex-cheaters-as-consultants January belief and actually asks Tony Giorgio:

"Have you ever envisioned consulting for gaming or maybe even presenting a training session at a conference...?"

Well, Jeff, maybe Tony will come out to Oregon and give your casino a few pointers! Sounds like that's what you want, no?

AND JEFF MURPHY'S FINAL THOUGHTS:

I would personally like to thank Mr. Tony Giorgio for graciously taking the time to share his insights and experiences with our forum. Tony Giorgio's "The Ultimate Work" DVD can be located on-line at..."

I refuse to make public Mr. Giorgio's website address because I do not want to promote his cheating DVD the way Jeff Murphy is doing. But, so there's no misunderstanding of who Tony Giorgio is, here are some of the facts he states on his website:

TONY GIORGIO played cards across the United States, on the Canadian prairies, in Cuba before the revolution and in the cantinas of Mexican border towns. He moved in private clubs, private games, floating games, athletic clubs, poolrooms, card rooms and casinos. He moved on the unsophisticated and the sophisticated. GIORGIO played poker with the hoi-polloi, blue collar workers, rodeo riders and cowboys in Texas, New Mexico, Wyoming and Arizona; with miners in Montana, longshoremen with grappling hooks in their belts and New Orleans pimps sporting pearl-handled pistols. He played in limit-games for pocket change and in games played for high stakes. During his travels and play, he learned from the top hold-out men in the world and invented and used many of his own cheating moves which he now reveals.

In DVDs, which run over two hours, GIORGIO demonstrates and teaches the MACHINE BREAK and his many original variations. He shows never before exposed CARD-STEALS. There are heretofore unrevealed BLACKJACK and HOLE CARD-SWITCHES, MULTIPLE CARD SWITCHES, explanations and demonstrations of CAPPING THE DECK, CAPPING TO THE BOTTOM, CLEANING-UP, SPREADING DOWN, or PLAYING THE BRUSH. In great detail, GIORGIO teaches the ploy of playing with an extra card and MULTIPLE METHODS of cleaning it up (getting rid of the extra card). There are lengthy discussions and demonstrations of the art of concealment and the attitudes that allay suspicion. You will see and learn the moves that get the money. You will view every use of card palming in advantage play and its application.

How to Cheat at Poker the Army Way!

We have all heard humorous stories about poker cheats, some of whom demonstrated wit and balls and others who demonstrated little but balls and still others who were raw buffoons. This particular Korean War poker cheating story caught my eye. In which category you want to put it, I don't know, but it is without doubt, one of the funniest and most colorful I've ever heard, and it's as true as the Battle of the Bulge!

A platoon leader named Lieutenant Jason was particularly hard on one of his buck-privates named Hogan. With no apparent provocation, the lieutenant scolded the private on his whims. Another of Jason’s habits was playing poker with his men. He constantly played poorly and whenever his losses piled up too high, Hogan, who wasn’t even in the game, took the brunt of the lieutenant’s frustration.
Near the end of a humiliating march during which Jason ridiculed Hogan, the private hatched an idea that would win so much favor with the lieutenant that Jason might put him in for a promotion. He approached the lieutenant as soon as the platoon returned to camp.
“Sir, I have an idea how to improve your poker game,” Hogan began timidly.
“What the hell do you know about poker!” snapped Lieutenant Jason, in no mood to deal with the private.
“Well, not much, sir, but I think I know how to make you win.”
Jason didn’t really want to hear it but he’d recently lost an amount that exceeded his monthly pay.
The next platoon game was played later that afternoon. Hogan, a botany freak since childhood, was skilled at climbing trees. He found an easy one high above the campground where the soldiers played poker. He climbed it half an hour before the start of the game, his binoculars strapped around his neck. No one noticed.
The tree was just feet from their makeshift poker table. From his perch above, Hogan could look through the binoculars and clearly read the cards of each player whose back was toward him. Sometimes he could read the hands of players sitting at ninety-degree angles to him as well. In all, he could supply his lieutenant with enough information to destroy the poker game.
The ingenious method Hogan used to signal Lieutenant Jason the value of his opponents’ cards was to shake the branches of the trees. Jason would look up at the swaying branches and receive the data needed to play his hand. The first day they worked the scam, it went off like a charm. The next two days worked equally as well, but the following day it was very windy and Jason too often got Hogan’s signals mixed up with the wind. From then on, Jason would only play when there was nothing more than a slight breeze.
After two months of scamming his men for their wages, Jason put Hogan in for a promotion. The rest of the platoon couldn’t understand why, but what perplexed them even more was the sudden emergence of the lieutenant’s poker skills. They just couldn’t beat him and it seemed like Jason’s winning streak would go on forever.
Perhaps it would have, but one fateful day brought a lightning-quick end to their scam. The game started out underneath a beautiful sky with absolutely no breeze. But then a sudden storm came out of nowhere. The soldiers, in appreciation of the rapidly darkening sky, had agreed to play only one more hand. Hogan, in the tree, wanted to get down quickly but had to wait until the rest of the platoon cleared out.
An instant later, a lightning bolt struck the tree. Hogan fell out of it and landed smack in the pot.
One of the soldiers called. Another raised.
Private Hogan never returned from Korea.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Cheating Online Poker Players via Phishing

PHISHERS CLEAN UP AT ONLINE CASINOS WITH POKER-FACED FRAUD

John Leyden of the UK Register has revealed the latest vulnerability of players in the online poker and casino world.

E-MAIL FRAUDSTERS are increasingly targeting customers of online casinos with phishing attacks. A wave of assaults against punters betting in casinos run from Antigua and the Dutch Antilles shows that attackers are extending their range beyond targets such as online banks and eBay.

The trend was picked up by security firm Symantec, which noticed a large number of attacks on small countries and traced the attacks back to assaults on online casinos.

Gambling sites are an attractive target for phishers because after tricking punters into handing over credit card details or login credentials it's easier to extract money from gaming accounts than it would be with online banking credentials.

Phishers need to employ middlemen to take money from compromised online bank accounts and wire it to them, typically using hard to trace Western Union money transfers.

That's because the fraudsters behind online banking scams are typically located in a different country to their victims. Since they are unable to transfer money directly from a victim's online account in a different country, local intermediaries - or 'mules' - are hired.

That requirement is unnecessary in the case of compromised online gambling accounts.

Access to gambling accounts also makes it easier to launder money. "Phishers can set up online gambling accounts sites using stolen credit card numbers and victims' identities. They can then launder dirty money by exchanging funds through the pots of games they set up amongst themselves," Symantec reports.

The net security firm adds that bot nets can also be used to launder money through online gambling sites. Bot clients are programmed to win or lose, transferring money to a chosen client.

Full Tilt Poker Cans Cheating Jonathan Little!

Another high-flying poker cheater has been abruptly brought down to earth. Jonathan Little, a central figure in the recent Full Tilt account sharing/selling scandal, has been banished from the site. At this rate, after the fall of Sorel "Imper1um" Mizzi, Josh "JJprodigy" Fields and Chris Vaughan in similar scams, and now Jonathan Little, we are soon going to find a nice niche somewhere on the Internet for Online Poker's Hall of Shame! Here's the report of Full Tilt's action:


FIERY JUSTICE FOR CHEATING FULL TILT PRO

March 05, 2008 Online-Casinos.com

Full Tilt Poker lowers the boom on Jonathan Little

He may be a past World Poker Tour champ, but that hasn't stopped Full Tilt Poker from dropping Jonathan "Fiery Justice" Little for violating its terms. The poker ace was shown the door by Full Tilt administrator TilterRick this week in a very public forum announcement.

Full Tilt's official position was outlined in a press release, which explained that despite having a great year on the WPT, Little is no longer affiliated with Full Tilt Poker.

"He violated the terms and conditions of Full Tilt Poker by allowing others to play his account," the release continues: "While we encourage our pros to play as much as they can, we do not allow them to share their account with any other players..." Full Tilt feels that by allowing others to play on his account Little has departed from the company philosophy that all red Full Tilt pros are, in fact, the pros they are advertised to be."

Speculation on the forums is that Little could have been trying to generate more in rake-back without actually playing.

Forum suspicions were raised earlier this month on the PocketFives forums when user rusypolano noticed that Little had played some 1 227 sit-and-gos in just seven days. It is not known if that was the trigger for a Full Tilt investigation or not, and other forum members have claimed Little was ostensibly playing on Full Tilt while competing in last weekend's NBC National Heads-Up Championship.

Little is not the first online poker star to be exposed and ejected. Earlier this year Sorel "Imper1um" Mizzi was busted for buying an account from a friend who was deep in an online tournament. Before that, online player Josh "JJprodigy" Fields was busted for multi-accounting (see previous Online-Casinos.com/InfoPowa reports).

The disgraced pro has considerable online poker talent and experience, but became high profile when he won the 2007 WPT Mirage Poker Championship. His star continued to rise with a strong season at the WPT that included a seventh-place finish at the Gulf Coast Poker Championship, a second-place finish in the WPT North American Championship and finally a 53rd-place finish at the Doyle Brunson World Poker Classic. All in all, the leader board records show that Little has cashed for well over $2 million in WPT events alone and also has numerous cashes at the World Series of Poker.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Some Guys will Cheat Anything to Play Poker! / Credit Card Scams Victimize Online Gambling

LAS VEGAS POKER SPREE BROTHERS FACING JAIL OVER ATM THEFTS

According to the UK Daily Record, here's what happened:

TWO POKER ACES (lol!) were facing jail yesterday after stealing £150,000 from cash machines to fund a Las Vegas gambling spree. Brothers Mohammed Imran and Mohammed Irfan pocketed the cash during a period of just three days. They exploited a loophole in the ATM system to carry out the scam, which saw them originally being accused of stealing almost £500,000.

But yesterday, the swindlers admitted stealing £154,640 using an expired HBOS bank card. The brothers planned to splash the cash in Las Vegas casinos, gambling against some of the world's top poker players. They wanted to play in a series of high-stake competitions including the Annual World Series of Poker in the city's Rio Hotel.

Before the offense, Imran and Irfan competed regularly at Las Vegas's top casinos, such as the one at the Bellagio Hotel - made famous in the Ocean's 11 film. Glasgow Sheriff Court heard the scam came about after the Halifax and Bank of Scotland carried out an overhaul of their autoteller system when they merged in 2005. Around 400 staff in Scotland and England helped make the changes.

Imran Bashir, a prosecutor, said an "error" in the system later became apparent, although it was not known if it was deliberate. He said that a member of staff at either the Riverboat Casino or Hot Shots nightclub in Glasgow had revealed the fault to the brothers. The glitch allowed Imran, 33, and Irfan, 36, to overcome the security of ATMs by simply using the expired keycard.

The court heard that between May 29 and June 1, 2005, they made "several hundred withdrawals" at cash points across Glasgow. These included withdrawals from autotellers at the Riverboat Casino and Hot Shots. The bank eventually became aware of the scam and the keycard was traced to a newsagent's in the city's Charing Cross. It was found shop owner Shahana Shad was the sister-in-law of one of the accused.

She admitted being an HBOS customer but claimed she had never received the card. Suspicion then fell on Imran, of Ashlar Avenue, and Irfan, of Birkdale Wood, both Cumbernauld, near Glasgow. Mr Bashir added: "CCTV was obtained from the cash machines involved. The accused were seen approaching various cash lines."

Their homes were raided and £14,480 was found in a safe belonging to Imran. Another £140,160 was discovered in Irfan's safe. The brothers were originally charged with stealing £486,320. However, prosecutors accepted their guilty pleas to taking the amount recovered at their homes. A source close to the investigation said the stolen cash was to be used to take on the world's best poker players. (lol again!) She said: "You need serious cash to take on some of these guys in Las Vegas and an opportunity to get involved in a scam like this was a godsend for Imran and Irfan. "The cash could have gone a long way but, in this case, it was just one very big gamble too far and they lost out - big time."

Sheriff Robert Anthony QC deferred sentencing until later this month for reports.

A spokesman for HBOS yesterday refused to reveal how the conmen stole the cash.
But he said: "We originally identified this issue and alerted the police, which shows how robust our systems are. "No customers have lost any money. It was just one very big gamble too far."

Does anybody think this pair of geniuses would have come back from Vegas anything but broke even if they did get away with the bank loot? (lol number three!)


CREDIT CARD FRAUD ROCKS ONLINE GAMBLING INDUSTRY

The following article about credit card fraud rocking the online gambling industry appeared this week in the UK Inquirer. Interesting:

CARD-NOT-PRESENT FRAUD HITS GAMBLING WEB SITES HARDEST

ONLINE GAMBLING firms took the brunt of losses to credit card fraudsters last year, according to data released by APACS, the credit card industry association.

Reports ricocheted around the media last year that card-not-present (CNP) fraud had "rocketed" 44 per cent in the first six months of 2007, to £137 million. The message to retailers and online shoppers was clear: run for the hills.

What anyone failed to consider was what sort of fraud was being committed by these fraudsters. Most of the card scams were being laid on gambling firms. Should that surprise anyone?

As it turns out, the fraudsters were also keen on cheap flights and mobile phones, but the rest of the retail sector had not been hit by much more fraud than the year before. Certainly no where near the 44 per cent everyone was screaming about last year.

According to stats just released by APACS, online gambling firms including the National Lottery lost 61 per cent more to CNP scams in the first half of 2007 than in the same period in 2006. They lost a total of £12.7 million between them.

Travel firms were hit half as much again in the 2007 period as in 2006, while telecoms firms (£11.6 million - mostly mobile phones) lost nearly a third more (£6.4 million )

Mail order and electrical goods retailers, which account for much online business, saw CNP fraud increase only 6 and 3 per cent respectively (£6.7 million and £6.3 million). Online retailers turned over £44 billion last year.

What cannot be denied about those figures everyone was peeing their pants over last year was that fraudsters, finding the newly implemented chip and pin was an inconvenience, started committing their cards from abroad from countries that didn't have chip and pin. Incidences of fraud abroad had doubled to over £108 million.

Stands to reason though doesn't it? You pick up an iffy credit card, what are you going to do? Buy one of those spanky mobile phones with a web browser, jump on an aeroplane and sit on some beach in the Algarve playing online poker. Sorted.

Clive Hawkswood, CEO of the Remote Gambling Association, was unable to explain the figures. There had been no new developments that would explain why gambling firms should be losing more. And it was difficult to verify the numbers.

"Most companies won't admit when they have suffered this type of attack," he said, but added, "We've not had a major attack for some months."

The RGA reckons online gamblers take about £1 billion a year in the UK, which makes their losses to CNP fraud sound piffling. And take a step back: does anyone have any problem with fraudsters diddling money out of gambling firms? Isn't that the sort of thing they make feel-good crime capers about?

Well, if you ask me, I certainly could relate to that!!!

Poker Cheating Online According to Newell

Jennifer Newell, a well known writer on various poker subjects has written this thoughtful article on her views of what's current in online poker cheating. Although I think it is quite informative, she does leave out many major forms of online poker cheating, such as collusion, bot play and possible hacking, probably because they have not made headlines recently. I do agree with her positive assessment of PokerStars. Here's her article; see what you think.

FOR THE PAST SIX COLUMNS, I focused on one single incident of online cheating at Absolute Poker and the scandal that ensued. Prior to that, I wrote about a PokerStars cheater who was caught multi-tabling during a tournament and disqualified from his first place finish. The next few columns will also discuss players who have admitted to breaking the rules of online play.

Subsequently, I have received numerous e-mails during the past few months regarding the safety of online poker. "How do I know my money is safe?" "Which site is the safest?" "How do I keep from being cheated?"

I have no idea.

Just kidding. Let's start with some basic scenarios. Scenario A: You would like to deposit money into an online poker account but aren't sure which site is safest. Visit the websites of those being considered and read through the "Security" or "Integrity" pages. While most have standard legal wording, some give very detailed information about the safety measures in place. There are also contact e-mails listed. E-mail the support department and ask them to tell you why your money is safe there. Research is the key. And if public opinion is what you're after, make a post on the forums PocketFives.com or TwoPlusTwo.com to get feedback from others who have played on the sites you have in mind.

Scenario B: You are wondering if you've been cheated online. Be sure. There is a fine line between being a bad-beat administered by a bad player and being cheated. If you truly believe you have been subject to or witnessed cheating, e-mail the site and ask for a hand history of the table or tournament. Then analyze it. Send a well-written and detailed request to the site to ask for a review based on your analysis.

There are several ways that players can cheat. First is multi-accounting, in which case one player opens multiple accounts and plays them simultaneously. This is difficult for an outsider to detect and should be monitored by the sites themselves. Second is seat-selling, which occurs when an experienced player offers to purchase the account of an amateur player who happens to make it deep into a profitable tournament.

This could be detected by other players who notice a distinct change in style of play, but it is tougher for an online site to prove.

Third is ghosting, a process by which a player gets advice from another player during the tournament. While ethically wrong, this has virtually no chance of being proven or outlawed. Scenario C: Which sites do I recommend? Truthfully, I cannot recommend any site over another. I play at such low stakes and inconsistently that I am far from an expert. However, I will say that PokerStars has demonstrated that they monitor the site for multi-accounting and have taken bold steps in enforcing the rules against it. On the other side of the coin, I would not trust a company like Absolute Poker, as evidenced by my opinions in previous columns.

Currently, I am in the process of asking all of the major online sites that accept U.S. players, including Absolute, to answer a few questions about their security and explain why players should trust them. When sites respond to my inquiries, I will print the answers in future columns.

In summary, be aware when playing online, research as much as possible before depositing funds, and search the poker forums and blogs for opinions and assistance. Trust your instincts but get facts to back them up. And most of all, enjoy online poker as the incredible learning tool and source of entertainment that it is.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Another Italian Tennis Betting Scandal! / 888.com Top 10 Safe Online Casino

888.com TOP 10 SAFE ONLINE POKER ROOM:

To see current safety ratings, click here.

888.com/Pacific Poker is a long-time quality poker room that boasts great traffic, smooth software and a kick ass upfront deposit bonus. You get an INSTANT 25% bonus on your deposit right up front. 888.com has more than 23 million registered members in over 150 countries, perhaps the most popular online gambling site on the Internet. I have not seen any evidence of serious cheating since I've been monitoring this site. Both collusion and bot play have been well below the industry average, and 888.com has never appeared on my list of unsafe sites. For my complete review of 888.com, click here.


ITALIAN TENNIS SCANDAL REDUX!

It's happened again. The Italian professional tennis players have now overtaken their Russian counterparts in the race for tennis "rackets" of the year! And obviously I do not mean the tennis rackets made by Wilson or Prince but rather those strings put together by the Russian and Italian Mafias! The latest tennis player being skewered for illegal gambling is Federico Luzzi, and as are the rest of his countrymen fined and suspended for betting, Luzzi is quite low ranked on the tennis totem pole.

Here's the article on the newswire:

FOURTH ITALIAN BANNED AFTER BETTING ON 836 MATCHES!

THE gambling scandal that has hounded tennis for the past six months has struck again, with Italian world No. 139 Federico Luzzi being banned for betting on 836 matches, including at least one match in which he was involved.

Luzzi is the fourth Italian player to be banned under the ATP's anti-corruption guidelines after Potito Starace, Alessio di Mauro and Daniele Bracciali received bans last November for betting on other players' matches.

Luzzi was named three times in a secret dossier of suspect tennis matches supplied to the ATP by bookmakers and obtained by The Sunday Age. One of those matches was against Filippo Volandri, another Italian, who is named 11 times on the dossier, more than any other player.

In that match, in Sweden last year, Luzzi was leading 6-4, 4-2 before losing in three sets. The ATP said Luzzi had not been found guilty of trying to alter the outcome of any match.

The 28-year-old, who plays mostly on the Challenger circuit, was suspended for 200 days and fined $52,000. He has earned about $500,000 in prizemoney in nine years as a professional.

"An ATP investigation, launched in August 2007, found that Luzzi had wagered 273 times on 836 tennis matches between May 2004 and April 2007," said an ATP statement. "Of these 273 bets, one was a three-euro bet, placed on himself to win. ATP found no evidence of any attempt by Luzzi to affect the outcome of any tennis match. This was a conclusion shared by the independent anti-corruption hearing officer, Dr Peter Bratschi."

Gayle Bradshaw, the ATP's executive vice-president, said that the case further underlined the sport's determination to battle against betting.

"The ATP's tennis anti-corruption program is clear that gambling on tennis matches by ATP players, player associates or staff will not be tolerated," said Bradshaw. "The ATP is committed to ensuring the integrity of our sport."

Several players have said they have been offered money to throw matches since the scandal began, with an investigation into irregular betting patterns in a match between Nikolay Davydenko and Martin Vassallo Arguello in Poland in August. That match is still under investigation.

Sunday, March 02, 2008

Casino Cheating According to a Pundit

I stumbled on this article by Joe Saumarez-Smith, the chief executive officer of Sports Gaming, a U.K. management consulting firm to the gaming industry. Overall, I found it to be pretty informative, although there are a few pointers I might give to Mr. Smith about some of the cheating methods going on out there.

CASINOS, CROOKS DO BATTLE USING TECHNOLOGY:

Fraudsters, cheats and other criminals love casinos. With millions of dollars passing through the hands of fallible employees every day, a casino is like a huge bank but without the controls and paperwork.

Last year was one of the worst on record for employee thefts, according to the organizers of the World Game Protection Conference, which held its annual meeting in Las Vegas last week. That includes a scam in which three employees of Boyd Gaming Corp.'s Orleans casino in Las Vegas allegedly stole more than $1 million.

Casinos used to rely on surveillance cameras and pit bosses to monitor players' behavior. Now they have turned to newer technology to help stop the cheats.

Ideally, new casinos have systems that work like this: As customers walk through the door, cameras backed by facial- recognition software identify them and log them either as a returning bettor or a new player.

From then on, everything they do is monitored. If they sit down at a blackjack table, their profit and loss is recorded, as is how well they played by comparison with a ``perfect strategy.'' Drinks and sandwich orders are also logged, so staff can ask them if they want the same again.

Tracking software on the tables alerts the casino to unusual statistical patterns so managers can intervene before serious money has been lost. Previously, if someone managed to introduce a pre-shuffled deck of cards into a blackjack or baccarat game, it would only be spotted after hundreds of thousands had been lost and the surveillance tapes watched for hours.

Chip Sensors

Software also allows casinos to stop people from ``past posting,'' or putting bets on the roulette table after the ball has landed in the number, because it can detect when a chip has been placed.

New casinos also use radio frequency identification (RFID) chips, which let them track how much money a player is carrying. If a player sits down at a baccarat table and puts $2,000 of chips on the table, the RFID scanner automatically records them. The same scanner can tell that the player has $8,000 more in his pocket and alert the pit boss that this customer might be worth persuading to stay at the table.

These chips are also difficult to counterfeit. Fake chips have been a problem for casinos around the world and have recently been found in play in Malaysia and at Vegas casinos. The technology makes it easy to scan employees for pilfered chips.

Fake Tickets

Slot machines are now almost entirely electronic and pay out vouchers that can be redeemed at the casino's cashier. This cuts down on the amount of cash floating around the casino and creates an electronic trail of all transactions.

Undoubtedly such technological advances have made it much harder to cheat. However, there are still plenty of casinos that can't afford these controls, leaving themselves vulnerable to old-fashioned cheating methods.

Casino bosses also admit that technology makes employees complacent: If they assume that a computer is already keeping an eye on the customers, they are less likely to do so themselves.

Technology can also be used by cheaters and thieves. At the Orleans casino, three workers were charged with manipulating software to print winning tickets for slot machines, according to a Dec. 6 report in the Las Vegas Sun.

Computer Shoe

In 2001, police in Sydney arrested a man for cheating Tabcorp Holdings Ltd.'s Star City Casino out of more than A$70,000 ($64,000) by using a micro-computer hidden in his shoe, according to a report in the Sydney-based Daily Telegraph on March 27, 2001.

While watching the ball on a roulette wheel, Laszlo Kovacs tapped his foot to activate a switch, and the computer calculated how fast the ball was moving and where it was likely to land. A synthesized voice message was then transmitted to a tiny wireless receiver in Kovacs's ear, the newspaper reported.

Of course we don't know many of the ways the crooks and cheaters are employing technology now because they haven't been caught yet -- it may be many years before the most sophisticated techniques in use today are revealed.

Mohegan Sun Casino Cheated out of $40,000! / New March Scam of the Month Posted!

This time it didn't happen at the tables but rather before the cheater got to the tables. Thirty-one-year-old De Jin Lin, who is not known to be associated with any professional casino cheating rackets (mainly the Tran Organization which laid down the world's biggest multi-million-dollar international casino scam last year),has been arrested and charged with using counterfeit credit cards to bilk the Connecticut casino out of forty grand via cash advances.

Lin pulled off these credit capers during a four-day period from February 15th to February 19th, according to casino authorities. Apparently he used as many as a dozen phony credit cards to obtain the cash. But, sadly to say, and more sadly not surprising, Lin gambled away every penny that he pilfered from the casino. So at the end of the day, the casino breaks out even while Lin loses...well, at least a couple of years.

Connecticut State Police got wind of the scam when a man in California received his credit card bill and noticed charges of $2,000 from the Mohegan Sun Casino, to which he had never been. He called the police, which got the investigation of Lin rolling.

Well, I guess this is just another example of the old "revolving door" theory concerning casinos--money in, money out.


MARCH SCAM OF THE MONTH IS POSTED. IT'S THE RAINBOW BLACKJACK SCAM. To read it click here.

London Bookmakers Accused of Cheating Gamblers' Pathology !

Can a gambler accuse a casino or bookmaker of cheating him just because it allowed him to gamble? According to a judge in the UK he can. An article in Casino Gambling Web reports on a case that surely could have the world's legal bookmakers crapping in their pants!

BOOKMAKERS KEEPING EYE ON GAMBLING LAWSUIT IN LONDON

Graham Calvert is suing bookmaker William Hill for money that he lost gambling. Now, Judge Michael Briggs has ruled that Calvert also has the right to expand his lawsuit to include compensation for personal injury.

Bookmakers all over the world will be keeping a close eye on the outcome of the case. A win by Calvert would almost certainly mean that future lawsuits will become frequent against bookmakers.

His lawyers have painted a picture of a man who has lost not only all that money, but also his health and his marriage. His gambling problem is not masked by his lawyers. They say that he was a "pathological gambler".

His lawsuit revolves around the idea that William Hill had been notified by Calvert on at least two occasions of his wanting them to help with his gambling problem.

Calvert's lawyers also claim that Hill went against their self inclusion program by not only allowing their client to gamble, but actually encouraged the gambling.

Calvert is estimating that he lost 2.1 million pounds gambling in a short, six month period. That led him to losing his wife and his life as he knew it.

The judge will ponder the evidence in the case and will release a ruling in writing in the near future. There is no exact date as to when that ruling will come.