Saturday, June 07, 2008

New Blackjack Card Marking Cheat Scam!

Here´s a new and very effective version of the old "Spill The Drink Card Marking Scam."

The scam has a player sitting on a blackjack game with the dealer dealing the first card. The player receiving the card in first position sees the card is an Ace and proceeds to spill a drink on the card. The card is quickly changed out by the table games staff and replaced with a new Ace. Little does the staff realize but the cards were in play for almost an entire shift. The player involved in the unknown scam will simply look for the bright white edge of the new Ace when the deck is presented after the new shuffle for the cut. He will cut one card in front of the Ace and have a double digit edge over the house when he receives the Ace.

This scam is very easy to pull off. If you take several decks of used cards and place a new Ace of Diamonds into the mix, the newer white border easily stands out and presents the perfect cut and steer target.

Latest Blackjack Dealer Card Reader Cheat Scam!

Is it possible for a cheating blackjack dealer to work with a partner by signaling out certain card values without typical flashing techniques? There is one clever way to do it:

Have you ever observed the reader device on a blackjack table? It´s the little red, black or green plastic bracket that the dealer slides his cards into to determine whether or not he has blackjack when his up card is either a ten or ace. This reader device, which is installed on blackjack tables to both save time and protect the casino from cheating dealers looking to signal the value of their hole card to cohorts, is often overlooked when casino bosses are trying to spot cheating blackjack dealers.

It is not commonly known that if a ten value card is placed in the reader device horizontally instead of vertically, you will see the index value if the hole card is a ten point card. Now that the dealer has obtained the value, it is as simple as a prearranged signal to the agent on the game. Advanced knowledge of the hole card
NOT being a ten-value card can also be employed as well. Also factor in that most dealers often place their hand on top of the card covering all or most of the card as it is placed in the reader device.

Look at the photos below showing a typical game where the dealer has a Queen as the up card. As shown below the dealer should place the hole card in the reader device vertically. Unless an Ace is the hole card you will not see any symbol and/or index in the optic viewer. When you place the ten point value card in the reader device horizontally, parts of the index of any ten value card will show within the optic. All of the opportunities now present themselves for a dealer/partner scam.

The up card is shown incorrectly being placed in the reader device. An example of the hole card that the dealer sees in the optic is also shown. The King of Hearts is our hole card.

UltimateBet Signs Two Major Poker Pros In Wake Of Cheats Scandal!

Just like Absolute Poker before it, UltimateBet has figured out the best way to sweep the latest major online poker scandal under the rug--sign top of the line "clean" poker pros to join its team to distract attention from the cheating issues. It seems that this now common solution goes hand in hand with online gaming commissions´ lack of meting out any serious punishment to the cheats caught rigging online poker. An article by Gary Trask, who appropriately calls UltimateBet´s actions "damage control," gives the details.

UltimateBet signs two major poker pros in wake of cheating scandal

Call it damage control. Call it good P.R. Or simply call it a case of good timing.

Whatever the case, UltimateBet's signing of two high-profile poker pros -- Eric "Rizen" Lynch and Cliff "JohnnyBax" Josephy -- in the immediate aftermath of a troublesome cheating scandal had a stirring affect on the poker community, prompting the popular pros to try and immediately defuse any questions about a lack of ethics.

"I realize that this decision is not without controversy and assure everyone that it is a decision I did not take lightly," Lynch wrote Wednesday on his blog at, just one day after his partnership with UB was announced. "The most important reason for me personally (I cannot speak for the other pros) is that I believe in my relationship with Ultimate Bet that their management is committed to creating the premier place to play poker online. I believe that the new management 'gets it' and that my input and feedback will be listened to and used to improve the site."

Meanwhile, Josephy added on the Poker Fives poker forums: "I have always enjoyed playing at UltimateBet. The interface and the structure are 2nd to none. It is my belief that management is committed to doing the right things on a going forward basis. Thus, I have decided to support them. I will do all I can to ensure the players really like the improved UB."
Last week, UltimateBet's owner, Tokwiro Enterprises ENRG, admitted that its security had been breached by former employees and accounts with access to opponents' hole cards were used to cheat in high-stakes games.

The company announced that "certain player accounts did in fact have an unfair advantage" and that "the individuals responsible were found to have worked for the previous ownership of UltimateBet prior to the sale of the business to Tokwiro in October 2006." In addition, Tokwiro said that it eliminated the "software hole" that allowed hole cards to be seen and was going to institute new procedures to "prevent, detect and investigate unfair play and fraud."

Lynch went on to say in his blog that he saw no "red flags" as he researched whether or not he wanted to be associated with UB.

"I obviously cannot reveal the details of conversations that I've had with people both internal and external to the company, but I can say that I did more detailed research on this decision than I have any other business related decision in my life," Lynch wrote.

"I talked with and interviewed people both in and out of the company (the people I used outside of the company were contacts that deal with that management team on a regular basis for various reason whose opinions I both highly respect and believed to be unbiased) and not a single word I heard raised a red flag to me."

"If I had ANY doubts in my mind that going forward that the management team at Ultimate Bet did not have security as a top priority and that they had the ability to execute those security improvements in the future we wouldn't be having this conversation because I would not have signed with them."

In 2007, Lynch cashed five times at the World Series of Poker and made two final tables, winning over $163,000. His online successes are well documented. Last December, he finished first in Event #5 of UltimateBet's Online Championship (UBOC), securing $57,875. On May 1, Lynch won $10,400 after capturing UltimateBet's $40,000 Guaranteed Sniper tournament.

"We're extremely impressed with Rizen's talent both at the online poker tables and at land-based tournaments," said Annie Duke, UltimateBet's Cardroom Consultant, of Lynch, who also announced on his blog that a "significant portion" of his proceeds from Ultimate Bet would go to charity. "But we're most impressed with the integrity and strong values he shares with Josephy."

Josephy, a WSOP Bracelet winner and New York native, joined UB's list of Star Players just one week before Lynch and took his place at the online poker room alongside other pros like Shawn Rice, Scott Ian, Mark "P0ker H0" Kroon and Gary "Debo34" DeBernardi. Josephy won his bracelet at the 2005 WSOP, Event #8. His most lucrative win, however, came in September of 2006 at the UltimateBet Aruba Poker Classic, where a second place finish earned him nearly half a million dollars.

"A Star Player is one who has an undisputed high level of skill, lots of integrity, and is well respected in the world of online poker," Duke added. "One look at his impressive record reveals that JohnnyBax epitomizes a Star Player and is the perfect addition to our roster of respected and talented poker players."

Friday, June 06, 2008

James Bond Poker Cheats Caught in Cyprus Casinos!

A new tiny-hidden-camera scam has been busted in Cyprus, no doubt targeting poker variant games that now appear regulary in casinos across the world. Back in 2005, we saw the "Three Card Poker Gang" caught with their mini-cameras in their sleeves in London after bagging more than a half million bucks in profits. Now we have a Russian gang going down for the same gig in Cyprus, and more and more I´m seeing Eastern Europeans at the forefront of high-tech-gadget casino cheating. Remember, it was a group of Hungarians who put down the famous Ritz roulette scam back in 2004 with laser scanners embedded in cell phones. Just like the Russians took over the fraudulent credit card business, they´re taking over the casino cheating business!

The headline in the Cyprian Famagusta Gazette read:

"James Bond" mafia ring caught Cheating in Cyprus!"

Four Russians appeared in court in occupied northern Cyprus accused of trying to swindle thousands of pounds from casinos by using "James Bond-style equipment" to try and beat the casinos.

The men, dubbed "The James Bond Mafia" by local press, cheated casinos by using pin-hole cameras hidden in cigarette packets, tiny microphones and even a van equipped with "enough surveillance gadgetry to conduct a full scale CIA operation".

Satellites, shortwave radio, internet and other cutting-edge devices never seen in Cyprus were discovered in the van, which was stationed outside the casino in a car park.

The officer leading the investigation told the Famagusta Gazette that after they found two suitcases of high tech gadgets in the Russian men’s hotel suite he knew they were dealing with highly skilled criminals.

The target of the gang was the popular "Viva Casino" in Kyrenia, where the Russians carried out their operations for over a week, before raising the suspicions of the casino detectives – who in turn, carried out their own surveillance on the Russians.

According to allegations, the Russians had perfected a fine-tuned system and had been moving from casino to casino in the occupied areas. The Viva Casino reported the men had taken over US$18,000 from them last week in "winnings".

If found guilty, the gang could face up to 10 years in prison

Monday, June 02, 2008

Followup To My Article On Poker And Steroids Cheating

Last month I wrote an article about doping in the online poker world. Today I found this followup article on the PokerVerdict website written by Hugo Martin. As he says about my article, I found his to be pretty interesting as well, and worthy of putting on this blog. So please read it and let me know what you think...and don´t forget that this article was written before UltimateBet admitted to the huge online poker scam on its site.

Pills, Thrills and Bad Beats
Doping and Poker, the Future of Tournaments?
By Hugo Martin 30 May 2008

A recent article in Gambling Online magazine by Richard Marcus focused on using pharmaceutical drugs in order to enhance one’s poker game.

The article was interesting and maybe a touch hysterical, claiming that this was the dawn of “poker steroids” and seemed more concerned about players taking drugs like Modafinil and Adderall when they played online.

Whilst I agree that there is an issue about the use of these drugs in big buy-in live events, getting worked up about some kid taking these pills while they multi-table online seems a bit pointless. As I have written somewhere else, online poker is the Wild Wild West, anything goes baby!

You only have to look at recent online cheating and ghosting scandals to know that there is plenty of monkey business going on. The ZeeJustin multi-accounting and Sorel Mizzi ghosting fiascos were probably just the tip of the iceberg on those fronts, let alone the superuser debacles at UltimateBet and Absolute Poker.

Basically, when you’re playing online you have no clue what your opponents are up to. Who cares if they’re taking recreational or prescription drugs that help their game? You’re playing because you want action, and maybe the only action you can get is online with some nutter who is doped up to the eyeballs who also happens to be asking his roommate, and other various buddies who have dropped round for a couple of beers, how he should play this next hand.

Capiche? When playing internet poker, remember rule number one, Caveat Emptor.

Playing live, though, is a whole ‘nother ball game. I shall specifically address tournaments as these days poker is considered a sport, especially the big buy-in events such as the WSOP, EPT and WPT main events.

Modafinil and Adderall are primarily prescribed for ADHD, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder and narcolepsy. In other words they help you pay attention, and stay awake. Modafinil has been used by the military to aid the performance of pilots and soldiers in combat situations.

Mike Matusow is on record talking about various medications he has used and how different combinations have helped him maintain focus during long tournaments. Diagnosed with bi-polar disorder (also known as manic depression) Matusow has been frank about how having his prescriptions changed have helped or hindered his game.

From an interview with InsidePoker magazine he gave in 2006 Matusow talks about the reason he went out 64th after having a very healthy chip stack in a big tournament in Atlantic City,

“I was fucked up on the wrong medicine my doctor gave me and it had me suicidal at the table.”

Another player who has benefited from popping pills is retired poker pro Paul Phillips. According to Wikipedia Phillips claimed that Modafinil and other drugs aided his concentration in big tournaments which led to him winning over $2 million, including a WPT title, during his time as a professional poker player. The drugs had been prescribed to him for treatment of ADHD.

Obviously these two players had serious medical issues and therefore legitimate reasons to be taking these drugs. Performance enhancement at the poker table was a happy side-effect. Will loads of poker players decide that they suffer from ADHD or suddenly decide that they have always been bi-polar, but just never realized it before, just so that they can get the “right” prescriptions? Maybe Mike the Mouth will find a new line in selling his meds.

At the moment there are no rules regarding drug use in poker, but if there are going to be rules implemented where do we draw the line? We all know players who suddenly find a bit of confidence after one or two drinks, should that be allowed? Or what about the players who loosen up too much after a couple of drinks? Nobody is complaining about them.

What about illegal drugs? Cocaine, marijuana and so on. I suspect half of the Amazon room at the Rio would have to be ejected if that was the case. How fair or unfair is it? Taking the example of the two players above those are cases where both players were already skillful at a high (no pun intended) level.

Giving an already good player more of edge by being able to perform longer mentally and at a more concentrated level than normal certainly sounds disadvantageous to the rest of us mere mortals. According to Richard Marcus in Gambling Online, Modafinil,

“not only helps in gathering knowledge with a sharp, observational outlook, but also in applying intellect without normal taxation”

I can already hear mass-clicking on Google trying to look up where they can get a hold of some of this Modafinil. “Applying intellect without taxation”, you mean you won’t even have to try? Sounds good doesn’t it?

Marcus goes onto write that it may be possible that the drug can also help wipe out tilt, enabling a player to see beyond the immediate result and instead focus on the big picture. Wow, I know a lot of players who would like that.

Is it possible for tournament poker to become like cycling or athletics? Where if you are not taking anything you are the odd one out and in fact have given yourself almost no shot at winning? Poker players and shrewd gamblers are always looking for an edge so this sort of scenario could well end up being a reality. After all, if you’re as good as Phil Ivey then maybe the only way to beat him is to give yourself that little bit more mental muscle.

But, let’s not forget the luck factor. Fortunately poker, and especially tournaments, as we all know, has a large element of chance built into it so in a way it doesn’t matter if some ice cream opposite you is loaded up on “brain steroids”, he is still not immune to bad beats just like the rest of us.

Also, it has to be said, that pretty much every really good player has actually worked very hard on their game, logging in hours and hours, online or live, of hand after hand. No amount of Adderall or Modafinil can be a substitute for experience.