Saturday, July 19, 2008

Let The WSOP Cheating, Scheming and Scamming Begin!

Well, there are 114 days left until play begins at the final table of the 2008 World Series of Poker Championship and already I’m getting dozens of e-mails not only asking for my opinion on the prospects for cheating and colluding but also detailed cheating scenarios that people out there are concocting for those nine players lucky enough to be part of this long delay, which will eventually lead down the yellow brick road to a pot of poker millions. In previous blog posts I have spoken about cheat possibilities as well as ESPN’s and WSOP organizers’ and sponsors’ obvious motives to milk out as much publicity and exposure as they can, which is the sole reason for the drastic change in WSOP format. All this is reminiscent of Fox Sports Net’s attempt to run with the giant ball that was supposed to be a six-player winner-take-all freeze-out for a $100 million in 2006 that never came off, mainly because the whole thing was going to be a fraud in the first place, which I exposed in my book “Dirty Poker.”

Getting back to this year’s WSOP Championship, I must say that the way the final table stands right now is very conducive to collusion. This is because there is no dominant chip-leader the way there was back in 2006 when Jamie Gold, the eventual winner and accused “deal renegger,” had a commanding chip lead going into the final table that he turned into a championship and $12 million in his pocket (minus whatever amount he finally gave his backer that he tried to stiff). With nearly all the nine players very much in the hunt and only one short stack, the collusion cheating opportunities are endless. In fact, one e-mailer pointed out to me that if you take all the possibilities and combinations of any or all of the nine players entering into prearranged prize-money-sharing, there are more than a million different ways to cut up the giant cake! In other words, there could be cheating twosomes, threesomes, foursomes, fivesomes, sixsomes, sevensomes, eightsomes…and even ninesomes, although I doubt the first eight players would bother to involve the ninth player in many deals with such a short stack, but who knows?

Do I really think there will be pre-final table deal-making or cheating? Well, since both are one in the same, you can bet your sweet ass there will be! No way are 114 days going to pass without conspiring, scheming, planning and everything else that leads to cheating. Just think of all that time that these nine players—okay, let’s even include the poor guy in ninth place with the tiny stack—are going to have to communicate. How will they communicate? Well, it might start with simple e-mails, then step up to instant messaging, then phone calls and then…well, why not a pre-final table final table? No, it’s not a typo! And it’s not some kind of actual poker play on a final table either. What I’m talking about is a meeting of all nine players around an oval table in a cozy restaurant or lounge, maybe like the Peppermill on the Las Vegas Strip, the same cozy lounge that I often used with my cheating buddies to map out our strategies for hitting the casinos on the Strip. There the “lucky nine” could sip champagne while relishing in thoughts of the money they KNOW they will be receiving on that glorious November day to come…okay, well…maybe the lucky nine won’t be brazen enough to meet in a public place like that but they could rent a suite at the Bellagio and sneak up to it unnoticed and have the champagne sent up by room service. However they choose to do so, 114 days is lots and lots of time to plan and scheme.

And if you think for one minute that this will not happen, then you probably spend half your life watching ESPN!

The World`s Greatest Gambling Scam Did Not Happen In A Casino--It Happened Aboard The Titanic!

Poker Cheating and Casino Cheating have been the main focus of my blog since its inception, but if you will allow me to wander off the beaten track for just this one post and let me tell you about the World's Greatest Gambling Scam of all-time, which, believe it or not, happened on a chessboard aboard the Titanic the night before it hit the iceberg. The ingenious British con artist behind it, Piers Morgan, never got to enjoy the fruits of his master scam, as he drowned in the icy North Atlantic, but the tale of his chess scam made it to safety on one of the Titanic's lifeboats.


One of the greatest gambling scams of all-time did not take place at a poker table but it was certainly hatched on one. Believe it or not, it happened onboard the Titanic, the night before the great ship hit the iceberg. The guy who pulled it off went down with the vessel, but before dying he recounted the scam to a young stowaway while they lay clinging to a life raft in the icy waters of the North Atlantic. The first thing the bowled over lad did upon his rescue was to tell anyone else who’d listen.
Among Europe’s elite and wealthy on the passenger manifest for that fateful voyage was a good old Anglo-Saxon con artist. His name was Piers Mason and he was as dashing and charming as they came. He travelled with a well-heeled and very attractive woman named Isabel, who for some reason resented the upper crust of society and liked teaming up with Mason to rip off its elegant members.
Mason was quite aware of the roster of fortune holders making that historical crossing and wasn’t about to miss it for the world. He had called in all his markers and then begged, borrowed and stole every penny of front money he could without knowing exactly how he’d use it on the ship. The one part of his plan he was sure of was that removing those rich pigeons from their money had to be done through some form of gambling.
Like the riverboats steaming down the Mississippi, the principal form of gambling on the gigantic ocean liner was poker. The nightly high-stakes game onboard was filled with Barons, Earls and varied aristocrats who fawned on each other in several languages, most of which Mason spoke fluently. His first idea was to slip a marked deck of cards into play and thieve his noble opponents by reading their hole cards. But the main problem with that was that some of these people were sharp (after all, most people who’d made fortunes were not idiots) and might notice the markings. In those days, specially made eyeglasses or contact lenses for card scams did not exist.
Isabel and Mason had been in their stateroom dressing into formal evening attire when Piers suddenly called off his plan to mark the cards.
“But how else are you going to get their money, honey?” Isabel asked with comic but great concern.
“I don’t know but I’ll figure something out while I’m playing.”
“That’s right.” Mason’s confidence, like that of all con men, was unshakeable.
“But darling,” Isabel said with a seductive rub embracing his shoulders. “How can you play honestly with them? Our bankroll is only fifty thousand pounds.”
“I will play conservatively,” Mason assured her. “It’s only my presence in the game that is important. While sitting there amongst all that blue blood I will figure something out. Trust me.”
She did and he did…figure something out.
Stuck nearly ten thousand pounds that first night at the gilded poker table, Mason picked up an interesting tidbit in the lofty chatter flowing across the table. Aboard the ship were two chess grandmasters on their way to a prestigious chess tournament in New York. One was Russian, the other German. Both had been invited to take part in the poker game but both professed to be too busy studying their chess strategies and declined.
At a well-chosen moment in the game, Mason, who had by that time ingratiated himself into their crisscrossing conversations, made a statement that none of the regal gentlemen could believe.
“My fiancee can play and hold her own with either grandmaster,” he declared like a bellicose general who knew his troops would recapture the hill.
None of the poker players at first believed his ears, but finally one of them asked Piers to clarify what he meant. When Mason repeated it, another of the players said in amazement, “You think your…fiancee can play chess with Borzov and Heilmann?” Borzov was the Russian, Heilmann the German.
“I’m sure of it,” Mason said in a steely voice, all the while knowing that Isabel had never touched a chess piece in her life.
After a hearty round of chuckling, one of the nobility said to Mason, “Would you care to wager on that? I’m sure I can convince Messieurs Borzov and Heilmann to accept an invitation for a match.”
“I will tell you what,” Mason said boldly. “I will have my fiancee play both grandmasters. I will stake forty thousand pounds (all he had left) that she attains a stalemate with at least one of them.”
They all laughed again. Uproariously. Finally one asked, “Well, then, which of the two grandmasters would your fiancee play first?” He looked around the table seeking mock assurance it was a good question.
Mason shrugged grandly. “She will play both simultaneously.”
Again the laughter roared.
“Simultaneously?” It was a chorus.
“Yes, simultaneously,” Piers repeated for effect.
The majestic group thought the emboldened con man was off his rocker, but the last thing they thought was that he was a con man. After a few more rounds of belly laughter, a wealthy retired British admiral hushed his high-society fellows and stood up at the table facing Mason. He gave the con artist a lookover and then smiled.
“You’re quite a dapper young man,” he said to him, “but I think you’ve lost your marbles. Do you really want to wager forty thousand quid that your girlfr…fiancee can earn a stalemate against either Borzov or Heilmann, two of the greatest grandmasters in the world?”
Mason stood up and met the admiral’s gaze. “Yes, I do.”
The admiral’s eyes scanned the men seated below him at the table. Then to Piers, “Mind if I ask how much money you brought along on this journey?”
“My life savings,” Mason answered proudly.
After a collective exhalation of shock, the admiral asked, “And how much would that be?”
“Fifty thousand dollars.” But Mason did not let it be known that the totality of that sum had been made up of loans and stolen booty.
“And you want to wager forty thousand of it?”
“I’ve already lost the other ten.” Mason indicated the poker table, which drew a guffaw from the men seated around it.
The admiral smiled broadly. “If there’s one thing I admire within His Majesty’s realm it’s one of his subjects with big brass balls. And those, young man, you seem to have. So I’ll tell you what I’m going to do. I’m going to arrange simultaneous matches between your fiancee…what’s her name?”
“…Isabel…and both chess masters, and if Isabel achieves a stalemate with either one I will give you one hundred thousand pounds sterling. You don’t need to put up one penny. If she wins one of the matches, I will pay you one million pounds sterling. I won’t bother mentioning the possibility of her winning both matches because I can’t even believe I had the audacity to suggest that her winning one is somehow possible.”
Piers nodded politely. “And if she loses both matches I owe you nothing?”
The admiral looked around the table as if for concurrence. He seemed to get it. He nodded graciously. “Yes, though I would expect you’d buy us all a glass of champagne and cognac.”
So the admiral and his regal mates set out to organize the match. Naturally Borzov and Heilmann, who each had the large ego typical of any chess grandmaster, were loath to lower themselves to a match with “some unknown woman.” But the admiral promised to sweeten their pies should they indulge him. It seemed he was a man who knew no limit when it came to entertaining himself.
At dinner the evening of the match, the atmosphere buzzed with anticipation of the event. Nobody took the match itself seriously, with the exception of Mason, but nearly everyone was just dying of curiosity to see who this mysterious if not talented could be. Mason had already paid off stewards working the cruise to spread the word that she was extremely beautiful, which was only a slight exaggeration.
The tables were set up in the ship’s grand ballroom. A partition separated them. It was agreed that one-minute intervals would be the maximum between moves. The only request Mason had made of the admiral was that spectators be prohibited from viewing both matches. He explained that Isabel’s concentration would be thrown if people were watching and commenting on her play in two different matches. The admiral, after discussing the request briefly with his peers, consented. The grandmasters as well saw no reason for objection, though they expressed their consent with derisive chuckles.
So chairs for the spectators were set up in such a way that allowed them to view only one of the two matches.
When Isabel made her grand entrance wearing a beautifully tailored, exquisite white evening gown, the audience buzzed first with sighs of delightful approval and then in hushed banter about whether or not this striking woman could play chess. At the time, women had not made significant inroads or contributions to the chess world, and according to Borzov and Heilmann never would.
The match with Borzov started first. The Russian played white, so in all fairness Isabel would play white against Heilmann. Borzov opened by advancing a white pawn. Isabel studied the board with a seemingly practiced eye, then suddenly stood up and gracefully skirted the partition to stand across the board from the German. She made her opening move, waited for Heilmann’s countermove and then returned to her match with Borzov.
Isabel did not sit down again. She moved with poise from table to table, never coming close to the one-minute limit on the clock. After ten minutes, it appeared to everyone on both sides of the partition that Isabel was holding her own and would be no pushover for either opponent. The spectators appeared astounded. The only person not looking amazed by the events unfolding was Piers Mason, and he was also the only spectator aboard the Titanic who knew that before this grand evening of chess, his graceful protégée had never seen a chessboard that was not on display in some fancy store’s vitrine.
Thirty minutes into the matches, Heilmann began to show visible signs of distress. Beads of perspiration began seeping out on his forehead. Not being able to put away an unknown chess opponent was bad enough, but not being able to win out over a woman was a sheer blow to his Teutonic pride. He would not be able to face his friends in the beer halls of Munich. How on heaven’s earth was this woman staying in the match with him?
The admiral, although he seemed amused by the idea of shelling out a barrel of cash should this woman reach a stalemate or better with one of her opponents, seemed to be in the grips of stupefaction.
After an hour, the Russian began coming apart as well. He knew he was playing white, which afforded him the advantage against any player in the world, even those who might be slightly better than him. But in spite of that, each and every offensive move he made was countered perfectly by this beautiful woman. How was this possible? How could he show his face to the genteel New Yorkers at the chess tournament? If news got out he couldn’t beat some woman on a boat, no matter how goddamn big the Titanic was, he might as well just walk outside to the deck, peer into the darkness of the ocean and….
Soon Heilmann was beside himself. He’d played against the world’s best. He’d seen every schematic opening, knew the histories and subtleties of each. They were all vulnerable once the slightest miscalculation was made by the player with white. Virtually every opponent he’d played black against made the slight error Heilmann needed to turn his defending black chessmen into an offensive onslaught.
But not against this woman! Not…what was her name again? Her offensive attack was relentless. All he could do was ward off her thrusts and hang on. And that was only to attain the stalemate. He was leaps and bounds away from thinking about winning. Leaps and bounds! This was madness!
Nearing the end, both grandmasters knew they were helplessly deadlocked with their opponent. It was unthinkable but it was happening. However, the Russian playing white still knew he couldn’t lose the match, therefore would never accept a stalemate. The German, on the other hand, was beginning to believe he could never win the match, and if he lost it (unaware that an iceberg would soon end his embarrassment) would actually contemplate suicide.
In the most humbling moment of his life, the grandmaster Heilmann offered his lovely opponent a draw.
None of the three chess players survived the catastrophic accident to live in the aftermath of that unforgettable night of chess. Neither did Piers Mason. He froze to death clinging onto the raft in icy waters. Only the stowaway Mason confided in before dying would live to tell how Piers and Isabel did it. Mason had told the kid only because he wanted him to brag about it so that everyone in England would remember Piers Mason for having pulled off the greatest scam in maritime history.
I think he did.
Like any fantastic hustle, its beauty was in its simplicity. The fact that Isabel didn’t even know how to move the knight had no bearing on the outcome. Mason’s brainstorm was in recognizing that by having the two matches partitioned off from each other, he could effectively pit Borzov against Heilmann, with Isabel’s role in the challenge being nothing more than a mere messenger between the two. And they managed to keep the audience in the dark as to what was going down.
The key to making the scam work was threefold: having Isabel play white against one opponent and black against the other; having whichever opponent playing white make his move before Isabel opened with white against the second opponent; and allowing a sufficient interval between moves. In that fashion, Isabel was able to get up and prance between the two tables for a full minute before having to make a move.
But she hardly needed the full minute. All Isabel did was take each move Borzov made against her and copy it to the adjoining chessboard against Heilmann. Then when Heilmann countered, she simply took his move and copied it to the chessboard between her and Borzov. The result of this chicanery was that Borzov and Heilmann were engaged in a chess match against each other and neither knew it. To further enhance the scam, Mason came up with the idea to disallow the viewing of both matches by anyone, thus no one could spill the beans that Isabel was plagiarizing both players’ moves.
The scam was truly ingenious. In my twenty-five years of developing fundamentally sound cheating moves, I strove to come up with those that were simple because simplicity always works best. It may seem astonishing that two great minds such as Borzov’s and Heilmann’s were unable to reason how Isabel had managed the stalemates, even more so when the odds of that miracle were in the neighborhood of infinity. But since the grandmasters were so obsessed by their chess-playing and their egos, the thought that the matches might have been a scam never occurred to either of them. I’m sure if they’ve read this passage, they’ve rolled over in their graves.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

More From On Twin Online Poker Cheating Scandals has been following the Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet Online Cheating Scandals, and I like its coverage. Here is the information they have released over the past two days:

Absolute Poker Cheating, Ultimate Bet Cheating, Same Story?
July 15, 2008

Facts have began flying amongst rumors through out online poker world over the last few months as the Absolute Poker Cheating Scandal intertwined with what some refer to as the Ultimate Bet Cheating scandal, and others are purely calling part two of the Online Poker cheating ordeal involving the two co-owned poker rooms and Tokwiro Enterprises.

Those familiar with "Four Flush" will recall the beginning of the saga which began months ago. Online Poker players ferreted out cheating within the Absolute Poker games. Through a community lead investigation that spread throughout forums, poker news websites, and included an incidental data leak that included essential pieces to the puzzle. The cheating at Absolute Poker was confirmed by an independent auditing company contracted by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, who licenses, and some say has a hand in the ownership of Absolute Poker.

Absolute Poker was given what some considered to be a nominal fine, $500,000.00. Much of the online poker community put the incident behind them. There was never absolute disclose, and the facts remained shrouded in a fog of wonderment, yet it would seem that the general public had begun to bore with the topic.

Until recently, when much like what happened before, evidence began to pop up in the two plus two forums, as the online poker community once again seems to be purging itself of cheaters, and community regulating their own poker rooms.

In may, Ultimate Bet admitted cheating within the poker site:

The investigation has concluded that certain player accounts did in fact have an unfair advantage, and that these accounts targeted the highest limit games on the site. 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. Tokwiro is taking full responsibility for this situation and will immediately begin refunding UltimateBet customers for any losses that were incurred as a result of unfair play.- Ultimate Bet

The drama heated up more still when a new someone posting behind a brand new username was registered on the two plus two forums, Brainwashdodo (Brain Washd Do Do). Brainwashdodo posted the following elusive message:

I came to post today with the claim of no less than the so called “nionio” was manufactured by the current management of the company.

Tomorrow or the day after, you will receive an extensive report from both KGC and UB/AP, on how the company was the victim the wrongdoing of the previous management, very similar to Annie’s statements.

I only wanted to come out now, just to say a few words before these new founding’s and the additional refund process begins. Also to give you a hint how the company “found” the “additional accounts and data surrounding the unfair play”. I helped them. My posts will soon to follow these upcoming statements, please stand by, and I see you guys in a few days.

The drama continued when the afore mentioned Ultimate Bet report did not appear. Brainwashdodo didn’t leave the poker community at twoplustwo with a complete anticlimax however, he left an screenshot for the slime investigating group to ponder, a screen shot from the account of online poker player NioNio.

Brainwashdodo missed his mark with this clue in the mystery however, as those behind the curtain had acted first. It would appear that the original NioNio account, said to be involved with the cheating scandal had been deleted, and replaced with a new play money player account.

However, I don’t think brainwashdodo realized this, as he was trying to trace the IP address of the NioNio play money account. -NoLimitLeagues, 2+2 Forums

On July 8th the statement Brainwashdodo had promised came to light. Ultimate Bet told the online poker world that 14 more super user accounts had been uncovered, the following list of alleged super users was unveiled.

Ultimate Bet’s continuing investigation has confirmed that other usernames, in addition to those previously identified on this site, were associated with the cheating scandal.

Twenty 1
The same perpetrators we had previously identified controlled all of these usernames; there are no new perpetrators involved, only new usernames.

We have also confirmed that the cheating dates back further then we initially believed. We can now confirm that the cheating began in January 2005, long before Tokwiro Enterprises ENRG acquired UltimateBet from the previous ownership.

The above was released on the 8th of July, just after the below release, dated the 5th of July 2008

June 5, 2008 - As announced previously, UltimateBet began the process of issuing refunds to affected players on May 29, 2008. Since then, we have continued to investigate additional accounts and data surrounding the unfair play. We have also received inquiries from our customers for a few accounts that we have included in our investigation.

We are confident that we have uncovered the majority of the usernames involved in the fraud and processed the corresponding refunds. However, we are currently analyzing data for additional usernames that appear to have suspicious activity.

If we determine that these usernames were in fact part of the scheme, we will refund the net losses incurred by any customers who played against them.

We expect to have the investigation concluded by June 30, 2008.


Ultimate Bet Cheating - Personal Account Information Exposed by Insider
July 16, 2008

Following the release of 14 more super user account names involved in the Ultimate Bet poker cheating scandal, we hear from the BrainWashdDoDo again the twoplustwo forum poster with insider information regarding the cheaters involved in what has become part two in the largest known poker cheating case online. NoLimitLeagues from twoplustwo summarized the information provided:

brainwashdodo made 2 very long posts showing Transaction Audits for PhilHelmuth, kid55 (Freddy Deeb), and –Fred- (no one knows who this is, a third party said they talked to Freddy, and Freddy says this is an account used by mgmt.)

-His 2 posts also contain 4 links to screenshots of an admin site used by UB employees. He shows the account info for kid55, mamamiya, buckskin, and ShaqTack

Some observations made by forum members at twoplustwo show that the screenshot involving shaqtack’s account discloses five usernames used by the player. 3 of which were listed by Ultimate bet as identified super user, or poker cheating accounts. If there are five, and three are listed, (ShaqTack, Slimpikins2 and Brone_in_l_a) it’s safe to say there are two missing usernames for this person.

NoLimitLeagues posed a question about the omission of these two names in the original release:

here is some data showing -Fred- transferring 10k to ShaqTack, according to this data, this account was closed on Feb 7th 2008 for FRAUD and was able to change his user name (Broke_In_L_A_, slimpikins2, whakme, HolyMucker). Why wouldn’t the last two names be on the list too? maybe they missed some. He started the account Dec 20th, 2005 and the name he used was Dan Francis from Franklin Arkansas)

The release was edited, the names added. This in the opinion of twoplustwo forum members proves that the screenshots are a reliable source of information, it also casts some suspicion on the investigation.

Why the community asked were the two names originally omitted?

More proof that UB is only admitting to the super users that we find. It is also proof that the screenshots are real. It is also proof that brainwashdodo is really a UB employee. -says TwoPlusTwo’s No Limit Leagues

During the Absolute Poker scandal we learned that an Online Poker Super User is created when a backdoor of sorts is left in the poker software that allows these super user accounts to see the whole cards of their opponents live as the game is being played. With that knowledge, the player knows when a bluff is safe, when they have the best hand, when to buy a pot and when they have to lay down their hands as their opponent just hit the nuts.

The Cruelest Card Cheat Trick Of 'Em All!

A legendary gambler named Swifty Morgan roamed Manhattan’s Lower East Side in the 1950s. Swifty was Irish but spent most of his time playing poker with his Italian and Jewish buddies who populated the neighborhood. Both the Italians and Jews knew Swifty was a degenerate gambler who oftentimes took up cheating to recover his losses. His specialty was marking cards, usually done in a crude way by filing down his overgrown thumbnail to a sharp edge. Several times Swifty was caught in the act, whereupon the Italians and Jews alternated beating the shit out of him.
But they never barred him from the game because he was such a degenerate loser. The one rule they finally posted to prevent Swifty’s cheating was to forbid him to bring cards to the games. All decks would be furnished by whichever Italian or Jew hosted the game.
Swifty had a hotblooded Irish temper, and he got pissed off real quickly when he started losing. During a two-month span in the 1955, Swifty’s losing streak took on wacky proportions. He’d finally had enough of losing his bankroll to the Italians and Jews, so he came up with a plan not only to get even with them but to take their bankrolls as well.
There was a small five and dime store in the neighborhood that stayed open till midnight. It was about the only place of commerce that wasn’t closed by nine o’clock. The last time Swifty had been there, he noticed that playing cards were on sale.
One wintry afternoon, Swifty walked inside the store at five o’clock. He went directly to the shelf where the cards were displayed and bought half the supply of Bicycle decks. He took the cards home, and using a knife with a very thin blade removed the cellophane wrapping on the boxes, paying special attention to leave the store’s price tags in place and undamaged. He then carefully slid the wrapping off the first box, leaving the cellophane intact. He used a razor blade to cut open the side of the box, leaving the blue sealing stamp in place on the box’s flap. He removed the cards and began skillfully marking their backs with tiny applications of a daub he’d bought in a novelty store.
Finished marking, he placed the cards back in the box, reglued the open side and very carefully slid the cellophane wrapper over the freshly resealed box. After refolding the wrapper to the exact way it appeared before he’d slit it, Swifty fetched a cloth and laid it over the cellophane. Then he pressed a hot iron lightly against the cloth, sealing the cellophane. Upon final examination of his work, Swifty was satisfied that the deck, still sealed in cellophane and protected by the blue stamp, appeared as though he’d never opened it.
Swifty repeated this process for another nineteen decks. Then he immediately returned to the five and dime store. When the owner wasn’t looking, he scooped the remaining decks on the shelf and dropped them into his sack. Then he restocked the shelf with the twenty decks he’d marked at home. Now every deck of playing cards for sale at the five and dime was marked.
That night, Swifty went to one of the Jew’s houses in the neighborhood. He was swiftly searched by both the Jew and one of the Italians before they allowed him inside. He had no marked cards or cheating paraphernalia of any kind on his person. He was led to the eight-handed poker game upstairs.
The game of choice was five-card stud. The stakes were $10-$20, a pretty steep game for the times. It started at nine o’clock. After half an hour of play, Swifty was stuck $200. By ten he was stuck $350. Growing angrier by the minute and adding a bit of theatrics to his outburst, Swifty had enough. After a losing hand, he tore up his cards.
“Whaddaya do that for, you little twerp!” cried one of the Italians.
“Never mind,” Swifty said indignantly. “I won’t do it again.”
The host of the game fetched a new deck of cards and dealt out the next hand. Swifty lost on purpose. When one of the Jews threw over his winning hole card, Swifty ripped up his cards again.
“Whaddaya do that for, you little asshole!” cried the Jew who won the pot.
“Never mind,” Swifty said indignantly. “I won’t do it again. This time I promise.”
“You won’t do it again?” cried the host. “You can’t do it again. I don’t have any more decks of cards!”
“You don’t have any more decks?” another of the Italians asked in a voice filled with panic. “How we gonna continue?”
“Looks like we’re fucked,” the host observed. Pointing at Swifty he added, “Because of this little Irish piss-ass.”
“Does anyone have any cards on them?” someone asked.
“I would’ve brought some,” Swifty replied quickly. “But you guys forbade me to bring cards.”
“Shut up, asshole!” the meanest of the Italians said. Then to everyone: “None of yuz got any cards?”
Everyone shook his head.
“Shit!” hollered the last Jew. “We can’t even buy any cards. There ain’t nothin’ in this shithole neighborhood open past nine o’clock.”
At this point Swifty looked around the room longingly, preying he’d hear the magic words.
“Wait a minute!” the host said in a burst of sudden excitement. “The five and dime on Fourteenth Street. I forget the name of it, but I think it’s open until midnight…Yeah, it is! I bought some lozenges there one night when my mother had a sore throat. They sell cards!”
An instant later, the last Italian, who was also the fastest runner of the bunch, was out the door on his way to the five and dime. He was back five minutes later with two decks of pretty blue-backed Bicycle playing cards.
Three hours later, Swifty had all their money.
The Italians and the Jews beat the hell out of him on his way out the door. But not because they discovered the marked cards. They just got pissed off because Swifty was leaving with their money.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Greatest and Funniest Reverse Card Trick/Scam Ever!

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.”

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Truth About Slot Machines

I came across an interesting analysis of slot machine technology that includes cheating and rigging possibilites by John Robison, who writes a column for Casino City Times. Some of your questions about random number generators (RNG) and their true randomness might be answered here in this exchange between Robison and a person named Mike seeking knowledge about slot cheating and technology.

Dear John,

I've read many articles about slot machines on the internet and almost all of those are offering: "the truth about slot machines". With full respect to your educational level and your experience I would like to discuss certain questions regarding the slot machines.

1. RNG or random numbers generation?

To my knowledge and experience with the electronics, there is no such thing. There are simulators and algorithms for "random number generation" but in fact they are predetermined numbers and they will come in the same order after the first cycle ends. There are more sophisticated generators but I doubt the gambling industry is using them for the slot machines. How long would be just one cycle of the predetermined RNG engine? Let us say, that slot machines are using 32-bit technology, knowing that 64-bit technology is just lately introduced, but the mathematics will prove that even if they are using 64 or 128 bit technology the one cycle will be relatively very short. Today's microprocessors are making millions of iterations per second. Let's assume that slot machine has the processor running at 2 millions of iterations per second, which will give us 178800 millions of iterations per day. With 32-bit technology we can generate almost 4,3 billion numbers. Obviously the cycle of the RNG will end with in a day, or if they use 64 or 128 bit technology we are talking about a few days, in worst case a week. So, as per my math, the RNG is cycling very often, but there is no jackpot yet. Why? You would say randomness and probability?

2. Probability?

Winning spin and all other spins have absolutely equal probability to appear on the slot machine. Casinos and slot machine owners are not happy with that fact simply because it does not guarantee them a profit from the machine, even the probability is very low. All slot machine manufacturers guarantee the profit with predetermined percentage. Pure randomness and probability cannot guarantee that. Additionally the manufacturers offer machines with different percentage of the payoffs. If you can guarantee percentage that simply means you are controlling either "randomness" or "probability" or both. Logically the best and most reliable controller is pays in and pays off. Otherwise the owners would be exposed to the risk. If you guarantee something you cannot relay on probability and randomness. Everything has to be under full control!

Slot machines work with at least two or more predetermined tables of "random numbers". Pay in and pay off are controlling which table will be active. That is the truth of the slot machines. There is possibility to use the same table if you assign more numbers to the symbol on the reel, but again the number of assigned numbers will be controlled by the machine.

John, I hope you will post my opinion and I appreciate your detailed comments about my statements.

Best regards,

Dear Mike:

You are correct that the RNGs in slot machines are more properly called Pseudo-Random Number Generators because the algorithms use deterministic functions. This fact is well documented. It would be cumbersome for slot writers to point out the the RNGs are really P-RNGs in every article, so we just call them RNGs and make the point that they're not truly random only when relevant to the article. In any case, labs test the stream of numbers produced by the P-RNGs and the stream passes many of the tests for randomness. The P-RNGs are good enough for the purpose of determining outcomes on a slot machine.

According to Casino Operations Management, the P-RNG used by IGT has a cycle of 4.3 billion numbers. The clock speed of the CPU is really irrelevant. Slots are not required to poll the RNG so many times per second. Slots poll the P-RNG only a few hundred or thousand times a second. The speed changes to make RNG cheating more difficult. The P-RNG will also be reseeded at various times, also to thwart RNG cheats.

There's another factor you have to keep in mind. The P-RNG isn't polled until the player initiates a game. The human factor adds another dimension. If you looked at the stream of numbers actually used to generate outcomes, the randomness of when a player hits the spin button combined with the P-RNG may produce a stream of numbers that are truly random.

Let's say that the P-RNG does cycle at least once a day. Why don't we see a jackpot every day? Because not every iteration of the P-RNG is used to generate an outcome. Nearly all of the iterations are ignored.

You wrote, "Winning spin and all other spins have absolutely equal probability to appear on the slot machine." Complete and utter BS. Do you hit three Double Diamonds as frequenly as you hit three mixed bars on a Double Diamond machine?

Machines have different hit frequencies. Do you hit as frequently on a Blazing 7s as on a Wild Cherry? Combinations, winning or losing, have different probabilities of landing on the payline.

It is true however that each virtual stop has an equal probability of being chosen.

"If you can guarantee percentage that simply means you are controlling either 'randomness' or 'probability' or both." More nonsense. Throw a die. Many times. I can guarantee you that the percentage of times you threw a 1 is very close to 16.67%. "If you guarantee something you cannot rely on probability and randomness." On the contrary, I can guarantee something because I relied on probability and randomness.

"Slot machines work with at least two or more predetermined tables of 'random numbers'." Congratulations! Hat trick. More nonsense. There's only one P-RNG algorithm in a slot machine.

I suggest you search for articles on Random Selection with Replacement. The principles behind this method of random sampling explain why a machine's actual payback will be very close to that calculated from the layout of the symbols on its virtual reels in the long run. The program doesn't need two tables of numbers, pay cycles and take cycles or anything else. Randomness alone is enough to ensure that a machine's actual payback will approach its calculated payback.

"That is the truth of the slot machines." I can point you to numerous books, web pages and statutes that confirm my description of how slot machines operate. Where's your evidence?

Best of luck in and out of the casinos,

Rash Of Detroit Casino Employee Cheat Scams!

When I first visited Detroit`s casinos, I was stunned at the level of employee incompetence and how vulnerable their pits were to cheating by both organized and unorganized cheat teams. Now apparently some of those very same employees have been realizing what I had noticed ten years ago, and are doing the cheating themselves! But either some of their fellow employees have wised up or these employees turned cheaters are just not that good--because they`re getting caught!

Here`s some of what`s been happening on the inside in Detroit`s casinos, which, by the way, are still great pickings for good casino cheat teams.


Some employees of Detroit's three casinos think they can beat the system that's in place to protect their workplace against cheats and thieves.

Juanita Marzette Smith of Oak Park, who worked in one of Greektown Casino's count rooms, was fired after she picked up $480 in cash from her table with a tissue she had just used to blow her nose, stuffing the cash in her pocket.

Cynthia Wright of Detroit, whose job at MGM Grand Detroit was to issue Players Club Point cards, duplicated the cards of two patrons, planning to steal $9,050 in winnings.

Abdul Kadir Khukan of Hamtramck, who worked at MotorCity Casino, tried to add a $25 chip to a winning blackjack hand while playing at Greektown.

All were caught -- some on tape. All were fired, and all were charged with crimes.

Despite multiple security and surveillance systems at casinos and the threat of harsh punishment and loss of jobs, a few employees in this cash-rich industry still try to beat the odds.

While loath to discuss individual cases, Michigan Attorney General spokesman Rusty Hills said that between 15 and 20 Detroit casino workers a year are suspended, see their licenses revoked or are fined for violations that include not following casino rules, stealing cash and executing elaborate theft schemes.

Casino management and state regulators understand their exposure to deceit, not just by patrons, but by any of the casinos' approximately 6,300 employees -- who know the systems in place to protect their workplace and might try to exploit weaknesses.

Detroit's three casinos made $1.3 billion in revenues combined last year and handle an average of $1.2 million each during a 24-hour period.

"Where there's money, there's temptation," said Damian Kassab, chairman of the Michigan Gaming Control Board, which oversees Detroit's three casinos. "We have to guard against that."

Swift penalties:
Justice is swift for workers caught cheating the system.

Former Greektown Casino floor supervisor Tywan Bobby O'Neal of Detroit created phony paperwork to award $1,000 in chips to a friend and then tried to discard the evidence.

O'Neal was questioned just minutes after the paperwork that paid his friend $1,000 was not found. Police immediately spotted him getting rid of the paperwork on a surveillance video.

O'Neal fled the scene and never returned to work, dodging police at every attempt to contact him, records show.

Months later, O'Neal was apprehended by U.S. Customs while attempting to cross the Ambassador Bridge into Canada. He pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement and was sentenced to 1 year of probation, restitution and fees.

Khukan, who was caught adding a chip to a winning bet, was immediately questioned after the incident and escorted out of Greektown. The following day when he showed up to his job at MotorCity, he was questioned and arrested.

Regulators do not wait for cases to be finalized in court before they purge employees caught cheating, said Gaming Control Board Deputy Director of Enforcement John Page.

Some of those caught cheating come to monthly Gaming Control Board meetings asking the board to allow them to keep their licenses, though the board cannot reinstate anyone convicted of crimes outlined in their licenses.

Khukan, the MotorCity Casino employee, attended the April meeting saying he was sorry, that he had a family and he needed his job.

Board members typically just listen, unable to reinstate employees caught cheating or who have committed fraud.

Controls are extensive and range from background checks to around-the-clock surveillance, random spot checks of casino equipment -- such as machines, cards and dice -- to guard against tampering.

Employees undergo extensive criminal background checks and must qualify for a license that must be renewed annually.

Committing a crime, particularly involving money, immediately disqualifies employees from keeping their license, and their jobs. Crimes of other natures can disqualify them, too. Assaulting someone also can cost an employee a license.

Money problems, such as a bankruptcy or even excessive debt can keep a potential employee from obtaining a license.

Thousands of cameras:
Surveillance cameras -- 1,500 of them -- watch and record activities at Detroit's three casinos 24-7. On top of the casino's own surveillance, casino staff and security is monitored by the State Police, which has separate surveillance rooms at each casino.

Page is always surprised that people still try.

"There are hundreds of thousands of cameras," Page said. "It seems stupid, but maybe they think someone might not be looking right now."

Kathryn Overstreet, a maintenance worker at Greektown, couldn't resist a purse full of cash at work, reached in and pocketed $300.

O'Neal, the Greektown floor supervisor who authorized a $1,000 payout to his friend, admitted to having attempted the scheme before.

"When asked how many times he and the patron had done this, O'Neal stated once," a State Police report read. "When I told him I could prove a second incident, O'Neal then stated, 'Only them two, that's all.' "

Overstreet, the Greektown maintenance worker who pocketed $300 of a coworker's tip money, initially denied the crime but when faced with a polygraph test, confessed.

Cases don't have to take place in a casino for an employee to be fired. Christina Crosby of Detroit came before the gaming board in April after she was arrested on charges of trying to deposit a phony $25,000 check and withdraw $10,000.

"If you're convicted of a crime that involves moral turpitude or fraudulent activity, it doesn't matter where it is," Kassab said. "You don't have the right or the privilege if you're going to steal someplace else."

Dwindling chances:
Casinos say opportunities to commit fraud have lessened through the decades as more games become computerized and winnings are kept on cards, reducing the handling of cash.

"There's good penetration, but people still want to feel those chips and roll their fingers through them; those are never going to go away," Kassab said.

MGM Grand Detroit spokeswoman Yvette Monet said MGM Detroit, one of the company's newest properties, has state-of-the-art surveillance that can catalog endless footage.

And because so much information is tracked on computers, opportunities for theft are smaller.

"Before, someone would be walking to a cage with a gigantic bucket of coins," she said. "That doesn't happen anymore."

Kassab says with so many eyes, it's amazing people still cheat.

"Sometimes it's an employee in conspiracy with a casino patron; they think they're going to be smarter than the system," he said. "Well, no, they're not."