Friday, August 29, 2008

European Gangster Kingpin Murdered Over A Poker Cheating dispute!

Romanian police say they have deployed about 600 officers in a southern city where a gang leader was killed in a poker game. Police spokeswoman Florentina Popescu says the police were sent to Craiova to keep rival gangs apart after 41-year-old Mihai Parvu was shot early Tuesday by another poker player over suspicions of cheating.
Another man suffered stab wounds in the altercation and is reported in stable condition. Parvu died in the main hospital of the city, about 158 miles (255 kilometers) west of Bucharest. Dozens of rival gang members gathered outside the building. Gang shootings are rare in Romania, but there have been several clashes in Craiova between members of the underworld, and many of them over disputes in poker games where one gangster accuses another of cheating!

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Interesting Take On Poker Tournament Chip Cheats and Scandals

Have you ever heard of Russ Georgiev? I have heard his name mentioned several times and come across it on the Internet; he claims to be a poker cheating guru and was supposed to write a big book about poker cheating about the time I released Dirty Poker in March, 2006. Well, I never saw the book and don't know if it ever came out, but in spite of that, the guy seems to have some solid views on poker cheats and cheating that coincide with my own. Today I came across this article of his that talks extensively about chip-cheating in major poker tournaments, which I had always claimed was significant, as evidened by the appearance of counterfeit tournament chips at the 2005 WSOP at the Rio Hotel/Casino in Las Vegas--not once but twice! In any event, I read the article and felt it was worthy of publishing on my site. What do you think?


I know that there is cheating going on in EVERY MAJOR TOURNAMENT that is played. I also assert that the chip count in EVERY MAJOR TOURNAMENT, from the World Series on down, cannot come out correct.

The reason? There are chips missing from the chip racks before that tournament starts! Those chips are the ones the casinos don't tell you about.

MISSING from the casinos' tournament chip racks!

Do you think the Land Based Casino's will do something about it after reading this article?

I am willing to bet as much as anybody that the chip count will NEVER come out right in ANY major tournament.


I will bet on it! Any takers out there? I didn't think so.

I, Russ Georgiev, gave Mike Caro (famous poker book writer) some World Series of Poker (WSOP) chips before the tournament started. Since I know there were chips being given about before the tournament how could their chip count at the end of the tournament possibly be accurate? IT CANNOT BE ACCURATE AS LONG AS THERE ARE CHIPS OUT!

I will not buy the part [they are souvenirs that are missing]. Cmon you can fool some of the suckers some of the time - but really you folks don't actually believe the excuses that Casino's give for having 10% more chips at the end of the tournament - DO YOU?

So how do poker players add chips to a tournament?

There are a few ways poker cheats can add poker chips to a big tournament. It is as easy as one two three. Cheaters can use chips from smaller buy-in events [believe it or not the tournament organizers use the same chips in the big events - how stupid is that] and stock up for the Tournament of Champions, in advance, at a minimal cost.

Every single tournament at the Bicycle Club results in millions of extra chips. Perhaps the Bicycle Club should invest in new poker chips and institute measures to audit them before AND after each tournament. The Bicycle is irresponsible, and management KNOWS the chip count is never correct in a tournament. Maybe if someone sued the Bicycle all this cheating in chip counts would be corrected. If big time poker tournaments were fortune 500 companies all the CEO's would be locked up in prison for financial inpropriety. Why is it that the Bicycle Club never tells the public how many chips are in play 5 minutes after the number of participants are fixed (or the number of rebuys over and done). Is it so difficult to believe that a poker room running a million dollar tournament has a clue as to how many chips in play every minute of the tournament - COURSE they do. Yet for reasons that are perfectly clear to me they will not tell anyone how many chips they have bought, nor how many chips they have on hand. If that information were known, it would certainly blow the lid off the CHIP SCANDAL has been going on for a long time.

There are several ways you can be cheated in a tournament, and I'm going to cover them right here for you.


1. In tournaments, there is collusion, where two or more players play in concert with each other to gain an unfair advantage. It is hard to detect and hard to prove and that type of cheating is not our my focus here but now you know it exists. And those people who claim there is absolutely no advantage to colluding in a multi table tournament have no clue what they are talking about ... and usually they are saying that because they are the one's right there colluding.

2. There is chip scamming, where a single player adds illegally obtained chips to his stack during play.

3. There is also a combination of collusion and chip scamming: teams of players passing illegally obtained chips back and forth during play. This type of cheating and the nonchalance of management when it comes to dealing with it is my main focus in this article.

First I would like to go into a little aside regarding how big an advantage it is to have an extra two or three thousand chips in any poker tournament where you started with a few thousand chips:

Do you realize what an incredible advantage it is if you begin a tournament with $5,000 in chips while the other players are starting out with only $2500? Your extra chips may not actually come into play in a given tournament, but they are worth their weight in gold if you need them. You can add and subtract from your stack as needed, depending on your chip position in the tournament. There is a lot of money at stake in tournaments, and team having extra chips to play with is ALWAYS involved.

But when you consider a group of players not only playing in concert with each other, but also handing chips back and forth to keep their teammates in the action, the advantage increases greatly. When you're in the middle of a tournament, and have $28,000 or $26,000 in chips in front of you, who's going to notice if a few thousand chips extra in the mix. It's easy to just palm a few and slip them into a pocket or down an open shirt. A FEW LESS CHIPS WILL LIKELY NOT AFFECT THE OUTCOME OF YOUR PLAY IN THE CURRENT TOURNAMENT, but those chips can be INVALUABLE in another tournament when you really NEED them. And it happens ALL the time. If you only have $2,000 early in a tournament and have another four or five thousand to slip in along the way, it WILL impact your chances in THAT tourney. During the break is when chips can be exchanged very easily. Before that it's a little harder, but it is done. An accomplice will have extra chips, and he passes them around to the team as needed. Chips are distributed amongst teammates who are up, and they pass chips to teammates who need them to remain in play.

Just a couple of chips can be vital in a situation like this. Another good time to add or remove chips is when a table breaks. Just pick up your chips, pull some out of a pocket and sit back down in your new seat. Or, you can get some from a teammate. Who's going to notice if you've got a few more chips than when you got up from another table? Getting past the first break is key. Then, everything possible must be done to keep the team going after the break. Everyone on the team is needed. However, just because you are on a team cheating in this manner does not guarantee you a win. Even with cheating, you don't win every time. The main objective in tournament team-cheating is to get to the final table. A good team can do it more than 50% of the time. The first goal is to get to the break, hoping that your partners don't need chips, but always watching to see if you can help any of them. One level at a time is conquered, keeping teammates in by passing chips back and forth, back and forth, even if only a couple at a time. The ultimate goal of the team is to make money. Most cheaters of this type prefer to keep a low profile, and will usually make deals for a split at the final table. Most cheats want to avoid any publicity that might come from a real win. At the final table, a deal is almost always struck to split the money. Some cheaters will then just lose intentionally after the deal is made. The winner MAY get a little more than the others, as well as the publicity and any additional prizes, such as trophies. As I said, the vast majority of tournament cheats would rather just have the money, but there is a small percentage who also want the glory. As outlined above, the most relied upon method for getting spare chips is to just remove them from a previous tournament. It is a tremendous advantage to have extra chips EARLY in a tournament. Like I said before - extra chips are worth their weight in gold. The best tournaments from which to procure extra chips are re-buy tournaments. There are plenty of chips to go around. A couple of re-buys may seem expensive but, since you can apply them at will when they are needed, it is an undeniable advantage and a bargain for the cheater. People that I know are always cheating tournaments in this manner.

Casinos know about them too but, obviously, they will not tell you. Casinos will tell you that the chip count is right, but they are lying.


An independent audit of the chips could easily prove this. Pat Fleming was caught in the Orleans tournament on videotape. What happened to him? Not much; he was barred from that casino, but is free to play other tournaments. Some punishment.

Think about how many people are doing this and NOT getting caught. Think about how long it has been going on. People complain to management, but management says, We didn't see it. So nothing is done. The casinos are participating in a CHIP SCANDAL! What are they doing to protect you, the honest player? NOTHING!

What about TEAM PLAY - how many players does it take to gain an advantage in a tournament?

As few as two players can have a big advantage, if they play correctly. A team of four players, even without any extra chips, can be lethal. They are just plain cheating - playing carefully (keeping their teammates' chip stacks in mind), and making plays to enhance each others' stacks.

The Casino's have video tape of every tournament and they have their chip racks - so you'd think they would know if chip counts vary and when - right? WRONG. They don't care.

The count NEVER adds up correctly at the end of the tournament. There are no telling HOW many chips are missing from every major tournament. Aren't you angry about this? Don't you wonder why the casinos aren't doing anything? How many chips are missing from various tournaments you ask? Russ Georgiev can't answer that question. But the Bicycle and the Rio (owned by Harrah's) can. They know how many chips they have bought over the years, and they know how many they have on hand. No one is accountable except the casinos and, since they won't take any action on it, they are party to a CHIP SCANDAL! You people who are serious about playing honest tournaments in the World Series of Poker or on the World Poker Tour then you should pay heed to this; demand that the casinos produce some evidence that their chip count is correct. They certainly have the information, and it would be very easy to do. But it won't be done because, if that information were known, it would be proof that they have participated in a CHIP SCANDAL over a long period of time! TOURNAMENTS are the MOST CORRUPT EVENTS in POKER. As I said, I personally gave Mike Caro some WSOP chips before it started. I also gave him some chips from the Legends of Poker Tournament. Can the chip count in these tournaments come out right? You already know the answer: HELL NO, IT CAN'T! THERE ARE CHIPS MISSING! I did not tell Mike how many more chips I have. And I can't tell him how many more are available. I only know about the ones I have, and about chips that are available to me. I do know that I can get chips for just about ANY tournament I want. But then, I don't play tournaments. Like I said, I think they are more corrupt than anything else in a casino. The casinos know how many chips are missing. They just don't want YOU to know. Even the "Johnny-come-latelys" know how to cheat the tournaments. And they do. The real questions are:

1. Will anyone do anything about this CHIP SCANDAL?

2. Is anyone willing to take on the casinos and demand that all their tournaments be run honestly?

3. Do you even care?

I do care - that's why I write about it and spell it out for all to see.

Russ Georgiev

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Online Indictment of Russ Hamilton in UltimateBet Poker Cheat Scandal!

PokerPlayer's Jennifer Newell wrote this article today linking Russ Hamilton, the 1994 WSOP main event champion and former owner of the online poker site UltimateBet, to the recent gigantic and monsterous Ultimate Bet cheating scandal. I met Hamilton a few times over the years and cannot say what if any direct involvement he had in the scam, but I am awfully curious.

UltimateBet has its hands full and some explaining to do, as does former UB owner and 1994 World Series of Poker main event champion Russ Hamilton.

The UB scandal officially began in January of 2008 when the site’s management acknowledged that there was some credence to players’ claims of cheating. But by July 2008, after the official investigation had been ongoing for at least four months, UB confirmed that the cheating actually began in January of 2005, meaning that it could have been going on for nearly three years. In the fourth month of the investigation, new accounts were still being linked to the software glitch that allowed one or more super-users to cheat on the site.

Enter the biggest glitch of all, courtesy of Nat Arem, the rogue investigator/poker player who was a key figure in breaking the Absolute Poker scandal wide open. That glitch’s name is Russ Hamilton.

Arem took some information he was given and began researching confirmed super-user account names. Three names --nvtease, NoPaddles, and sleepless—given to Arem by a whistleblower at UB, were linked back to one address in Las Vegas. The address belonged to none other than one of the owners of UB during the time the scandal was confirmed to have happened. Russ Hamilton bought the home in 2006. At the very least, three of the super-user accounts in the UB scandal were directly connected to the Hamilton family during the time that the accounts were being used to cheat players on the UltimateBet website.

While it may sound as if dots are being connected by an unauthorized person in this matter, a source tells me that Hamilton is being implicated in the UB scandal, as evidenced by his having hired an attorney, and that Annie Duke and Phil Hellmuth—both UB-sponsored players—had knowledge of Hamilton’s alleged involvement prior to Arem’s revelation.

My request to Russ Hamilton for an interview or statement was not returned.

Others have attempted communication with Hamilton as well. Barry Greenstein and Joe Sebok asked Hamilton to make an audio appearance on PokerRoad Radio, and though Hamilton declined for the July 16, 2008 show, he did invite Greenstein and Sebok to come to his home for a private discussion. Hamilton’s lawyer was present during the meeting. According to Greenstein and Sebok, Hamilton claimed that when all of the facts are eventually revealed, he will be cleared of any wrongdoing. And his lawyer, while advising his client not to respond directly to the allegations with an alibi or other explanation, asked why the public was unable to “unable to wait a couple months.”

At press time, a spokesperson for UB has accepted my request to answer questions but has not yet done so. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC), the regulatory commission that issues gaming licenses to companies like Absolute Poker and UltimateBet, released a statement to note that the main objective has been to identify and reimburse cheated players on UB, which has been done, and correct the flaws that allowed these breaches to occur. The statement read, in part:

“The KGC’s investigation into the UltimateBet matter has yielded a number of key findings which, within the next several days, will enable the KGC to issue its decision on the appropriate steps to be taken.”

For now, the public waits. We wait for answers from UltimateBet in the form of a resolution to an ongoing scandal that continues to get worse, a formal decision from the KGC, official charges against Russ Hamilton, and/or a statement from him regarding recent allegations.

Two Old-Time Reno Casino Dealers Busted For Cheating, One Over $9!

Shame on the Nevada Gaming Control Board's Enforcement Division! How can they bust a 61 year-old dealer for pocketing nine bucks! It's sad enough that a man of that age is to be found dealing blackjack at the lowly Cal Neva casino in Reno! This is probably due to the fact that the NGCB Enforcement Division can't get anywhere near the big-time casino and poker cheats!

Two casino dealers were arrested during the weekend on suspicion of cheating, authorities said Monday. Booked into Washoe County Jail on suspicion of cheating at gambling were John Gosnell, 61, and Dale Solem, 78. Nevada Gaming Control Board Deputy Chief Ed Yenick said arrests of casino dealers are rare but seem to increase during times of economic decline. Gosnell, a blackjack dealer at the Club Cal Neva in Reno, is accused of placing a losing bet the dealer had a stake in as a tip on a winning hand, making $9, according to the GCB. Solem, a poker dealer at the Grand Sierra Resort, was accused of adding chips to his rack during a poker tournament.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Student Claims To Be Able To Expose Blackjack Card Counters--I think He´s Full Of Crap!

Yet another so-called math geek/wizard claims to have invented the ultimate defense system for casinos to spot blackjack card counting players. It´s the same old story of using digital video cameras and statistical analysis to identify who the following UK Sunday Times Article inaccurately calls "casino cheats." The newspaper needs to be informed that blackjack card counters are NOT casino cheats, and I think they have given the subject of their article way too much credibility. Here´s their article:

Student Exposes Casino Cheats.

Creator of Automated Surveillance System Claims to Unmask Blackjack Card Counters.

AN IRISH mathematician could help to clean up the world’s casinos after devising a system for detecting cheating in Blackjack, one of gambling’s most popular card games.

Wesley Cooper, a PhD student from Trinity College, Dublin, has created an automated surveillance system that can spot if a player is “counting” cards. Using “smart” video cameras and statistical analysis, Cooper’s system can build up a profile of players and spot anomalies during a game.

“Blackjack is beatable if you have a good maths brain,” he said. “At the moment, casino surveillance staff have to watch the tables and try to identify suspicious play using their experience and instincts. This system does the same job automatically using computer-vision techniques and algorithms.”

Clear Deal, which Cooper developed at Trinity’s Graphics, Vision and Visualisation research department, is being tested with an international casino operator. “The feedback has been good and I’m hoping that other casinos will adopt the technology once the trial is over,” he said.

As part of his research, Cooper worked as a croupier in Las Vegas. “I learnt that one of the most important things in a casino is to build up a profile of each serious player, so they can identify the ‘profitable’ patrons and target them with complimentary drinks and food to keep them at the table,” he said.

Cooper’s system, funded by the Irish Research Council for Science, Engineering and Technology, compares each decision a player makes to that of a “perfect” simulated player to determine a gambler’s skill.

“It can determine if someone is proficient or just lucky. A skilled player with a good mathematical mind can count cards, giving them a statistical edge over the casino. Blackjack is 3,000 years old and people have been counting cards as long as it has been around,” he said.

Players who count cards gain an advantage in Blackjack by keeping track of what cards have already been played from a deck. Knowing what cards are left allows a player to decide how much to bet and gives them a slight but potentially valuable advantage over the casino, typically between 0.5% and 2%.

Although not illegal in most casinos, they reserve the right to ban players for counting cards.

Teddy Hickson of the FitzWilliam Card Club in Dublin says counting cards gives players only a tiny edge. “It’s a slight advantage, but it can be significant. If we catch someone, we would ask them to leave and make it known that they weren’t welcome back,” he said.

The system was recently dramatised in 21, a film starring Kevin Spacey and Kate Bosworth, which tells the story of how a group of maths students from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) won more than €500,000 from Las Vegas casinos by counting cards. Raymond Babbit, the autistic savant played by Dustin Hoffman in the film Rain Man, also beats the odds at a Las Vegas casino by counting cards.

Hickson said that monitoring games such as Blackjack is hugely labour intensive. “We spend a huge amount of money ensuring that it’s nigh-on impossible to cheat by monitoring betting patterns and keeping a close eye on players. At the moment, the dealer watches the players and an inspector watches the dealer.

“A pit boss watches everything and, on average, we have between two and four cameras on each table,” he said. “If a system could be found to streamline the monitoring, it would be hugely popular with casinos but my instinct is that it would be difficult to replace human intuition.”

Cooper said: “I saw 21 [the film] and the automated system we’ve developed would have identified what was going on and alerted the casino that it was being targeted.”

Enterprising Las Vegas Casino Cheats Do More Than Cheat The Casinos!


Some notorious casino cheats had other scams going in addition to trying to take down Las Vegas’s glitzy casinos. One of these was the infamous Kansas City mobster Tony "The Ant" Spilotro, upon whom a character in the Martin Scorcese film Casino is based. While having a run of bad luck at the gambling tables in the early 1980s, Spilatro had an innovative idea for burglarizing Sin City’s luury hotel rooms. First thing he did was to grease certain hotel registration clerks working in the top casinos on the Strip. Then when one of these clerks became aware of the impending arrival of an extremely wealthy international high roller to his hotel, he informed Spilotro and reserved him a suite in a phony name adjoining that of the high roller.
Spilotro knew that many of casinos’ superrich preferred clientele did not bother with storing valuables in safe deposit boxes on the casino floor. It was too much trouble having to go through the process and the waiting each time they wanted to get into their boxes. And many did not trust or bother with the mini-safes in the hotel suites, thus they often left their valuables hastily hidden in their rooms. So when the clerk checked a member of Spilatro’s gang into the suite adjoining the high roller’s, the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang was ready to go to work.
They waited for the high roller to go down into the casino, where he was kept under surveillance by one of the gang, who’d alert Spilotro upstairs if the mark entered the elevator to go back up to his room. Then they got out their top-of-the-line Black and Decker power drills, equipped with customized noise reduction jackets expertly made in an auto repair shop owned by the mob (like car mufflers in theory), and began drilling through the wall into the adjoining suite. Once the hole was big enough to walk through they simply did so and rummaged the suite until they came upon cash, diamonds or other kinds of booty, or had to face the fact that this one was just for a view of an identical suite.
Two-dozen suites got hit in less than two years. When the cops investigated the “drill-ins” all they discovered were phony names and ID documents from hotels’ registration records and rooms containing no fingerprints other than those belonging to the victim or hotel employees. A connection to the front desk clerks was not suspected. The press lapped up the story and one mob reporter, who only assumed it was a mob operation involving several perpetrators, nicknamed them the Hole-In-The-Wall Gang in his series of articles.
And it was not only hotel rooms getting hit. In the middle of the night jewelry shops in malls were drilled into from neighboring stores rented and then abandoned afterward by the gang. Spilotro also hired mules, furnished them with fake ID and had them rent apartments in luxury highrise condominiums, where an assortment of people prone to have large sums of cash and jewelry in their apartments resided, mainly high-class call girls and drug dealers. When the cops investigated these residential cases all they found was the other side of the hole. In the apartments adjoining the victims’ there was never a single piece of furniture or anything else that left a clue of someone having recently lived there.
But one member of the gang was not happy with his share of the booty, so he called the cops on Tony, who was arrested in his own luxury highrise condo, which happened to be in a building where his gang had hit two apartments. The cops not only found the drills but even their bits containing plaster from the last wall they drilled through. The evidence was rock-solid and Spilotro was convicted and served several years in prison. Soon after his release he was found in the trunk of a car in Kansas City with several holes drilled into his body—though not from a Black and Decker but rather a Smith and Wesson.

Accused Online Poker Cheat Claims Innocence

Phil Tom "vehemently" denies 911 reports

Allegations in reports carried by online gambling information portal Gambling 911 that he was the subject of a sealed indictment in the United States have been "vehemently" denied by Phil Tom, father and alleged investor in Absolute, which is widely believed to have been founded by his son Scott. Tom spoke directly to online poker information site Poker Daily News regarding rumors that he had been indicted in connection with the hole card cheating scandal at Absolute
Poker, indignantly denying involvement and saying: "I don’t know what I’d be indicted
for! How do they know what’s in the supposed indictment? It’s sealed!" He went on to threaten legal action, claiming that the reports represented "unfounded falsehoods." Tom is a portfolio manager by profession and he asserted that the negative publicity was neither warranted or welcome: "I’ve already had three phone calls today from people I know wanting to know if I’m okay. This rumor is getting out to people and I’m a portfolio manager. This isn’t good for business," he told a Poker Daily
News staffer.

My take on this? Well, I wouldn't stake my last dollar on either his innocence or anyone else´s whose name has come up in an online poker cheating scandal!