Saturday, October 11, 2008

Breaking Vegas Ultimate Cheat Episode Airs Sunday!

IF you've never seen the televised account of my biography and career cheating casinos, tune into the Biography Channel on Sunday, October 12. Starting times are:

3:00 pm Eastern
2:00 pm Central
1:00 pm Mountain
12:00pm Pacific

If you want to get a little peek of the "Breaking Vegas Ultimate Cheat" show, check out this video preview, and don't miss the show!

PS If you can't miss any football, then be sure to TiVo it!

Friday, October 10, 2008

KGC Orders Investigation of UltimateBet & Absolute Poker Parent Company

Source: Jennifer Newell Online Poker Player Newspaper

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) finally stepped into the UltimateBet cheating scandal to issue a statement in late July, more than seven months after a cheating scandal that featured superuser accounts able to see everyone’s hole cards was allegedly reported to UB. The company that issues and regulates the gaming licenses for UB and numerous other online poker sites told the public that it has been integrally involved in the investigations.

This column has not been short of discussion about Tokwiro Enterprises, the company that purchased Absolute Poker and UltimateBet—both online poker sites that came with cheating scandals that would be unveiled after the sales. Not only did Tokwiro discover that cheating had been ccurring through player complaints and rogue player investigations—not through its own due diligence or security measures—but neither AP nor UB lost their gaming licenses as a result. Could that have something to do with the fact that the owner of Tokwiro, Joe Norton, was Grand Chief of the Kahnawake Mohawk Territory for nearly 25 years prior to his 2004 retirement? Draw your own conclusions there.

The KGC’s July statement touted its own “exemplary” record of regulating online gaming for over nine years, but acknowledged that no industry is “…immune from abuse.” In discussing the AP and UB scandals, KGC gave credit to the players who brought these issues to light, and with specific regard to the ongoing UB investigations, noted that it has played a large role in ensuring that the system leaks were identified and rectified and that cheated players were being reimbursed. The regulatory body’s decision was supposed to be issued within the “next several days.” It was not.

Instead, four days later, another statement came from the KGC, this one a bit unexpected. “Effective immediately, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC) has appointed an independent monitor, led by former New Jersey State Gaming Regulator, Frank Catania, to investigate the KGC Licensee, Tokwiro Ent., parent company of both Absolute Poker and Ultimate Bet … The Independent Monitoring Team will be given the task of completing a full forensic audit/investigation of the online gaming business of both licensed entities. The main purpose of the investigation is to ensure that the games offered to the public are fair and honest and that all player protections as required by the Kahnawake Gaming Regulations are being complied with, without exception.

“The monitoring team will also be charged with verification that all those involved in the fraudulent activities in any manner, no matter how slight, have been or are removed from the licensee company and verify that UltimateBet and Absolute Poker have submitted to full compliance with the directives issued by the KGC and recommended by the independent monitor.”

The statement goes on to say that any failure by the licensees to comply “could result in immediate revocation of their license privileges with the KGC.” This is the first time during either scandal that the KGC has seriously floated the possibility of revocation of a gaming license. And the very seriousness of this Tokwiro investigation itself lets it be known that the KGC is willing to put its own former Grand Chief under a spotlight to try to alleviate any concerns that special treatment is being provided in this case.

Upon the conclusion of Mr. Catania’s investigation of Tokwiro Enterprises, the KGC will review the report and use it in conjunction of other UB and AP investigations to comprise a final decision regarding these scandals.

For the sake of the poker community and the future of online poker, it is not unreasonable to expect a reasonable amount of transparency and a sense that no stone has been left unturned.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Tran Organization Cheats Inducted Into Poker and Casino Cheating Hall of Fame!

Phuong Quoc Truong and Van Thu Tran, the infamous Vietnamese couple that formed the Tran Organization Casino Cheating Team which recruited dozens of casino dealers in the US and Canada to participate in an international baccarat and blackjack false shuffle scam that proved to be the largest and most profitable casino cheating scam in history, have been inducted into the Richard Marcus Poker and Casino Cheating Hall of Fame. To read about their exploits click here.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

California man Literally Bets "The Pot" In Public Poker Game!

This is undoubtedly one of the funniest and most unique stories I’ve ever had the pleasure of writing about.

The plot is simple, short, and sweet and involves a California poker player, his stack of chips, and a bag of marijuana.

It also give new meaning to a "high" roller.

A Fresno resident walked into Casino One gambling establishment (I still don’t know if that’s the casino name or the company behind it), sat down at a 5-Card Stud table, and instead of using chips like most normal people do at any poker table, he immediately whipped a bag of weed and placed it as his bet!...not only in front of all the other people at the table but in plain view of the filming surveillance cameras.

Click here to watch the entire incident as it was caught on casino surveillance. You won’t be disappointed, trust me.

As the “eye in the sky” was catching this all on tape, the player proceeded to place individual marijuana buds on each betting marker on the table, refusing to actually buy chips from the dealer. This went on for several minutes before casino security came to rid the table of said “sticky icky” before escorting the patron out and calling police.

The man was arrested on site as the cops literally were left scratching their heads and wondering what this guy was honestly thinking betting drugs instead of just getting chips. Not only would it had saved him a trip to the jailhouse, but it also would’ve let him put his weed to better use - I mean if you check out the video he definitely had some pretty good stuff. Haha.

In the poker player’s defense, he said that since he had a “cannibus card” the betting of his pot was not against the law and he should not have been arrested. I mean, since he did get it off the internet it must mean what he did was completely legal, right? Just goes to show you that internet can truly be serious business….just like “betting the pot” got a completely new meaning after this story.

West Virginia Casinos Banning Casino Cheats

Some smaller US casino venues are catching up with the big ones as far as trying to ban known casino cheats goes, especially those working from the inside to bilk their employer casinos. This West Virginia casino ban list is expected to grow quickly.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. Eight people convicted of gambling-related crimes have already been banned from West Virginia's three racetrack casinos, and officials say that's just the beginning.

Three of the eight are former racetrack employees caught stealing from or trying to steal from their employers or customers. State Police Sgt. J.M. Andreas said one took money from a visually impaired patron while making change.

The other five on the exclusion list, which was approved by the state Lottery Commission last week, were patrons caught cheating at table games. They all pleaded guilty to obtaining money under false pretenses.

The eight were notified of their banned status last week in certified letters sent by the commission.

"There's a lot more coming, I guarantee it,'' Andreas said Monday of the names on the list.

Andreas, who worked on all eight investigations, said he has made 16 to 20 other arrests for cheating but those defendants haven't yet been prosecuted.

Andreas said the most common offense is bet capping, which is a player sneaking another poker chip onto his initial wager if it looks like he's got a winning hand.

Andreas is the only officer dedicated solely to catching cheaters at Mountaineer Casino Racetrack & Resort in Chester and Wheeling Island Hotel Casino Racetrack in the Northern Panhandle, which started offering table games last year.

Generations of Italian Roulette Pastposting Cheats Florish and Flop

The city of Casale Monferrato in Northern Italy is infamous for housing the largest population of roulette past posters or poussettisti as they are known (taken from the French word) poussette, whose derivative means to push. In a 2006 dragnet sweep codenamed "Rien ne va plus" involving police officers from four different regions Novara, Alessandria, Turin and headed by the flying squad of Venice, seventeen arrests were made mostly from the residents of this small city, whose population is only 36,000. In the region of Piedmont it is found in the middle between the two major cities of Milan and Turin, strategically placed for three of the main Italian Casinos of Northern Italy and less than an hours drive to the relatively new casinos of Switzerland. This followed a two-year investigation; where the local police forces had used micro video cameras,wire-tapping and surveillance at a local bar in the centre of town and in a sports centre in Alessandria, where the group would hold their meetings. Arrests were also made in the cities of Novara, Cremona, Savona, and Campania.

Of the seventeen originally rounded up, nine from Casale Monferrato were taken into custody, two were imprisoned four were placed under house arrest and three were obliged to stay at home, (Italian prisons must be full too) at the time of the swoop 35 of the organization were under investigation and sought. In the nearby city of Alessandria one member of the team was discovered with a small printing works inside his home, where 50 identity documents were seized and stamps of the various Italian communities and German provinces were found. Also discovered were a variety of credit cards, money, cheque books, wigs, false mustaches, gaming chips and Italian ex patriot identity documents, for this reason he was arrested under the anti terrorism laws.

All are members of what is known worldwide as the "Italian team". It is thought that in total the team has between one and two hundred members, who interact with one another and are highly organized. Of these members perhaps 80% are Italian the rest are made up of most other European nationalities ranging from the United Kingdom and spreading as Far East as Russia. Although there are few reports of them operating in the former Soviet Union, since one German member was badly beaten there whilst plying his trade in one of the Moscow casinos. Their activities stretch throughout every casino in Europe and their world tours take them to the U.S., Canada, Australia and South America one French member unfortunately lost his life when he was murdered for his illicit winnings outside of a casino in Buenos Aires. They have connections to the criminal underworld in most of the major European cities and sometimes employ the assistance of a couple of locals when they perform their actions, either to provide muscle or used for blocking purposes at the roulette-tables. Recently two members were also arrested in Italy in connection with drug trafficking and money laundering.

At the head of this particular group is a 45-year-old Moroccan known as Jimmy or the Moroccan, who resides between Italy and Germany and is known in the United States under one of his Italian aliases and who was arrested in a Swiss casino in 2005. I myself apprehended him in Switzerland in 2003 but released him because it was opening day in the casino and we were far too busy to become involved in any police action and since he was only one of a group of ten, which we needed to evict from the house. The Moroccan together with his Italian wife organized the trips and divided the proceeds out between the members. Among the local residents a 52-year-old father and his 27-year old son and a 63-year-old Italian nicknamed "Figaro" said to be the king of the poussettisti, who was once placed in jail in Las Vegas. One Italian who slipped through the net later in the week turned himself in to local police; his 53-year-old German wife was also implicated. Of the two imprisoned members is a 57-year-old Italian who kept a roulette table in his house used in the training and practice of the group. One family who originate from the Southern province of Salerno have moved their residence to Casale Monferrato, the father and the now three middle aged sons are very active members of the organization.

In Italy historically, because jobs were usually very hard to come by, especially among the working classes, fathers have passed their skills on down to their sons and so it is with the poussettisti. One 66-year-old father who in my opinion is without doubt the king of past posters and has more alias than you can shake a stick at; he is well known for pushing onto dozens and columns and specializes in French roulette. I have witnessed his actions on video on several occasions but he is also expert at the escape.On one occasion he turned up at the casino with his nineteen-year-old daughter, although he never used her in the action, it is believed she was brought along to add to his credibility. When the coup went down she was well away from the table but he, sitting down next to the dealer at the bottom of the French roulette table, hit the middle dozen with 600 Swiss Francs. One of his accomplices at the wheel head had signaled the winning point to him, as from his seat he could hardly see the numbers in the wheel. An astute surveillance officer, who was only recently trained and who had a free roll to roam the gaming floor, noticed the play from the camera room and quickly went to apprehend him, together with another security officer, who he had grabbed on the way. As the bet was paid they removed him from the table, they then went to seize his accomplice and in doing so they released him momentarily, he made his escape. At the same time another associate lifted the winnings from the table, cashed out the 1,800 francs and left the house. As for the one accomplice who was taken into house custody, he was photographed and documented and shown the way out through a back door. I was later told by casino management that this was the most experienced table crew that was employed in the establishment, three dealers and a table game inspector had failed to notice anything wrong! As for our dubious hero who is from the city of Voghera, a city not so far from Casale Monferrato, later that same year he appeared at a neighboring casino with his 18-year-old son and two of his classmates, they were obviously ready for some out in the field experience.

Four members of the team two Maltese and two Italians were arrested in Atlantic City in June 2005, mug shot and charged, they were later released on bail but never returned, making their escape from the U.S. no doubt with the use of their real and false passports as some of them had used secondary documents with aliases while in police custody. One of the Italians resides in the Milan area just to the East of Casale Monferrato. To show the connection I apprehended one of these Maltese and one of the Italians in Switzerland at the same time I apprehended the Moroccan.

None of this police activity seems to have deterred the organization, as they are still operating regularly throughout Europe especially but also the rest of the world. In the words of the Italian casino security "They have faces more resistant than bronze"because even though they are barred, they just keep coming back, they are experts at gatecrashing. I remember seeing two Germans from the team, who we had refused to pay their late bet earlier in the same evening, in a late night pizza parlor, when they recognized us one of them who was sitting with his back to us left the restaurant by walking backwards (so we couldn't see his face again).

Just this March alone two of the same residents of Casale Monferrato were arrested in an Italian Casino near to the French border. One was charged with past posting 60 Euros onto the winning number and the other because they were both previously barred, was charged with gaining entry through the use of a false identity document. In their appearance in court the following day, video evidence was shown, however the judge acquitted one of them because of lack of proof since the images did not actually show him presenting the false document at reception. The other member, who actually did the past post, said in his defense that he didn't hear the croupier announce "no more bets", he was ordered to return for another hearing later this year. No doubt the judge in the mean time is studying how to play roulette.