Friday, November 28, 2008

A Hollywood Star Was Once A Professional Casino Cheat!

Believe it or not, one of the ancestral members of the casino cheat team I was a member of, the Classon Pastposting Team, actually went on to become a major motion picture star in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. Also believe it or not, she was discovered by a Hollywood producer while performing her “role” in a Classon pastposting roulette move at the old and famed Stardust Casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Although I can not divulge her identity because she is still alive and would undoubtedly sue me for doing so, I promise that if she dies before me, which hopefully is likely, I will identify her at that time. In any event, here is an excerpt from my memoir American Roulette that shows “Ruthie” in action. Maybe after reading it you can guess who she is?

Excerpt from American Roulette:

Joe Classon found a dancer working the Lido show at the Stardust for whom he flipped. Her name was Ruthie and she was from Wisconsin. After accompanying the Classons on a Caribbean road trip that mixed pleasure with business, Ruthie accepted Joe's hand in marriage. They got married in one of the little wedding chapels downtown.
It wasn't long before Ruthie was "dancing" around Vegas’s roulette tables. An energetic sexy redhead, she found the Classon number on the roulette wheels as entertaining as any show she’d ever done on or backstage. She quickly took over Joe's role as roulette “claimer,” claiming pastposted winning bets on the tables. Joe became the check-bettor and his brother Henry continued popping in the moves. The new three-man (two-man-one-woman) operation was even more effective. With this diversification of roles, Henry was able to leave the table after he did the move, then circle around the pit and serve as team security. He observed Ruthie claiming from afar. From a distance he could better protect her. He could see the steam when it developed behind her.
When Caesars Palace opened in 1966, they did their first black-chip roulette move in the new heralded casino. And as Henry had by then mastered the straight-up move underneath the marker, they went right for the $3,500 payoff. They added a little twist. Knowing that the $3,500 was a big number, they decided to strengthen their chances of success with the implementation of a set-up. With Henry and Joe in position at the table—Henry already having swiped three of Joe's roulette chips under which he would slip in the black—the sexily clad Ruthie, in her cocktail dress bought in the Caesars dress shop, sauntered up to the table and bet a black chip straight up on number 28. Leaving the table, she had to take a tour of practically the whole casino to escape the line of sight between her and the gawking floorman and pit boss, who had zoomed through the pit to the roulette wheel at her arrival. The next time they saw the curvaceous woman, she was claiming the hundred-dollar bet she had just won on number 34. They couldn't pay her fast enough.
The advent of the sexy woman claimer was fabulous. It added a whole new dimension to the operation. Not only were you armed with a highly efficient portfolio of flexible casino moves, you now had an adaptable psychological weapon. Up against a beautiful woman claiming a bet, the casino bosses had no chance. In the heat of battle, Ruthie flirted to no end with the floormen and pit bosses as she sizzled up and down pits. She played their ids, their egos—in some cases even their cocks. When in the middle of a claim, she always gave the floorman and pit boss the impression she was available. When they asked the obvious questions: "Where's the good gentleman tonight?" or "Does your husband always let you bet that much at roulette?"—Ruthie had the answers that charmed them, titillated them. She would say, "When I find that gentleman, I'll let you know." And then, "Now you know why I'm not married." It was not beyond Ruthie to go right into a pit while her bet was still unpaid and rub up against the ranking pit boss whose decision it was to pay her or not. Even Joe could not be sure what she was whispering into that pit boss's ear. And while doing all that, the pit bosses knew she wasn't a whore. Even Las Vegas's finest did not bet black chips at roulette alone.
Ruthie was the ultimate performer. She had always wanted to be an actress. Before coming to Vegas to dance, she had tried a stint in Hollywood but couldn't land anything besides a few minor roles in sitcoms. Claiming in the Classon "road show" was ideally suited for her. She really took to it. And at craps she was a tigress. Male dealers being attacked by this fiery feline claimer on the felt dropped their chips in surrender. Once she was challenged by a boxman suspecting her of switching in a craps move herself and hiding the chips switched out in her handbag. Ruthie promptly turned her handbag upside down and let its contents spill out on the layout, stunning both the boxman and the dealer—as well as Joe and Henry. Just after the last vial of lipstick rolled toward the boxman, Ruthie asked him provocatively, "Is there anywhere else you'd like to look?"
Now that the Classons had Ruthie, they were able to work the casinos in Vegas without showing their faces. Henry and Joe took much less exposure because neither one claimed anymore. On the tables they began disguising themselves, without being obvious. Henry dyed his hair gray to appear older. Joe opted for the military crewcut he'd had in Korea. He also had himself fitted for zeros at a trendy optometrist's office. Together they now appeared like an experienced businessman and a young airline pilot. The effect of that makeover was that much of that dense steam in Vegas began to dissipate. And with that, the team went on a relentless attack against the casinos.
On New Year's Eve, 1968, Henry and Joe Classon, in full disguise, were sitting at a roulette table in the Stardust Casino. Unbeknownst to them, and also to Ruthie, who had just walked away from a gallery of staring eyes after losing her hundred-dollar set-up bet, a powerful Hollywood producer was sitting next to Henry at the bottom of the layout. When their number came in, Henry switched the chips and Ruthie returned to claim the $3,500. The Stardust was not Caesars and the bosses there had a little tougher time coughing up the prize. When Ruthie realized she was going to have to work for the payoff, she was equal to the task. She spun into a Marilyn Monroe number, swirled her dress as she danced into the pit, smooched up to the pit boss and must have had that mesmerized producer thinking that the name of that famous film should have been Gentlemen prefer redheads. Not only did she get paid the $3,500, she got the producer's business card before leaving the table. He had furtively slipped it into her hand, whispering that she should call him Monday morning at his Hollywood office.
Ruthie never claimed another bet in a casino. She called the producer Monday morning, was in Beverly Hills having lunch with him at one o'clock in the afternoon. It turned out that the producer had witnessed their entire New Year's Eve act at the Stardust. He saw Henry put the move in underneath the marker. Being an inveterate gambler, the producer understood everything. He even told Ruthie that he knew Joe was in on the caper because the move had gone in under his chips. He also told Ruthie that her playacting was the best he had ever seen. Where had she been all these years? When Ruthie told him she had spent nearly three years in Tinseltown and couldn't amass anything better than bit parts, he was pressed hard to believe her. Nevertheless, three weeks later, Ruthie started shooting her first role in a major film. Her marriage to Joe she had quickly annulled. Though she never married the already married producer, she did have a long affair with him, and during the 1970s and 1980s she became a considerable movie star, of course under a different name.
When Joe first heard about the producer it was by telephone from Hollywood that Monday afternoon. Ruthie was calling to tell him she wouldn't be home for the barbecue by the pool. Joe's first comment, in light of the producer's powers of observation, was that maybe he wanted to join the pastposting team. Or at least make a movie about what he'd seen!

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Tokwiro COO Leggett Issues Memo To UltimateBet Employees About "60 Minutes" Cheat Segment!

As previously reported, the story by CBS News program “60 Minutes” about the online poker cheating scandals at Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker will air this Sunday, November 30th. In a blog posted by Nat Arem, who has been close to the investigation, it was revealed that Tokwiro COO Paul Leggett issued a memo to Ultimate Bet employees about the program airing. The memo was forwarded to Arem by an employee at the company.

Although many in the industry do not know what to expect when the segment airs at 7:00pm ET on Sunday night, Leggett does not anticipate a ringing endorsement of Tokwiro-owned rooms Absolute Poker or Ultimate Bet, or the industry in general. He commented, “We have every reason to believe that the 60 Minutes producers are intent on portraying the online poker industry and our companies in a negative light, and we do not expect that the program will be either fair or balanced.”

Tokwiro received a $15 million settlement from former UB owners Excapsa to compensate players who were wronged by the cheating on Ultimate Bet, which was directed by former affiliate program manager and 1994 World Series of Poker Main Event champion Russ Hamilton. The player bases of AP and UB were merged this week to form the CEREUS poker network.

Leggett revealed that Tokwiro officials did not appear on camera, but rather provided the producers of the show with relevant background information and “answered questions on-the-record, but off-camera.” The memo stated that Joseph Tokwiro Norton is the sole owner of Tokwiro. In addition, it noted that the investigation into the cheating scandal at Ultimate Bet by its licensing body, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC), revealed “that Tokwiro, as a corporate entity, was not involved in and did not benefit from the cheating.”

On who was behind the scandal on Absolute Poker, Leggett revealed, “Tokwiro agreed not to prosecute the perpetrator in the Absolute Poker cheating, and to protect that individual’s identity, because this was the only way to ensure that the ability to cheat was fully discovered and disabled. Because of this decision, AP could continue operating and begin to reimburse affected players as quickly as possible.”

Leggett added that Hamilton was not an employee of Tokwiro and that the offenders in each of the two cheating incidents did not work together in any way. Despite the fact that both groups were able to see the hole cards of customers who played online, each used a different tool in order to do so. The story that appears on CBS’ website entitled “How Online Gamblers Unmasked Cheaters” explains that the cheating resulted in over $20 million being taken from customers. According to the memo, all affected customers have been reimbursed accordingly. The $15 million that Tokwiro received from Excapsa was used for this purpose.

The memo concludes with a look at the changes at Tokwiro as a result of the two high-profile incidents. The company’s management team was revamped and three new security-related personnel were brought onboard. A new “Security Center” was developed to track abnormalities on the CEREUS network, which was launched on Tuesday morning, the same day as the world found out that the 60 Minutes story would air this week. The additions of a “Whistleblower Policy” and “Poker Security Department” were also highlighted.

A Code of Ethics was instituted at the parent company of Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker, which “formally prohibits any employee or contractor for any Tokwiro business from playing for money on any Tokwiro site.” Account name changes are also generally not allowed. Finally, Tokwiro “discontinued the policy of ‘greenlighting’ VIP Pro players at cashout.”

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Cheating Turkey Of The Year!

Now that it's Thanksgiving, it's time for my second annual Casino/Poker Cheating Turkey of the Year. In order to qualify, candidates must satisfy three main concerns:

1) Had to get caught (Obviously!) and prosecuted
2) His or her scam had to be either stupid or poorly conceptualized
3) The person had to have not only embarrassed himself but also others

The winner of the 2008 Cheating Turkey Of The Year is Ian McFadden, a London cab driver who signed a 4-man Russian roulette cheating team into various London casinos as his guest. While the Russians were using computers to determine where the roulette ball would land and thus cheat one particular casino, McFadden was roaming around the casino pickpocketing chips from gamblers at the tables. Unbeknownst to the cabbie, who was quite drunk, he picked the pocket of the leader of the Russian cheat team, whom he had signed into the casino as his guest! Surveillance caught the thievery on tape, and then when security agents questioned McFadden, he spilt the beans on the Russians! They all spent the night in a London pokey!

Happy Thanksgiving!

CBS "60 Minutes" Online Poker Cheating Piece To Air This Sunday! Don't Miss It!

60 Minutes To Air Report on Online Poker Cheats Sunday, November 30th!

It has now been confirmed that the story by CBS News program “60 Minutes” concerning the cheating scandals on Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker will air this Sunday, November 30th. The story serves as the finale of a four month-long investigation by 60 Minutes as well as The Washington Post newspaper correspondent Gilbert Gaul. The piece is entitled “How Online Gamblers Unmasked Cheaters” and will hit the airwaves at 7:00pm ET on CBS.

A teaser video posted by 60 Minutes features an interview that correspondent Steve Kroft conducted with Todd Witteles, an online poker player who is better known as “Dan Druff.” Witteles commented on the Absolute Poker scandal, “This Graycat person was new and at first he seemed like a live one. He seemed terrible. He was raising just really, really bad hands against very good hands. He seemed to play crazy. He seemed like he was giving his money away, except the only thing was, he wasn’t losing.” Witteles explained why the run-in with Graycat on Absolute Poker was out of the ordinary: “He was playing in a style that was sure to lose, but he was killing the game day after day.”

The teaser video explains that Graycat was winning at 15 standard deviations above the mean, “which was approximately equivalent to winning a one in a million jackpot six consecutive times.” The POTRIPPER account was the proverbial stone that broke the camel’s back, making a famous 10-high call against Marco “CrazyMarco” Johnson in a $1,000 tournament in September of 2007. Observing POTRIPPER in action was Absolute Poker user number 363, which was later traced back to the company’s headquarters in Costa Rica.

The Kahnawake Gaming Commission released the following statement about the cheating scandal that plagued Ultimate Bet, which is owned by the same parent company as Absolute Poker: “The Commission found clear and convincing evidence to support the conclusion that between the approximate dates of May 2004 to January 2008, Russell Hamilton, an individual associated with Ultimate Bet’s affiliate program, was the main person responsible for and benefiting from the multiple cheating incidents.” In July, the Ultimate Bet account “sleeplesss,” which was one of the user names associated with the cheating scandal, was positively linked to a home owned by Hamilton in Las Vegas.

On Tuesday, the player bases of Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker merged to form the CEREUS poker network. The delay in its launch may have been due to an ongoing legal battle in Canada between Tokwiro (the current ownership group of Ultimate Bet and Absolute Poker) and Excapsa (the former ownership group of UB). Tokwiro was awarded $15 million in the case, which was used to pay back players who had been wronged by the cheating scandal.

In a press release from November 5th, Tokwiro COO Paul Leggett stated, “Now that the main perpetrator has been named, the settlement with the previous owners is behind us, and players have received refunds, it should now be apparent that Tokwiro had no involvement in this cheating and that we have fought to correct it with every tool at our disposal.”

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

UltimateBet and Absolute Poker to Launch CEREUS in Attempt to Bring Back Credibility To Cheat-Victimized Sites and Bad-Beat Jackpots

The long-awaited CEREUS network will officially launch on Tuesday, combining the player bases of UltimateBet and Absolute Poker into one large pool. Members will likely remain playing on each individual online poker room. However, when they log on, patrons of UltimateBet and Absolute Poker will experience inflated traffic and an increased Bad Beat Jackpot. The launch of CEREUS was officially announced in July, just before the investigation into the cheating scandal at UltimateBet was completed. In addition, Tokwiro, which is the parent company of both UB and AP, recently won a $15 million judgment against the former owners of UB and used the money to refund players.

The July press release from UltimateBet explains why its customers will look forward to the launch of CEREUS: “CEREUS is the result of more than 12 months innovation and development. What does it mean for UB players? As part of the network, UltimateBet will retain all the unique assets that create the ultimate poker experience, but we will share more players, more action, more tournaments, and add incredible new features.”

In addition to increased player traffic as a result of customers from each site merging into one network, CEREUS will offer a much larger Bad Beat Jackpot for its poker customers. On Ultimate Bet, it currently stands at just over $287,000 and is growing minute by minute. It was last hit on November 17th for $200,000. On Absolute Poker, it was last hit on November 10th by MOKIEHUSKY, whose quad tens went down in flames, triggering the jackpot of $44,389. has learned that the Bad Beat Jackpot may actually double in size when the CEREUS network is launched on Tuesday.

Ultimate Bet’s team of Star Players includes PocketFiver Cliff JohnnyBax Josephy, a World Series of Poker bracelet winner and 27th player on the Online Poker Rankings. Also a member of the Star Players Team is Jim P0KERPR033 Campbell, the number eight ranked player on His second place finish in a $300 rebuy event during the ninth Full Tilt Online Poker Series was worth $157,000. Joining the squad in October was Adam Roothlus Levy, who made a deep run and finished 48th in the 2008 WSOP Main Event for $135,100.

It’s unknown exactly how the development of CEREUS will affect the guaranteed tournament schedule on UltimateBet and Absolute. PocketFivers went 1-2 in the UB $200,000 Guaranteed tournament this weekend, as irishgirl08 emerged victorious from the pack of 873 entrants en route to a $45,000 payday. Heads-up, irishgirl08 defeated yellowhat, who pocketed $27,000 for second place. Coming in sixth was mgerman23, who won $9,000, and rounding out the contingent in the $200K Guaranteed on UB was ultimatekaos, who finished in eighth place for $5,000. The tournament has a $215 buy-in.

World Poker Tour Bellagio Cup IV winner Mike SirWatts Watson took fourth in the $150,000 Guaranteed on Absolute Poker, which is a $530 buy-in tournament that takes place every Saturday. Watson pocketed $12,000 for his efforts. Also reaching the final table of the $150K Guaranteed was o11pokerdr, who took sixth place and cashed for $6,750. The tournament is one of the few major events held on Saturday, as opposed to a Sunday affair like the $200K Guaranteed on UltimateBet and the Sunday Million on PokerStars.

Absolute Poker is also in the midst of running Gizmo freerolls, which are 2,500 point buy-in events that give away prizes like a Touchsmart PC, a Sony Portable DVD Player, poker chipsets, and Absolute Poker gear. The next Main Event takes place this Friday, November 28th at 8:00pm ET and a full satellite system is in place.

Three weeks ago, Ultimate Bet’s parent company, Tokwiro, won a judgment against the online poker room’s former owners, Excapsa, in the amount of $15 million. A press release available on UB’s site states, “Excapsa will pay US$15 million to Blast-Off Ltd., the Tokwiro-controlled company that originally acquired UltimateBet. This payment will be used immediately to refund players who were affected by the cheating scandal that Tokwiro inherited when it purchased the business from Excapsa.” It appears that the delay in launching CEREUS after its announcement in July may have been due to the ongoing legal proceedings, which were conducted in a Canadian court room.

UltimateBet is slated to distribute a press release about the launch of CEREUS this afternoon and we’ll bring you more details as we get them.

What Makes A Really Good Poker Or Casino Cheat Team?

So you’ re wondering what really makes a good casino cheat team? Just like any other enterprise, legitimate or illegitimate, poker and casino cheat teams have to be organized, and each member of the team should be limited to a single function that he needs to perform to perfection. In short, successful casino and poker cheating operations should be run like military operations, where each soldier in the platoon has a specific strategic function to perform against the enemy. Whether or not cheat teams consider the casino and poker room their enemies, they certainly have to carry out its operations as if fighting on a “green felt” battlefield.

To give you some insight into the workings of a professional casino cheat team, let me describe how my pastposting team carried out its roulette moves against the casino. Normally, we worked in a four-man/woman team. Two of the members worked solely as “checkbettors.” Their function was simply to place numerous bets across the roulette layout each spin in order to force the dealers to make specific physical movements that allowed our third member, the “mechanic,” the split-second necessary to do the actual move, which was to “pastpost” or place high-denomination chips on the winning number after it was determined. The fourth member of the team, the “claimer,” would claim the pastposted winning bet and collect the big payoffs from the dealer. The key to the whole operation was to limit the duties of each team member to a single specific function, which in turn limited the pressure on each person. A cheat team operating under minimal pressure always performs better. By operating in this manner, our team was able to beat casinos at their own game for decades!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Prison Poker Schools! What's Next For Card Cheats?

I have heard of some crazy ideas, but this one might take the cake! Prison authorities in the UK have set up poker schools for taxpayers' expense. How can anyone in their right minds think that this is a good idea to occupy prisoners' time? About the only thing that would come to my mind in a poker game in this setting is cheating, right? Well, in any event, convicts at Saughton in Edinburgh waste hours on end playing on six tables with cards, stacks of chips and green felt mats bought for them. Gambling for money is illegal in prison but inmates keep a secret tab of cash won and lost. And brawls break out over cheating and unpaid debts.

Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has ordered a probe. He said last night: "This is unacceptable. I have asked the Scottish Prison Service to look into it as a matter of urgency. "Gambling is not allowed in prisons and inmates should be making better use of their time than running up debt. We must end this culture of free bed and board. Prison is a punishment for crimes. Many inmates play for tobacco and sweets but a Saughton source claimed cash changes hands." No kidding!

MacAskill went on to say, "Bosses maybe thought poker would keep cons occupied and off drugs. But it has made things worse. There are fights over allegations of cheating and unpaid gambling debts. Prison officers are thoroughly pissed off. There are at least six of these poker schools on the go from as early as the cons can get to them until they have to go back to their cells. But the officers have trouble getting them back to the cells if they are in the middle of a game - especially if they are losing at that particular time. Cons can buy into games using tobacco and sweets. But as there is obviously a shortage of cash in prison, cons are also buying in on the promise of getting money sent to whoever wins by family or friends on the outside. That doesn't always happen and it is inevitably a source of friction and fights. Next thing roulette wheels will be put in place, then a lap-dancing club in Saughton - because after this nothing would surprise us."

Church leaders, politicians and antigambling campaigners are "appalled" by the prison poker schools. Labour justice spokesman Richard Baker said: "It is appalling that convicted criminals are allowed to waste their days playing poker. I cannot understand the logic of the person who thought encouraging cons to gamble while in jail was a good idea."

Reverend Ian Galloway, convener of the Church of Scotland's Church and Society Council, said letting prisoners and their families run up debt made it even harder for them to change their lifestyle after prison. He added: "If prison is about rehabilitation then poker tables are clearly unhelpful." again, no kidding!

Gambling addiction support group GamCare said: "Prisoners are people at vulnerable stages of their lives so it does seem odd for prison authorities to give them gambling opportunities."

The Scottish Prison Service confirmed poker sets were part of the recreation equipment at Saughton - along with other board and card games. They said: "Poker is popular in culture outside of prisons. Gambling for money is, of course, forbidden and people will be reported if they are caught doing so."

Inmates have also been given Sony PlayStations and Nintendo Game Boy consoles. They can spend £20 a month getting prison staff to buy them luxuries.

What next..roulette wheels and lap-dancing clubs?