Monday, October 03, 2022

It looks like cheating. It smells like cheating. But IS it cheating?

I haven´t written any articles for a while but a recent incident in the poker world has made me reach for my pen. Last week during one of the country’s biggest live-streamed casino cash games at the Hustler Live Casino in Gardena, California, a very suspicious and scandalous event occurred during and after a $269,000 pot between veteran poker pro Garret Adelstein and debutante player Robbi Jade Lew, who quite consciously sat at the table with abundant exposure of large (allegedly implanted) breasts, which may have been part of a plan to deter attention from a much smaller cheating device in use at the table. I say “may have” because as of now there is now evidence of any cheating device in the game.

What happened was that Adelstein went all-in with what is known as a “semi-bluff,” which is when a player has several outs to make a strong hand at the river but going in has nothing. He also led the betting up to that point. Based on that actual hand and his pre-hand knowledge of Lew and her play, Adelstein did not expect her to call the $109,000 bet. But she did and won the hand…with Jack high…and no draw to finish any better than a pair.

But Adelstein also had nothing, and he got burned. After he lost and then saw with what Lew called, he went into a numb, cold stare at her, soaked in silent bewilderment. He literally could not believe what happened, and then in very little time determined she must have been cheating and later voiced that belief in a post shortly after the game.

So did lots of other people. First the controversy was stirred by the accusation that Lew had a vibrator on or around her vagina by which she received signals telling her Adelstein was bluffing and she had the best hand. Then the mechanics of the supposed communication shifted from the vibrator to a ring (one of several she was wearing on both hands) on her right middle finger. She later momentarily placed her right hand beneath the poker table, and when the hand came back up, the red stone in the center of the ring was gone, which was taken as getting rid of the evidence (the receiver), which is also supported by her drawing attention to her large breasts during the whole game so that her male opponent and onlookers would not spend much time looking at her fingers.

Also, it has been reported that Adelstein threated Lew after the event and that Lew ended up giving him back the money, which is further taken as evidence of her admitting to cheating. At the table, Lew maintained that she just concluded Adelstein was bluffing and made the correct call.

So, all in all, this looks like a great circumstantial case of cheating? But where’s the beef? If she was getting signals, who was sending them and how? Well, I am not an expert in programming or anything else related to high-tech digitality, but with the help of a knowledgeable friend, I can concoct a scenario of how she could have been receiving signals, but even so, remember that there would have to be at least one but probably more than one co-conspirator.

Okay…someone watching the live stream, possibly in a car outside Hustler Casino, or an accomplice indoors who was being fed info by a phone from someone else watching the live stream, would activate the cheating device to let Lew know she had the winning hand. Assuming that all audience members were banned from bringing cell phones inside the event, there would have to have been someone outside that room giving the signals. Unless the Hustler Casino was blocking all wi-fi signals, this would not be that hard to do.

But the problem here is that there is no mention of the transmitting of signals in the reports, only the receiving. In the infamous and similar Mike Postle poker-cheating-live-streaming case at Stones Gambling Hall in 2019, also in California, there was much clearer supposition/evidence of what actually happened. So, until a reputable investigation bears out some damning evidence, Ms. Lew, and her breasts and rings, fake or not, are all innocent until proven guilty!

Thursday, September 30, 2021

Is Artificial Intelligence Really Artificial?


Until the advent of Artificial Intelligence, about the only common usage of the word “artificial” in front of a noun, at least for me, was a lake. Or maybe a food sweetener. But nowadays, if you were to be a contestant on the game show Password and you wanted to clue your partner to the word “intelligence,” you’d probably do best by leading with “artificial.”

Simply put, “artificial intelligence” has become so commonplace in our everyday lingo, perhaps even more so than “cryptocurrency,” that you’d have to be living in a soundproof enclosure not to have heard it.

But what exactly is artificial intelligence and should it really be called artificial intelligence? Even though I have little knowledge beyond the basics, I am not so sure.

Artificial intelligence is most commonly described as: intelligence demonstrated by machines, as opposed to the natural intelligence displayed by humans or animals. That point is easy enough to understand. But the further you delve into it, the more confusing it gets, as shown by this sentence: Artificial intelligence can be defined as the study of intelligent agents: any system that perceives its environment and takes actions that maximize its chance of achieving its goals. And finally, a third definition of AI is: a machine or series of machines that mimic cognitive functions that humans associate with the human mind, such as learning and problem solving.

Okay, hold on a second! For those of you getting impatient with me and wondering what all this intellectual crap has to do with AI in casinos, I will get there. Just please hear me out on this first!

In the above descriptions of what AI is and actually does, there are two words in those paragraphs that grab my attention. One is “humans” and the other is “machines,” and there’s nothing really artificial about either. And the reality is that humans create all machines, whether or not they’re “artificial,” if that makes any sense. That said, my biggest problem with the name AI is that if human intelligence is what creates artificial intelligence, then how can that created intelligence be artificial? Simply, it’s not, in my opinion. It’s not the same as an artificial lake, which is artificial mainly because it wasn’t there in the first place. But the intelligence in and around what is now called AI has always been there, albeit in a pristine state. The difference is that this original intelligence has been enhanced by the process of gathering and processing human intelligence.

I think that this field, which is becoming so integral to the casino industry, or at least that seems to be what we think, might better be named “Enhanced Human Intelligence”, or maybe just plain old “Mechanical Intelligence,” although I much prefer the former.

Okay, I’m done! Let’s go back to calling it Artificial Intelligence. So what do I think of AI effectiveness in casinos? Is it all it’s purported to be? I think it is. After seeing presentations by casino industry AI experts such as Malcolm Rutherford of eConnect, I am convinced that AI is capable of enhancing the surveillance and security operations of casinos. But does that mean AI cannot be beat by casino cheats and dishonest casino employees?

Absolutely NOT!

If you’ve been wondering why I went on with all that IC…yes, “Intellectual Crap”…now I will tell you. Remember how I was stressing that artificial intelligence is a creation of human intelligence? Well, you can’t dispute that. And as that is true, whom do you think is capable of beating, bypassing, or rendering artificial intelligence useless in casinos to some degree?

The answer is simply the human beings who created it, or human beings who didn’t create it but still have enough human intelligence to outsmart it to a certain degree.

Now, don’t take me for someone who knows much about AI, but I do know a lot about HI…you guessed it: “Human Intelligence.” And I will be happy to use the cliché: The technology is only as smart as the humans who created it and as effective as those who are implementing it. In other words, you can take artificial intelligence, facial recognition and RFID technology and throw them all out the window, or the windowless casino, if you don’t have the human brainpower to analyze the data and make the correct strategic decisions based on the “artificial” data given to them. And that goes for all industries, not just casinos. I mean, if the world’s militaries had a bunch of unintelligent people working in Intelligence, what good would the data be if they couldn’t interpret it correctly and apply it where needed?

You understand that, and to close I will give you some casino examples of how AI and other technologies associated with it might be skirted.

Let’s start with RFID technology in casino chips. One of its security features is that it protects casinos against pastposting and other kinds of chip manipulations intended to increase or decrease wagers after the outcome is already determined. I was asked at one of my game protection seminars, “Isn’t RFID 100% effective in preventing a pastposter from increasing his bet after the outcome is known?”

I replied, “In a perfect word, probably. In the real casino world, absolutely not.” And I went on to explain that all the RFID does is transfer the data of amounts of money bet by the players at a table to a monitor according to the RFID chips embedded in the casino chips. That part of RFID is pretty flawless.

But….and this is a BIG but. What about the human minds that are using that technology? If the pastposting cheat has added a higher denomination chip to his bet that RFID says wasn’t legitimately bet before the outcome, does that mean the casino is going to deny the pastposter’s claim to be paid the higher amount? Well, it should but it doesn’t unless the casino employee empowered to pay or not pay the pastposter for the added chip properly reads the data and utilizes it effectively.

And this is where the highly non-artificial-intelligent human casino cheats go to work in order to compromise that proper employee performance needed to protect casinos. I cannot get into all those details here, but suffice it to say that through set-ups and behavioral psychology, skilled cheats are able to convince casino personnel that their large pastposted bets were actually legitimately placed even though the technology infallibly proved they weren’t. This does not happen often but it does when casinos let their human guards down and depend solely on the technology.

What about Facial Recognition? Is it beatable or can it be skirted? I would give the same answer as I did for the RFID example. If the humans receiving the data are not up to par, then FR can become vulnerable as well.

So that’s my mumble jumble on the subject.

You know what? After writing this article, I’m only sure of one thing….that is that I’m not sure about everything I said here, but it all makes for interesting conversation.

And speaking about what has been known as, and will undoubtedly continue to be known as Artificial Intelligence, three global industry experts in the field, eConnect Executive Vice President of Strategic Operations Malcolm Rutherford, Mirage Resorts Corporate Vice President of Surveillance Ted Whiting, and SBK FanDuel Director of Surveillance Sam Kljajic, will be presenting must-see sessions on Artificial Intelligence at the first Global Table Games and Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas February 14-17, 2022.

I am hosting this event and hope to see you there!

Conference website

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Apparent Dealer/Agent Edge Sorting Baccarat Scam in British Columbia, Canada

It seems that British Columbia has beeb getting more than its fair share of casino cheating scams over the last decade. This one, although the details are somewhat foggy, concerns a cool forty-four grand coming of a Grand Villa baccarat table in Barnaby. A dealer partnered with a player, and over the course of several baccarat sessions, they beat the casino for the money, and were eventually caught.

Both the dealer and the player pleaded out to a sweeheart deal. All they had to do is return $22,000 to the casino, half of what they admitted in cheating gains. Wow! They get a walk, a clean record, and get to keep twenty-two grand for their trouble! The dealer was of course fired, but I'm sure he can live happily with that given the circumstances.

For more details, read the news article here.

Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Los Angeles Times Article on Card Sharp Steve Forte


Fremont Street, once the world capital of swank, used to be Steve Forte’s turf. But on a spring day, he was just another face in a crowd, snaking through two relics of downtown Las Vegas, Binion’s and the Four Queens casino. No one bothered the man many consider the greatest card handler who ever lived. 

Within the world of casino experts and magicians, Forte handles a deck of playing cards the way Roger Federer wields a tennis racket. Not just among the best, but the best, full stop. In his hands, cards appear to shuffle but remain in perfect order. Cards apparently dealt from the top of the deck are taken invisibly from the bottom.

After years of being a reclusive figure, the 65-year-old Forte has published "Gambling Sleight of Hand," his life’s work of underground card moves in a two-volume book of nearly 1,100 pages. Among sleight-of-hand aficionados, the book was a once-in-a-lifetime sensation: Even at $300, the first printing of 1,000 sold out in one week.

On this day, Forte agreed to visit places he doesn’t have much use for now. But soon enough, he showed his skill, making jaw-dropping observations about the games unfolding around him.

His book is a fitting coda to a career that screams to be a biopic (in fact, a script of Forte’s life is being shopped around). He went from dealing prodigy, to one of the youngest casino managers ever in Las Vegas, until he ventured to the other side of the law and made millions — "ripping and tearing," as card cheats say. Then he became one of the most in-demand casino security consultants in the world.

Said Jamy Ian Swiss, a noted writer on sleight-of-hand magic: “Anybody writing a movie about a professional cheater would never put in a character like Steve Forte. People wouldn’t believe him. They think he’s some kind of Superman. This isn’t realistic. The guy can’t be all these things. But he is.”

The streets of Newton, Mass., where Forte grew up had fire hydrants painted red, white and green. A proudly Italian neighborhood. For Newton's working class in the 1960s, working hard wasn't always enough. Many played the numbers.

“They were always looking for the impossible dream,” Forte recalled. “And it was a complete suckers game.”

Forte’s father, John, was a construction worker who made extra cash Friday nights picking up people from a Dunkin' Donuts parking lot and driving them to a clandestine dice game. He compulsively played the numbers, figuring that if he lost four games in a row, he was certain to hit it big on the fifth.

One day when Forte was a teenager, he and his father swung by a restaurant where gambling went on in the cellar. Seated at one table was an old-timer shuffling cards.

Noticing Forte was interested, the man motioned him over. “Let me show you something, kid,” he said.

The old-timer flashed the top card of the deck. An ace. He began shuffling. A lot. Miraculously, the ace remained on top. Forte was floored. The old-timer not only exerted perfect control over the cards, he did it so suavely.

An obsession took hold. In time Forte realized these games his father played weren’t pure games of chance — the more you’d play, the more likely you’d lose. It was a mathematical certainty. But he understood something those hoping to luck their way to a better life did not; you could improve your odds.

Teenage Steve visited the library and checked out the seminal books on gambling at the time: Edward Thorp’s "Beat the Dealer" and John Scarne’s "The Complete Guide to Casino Gambling." He never returned the books. He was hired at his local American Legion hall and dealt cards during charity casino nights. The kid was a natural.

Even after accepting a junior college scholarship to play basketball, the glitz and flashing lights of casinos beckoned. There was only one place to go. At 20, Forte left school, packed everything he owned into a ‘74 Camaro and drove west.

Las Vegas in the late 1970s was a city where the mob had outsized influence.

“How do you feel about unions?” asked one job interviewer.

“I don’t even know what a union is, sir,” Forte responded. “I just want to deal craps.”

“Right answer, kid.”

Interview over. Forte was hired on the spot. Two hours after turning 21, he dealt his first game.

His bosses recognized a talent that belied Forte’s age. When a casino veteran discovered Forte never attended blackjack school, the veteran was astounded: “You cradle that deck like a mother cradles her baby.”

Off work, Forte was a gambler himself, preferring blackjack and low-limit seven-card stud. Forte played nearly every day for seven years, and had the mathematical formulas — when to play, when to fold — down cold. He coupled that knowledge with what’s called advantage play: exploiting biases in gameplay that nudge the odds back toward the player’s favor.

Although advantage play is legal, the line between it and cheating can appear blurry. If a blackjack dealer accidentally flashes his card, the gambler has every right to use that information. There’s nothing illegal about mentally tracking high cards over many rounds of blackjack — card counting. But most casinos can kick you out without cause.

“99.9 percent of advantage players are genuinely trying to stay on the right side of the law,” said Jason England, a friend of Forte’s and a gaming consultant.

Forte assembled a team who’d scout the casino floor, hoping to find a dealer handling cards a certain way. They’d play that table, and if the stars aligned, that dealer might unintentionally reveal the hole card.

Another example: As the dealer lifted the edge of the hole card to peek in a game of blackjack (always a high card), the card might subtly warp, causing light to reflect off it in a slight but distinctive way. When the dealer presented the deck to cut, Forte would cut exactly one card above the bent card. Now he started the hand with a 10 or an ace.

The playbook Forte’s team employed grew more sophisticated. They’d look for any subtle asymmetry in the back design of playing cards to track high cards. They’d strap electronic card-counting devices to their legs in blackjack games, a practice allowed at the time. These tactics involved information available to all players, so they were considered legal, relying more on perceptiveness than chicanery.

The irony was Forte’s star within the casino industry — his day job — was on the rise. He became casino manager at the Sundance Hotel & Casino at just 28.

When playing, he used an alias — Michael Panaggio — always volunteering to spell his last name to make it more believable. Even so, the Nevada Gaming Control Board caught on. In 1982, authorities raided a table at a Reno casino where Forte’s team was playing. They accused him of cheating. Forte showed what he was actually doing — cutting to that imperceptibly bent card.

Was this illegal? There was no statute against it. They struck a deal: In exchange for Forte demonstrating some of his moves for security experts, he’d plead guilty to misdemeanor trespassing.

To the Gaming Control Board, Forte was biting the hand that fed him. He kept playing, and in 1984 the board revoked his work card. Forte could no longer work at any casino in Nevada.

His livelihood gone, a switch flipped in Forte.

“Once I made the decision to go for the money, I never thought twice about it. I was too young and immature, and I knew I was out of line,” Forte said. “They were accusing me of being a cheat anyways, so what was the difference?”

Las Vegas history is filled with inventive cheaters. Hustlers attached mirrors, called shiners, to carefully placed cigarette packs or casino chips, in hopes it would reflect a dealer's hole card. A more sophisticated version was a periscope-like contraption built into a lowball glass, where the gambler could stare into their drink and glimpse the card with a mirrored ice cube.

Some schemes had a Rube Goldberg-ian complexity.

Say a blackjack dealer asked Forte to cut the cards. As Forte lifted the deck, he quickly thumbed up the side like a flipbook. A teammate standing behind Forte recorded the move with a camera hidden in a sports bag. He wore a cowboy hat to hide antennas boosting the radio signal.

The footage was transmitted to a van outside, where an accomplice watched a replay in slow motion. He’d read back the next 10 cards to another accomplice on the casino floor with an earpiece, who’d visually cue Forte what cards were coming up.

Atlantic City, 1987. As Forte played blackjack, an accomplice nearby quietly read the order of the cards dealt into a mini-cassette recorder. After several hands, the accomplice dashed to a payphone and relayed the sequence to a room upstairs, where it was run through a computer program to determine the optimal hands to play.

When it came time to shuffle, the dealer, who was in on the scam, would “false shuffle”—keeping the sequence of cards intact. Now the team knew when to hit, stand and double down. Forte said he made out with $100,000.

The team was caught. Agreeing to plead guilty to avoid a drawn-out appeals process, Forte asked the judge to let him serve his sentence before the upcoming birth of his son. He ended up serving two months for third-degree theft, half in maximum security and half in a work-release program.

Forte then became a security consultant full time and his company, International Gaming Specialists, became the go-to expert for casinos worldwide. Ironically, casinos that Forte and team once cheated were now paying him upward of $25,000 for a consult.

He was known mostly in the casino world until he appeared on the 1996 Fox television show "The Hidden Secrets of Magic," even though Forte doesn’t consider himself a magician.

He closed his demonstration with the center deal, a notoriously difficult move, in which Forte apparently dealt four kings from the middle of the deck. It was the first time Forte’s card-handling abilities were exposed to a national audience. Even master magicians had never seen anything like it.

So years ago when a friend of Penn Jillette, the talking half of Penn & Teller, offered to take him to Forte’s house, Jillette jumped at the chance.

Jillette vividly recalled Forte demonstrating "the scoot," throwing dice in such a manner so that the top number of one die stayed on top, even as the other die tumbled. “It looked like it was bouncing but was actually sliding,” Jillette said. “That delicacy of movement, and the hundreds of hours represented in learning that movement just struck me with awe.”

Then Forte broke out the playing cards. “I had my face down there, four inches from where his hands were. There was no chatter, no eye contact, nothing else for me to think about,” Jillette said. “I’m just trying to see what he’s doing with his fingers. I could not do it.”

When Forte self-published "Gambling Sleight of Hand" in February 2020, Jillette bought the book for himself and Teller. It’s now in a third printing.

The Sin City of yore — the Rat Pack roaming the Copa Room at the Sands, casinos run by mobsters — has largely vanished into desert dust.

In a way, so too has Forte. Most of his friends from the hey-day have moved away. Forte now considers himself retired, though he continues to consult now and then.

Forte has lost some hand strength and can’t handle a deck as smoothly as he did in his 30s. He misses it.

“It’s one of the few hobbies I truly treasured,” he said. ”This one was dear to me.”

Still, his eye for spotting discrepancies — unconscious mistakes casino dealers make that a cheater might exploit — remains tack sharp.

At the Four Queens Casino on Fremont Street, Forte watched blackjack dealers go through the motions. Within five seconds, Forte noticed how one dealer held her deck in such a way that the corner edges were exposed.

Forte stopped in front of a roulette table. He pointed out how metal deflectors on the wheel would influence the speed of the ball. By tracking the ball speed and the wheel’s spin rate, Forte said, he could predict where the ball might land (yes, you can bet while the wheel is spinning).

Counting off in quarter seconds, he determined this roulette wheel took 1.75 seconds to make one revolution. He also noticed the ball tended to drop in a certain area. If the wheel were a clock face, that would be between 12 and 3.

That, Forte said, is where he’d bet. The dealer spun the wheel and sent the ball rolling. The ball bounced and clattered, eventually landing on black 28 — exactly in the part of the wheel Forte predicted. 

My take: Steve Forte may have been the best card-handler of all-time, and I certainly appreciate his ability, but this article greatly overstates his ability as an actual professional casino cheat. As a cheat, he is most well known for his being arrested and/or convicted of casino cheating crimes rather than for being a prolific and successful professional cheat, and I highly doubt that he was proficient at clocking roulette wheels, with or without the aid of computers.

Friday, May 28, 2021

Card Switching Cheat Caught at Mohegan Sun in Pennsylvania

The total cheat proceeds were in excess of $13,000 but the details are sketchy. It looks like a card-switching operation carried out by one player, but, as these articles often are misleading, it's hard to say what happened, and Mohegan Sun surveillance is not as of yet releasing any details of the scam.

Here's the newspaper account of it:

A Duryea man is accused of cheating the Mohegan Sun Pocono Casino out of over $13,000.

42-year-old Wengui Hu used a sleight of hand to switch a winning hand for a higher payout after the cards were dealt, on several occasions at the casino, according to court documents.

Officers first caught the cheating over surveillance during a pit scan on April 19. Police say after Mohegan Sun security personnel approached Hu, he repaid $5,425 over the bet.

Through further investigation, the casino determined Hu cheated and won using the same method on 10 different occasions last month. Officials say Hu received over $13,000 in payouts, to which he was not entitled.

Hu is charged with theft by deception and other related charges. He was arraigned in court Thursday morning and released on unsecured bail.

Eyewitness News reached out to the Pennsylvania State Police Gaming Enforcement and the Mohegan Sun Casino for comment. Both declined, stating it’s still an active investigation.


Saturday, October 17, 2020

Dublin Casino Owner Goes on Vacation While Two Trusted Employees Rip Off His Casino

Well, the owner/boss thought his casino was in good hands during his absence on a pleasure trip. According to this article, he was not quite in the good hands he'd thought he was!

According to the Irish Sun, two casino managers, Tayab Kourtische and Jagjeet Singh, got busy cheating the Dublin Casino's electronic roulette and "fruit" machines out of 18,000 euros. They were seen on CCTV setting up the machines for the kill. They did, however, avoid jail time.

This included tricking the roulette table by removing the glass cover and placing a ball on a number before playing the machine.

This fooled it into thinking the ball already inserted was a win and treated it as a win.

Garda Brian McCormack told prosecutor Antonia Boyle the method the men used to steal from the fruit machine involved a third person who is not yet before the court.

This person loaded a large number of €50 notes into the machine before pressing a “pay out” button.

This then generated a ticket allowing the person to cash it in to redeem the money they had just put into the machines.


Kourtishe is then captured on CCTV footage, unlocking the machine, using a key he had stolen from the office and withdrawing all the cash the third person had just put into the machine.

Singh then came along and cleared all the transactions on the machine, which effectively wiped the statistics and removed all records of the input of the €50 notes into it.

Kourtishe and Singh, both of Tallaght, Dublin, pleaded guilty at Dublin Circuit Criminal Court to sample charges of theft from Expo Casino in The Square, Tallaght, in September 2017.

Neither man has previous convictions and both had money in court to make full recompense.

Gda McCormack said that Kourtishe had stolen €8,895 from the fruit machines and by manipulating the roulette table, while Singh stole a total of €8,988 from the fruit machines.

Judge Pauline Codd noted that Singh was manager of the casino and stole the cash while the owner of the casino was on a month’s leave.


She accepted that he has made full restitution and had a gambling addiction at the time but noted that his behaviour represented a “breach of trust”.

Judge Codd accepted from various testimonials before the court that the offences were “out of character” for Singh and that he has since “sought to address his gambling addiction”.

Judge Codd said that Kourtishe had taken keys from the office which enabled him to steal from the fruit machine.

She said he was “culpable in terms of his breach of trust” but again acknowledged that he has made full recompense for the theft.

Both men were sentenced to two and half years in prison which were suspended in full on strict conditions.

Gda McComack said the owner of the casino immediately identified both Kourtishe and Singh as suspects through CCTV footage, once the thefts were discovered.


Both men made immediate admissions when their boss questioned them about it and signed a note to say they had stolen the cash.

They also returned some of the cash they had stolen.

Gda McCormack acknowledged that both men had provided him with bank drafts to cover the full amount of money they had stolen but he has had difficulty in contacting the owner of the casino as he has since moved to Spain.

There was also no victim impact statement prepared for the case.

Kieran Kelly BL, defending Kourtishe, asked the court to take into account his client’s pleas of guilty and co-operation with the garda investigation.

He said his client, who is originally from Algeria, felt a compulsion to look after his mother who was elderly and ill, which was what motivated him to steal the cash.

“He knows now that he cannot give to others what he does not legitimately have himself,” Mr Kelly said.

“He was well-motivated, if misguided, in his intentions and hopes to go back to the person he always was,” counsel submitted.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Another Dealer/Agent Baccarat Scam in Australia

 Again at the Star Casino in Australia, this one for what seems to be at least $200,000, although the amount is not clear in the reports I have read. Baccarat scam involving casino employees have been on the rise in Australia, but at least this time Star surveillance inspectors seem to have caught this one quickly as it was happening, but I don't how many cheating sessions went on before the last one. Judging by hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash and chips seized by police during subsequent raids on the two suspects' homes, one a baccarat dealer, the other a player, the cheat scam survived a few sessions before the bust.

This article appeared in the Sydney Morning Herald:

Two men, including a former employee, have been charged over their alleged involvement in a betting scam at Sydney's Star casino that reaped thousands of dollars, including casino chips valued at nearly $170,000.

Earlier this month, the organised crime squad’s casino and racing investigation unit commenced an investigation under Strike Force Antree following reports two men were involved in corrupt betting during a game of baccarat.

Police will allege that, in a private member's gaming suite at the casino, former employee Hieu Duc Lam was involved in dealing cards during three games of baccarat that Ziyi Liu played. It is alleged the two men communicated with each other in order to win.

Following inquiries, police arrested Mr Liu, 27, at a casino car park in Sydney and a Mr Lam, 35, at a home at Canley Heights in Sydney's west, about 6.20pm on September 9.

A search warrant was executed at the Canley Heights home, where officers allegedly seized more than $270,000 in cash, $2000 in US currency and electronic storage devices.

A second search warrant was executed at a unit at Ryde, where investigators allegedly seized more than $300,000 cash and casino chips valued at $169,000.

Mr Liu was taken to Day Street police station and charged with three counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and participating in a criminal group contributing to criminal activity.

He appeared at the Downing Centre Local Court on Wednesday, where strict conditional bail is to continue. The matter will be before the same court on November 11.

Mr Lam was taken to Fairfield police station and also charged with three counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and participating in a criminal group contributing to criminal activity.

He appeared at Liverpool Local Court on Wednesday, where the matter was adjourned to Downing Centre Local Court for November 11.

Further charges are expected to be laid against the men.

"These types of things were picked up fairly quickly with the systems and processes at the casino and the police investigated that, and gathered the evidence to put these men before the court," organised crime squad’s casino and racing investigation unit Detective acting Inspector John Cosgrove said.

"In general terms, there is a lot of cameras, you are under constant video surveillance down there and your actions and your movements are being continually monitored."

A Star spokesperson said: "The Star’s internal processes identified an issue and law enforcement was subsequently engaged. The casino regulator was also informed. We have no further comment."

Investigations are continuing.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Crown Casino in Melbourne bungles air-tight Cheating-Case against dealer and cohort playing Baccarat

The case was already three years old. Thirty-seven-year-old baccarat dealer Michael Hu had allegedly teamed up with a female baccarat player Yixuan Cui to cheat Hu's employer, Crown Casino, out of a cool four hundred grand. Casino investigators became aware of the allegedly cheating, which had Hu supplying winning hands to Cui, who was making large bets at the baccarat table. A cheating technique known as false-shuffling was performed by Hu, whereby he knew the order of the cards coming out of the card shoe in advance and protected that sequence by making believe to shuffle the cards.

The pair were seized and taken to the casino's security room, where both alleged cheats confessed. The only problem was that their confessions were cajoled from them by overeager and over-aggressive security interrogators who did everything from telling them they would help them with the police if they gave confessions because they were ex-cops themselves who had connections within the police department to downright threatening them if they didn't confess.

Threats of long prison sentences, allegedly on tape, and other types of threats were made against the pair, whose lawyer now says not only must the case be dropped but also the defendants are entitled to $250,000 in damages, which equals the sum of cash and chips that were seized from their apartments, their winnings from the casino. 

One Crown Casino surveillance investigator named Manuel Lyberis reportedly told the pair, "We're just trying to help you, mates. It's like a get-out-of-jail card, and if you don't take it now, you won't get another opportunity. Then the casino's investigations manager, Jason McHutchinson, told them, "I will cop the full extent of the law on you if you don't confess.

Well, both Mr. Lyberis and Mr. McHutchinson really overplayed Crown Casino's hand. They had a real tight case against the alleged cheats, including the two hundred grand in cash and fifty grand in Crown Casino chips they seized from the raided Melbourne apartments where the suspects lived. 

All in all, it looks like Hu and Cui are gonna be able to get back their cash and have no criminal record from the case.

My take: Shame on the Crown Casino security and surveillance departments.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Poker Player Star's Safe Ripped-Off Of a Cool Million by Father's ex-Girlfriend

Antonio Esfandiari

Star Poker Player Antonio Esfandiari, winner of the $1 million buy-in Big One for One Drop Tournament in 2012 for more than $18 million, was the victim of a million-dollar pot himself, but not a poker pot. A forty-six-year-old woman by the name of Svitlana Silva, whose glittery last name fits quite nicely into her first name, which perhaps gave the cops a clue to the crime, and who was also the on and off girlfriend of Esfandiari's father, Bejan, made off with a million in cash, casino poker chips and tournament gold bracelets (including the Big One bracelet), which she then proceeded to blow and win back in several high-stakes Las Vegas poker games, most of them private. 

She allegedly knew or figured out the code for the safe, which contained the same numbers of Bejan's cellphone password, which she did know. But instead of getting out of dodge with the loot, or should I say "getting out of Sin City," she instead hung around town and used the cash and chips to buy into huge-stakes poker games, losing all the cash quite quickly, then using the stolen chips, most of them worth $25 grand each, to win back the money she lost. The problem was that another player received those chips upon cashing out.

Using those very high denomination chips is what did her in. Knowing that casinos keep track of their large denomination chips, she had to get those chips back from that player so they would not show up again in any casino and lead the cops to her. She contacted the man who had them, telling him that the chips were marked in casinos' computers and could be confiscated when presented again for use or cashout if they're reported stolen. 

Thus she offered to buy them back. But before she could, Las Vegas police caught up with her after learning of her huge cash and chip-buy-ins and coupling that with the fact she had lived in Estandiari's Las Vegas apartment with him and his father and still had access to it.

This bizarre incident brings back memories of the Bellagio "Biker Bandit" (Tony Carleo), who held-up the Bellagio casino in Las Vegas back in 2010 and escaped with a million dollars in similar $25,000 chips. He, too, knew that casinos kept track of these chips, so he figured out a way to get rid of them. Unfortunately for the Biker Bandit, his idea was even worse than Silva's.

He put an ad on the Two Plus Two poker forum offering to sell them at a huge discount.

Need I say more?

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

New False Shuffle or Back-End Baccarat Shoe Scam at Livermore, California Casino--This one for $4 Million!

Not again!

That blows my mind! Should blow yours too.

Same ol' same ol'--but a $4 million scam at a Central California Casino? I would think that's a bit much.

According to reports, a dealer/player/ cheat-team who are also wife/husband, in that order, cheated the Parkwest Casino 580 out of four million bucks by what seems to be either/or a false shuffle baccarat scam/peek and memorize the cards at the back of the shoe scam, or both. This is very hard to believe, and even though the cheat-team allegedly operated for two years, I cannot imagine them getting that kind of money out of that casino and getting away with it for so long. From the descriptions, I am not sure of the actual mechanics of the scam but it must involve the tricks I mentioned above.

Khan "Tina" Tran and Eric Nguyen, the happily or desperately married couple, have been arrested on various felony charges.

Haven't we all heard the last name "Nguyen" in many big-time insider-cheat baccarat scams before?