Posts Tagged ‘blackjack cheating’

On Those Casino Pit Bosses

Friday, June 17th, 2011

If you have spent much time in a casino, you’ve seen the pit bosses walking around, keeping an eye on things. Even if you’re doing nothing wrong, you might find them intimidating. The truth is, though, those pit bosses and other personnel are there to help you as much as help the casino.

Casino management is very concerned with protecting the integrity of the casino. They want every game to be on the up and up so customers can have a good time and no one gets ripped off. For that reason, everyone is monitored. I do mean everyone. All of the players are being watched by someone, even if it’s just the “eye in the sky.” Most people already knew that. What they might not know is that each employee is being watched as well.

If you’re playing blackjack, that blackjack dealer is being monitored. The pit boss or other personnel are looking for a number of things. They are checking to make sure the dealer isn’t sloppy with the cards, which could expose their hole card or result in them dealing the wrong card. They are also making sure the dealer doesn’t cheat to help certain players.

The casino doesn’t want you to cheat the dealer, for obvious reasons, but they also don’t want the dealer to cheat you, whether intentionally or unintentionally. After all, if a casino develops a reputation for cheating players, it won’t last long. Of course, if you’re counting cards, the dealer, pit boss and everyone else is also looking out for that.

Delaware Arrests Blackjack Cheating Ring

Friday, May 27th, 2011

There is a saying that “crime doesn’t pay.” It’s not true, of course, because a lot of people make a lot of money off of crime. Didn’t you ever see Scarface? Sure, he died at the end as a result of his excesses, but his crime paid really well up until that point.

In any case, maybe that saying should be amended to “crime may pay for a while, but at some point you will probably get caught, especially if you commit that crime in a casino.” Maybe that is a little too long to catch on. Hopefully you’ll remember the point of it, though. In casinos, everything is watched closely. There is a lot of money at stake, so the “eye in the sky” is ever watchful. Aside from CIA headquarters, I can’t think of anyplace with better surveillance than a casino. So if you have a cheating ring that is ripping those casinos off, it’s only a matter of time before you’re caught.

Earlier this week, Delaware State Police arrested three men they say are a blackjack cheating ring. According to authorities, the men worked together to mark and count cards during the blackjack games. Jiehui Huang, 49, Raymond Li, 57, and Huan Quan Yu, 59, were all arrested after a week-long investigation. The three men, who are each from San Francisco, were arrested at Delaware Park casino.

According to authorities, one of the men used a casino chip to mark cards with a value of ten. The other two men played at the table and took advantage of the marked cards. After casino security noticed them acting suspiciously, police were called and they were arrested before being able to cash out their winnings. The three individuals are charged with conspiracy, criminal mischief, attempted theft and altering a table game component. All of those charges are misdemeanors.

PA Regulators: Blackjack Cheating Not a Problem

Friday, March 4th, 2011

When the state of Pennsylvania decided to allow blackjack and other table games at their casinos last year, some were worried about the impact of cheating. After all, it’s virtually impossible to cheat at slots but blackjack, on the other hand, has a lot of tricks for people who want to cheat the system.

However, according to the state’s regulators, cheating at table games has not been much of a problem so far. Members from the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board told the Erie Times-News that, although they don’t have exact statistics for the number of cheaters caught at the state’s casinos, it has not been much of a problem. Most of the gamblers are playing it straight and most of the cheaters caught, they say, were caught early on as players tried to “test the waters” to see if the casinos were up to the challenge. They were.

Greg Fajt, chairman of the gaming board, put it best. “I always say, the casino is the worst place in the world to commit a crime. Everything is on camera,” he said. Casinos have sophisticated security techniques in place to identify and prevent cheating. That includes surveillance cameras, gaming board offers walking the floor, the pit boss walking the floor, the presence of state police, managers and the dealers, who are trained to spot behavior that indicates cheating.

Of those who were caught cheating, the regulators said that most tried the techniques known as capping and pinching. Capping is sneaking extra chips onto your bet when you have a good hand. Pinching is the opposite, sneaking chips away from your betting pile when you see that you have a bad hand.

In Pennsylvania, cheating at a casino is either a felony or misdemeanor, depending on a number of factors, such as the amount of money in play. The offenses can result in a hefty fine and prison time, not to mention being banned from playing at casinos in the state after that.

Blackjack cheaters caught in CA

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Every so often I like to report on news of people being caught cheating at blackjack. I do it for a reason: There isn’t a lot of blackjack news and it gives me something to write…No, not that. I do it because for some people, cheating at blackjack can be pretty tempting. With card counting, you can gain an advantage over the dealer, but if you play in such a way that you actually know which cards are coming, that tilts the odds even more in your favor.

I know there are reasons people cheat and I have even written about the psychology of cheating. There are two reasons you should not cheat at blackjack, though: First, cheating is wrong, no matter how you feel about the casino. Second, if you cheat you will most likely be caught. The penalty for cheating in a casino is pretty stiff.

That brings me to the news of three people arrested for allegedly cheating at blackjack in a California casino. According to authorities, they were caught marking cards and using those cards to win $24,000 after only playing for 30 minutes.

On July 12 at the Turlock Poker Room near San Francisco, Gabriel Urbieta Rodriguez started off the day by losing thousands at the blackjack table. Then his luck suddenly changed. He began playing three hands at a time and won almost every hand he played during a half-hour span. As you can imagine, the dealer became suspicious, so he switched to a new deck. Shortly thereafter, Rodriguez then got up from the table and left with his winnings.

A check of the security footage revealed that the cards in the original deck had been marked with “grease spots.” All cards worth 10 points had a grease mark on the outer edge of the cards and all other cards had a mark in the middle. Security footage also revealed that an individual named Cha Say also helped him, as did Robert Younan, the card room supervisor.

According to the casino, Younan made sure the marked deck was used at Rodriguez’s blackjack table. The casino has since confiscated the money won at the table and the three cheaters face felony charges and up to three months in prison. That sentence is actually pretty light, as cheating in a casino often carries a sentence of several years in prison.

So what is the moral of the story? Again, don’t cheat.

Cheaters caught at new PA blackjack tables

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Not long ago, along with other blackjack fans, I applauded the launching of blackjack tables and other table games in Pennsylvania casinos. The blackjack tables quickly attracted fans of the game, but they also attracted cheaters. I guess I should say alleged cheaters.

Three examples immediately come to mind. At the Hollywood Casino in Grantville, Pennsylvania, Claudie Kenion III was caught trying to change his bets on winning hands. When his hand won, he would sneak extra chips into the betting circle. He was arrested for attempting to cheat at blackjack and is accused of doing this technique for 13 hands. This happened on only the second day of blackjack tables at this casino.

Then there is Thomas Albright, who was arrested at a Hollywood Casino in East Hanover Township, Pennsylvania after he was caught trying to do the opposite of Kenion. Albright tried to sneak chips that he had bet out of the betting circle on hands that he lost. He was quickly arrested and charged with theft in addition to being banned from the casino for a minimum of 30 days.

Then there is the man who last weekend was seen cheating at Mount Airy Casino in Mount Pocono, Pennsylvania. The man, who hasn’t been identified to the press, was caught trying to use counterfeit $100 chips at the blackjack table. When he was approached, the man fled the casino and is still at large. If apprehended, the man faces a theft conviction among other charges.

I point this out for a couple reasons. The first is to show that the casinos notice when people cheat. The dealers and other casino employees are trained to look for suspicious behavior and there are also surveillance cameras that cover the entire casino floor. The other reason I point this out is to show the harsh penalties that go along with being caught cheating in a casino. In the state of Pennsylvania, anyone caught cheating at a casino faces up to five years in prison and a $150,000 fine. Depending on the amount that is stolen, they could have a felony criminal record. In addition, they can be banned from the casino for an unspecified amount of time.

Blackjack Con Beats Casinos, Court

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

I’ve written some Dumb Crook News in the past on this site, but this time it’s the court and the casinos who were dumb. The crook made out like, well, a bandit. I guess sometimes crime does pay.

A Turkish man named Seyit Ibrahim Yel (if that is his name) allegedly conned countless casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas out of hundreds of thousands of dollars. He was arrested on other charges and then, despite warrants for his arrest, released on a technicality. The casinos have tried to sue him to get their money back, but unfortunately no one can find him.

Back in 2008, Yel went around to casinos across the nation posing as a wealthy business man named “Mustafa Seda.” Seda passed himself as a high roller, being flown into the casinos on private planes and staying in complementary suites, all courtesy of the casino. After all, casinos are more than happy to pay for things like that for the high rollers. The problem is, the real Seda might have been a high roller, but Yel wasn’t him.

Instead of bringing his own money to the casinos, Yel did what many high rollers do and took out markers, which are basically loans from the casino that allow you to play on their dime. If you win, you pay them back with your winning chips and if you lose, they deduct the amount of your marker from your bank account. However, there was no money in Yel’s account to cover the marker, making that loan the equivalent of knowingly writing a bad check. That would also be known as fraud.

Yel apparently is a good blackjack player, because he won some money at those casinos. Then, instead of paying back the marker amount, he either walked out with it or passed the winnings on to an accomplice.

Yel was later arrested for an unrelated scam involving a theft of $77,000 worth of gasoline. While awaiting his trial, authorities notified the Nassau County Judge that Yel was wanted for the casino scams and had warrants for his arrest in Nevada and New Jersey. However, because he went by the alias of Mustafa Seda and the casinos and authorities in those jurisdictions thought that was his real name, the warrants were under the name of Seda. Because those warrants were under a different name, the judge ruled that they were invalid and allowed bail for a mere $3,500.

Since Yel had conned Vegas casinos out of $420,000 in one week alone, coming up with the bail wasn’t much of a problem. Upon being released from jail, Yel decided against the whole remaining in the country and awaiting his trial thing. Instead, he hopped on a plane and flew to the United Arab Emirates. Why the UAE and not Turkey, you ask? That could be because Turkey has an extradition treaty with the United States, whereas the UAE does not.

Since then, the Bellagio attempted to sue Yel to recover $200,000 stolen from their casino. However, that lawsuit was thrown out by a judge who said he had not been properly served. Also, the lawsuit was again in the name of Seda (okay, that time it was the casino’s fault).

I don’t know how this will affect the real Mustafa Seda. Yel illegally snuck into the United States across the unsecured border with Canada and then assumed the identity of wealthy businessman Seda, who had returned to Turkey earlier.

So what have we learned? First, that just because someone acts like a high roller doesn’t mean they are one. We also learned that you should always keep an eye on someone you loan $200,000 to. Also, our legal system needs to apply more common sense, so that using an alias can’t get you off the hook. If not, then we learned that if you commit fraud, all you have to do to get away with it is commit it under someone else’s name.

A Word on Blackjack Cheats

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

I don’t know how many times I’ve come across an article online about how to cheat at blackjack. They’re all over the place and it gets me mad every time I see it. Those articles usually start with a disclaimer that says they don’t condone cheating or that you can get in trouble if you’re caught cheating, but then they give you all of the information you need to go out there and do it.

We would never tell you to cheat at blackjack and think it’s wrong to cheat, but if you wanted to do it, here’s how! Simply follow our step-by-step guide and you will be an expert blackjack cheat in no time!

It is irresponsible for blackjack guides to tell people how to cheat and it pains me that so many of my competitors do that. I will never advocate or give you information that will help you cheat in blackjack.

There are two reasons not to be a blackjack cheat. The first is that cheating is wrong. There are many justifications that people have for cheating at casinos and I have written extensively about the psychology behind cheating. However, what it comes down to is that the game of blackjack is either a fair game or it is not. If it’s not fair then why are you playing it at all? Cheating in order to “make the game more fair” is just an excuse, because blackjack already has the lowest house edge in the casino. When you use proper basic strategy it can be lowered to 0.5%. If you also count cards, which isn’t cheating, then the player can actually gain an advantage over the house.

So if the game is already fair, why would it be okay for you to not play by the rules? Those rules are good enough for everyone else. Besides, when you enter a casino and sit at a table, you are in essence agreeing to the terms of that table and promising to play by the rules. Think of it as an unwritten contract.

Not only that, but blackjack cheating actually hurts other players as well. Think about it. Unless you’ve been living in a cave (and if you have, how are you reading this?) then you know that most of the world has been in a recession. As a result, companies all across the globe are losing money. The hardest-hit industries have been those of leisure and luxury, which would include casinos. Gambling isn’t a necessity, so trips to the casino are one of the first things people do away with when cutting back on expenses. As a result, casinos across the world are losing money.

Casinos don’t like losing money. Therefore, when the money they’re losing gets out of hand, they tend to make changes to make more money. Those changes can come in the form of getting rid of some of their comps, raising the rates for their rooms, and of course changing the rules in their games to increase the house edge. When that happens, you and other blackjack players suffer. So if you cheat in order to “break the casino” or whatever you’re trying to do, don’t think of the casino as an evil corporation that wants to take your money. Think of it as a business that provides you and other blackjack players entertainment and if they lose too much money, they will either provide less entertainment or may go out of business altogether.

So that is one reason not to be a blackjack cheat. The other reason is much more simple and easy to understand: There are severe consequences if you are caught. If you’re caught cheating, you will be banned from the casino, possibly every casino in that chain, and maybe even from gambling in that city again. Not only that, you will most likely face criminal charges (felony fraud, most likely) and could end up spending years behind bars, aside from having to pay a fine and restitution to the casino. Cheating isn’t worth risking all of that.

So I repeat: Do not cheat at blackjack. And you online casino writers out there, don’t tell people how to do it. For those who do, shame on you.

Blackjack Cheating Ringleader Convicted

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

Readers, I’ve said this many times, but I’ll say it again: Do not cheat at blackjack. I know that people have different reasons and justifications for cheating at a casino, but there are two very good reasons not to do it: 1) It’s morally wrong. 2) It’s not worth the risk.

Phuong Quoc Truong found that out the hard way. On Monday, the San Diego man was convicted of racketeering and was sentenced to 70 months (almost 6 years) in prison and will have to pay $5.7 million in restitution to the casinos and $2.8 million to the federal government. In addition, he has to forfeit two homes, property in Vietnam, his Porsche and other assets.

Truong was convicted of leading a criminal organization called the Tran Organization that bilked 27 tribal casinos out of approximately $7 million. According to the court, Truong led a gang of 37 people and used an organized system to defraud the casinos out of millions. They did so, in part, by using the “false shuffle” scam.

In the scam, members of the Tran Organization would bribe or intimidate blackjack and baccarat dealers into agreeing to be part of the conspiracy. Once they were on board, the dealer would do a false shuffle when given a certain signal. The dealer then leaves a certain part of the deck unshuffled, creating “slugs” of unshuffled cards. The dealer would then signal to the Tran members when the slugs are coming up in the deck and, knowing what order the cards are going to come in, they would bet accordingly. The Tran Organization also supposedly used hidden transmitters and computer software to track the order of cards.

Even though they spread their crimes out over 27 casinos instead of focusing on one, the authorities eventually noticed and the FBI made the arrests. Wanting to get rich, Truong now has to hand over most of his assets and spend the next 5+ years in prison.

Cheating in Blackjack

Thursday, February 25th, 2010

I recently read an article online about the training of special agents in casinos who are tasked with identifying cheaters. The methodology in their training was very interesting, but my mind kept going back to the basic questions of why do people cheat and is it immoral to cheat?

Both questions are so intertwined that it’s impossible to fully discuss one without the other. First of all, I’ll point out that counting cards is not cheating if you do so using nothing but your mind. Using any sort of outside help, which can range from a digital counter to a rubber band, is cheating.

So why do some people cheat at blackjack and other casino games? First, let’s concede the fact that most people think of themselves as good people. Short of someone with a severe mental disorder, such as antisocial personality disorder, it’s virtually impossible to continue doing bad things, realize that they are bad, know that it makes you a bad person, and be okay with it.

People are not okay with thinking they’re a bad person. A person’s self-concept is formed at an early age and with the exception of extreme circumstances of abuse, as children we come to think of ourselves as good people. Doing bad things contradicts that positive self-image, forming cognitive dissonance, which is when someone holds onto two contradictory ideas simultaneously. One of the ways of resolving that dissonance is by rationalizing the bad behavior.

Yes, I had an affair, but my husband is never home and doesn’t love me anymore. Yes, I spent too much money on this house, but it’s an investment for the future. I would never abuse a child, but it’s the only way to keep him in line.

People invent justifications for their bad behavior that allow them to think of that behavior as okay. This allows them to see what they did not as something bad, but as something that was necessary or acceptable due to the circumstances. In this form of rationalization, they no longer see the bad behavior as being bad. In blackjack, it can take an “ends justifies the means” form, where the player is hurting for money and has bills that they can’t pay. They rationalize that I am only cheating because I need the money. I would never do it just to have extra money to spend on trivial things, but I have a family to support. That rationalization makes cheating not seem bad because not being able to support the family would be worse.

People also rationalize by comparing themselves to others with whom they match up favorably. This is done all of the time in the constructing and reinforcement of our self-image as a good person. We see ourselves as being good by recognizing that we are “better” than people we consider to be bad. After being accused of stealing, football player Peter Warrick protected his self-image by saying “it’s not like I shot the president.” Sure, being a thief is bad, but not as bad as being a murderer. People rationalize buying an expensive TV that they can’t afford by pointing out the average debt of American households. Sure, I might have spent too much, but not compared to those other people! Have you seen the size of our neighbor’s boat?

In this way, players can justify stealing from a casino because, compared to murder, rape, child abuse and countless other crimes, what they’re doing isn’t really that bad. Also, it’s not like the casino can’t afford it!

And that is probably the most common rationalization behind cheating at blackjack. Another way in which people resolve cognitive dissonance and preserve their self-image of a good person is by making the victim out to be the villain. That way they deserved it. Yes, I killed my wife, but she was having an affair. Yes, I lied on the witness stand, but I know that man was guilty.

Casinos are easy targets for this. Sure, they provide basically any amenity you can ask for, are a great place to have fun, and will willingly pay you when you win fair and square, but let’s face it, they’re greedy and like taking my money! People rationalize that since the casino takes everyone’s money and the games have odds unfairly tilted in the house’s favor, there’s nothing wrong with cheating them out of money. I’m like Robin Hood. I’m stealing from the rich and giving to..well, not the poor, but me! Since the games all have a house edge, people can see cheating as simply evening things out to make them fairer, ignoring the fact that anyone who gambles in a casino accepts the fact that a casino is a business that needs the revenue from gamblers to make money and stay in operation.

Though stealing something from another person is always equally bad, people are able to justify it so that it’s bad if you steal from someone poor but okay if you steal from the rich. It is much easier to rationalize stealing from a millionaire CEO than from a homeless person. Why? Because the rich person can afford it!  Look, it’s not like the casino will even miss this money. They have billions! In this weak economy, though, many casinos are losing money and some have even had to close. That doesn’t matter to the cheaters, though, who justify their actions by looking at the glitz and glamor of the casino and assume that they’re making money hand over fist. They can afford to lose this money. They have plenty of it and I’m barely scraping by.

The mind is a powerful thing. Through rationalization of bad behavior, people can resolve their cognitive dissonance and still see themselves as a good person. Sometimes they do so by justifying the bad behavior so it is no longer seen as bad, while other times they recognize that it was bad, but necessary. They hold onto their self-concept as a good person by admitting that sometimes a good person does bad things.