Although baccarat is not the first game you think of when you hear about players trying to cheat a casino, there has been a big rise in baccarat cheating over the past few years. One reason for this phenomenon is that baccarat is the game of high rollers, so a cheater who makes large bets is not necessarily going to raise suspicion like a large better at another game would.
Because baccarat is such a simple game (both operationally and strategically), it doesn't easily lend itself to cheating. Because of this simplicity, most baccarat cheating stories are similar and usually share the same characteristics. One is that the cheating almost always happens in groups, unlike, say, slot cheaters who work alone many times. And second, the dealer is often involved in the scam.
Some of the smarter baccarat cheating scams where the dealer was involved were particularly hard to catch. Richard Marcus, a former casino cheat and baccarat dealer, used to perform a false shuffle with the deck right before he gave the deck to the next dealer. This allowed the scamming players (the baccarat version of blackjack's "Big Player") to bet big and win big while they received "fixed" cards from a dealer that wasn't even involved in the scam.
Here are a few of the higher-profile cases of baccarat cheating over the past few years.
In 2009 a grand jury charged seven defendants each with one count of conspiracy to commit several offenses against the United States, including conspiracy to steal money and other property from Indian tribal casinos, and conspiracy to travel in interstate and foreign commerce in aid of racketeering.
From 2002 through 2006, the defendants and co-conspirators allegedly formed and participated in a conspiracy named the "Tran Organization," to cheat at gambling in casinos across the U.S. Members of the group allegedly bribed dealers and supervisors to perform false shuffles during blackjack and mini-baccarat games, thereby creating groups of unshuffled cards.
??sf??One member of the group would act as a "card recorder" and would note some or all of the cards dealt during the games. During mini-baccarat games, the card recorder usually would record the value of the cards on paper that the casino provides to players. While, in blackjack games, the card recorder used a hidden transmitter or microphone and a cell phone to relay the order of the cards to another member, who would enter the order of the cards into a computer program loaded with a special card-tracking computer program. One of the devices used by the group was a wireless transmitter - possibly an in-ear cellular communicator - purchased from spy Shops in the U.S. and Canada.
??sf??After tracking the order of cards dealt in a card game, one member would signal to the dealer to perform a "false shuffle". Then, other members of the group would bet on the known order of cards that were coming. The group scammed casinos around the country for about $7 million and on one occasion made $868,000 in about 90 minutes.
??sf??Even though the group didn't always win, their losses were sometimes intentionally inflicted in order to deflect suspicion from casino security. In blackjack circles, this is known as "camouflaging". Members of the group often cashed out with winnings of less than $10,000 in order to avoid the federal reporting requirements. The indictment doesn't state how the group was finally caught, but it may have been due to one of the defendants attempting bribe of an undercover agent at the Imperial Palace in June 2006.
??sf??There were two previous indictments in connection with the Tran Organization's alleged cheating conspiracy. Nineteen alleged members of the Tran Organization were charged in a three-count indictment returned in San Diego in 2007. To date, 31 defendants have pleaded guilty to charges relating to the conspiracy and admitted to targeting, with the aid of co-conspirators, about total 26 casinos in the US and Canada.
??sf??In 2002 in Las Vegas, three men pleaded guilty to one count of Conspiracy to Participate in an Enterprise Through a Pattern of Racketeering. The three defendants were 3 out of 17 individuals charged in October 2000 in a six-count Indictment with Racketeering Conspiracy, Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering, Interstate Transportation of Stolen Property, Interstate Travel in Aid of Racketeering, Aiding and Abetting, and a RICO forfeiture.
According to the Indictment, the defendants were members of an organization which developed methods to cheat casinos out of money at Baccarat and Blackjack. Between November 1994 and February 1999, the organization operated in the US and Canada and used their profits to promote the organization and to continue cheating. The group had several sessions during 1996 in Nevada where they won $200,000 to $400,000 per session by cheating at baccarat. The members of the organization used aliases, received training, and practiced their cheating techniques. The members of the organization cheated by marking and crimping cards, peeking at the cards, and distracting the dealers, while using secret codes to communicate to each other.
In 2000, State Police arrested 13 people in Atlantic City who were allegedly involved in a theft-by-deception scam in which they attempted to cheat the Claridge Casino Hotel out of more than $100,000. During a three-month investigation, the State Police developed information that a number of men and women, mostly Vietnamese, were planning a mini baccarat scam at the Claridge which involved the dealer.
??sf??In the scam, two of the defendants acted as "recorders" who allegedly began playing Mini-Baccarat and making small bets and recorded the cards that were played. When it came time to shuffle the cards, the players stopped playing and left the table. The dealer then performed a "false shuffle" which preserves the order of the cards that have been recorded and gives the scamming players the ability to know which cards will be dealt. When the game presumed after the false shuffle, nine different players involved in the scam sat down at the table. Because they knew the order of the cards that were about to be dealt, they bet large amounts on each hand - sometimes as high as $3,000 - and went on to win about $100,000. About two hours after the scam began, all nine players were arrested at the table, and State Police confiscated $90,000 in chips and money. The recorders and the dealer were also arrested in the casino. The masterminded the operation was also arrested at his home.
??sf??All members of the group were charged with second degree theft by deception and second degree conspiracy and bail was set at $50,000. Each count carries a penalty of 5-10 years in prison with a possible fine of up to $150,000.
??sf??In September 2008, four New York residents were arrested for using a cheating device at a mini baccarat table at at Mohegan Sun in Connecticut. The cheating ring operated at Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods and used a micro-computer with special software that predicted, with decent accuracy, which cards would come out of the shoe. The group was held on a $10,000 bond pending arraignment and faced charges of cheating while lawfully gambling, possession of a cheating device, first-degree larceny, and first-degree criminal trespass.
??sf??Unlike the other stories, the cheaters were not colluding with dealers. Nonetheless, the cheating device's advantage was due to inadequate shuffles where the cards that were bulked together in a certain order would stay bulked together because the shuffle would be inadequate. First, you input all of the cards that you see into the machine. Then, after the cards are shuffled, you start inputting all the cards you see into the device again. The device will now be able to tell you which cards are most likely to come out based on what cards haven't come out yet combined with the card bulking phenomenon that keeps the order of the cards. The device is basically a combination card counting and shuffle tracking computer. Card counting alone wouldn't have provided an advantage since card counting alone doesn't give a player an advantage over the house at baccarat.
HPG ADMIN on March 1, 2013