Baccarat Scam- How the Card Cheats Got Caught Red Handed

Posted on January 4th, 2010

We have featured quite a few casino scams on the blog- not because we condone them in any way, but we do find them fascinating (don´t you think?). In the past we have run through a few blackjack scams and roulette scams that we have come across, but we haven´t covered anything on baccarat…up until now that is.

Baccarat is the favourite flavour for high rollers of course, on account of its favorable odds and speed of play. So it is not suprising that it attracts fraudsters trying to get one over the casinos. There can be a lot of money sloshing around at the baccarat tables- particularly in the VIP rooms.

One such case went down at the mini baccarat tables in Atlantic City, and although the amount was not too eye watering ($100 grand….eye watering enough for the casino we suppose), it is interesting to see what their plan was and how they got caught out (and arrested).

13 people were eventually booked for taking part in a Mini-Baccarat Cheating Scam in 1999 at the Claridge Casino Hotel. The team consisted of a number of men and women, most of Vietnamese origin, including the dealer, who was eventually caught on CCTV. Inside jobs are very common in this type of scam.

Here´s basically how the team operated:
2 men worked as card counters. They began playing Mini-Baccarat, betting with low stakes and noting the cards played (this is a common enough practice in baccarat- nothing wrong in doing this as long as you can do it in your head).

When it was time to shuffle the deck, the Card Counters stopped betting and left the table. The dealer, also part of the team, set up a new shoe of cards, but shuffled in a pre ordained way, which gave other members of the team an edge against the house. Then 9 more players from the team sat down at the table. Because they knew the card order , they bet big on each hand – up to $3,000 on a hand and won more than $100,000.

However, the casino quickly clocked an unusual pattern, and a couple of hours into the scam, all 9 players were arrested at the table, and the Police took $90,000 in gaming chips and currency. The card counters and the dealer, were also arrested, as well as the King Pin who was sitting out the scam at home. The team made the elementary mistake of staying at the table too long and getting greedy. It became too obvious to the casino that there was something fish going on- the laws of probability just don´t allow you to have such a long winning streak, particularly  if your wins are not compensated by someone else´s losses at the table.

So what did they get? Well- a trip to Atlantic County jail, and bail set at $50,000. And they risked a $150k fine and up to 5 years in the slammer. Ouch.

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