As predicted, 2011 will be a “hot” year for Baccarat, starting with Chinese New Year, and I’m not talking about “hot” being “good”. Two weeks prior to the Chinese most celebrated Lunar New Year, two different baccarat scams were witness by surveillance and floor operations in Las Vegas. The first scam, a legal technique, was detected and stopped at a “locals” casino. The second scam, an illegal technique, was detected and stopped at a larger Las Vegas Strip casino. But how many of time have similar scams gone on without being caught? How many times will this occur over Chinese New Year, and for the following several months through summer?
The first scam is considered an advantage play known as “back card location”. A team of players locate a casino that utilizes the “ribbon spread” for shuffle card placement. If they can spy the back card, and count down the total number of cards removed by the dealer to facilitate the ribbon spread, they can estimate the reappearance of a known card towards the end of the shoe. Although this is a “one time” play, and takes up to an hour and a half before the predicted card reappears, it offers the advantage players (AP’s) an average gain of approximately 10%. Sound like a new advantage play to you? Think again. Rumor has it that this technique has been used by a number of AP teams for the last 20 years, mostly in Las Vegas, but could have been used in any casino in the world using the ribbon spread technique.
The second scam is much more dangerous, and has its roots in the Far East baccarat games. This technique is considered a serious cheating move, and requires a team of cheaters and a miniature video camera. Similar to the “false shuffle” scam, the cheaters need to enlist the help of a dealer. The dealer’s job will be to “loosely” hold the cards presented when the player cuts the deck. However, unlike the false shuffle scam, the card information is not gained during the previous play of the hands, but during the deck cutting process itself.
When doing the “cut”, a cheater will drag the either a substance or the tip of his finger across the upper corners of the cards in the deck with the intention of revealing the card sequencing information noted on the spied cards’ index corner. This information is recorded by the miniature camera usually secured under the cutter’s shirt sleeve or jacket. To help facilitate this move, the cheater may (or may not) employ a more rigid substance, like a thick piece of plastic, or a “popsicle” stick, hidden behind the lighter plastic cut card. With the deck held loosely by the conspiring dealer, the cheater needs to apply pressure to the playing card corners in order to video the card sequence.
Once a section (20 to 40 cards) of the eight decks has been videoed, the cheaters will transfer this information to a computer off the floor, review the video segment, and record the cards on baccarat score card or “cheat sheet”. The recorded card values are transfer back to the table, and used to identify the recorded slug, and play into the subsequently known sequence. If the cheaters know the outcome of one hand, it would be damaging to the casino. In most cases, using this technique would give them the outcome of between 3 to 6 hands, or more depending how aggressive the cheaters were with dragging the index corners.
It’s reported that the players involved with the Las Vegas caper are a group of sophisticated cheaters out of the Far East known as “The Cutters”. This group has allegedly beaten a number of casinos in China, Malaysia, and Australia out of several million in US dollar equivalent. This could be the biggest cheating team to hit North American since the infamous Tran Gang’s false shuffle scheme.
For those of you that have baccarat on your casino floor, or show an interest in learning more about these two baccarat scam techniques, they will be demonstrated during the first day of Willy Allison’s 6th World Game Protection Conference, later in February. For those who will not be in attendance, I also demonstrate these scam moves along with a number of others during my daylong seminar on Advanced Baccarat Game Protection. This wasn’t the first time the “back card location” or the “cut card technique” has been used, and it definitely won’t be the last.