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January 16th, 2011 at 7:00:24 AM permalink
It wasn't shuffle tracking, it was a false shuffle. The Tran gang would copy down the order of the cards on a scorecard, and then get the colluding dealer to leave a block of cards unshuffled for the next shoe. Then they would place bets accordingly when they saw the sequence come up again. They would probably bet normally on the rest of the shoe at the minimum. This was in baccarat.
"Dice, verily, are armed with goads and driving-hooks, deceiving and tormenting, causing grievous woe." -Rig Veda 10.34.4
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January 16th, 2011 at 8:04:00 AM permalink
This story's been in the news for a while. I was reading about it last summer. Link here.

What's really interesting is the depth of their operation and the length that they ran it for without being discovered. Please note that in the case of 29 very different casinos, the dealers cheated the casinos; the casino did not cheat the players. Money talk$. I'm surprised they didn't pull this off at Fallsview where there is a significant Asian gambling area. I'm not surprised they pulled it off at Rama.
----- You want the truth! You can't handle the truth!
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January 18th, 2011 at 8:07:14 AM permalink
The dealers were getting $5K to $10K per false shuffle. I am surprised it took them that long to get caught. The spread of bets was supposedly huge, and they were winning the big bets.

About five years ago they caught an executive in Vegas who was getting deal cards by his girlfriend, a young first time dealer several decades younger than he was. They guessed that he had played with her more than 100 times (not 100 deals, 100 playing sessions) before they figured out that he was only making big bets when she was the dealer, and small bets with everyone else.
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January 18th, 2011 at 8:19:12 AM permalink
Well, at least they weren't counting.
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January 18th, 2011 at 8:26:40 AM permalink
Actually, I believe this started to unravel when a Canadian casino got suspicious and someone there happened to talk to a counterpart in Michigan. It was mainly a series of bribes to minibaccarat dealers so that the sequence of the next several cards would be known and proper Banker/Player/Tie decisions could be made. The entire shoe didn't have to be known, just a segment of the cards had to be known.

Tran is a very common name. They probably should have recruited some Occidentals as "cover". The real problem with this sort of stuff is that often the perpetrators are so darned greedy that they don't spread the wealth around and hire some broads or some innocent-looking beer belly from a blue collar background.

That guy who earned himself some serious prison time making a string of highly profitable late bets at craps tables all across the USA would often bribe Boxmen. A quick five thousand dollars in the men's room can be profitable for a past poster at a dice table.

On-edit: One woman doing her first pay and collect at a Vegas casino went up to the Israeli mathematician's room and two gold-chain bedecked Blacks were introduced to her as being "cover" for the team of Jews with lasers at the roulette table. Now I have an idea, as did she, that this was not entirely true about miniature lasers in watches and rings. So I I guess this has to be taken with a grain of salt but a good deal of cheaters at a casino simply stand out too much. Men sitting at a table who have no women with them and who don't look around at any of the passing scenery could be gay but usually they are cheating.
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May 28th, 2012 at 7:04:11 PM permalink
Scheduled on "American Greed" for Wednesday at 10 p.m. Eastern and Thursday at 1 a.m. Eastern according to TVGuide.com.

"Episode Detail: The Tran Organization: Blackjack Cheaters - American Greed: Scams, Scoundrels and Scandals
The story of Van Thu Tran, who led a criminal enterprise that cheated casinos out of millions of dollars."
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May 29th, 2012 at 11:43:50 AM permalink
Nice. Thanks for the heads up!

I am an employee of a Casino. Former Table Games Director,, current Pit Supervisor. All the personal opinions I post are my own and do not represent the opinions of the Casino or Tribe that I work for.
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May 29th, 2012 at 12:39:42 PM permalink
Quote: FleaStiff

Men sitting at a table who have no women with them and who don't look around at any of the passing scenery could be gay but usually they are cheating.

I see quite a few like this in Reno...I thought they were all just gay...now that I think about it...if they were cheating..why play only minimum?
Gambling calls to me...like this ~> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Nap37mNSmQ
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May 29th, 2012 at 2:54:43 PM permalink

...if they were cheating..why play only minimum?

Well, men using up their pension checks perhaps?
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May 30th, 2012 at 2:20:45 PM permalink
Whether it be Blackjack or Baccarat, only the money changes but the answer stays the same.

The Tran cheating was based on the gang "buying a false shuffle", in other words paying the dealer generously for a few moments work and letting the dealer keep his job since the take was going to be minor and would not arouse casino suspicion since the loss would be past history by the time the computers discovered it, if they ever discovered it at all.

The False Shuffle is simple.
Start with an unopened deck and go thru all the normal motions but by applying a bit of pressure protect a slug of cards from being shuffled during the washing and keep that slug intact during later riffles and later shuffling.

An unopened deck has the cards in a certain order.
That order is Ace through King and each of the four suits appears in a certain order, for instance all the spades are always last in the deck.

So a "slug" is any segment of cards that remains in the original "in the box" order even if the slug's sequence spans differing suits.

So how do the cheaters know when the "slug" begins and ends? Simple. Although they do not know the exact number of cards in the slug and can not predict its ending card, they do know the beginning of the slug. They know this by being roughly aware of where the slug is within the shoe and by simply seeing the beginning of the slug as it is dealt.

So then the question becomes one that will make all you math types salivate and grin like a maniac.

Out of a total of D decks of cards, how many Pseudo-Slugs appear if the dealer is honest and does a good washing? And how lengthy are those Pseudo-Slugs that appear but are the simple result of chance. After that is determined one might be able to look at a False Shuffle wherein the dealer has not properly washed the cards but has instead protected a slug and kept it protected during all subsequent strips and riffles.

It should then be fairly easy for casinos to keep a dealer honest not only by watching how he washes the cards but by watching the sequences as they come out of the shoe and just "happen" to constitute slugs that are still in the original "in the box" sequence.

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