Casinos are often plagued with cheaters who use technology and ingenuity to siphon off large sums of money. Some are caught, while others manage to escape capture.
In 1973, a French roulette dealer and two accomplices pulled off an elaborate scam in which they used a radio receiver inside a cigarette pack to control a roulette ball. This group defrauded them of 5 million francs–an astounding sum in those days–which was considered fraudulence.
1. The French Cigarette Pack Scam
In 1973, a roulette dealer at Casino Deauville in France pulled off one of history’s most ingenious scams. With help from his sister and husband, he integrated a radio transmitter into a cigarette pack to transmit cigarettes.
When the croupier placed the ball into play, a small receiver inside the cigarette pack would be activated. The ball could then be maneuvered to land in certain groups of 6 numbers.
With an accuracy rate of 90%, they were able to gain a decisive edge over other players at the table. Although it was an easy system, it proved effective enough for them to win every round with ease.
The roulette croupier concealed their device inside a cigarette pack and substituted the real roulette ball for it with ease. Within one week they had made over 5 million francs.
2. The Roselli Brothers Scam
The Roselli Brothers Scam is one of the most notorious and spectacular casino scams in history. These confident con-men stole over $37 million from casinos across Nevada, New Jersey and Puerto Rico between 1995 and 2000 without ever risking a penny themselves or engaging in any game-specific cheats.
They accomplished this by taking advantage of people with good credit scores and opening bank accounts under their names. Once they had access to funds, they were able to open credit lines at various casinos.
Their plan was to make their bosses think they were losing money and then cash out all of their winnings before anyone could catch them. This strategy worked perfectly as they could play multiple casinos at once, bet up to $100,000 on each hand, and then disappear with all their chips never to be seen again!
This was an ambitious plan, but they were well-prepared. They even used a packet of cigarettes as a means to transmit instructions via wireless transmitter to their table-mates.
3. The Edge-Sorting Scam
Edge sorting is a technique that uses minor imperfections on the backs of cards to determine which are high and low value cards. It has many applications in card games, but is most popularly employed during baccarat.
Casinos do not approve of this practice, as it gives players an unfair edge over the house. While it isn’t illegal, casinos and courts may view it as cheating, so players should avoid using this technique at all costs.
One of the most infamous cases of edge sorting involves a high-rolling poker player who won millions playing punto banco at a casino in London. When the casino took exception to his winnings, they accused him of engaging in an illegal practice known as edge sorting.
Edge sorting was used by one player to identify rotated cards in a shoe and adjust his bets accordingly. Unfortunately, this technique wasn’t perfect and would only work when there wasn’t an automatic shuffling or changing of cards during play.
4. The Card Counter Scam
Schrader’s fascination with tormented and lonely men dates back to his screenplay for Taxi Driver and continues in First Reformed’s Ernst Toller. William Tell (Oscar Isaac) is drawn into the world of poker as a lonely drifter who drives from casino to casino, ordering double whiskeys neat and moving around card tables with barely visible purpose. He seems at war with himself, not someone else.
This film makes the war visible, in a way no other movie has. It illustrates how an idealistic spiritual person can be forced by circumstances to transform his desire for cards into revolutionary violence.
Paul Schrader’s sardonic comedy-drama is ultimately a moral tale, exploring not only the physical and psychological toll torturers do but their complicity in unspeakable acts as well. This task is difficult yet important – an accomplishment he accomplishes admirably.