The house always wins. It’s a wisdom that everyone, professional gambler or not, should always keep in mind before placing large bets. Phil Ivey, the World’s Best Poker player, learned it the hard way. After winning £7.7m in punto banco at Crockfords, a UK casino in London, the establishment refused payment, claiming Ivey used “edge sorting” to beat the odds and cheat the casino out of money. It went to court where the judge ruled in Crockfords’ favour despite admitting that Ivey hadn’t cheated but rather outwitted the casino. Even when you win, you lose.
James Bond-style gadgets to beat the odds
A group of Chinese gamblers were more sophisticated. With the help of gadgets that you only know from James Bond movies, two men and one woman cheated casinos out of more than £250,000 before eventually getting caught.
It’s fair to say that their set-up was genius. With miniature cameras and in-ear communication devices, the group of three would secretly film the croupier dealing the cards and stream the video to a van parked outside the casino. One member of the trio would slow down the video, understand the current dealing scenario, and instruct the other guy sitting at the table on how and when to place bets via the ear transmitter.
Using gadgets that were basically invisible to the casino, they believed it was impossible to get caught. Eventually, though, they did. How did this happen?
A “very lucky” player
It turns out the trio was simply too “lucky”. Out of 44 dealt hands, the female member of the gang only lost 10, amassing over £6,000 within just minutes. Because of their extraordinary success, the casino became suspicious and eventually discovered the hidden micro-camera and audio transmitters.
A question that arises is whether they could have tried their technique playing at online casinos or their sister sites instead. Long story short; cheating online is even more difficult as you’re playing against a sophisticated piece of software that quickly detects any unusual patterns in the amounts and ways a player places bets.
So what happened to the Chinese gambling wizards? Once caught by the casino, the case went to Southwark Crown Court where all members of the gang were sentenced to nine months in the jail and 150 hours of community work. Judge Geoffrey Rivlin pointed out what he called a sophisticated system that would give them a constant advantage over the house and had the potential to win them endless amounts of money.
The trio also received an “exclusion requirement”, which prohibits them from setting foot in a UK casino for at least two years. It’s likely though that most gambling dens in Great Britain will deny them entry for life.
The house always wins.