(source: Bill Zender - World Game Protection Inc)
Baccarat: Ripe for the Mucking
(01/05/2011) Bill Zender
George glanced up from his paper work as Thomas entered the surveillance director’s office. Thomas was one of George’s more qualified and experienced surveillance operators, and his presence at George’s office door meant there was probably a bad situation developing on the casino floor. “I have something I need you to look at”, commented Thomas, “It has to do with one of the squeeze baccarat games. I’m not sure what it is, but it just doesn’t look right”. George followed Thomas into the surveillance room, and positioned himself at the Thomas’s control panel. Thomas had been following the play of several Asian customers on a midi baccarat “squeeze” type game during the past several days. Over the next 20 minutes he gave George details on a number of issues that had led Thomas to suspect a group of four or more Asian customers might be cheating at baccarat. The main issues compiled by Thomas are as follows:
At least four Asian customers had been playing midi baccarat on the same game and winning money. It was this situation that originally got the surveillance operator’s attention.
One Asian player in question always peeks a hand, sometimes the “player’s hand” and sometimes the “banker’s hand”, but doesn’t always peek a winning hand.
The higher wagering action by players on the table occurs during only one shoe during an observed period of play.
Thomas used several camera angles to watch the suspected player “squeeze” his cards, but had a difficult time seeing the cards in the player’s hand.
Thomas advised George that he felt that the player squeezing and peeking the cards might be hand mucking or switching cards; however he was unable to deny or confirm this fact simply by examining the suspected customer’s actions through the video cameras angles. The player concealed the cards well while peeking his hand, and Thomas was unable to tell if cards were being switched or innocently just securely peeked. In addition, Thomas noted that the suspected customer did not always win on his hands. If he was switching cards and playing the best of three cards, wouldn’t the suspect be winning practically every hand?
George thanked Thomas for his “catch”, and informed him he would take it from here. George knew these types of investigations were tricky at best, but he had seen and heard enough from Thomas to believe this situation needed further attention. Pushing his paper work aside, George began to develop a game plan on how to unlock all the secrets to this possible fraudulent situation.
George quickly jotted down all the information given to him by Thomas. Next, he proceeded to look up the ratings for all suspected players on the table during the different times of play noted by Thomas. By gaining this player information, he was able to identify the suspects by name and their ID numbers, in order to find out all their gaming information, specifically when they all played together on the same table. Once this was accomplished, George pulled up the different video segments depicting the entire table play during the indicated dates and times. George noted the following information:
Through reviewing the different rating slips it was noted that six different baccarat customers were winning in excess of $50,000 (combined) over four different shoes in the past several days.
The suspected illegal play was only occurring on games when blue backed playing cards were used. Since the baccarat games all utilize a MD-1 “batch” shuffle, one batch of cards are red while the other is blue.
The “peeking” player seemed to win more often while wagering a $1,000/$2,000 than when wagering $500; however he was not a big winner, especially compared to the other players at the table.
A second player was noted handling and peeking the cards. After further examination, the second player’s actions were almost identical to the first suspected player handling the cards.
The other customers at the table appeared to bet in unison when playing during a “blue shoe”, however they appeared to bet opposite of each other when playing on other occasions.
Note: Take a moment and put yourself in George’s shoes. Take some time to consider the following questions:
What would this information lead you to believe?
Can you determine what might be happening in baccarat, and who might be involved?
What is the next step you would take before proceeding further?
Although George and Thomas couldn’t confirm whether or not either one of the two customers squeezing the cards was switching, there was enough suspicious consistencies in the play to believe the suspects were involved in a card switching scam. George understood how the technique is used, and how each person’s activity at the table had a direct influence in the amount of money stolen at the table. George needed to take one more look at the video and check one last piece of information before making his final decision. After reviewing several lengths of video recording, he noted the following incidents that helped him affirm his beliefs:
Although both suspected card switchers were always seen peeking hands during the recorded incidents, only one of the suspects touched the cards when the alleged cheaters played against a shoe with red backed cards.
During this observation, when the card switching suspect touched the cards, he did so using an open hand, exposing the cards.
During the playing of a blue card back shoe, the betting players at the table always bet together on either the player or banker hand, and in almost every instance, bet on the winning hand.
Note: Armed with this information what would you do if you were the Director of Surveillance? Please take a moment and think about how you would proceed from this point on. What members of management would you contact? How would you handle this situation when the suspects come back to play?
The very next day the alleged cheaters took a final shot at the casino’s midi baccarat game. Thomas informed George that the same suspects had gravitated back to the same midi game, and the “red” shoe was almost at its conclusion. George contacted the VP of Casino Operations, the Director of Table Games, and the Director of Security to brief them on what he had discovered. Once everyone was present in the surveillance room, George placed the current video image of the suspects and the baccarat table up on one of the larger video monitors, and reviewed the following facts:
The two baccarat players, depicted on the monitor sitting at the table and peeking cards, were highly suspected of individually using a single card hand mucking switch.
Since the two suspects were not playing using a flat stationary left hand (palming) or jerking movement with their left arm (slick sleeve), they must be using some type of mechanical holdout device.
Based on George’s review of the suspected play, the holdout device must be worn underneath both cheater’s left arm allowing the mechanically switched card access to their left hand. Whether the device was operated by the individual cheater, or someone else at the table, could not be determined.
The reason two separate cheaters were switching at the same time was so they could better control the outcome of the hand. One cheater was attempting to build a “winning“ hand (usually a natural) using his first two cards and his concealed card while the second cheater tried to destroy any good hand he might obtain, making it into a loser. He advised his group that this is a very common method of baccarat hand mucking because it increased the percentage of cheater winning hands while decreasing the necessary amount of time on the table to earn a big payday.
Because they appeared to be mucking on the game when the blue back cards were used, they must only have access to blu
Date Posted: 20-Jan-2011