Richard Marcus

Poker and Casino Cheatcatchers


For as long as there have been poker and casino cheats and
online poker and online casino cheats, there have been poker
and casino cheatcatchers hot on their trails. The cheatcatchers
profiled here have been responsible for uncovering the biggest
poker and casino scams in history, including the megascams
that have happened in online poker rooms and casinos.

 

Andy Anderson Beverly Griffin
Michael Josem Robert Griffin
Serge Ravitch Herb Killworth
Oscar Gabin Henry Bee




Cheaters Hall of Fame

Andy Anderson

In the last three decades of the twentieth century, Andy Anderson literally became the face of poker and casino cheatcatchers. Any poker or casino cheat who was more than a fly-by-nighter knew Andy Anderson. Those who never had the misfortune of meeting him personally were well aware he was out there patrolling casinos and poker rooms looking to catch them. For some 30 years Anderson was the chief field agent for Griffin Investigations in Las Vegas, the casino private detective agency founded by Robert Griffin in the '60s that casinos hired to weed out poker and casino cheats, slot cheats, blackjack card counters and other crooks and undesirables casinos didn´t want on their premises.

When Anderson started working for Griffin in the early '70s, (at the time it was called the Griffin Detective Agency), he relentlessly patrolled casinos and poker rooms on foot looking to spot the cheats he knew so well. He knew them so well because he studied them. Not only did he study their cheat moves and learn them to a fault, he studied their photos, dress patterns and anything else that would help him recognize a cheat from across the casino floor, even when that cheat was in full disguise. Whenever he spotted an individual cheat or a professional cheat team, Anderson would print up warning flyers and personally distribute them to casinos and poker rooms. In those early days there were no sophisticated communication methods between casinos, so Anderson did everything with his car and by legwork.

For me personally, Anderson was a major pain in the ass. A half dozen times I found myself in casino back rooms with his icy blue eyes staring me down. He once told me that his dogging me as his number-one prey for 20 years was nothing personal. He said it was only a job to him, though I sincerely doubted that. I was sure he wanted to bag my ass and ship me off to the can like no one else in the casino security/surveillance business I'd ever come up against. Although I was very fortunate and never busted by Anderson, he did come close to nabbing me on several occasions. You can read more about my cat and mouse game with him in my book "American Roulette." The character Steven DeVisser is based on Anderson. Since I retired from cheating casinos, I have seen Anderson on several occasions. In fact, I worked with him during the production of a British TV show about casino and gambling scams. To see photos of that encounter, go to my gallery

Anderson´s most famous cheatcatcher busts actually involved blackjack card counters and not poker and casino cheats. He was instrumental in taking down the MIT Blackjack Team in Las Vegas in the mid '90s. In fact, in the movie '21', which is based on the MIT team, Lawrence Fishburne's casino cheatcatcher character is based on Andy Anderson.

The second major blackjack card counting team that Anderson broke up in 2000 was the one headed by Jamers Grosjean, considered by many to be the best blackjack card counter alive. However, that collar ended up spelling disaster for Griffin Investigations. Grosjean first sued Caesars Palace and the Imperial Palace for having detained him illegally, which led to his being jailed for almost a week. Then he sued Griffin Investigations for defamation. He won all three cases. Shortly after the $105,000 judgement against Griffin, the infamous casino security firm declared bankruptcy. But that cannot be blamed on Anderson, for anything outside of patrolling casinos and gathering information on cheats and then busting them was out of his bailiwick. In 2002, Anderson relocated to Florida and now does casino security and surveillance consulting work for Florida casinos. He also developed face-recognition biometric software that is used today by many casinos worldwide to identify cheats and card counters at their tables.

Anderson has also appeared on many TV shows depicting casino and poker cheats such as the History Channel's "Breaking Vegas" series and others on the Travel Channel and Entertainment Network.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Michael Josem

Michael Josem never had aspirations of becoming a poker cheatcatcher, but his love of poker, especially online poker, led him down the path to become one of the main players who was instrumental in exposing the huge online poker cheat scandals at Absolute Poker and UltimateBet Poker that occurred between 2005 and 2008. Josem is a mathematics and computer security expert who has been fascinated by poker since his childhood. His experience with computers combined with his growing experience playing poker online allowed him to first notice that something fishy was going on at Absolute Poker. That something fishy was, of course, the first of two major multimillion dollar online poker scams that made international news and landed Josem as a guest on CBS's "60 Minutes," the most-watched news magazine television program in the world.

As Josem explained to CBS's Steve Kroft, he became suspicious of cheating at Absolute Poker in late 2007. He tracked the normal win rate of thousands of players against suspicious online accounts that had caught his eye and that he identified as online poker cheats. Josem found the cheats had won money at a rate that was 100 times faster than a good player could reasonably win. He saw that these cheating players played their hands as if they knew every card that the other players had in the hole. He also noted that these same online poker cheats nearly always folded their hands at the right times. It was just too much to believe and impossible not to be indicative of cheating. 

Josem then took his findings to Absolute Poker, who at first refused to take him seriously and denied any cheating was going on at the site. But finally the parent company that owns both Absolute Poker and UltimateBet launched an internal investigation. It found rogue employees had defrauded players over three years via a security hole that allowed the cheats to see other players' hole cards, exactly what Josem had suspected. At that point, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which licenses several hundred online casinos and poker rooms, launched its own investigation into Absolute Poker. It found that Absolute Poker had gone all out to cover up the cheating by deleting gaming logs and records. It fined Absolute Poker $500,000.

A few months later, Josem and players from the Two Plus Two online poker forum used the same methods to uncover almost identical cheating occurring at Absolute Poker's sister site, UltimateBet. One player account, NioNio, netted a profit of $300,000 in just 3000 hands and won 13 of the 14 sessions recorded on the MyPokerIntel.com website, which tracks high stakes online tournaments. The huge news with uncovering the UltimateBet scam was that its alleged mastermind was none other than Russ Hamilton, the winner of the 1994 WSOP Main Event and member of the Poker and Casino Cheats Hall of Fame. The Kahnawake Gaming Commission conducted a similar investigation into UltimateBet and fined it $1.5 million.

Today Michael Josem is a consultant to online giant PokerStars' security team. He continues to play online poker and win.  


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Serge Ravitch

Serge Ravitch is a New York lawyer who put his practice aside to play live high-limit poker and online poker. Like Michael Josem, Ravitch never intended on being in the middle of the world's largest online gambling scam, but the facts that he's a skilled online poker player who knows how to analyze hand histories and knows the intricacies of law combined to thrust him into the center of the Absolute Poker and UltimateBet online poker scams as the second principal poker cheatcatcher.

Ravitch's involvement in detecting the giant scam began in September, 2007, when an online poker player named Marco Johnson asked Absolute Poker for a hand history of a high stakes tournament he had played in. Johnson felt there were too many weird things happening during the tournament and was suspicious he had been cheated. Johnson finished 2nd in the tournament and was awarded the prize money of $20,000. Shortly afterward, Absolute Poker sent Johnson the complete hand histories of everyone involved in the tournament. The hand histories included hole cards for everyone in every hand as well as IP addresses and email addresses of all participants within an excel spreadsheet. The winner of the tournament was the online player ‘Potripper’ who received the $30,000 1st prize.

Johnson was more certain about the cheating after receiving the spreadsheet. He then turned the spreadsheet over to Serge Ravitch, who was also moderating the world's most informative poker forum, Two plus Two. Ravitch quickly concurred that a cheating scam had enveloped the online poker site. Another thing Ravitch looked at was the IP addresses used by the suspected online poker cheat. He discovered that every table Potripper played at also included another user that other players could not see at the online table. Ravitch traced the IP address of the observer back to to the location of Absolute Poker's servers. This proved that a cheating scam was in the works from the inside. "Pokergate" was born, and Ravitch was its Bob Woodward if Michael Josem was its Carl Bernstein.

Ravitch then went on to become one of the main driving forces to get Absolute Poker and UltimateBet to admit inside poker scams were taking place. He also played a part in getting refunds from both sites for players who were victimized by the scams. He assisted the internal investigations launched by Absolute Poker and UltimateBet as well as the huge investigation conducted by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which oversees them. Whether he likes it or not, Serge Ravitch will continue to be an important force in trying to keep online poker and online gaming as cheat-free as possible. I would also suspect that Ravitch will one day be called upon to testify at a US congressional hearing dealing with the case of regulating or even legalizing online gambling.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Oscar Gabin

Oscar Gabin was the first full-time casino cheatcatcher known to exist. At the turn of the nineteenth century, Gabin, who is believed to be an ancestor of the late legendary French film actor Jean Gabin, formed a specialized casino crime-cracking unit within the French National Police called the "French Gaming Police." In the early 1800s, the French Riviera including Monte Carlo was the gambling capital of the world, at least as far as grand casinos were concerned. Along the Côte d’Azur beachside playgrounds for the rich and famous were princely gaming palaces that saw action as big as that of today's modern casinos in Las Vegas and Macau. In the early days, clients of those casinos were mostly royalty from Europe and Russia. On any night in casinos such as the art museum-like Le Grand Casino de Monaco, dukes, barons, earls and just the plain filthy rich would be found laying fortunes of money on roulette and chemin de faire tables. But not all the French casinos' clients were royalty. And not all of them were honest.

Gabin often caught people with royal heritage cheating at the tables, especially in roulette where picking up "sleepers" was a favorite move of French casino cheats. In the day, roulette wheels were so crowded that it was often confusing for people to keep track of their chips. The multicolored roulette chips you see today on American and English roulette tables were not in use at those tables, so there was often bickering about whose winning bets the dealers were paying off. Several professional cheats, sometimes posing as members of royalty themselves, took advantage of this situation and made lucrative livings scooping up winning bets and payoffs that did not belong to them.

But Oscar Gabin's real claim to fame in the annals of casino cheatcatchers is his bringing about the demise of the famed French casino cheat Pierre Dugal. Dugal's specialty was hiding inside the grand casinos after they closed, and then when he was alone he would go to work filing down the inner grooves of roulette wheels, which altered the natural course of the spinning ball and created a bias favoring certain sections of the wheel that he could track. Dugal nearly broke the bank of the fabled Monte Carlo Grand Casino. Had it not been for Gabin, he would have. Gabin's tireless efforts to find out what was happening to the French Riviera's roulette wheels finally led to his suspicions that someone was physically manipulating the wheels. He and his men patiently lied in wait at several casinos overnight and finally caught Dugal with his toolbox at the Grand Casino. Dugal was sent to jail, but upon release he went right back to plying his trade in casinos. He had several more successes at the end of which Gabin put him back in prison. Gabin's cat and mouse game with Dugal is similar to the cat and mouse game played between Andy Anderson and me.          

The French Gaming Police continued battling poker and casino cheats right up to the present day. Its most impressive cheatcatch in modern times was the 1973 bust of the "French Cigarette Scam," in which a clever ham radio operator working as a roulette dealer in the opulent Casino Deauville on France's Atlantic coast built a transmitter into a roulette ball and a reciever into a pack of Marlboro cigarettes. This allowed him and his cohorts to actually control the ball's spin and drop it into a section of numbers they would bet on in advance. Today, the French Gaming Police is more involved in policing online gaming sites, especially poker sites, that have clients within France.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Beverly Griffin

Beverly Griffin was married to Robert Griffin when he started the Griffin Detective Agency (see more on GDA in Robert Griffin text) in the late 1960s. At first she played a minor role in the agency, but then after her divorce from Griffin in the late '80s she became the head of the casino security company and took control of its operations, changing the name to Griffin Investigations. At about the same time, the Mirage Casino opened in Las Vegas and hired Beverly Griffin to run casino cheats, slot cheats, poker cheats and card counters out of their casino and out of Las Vegas. It was through her association with the Mirage that Beverly made a name for herself in the cheatcatching business. She seems overly sympathetic to not only her client casinos but casinos in general. According to her, casinos should not be targets of card counters and cheats just because they make tons of money from gamblers losing that money willingly. She may be right about that, but she takes on the casinos´cause almost religiously.

She despises the card counters even more than the poker and casino cheats. In fact, she has pushed very hard to get legislators in New Jersey and Nevada to make card counting illegal. She has said: "I’m just fine with the one-on-one card counter--that’s a skill. But it’s those who work in groups I don’t like." That statement seems ridiculous to me. She claims team play gives an individual an advantage that isn’t available to everyone at the table, and should be criminalized. "The gaming laws need to be updated. I’ve been poking at it for a couple of years and now I’m getting serious."

Griffin, who has come close to boasting of her agency's effectiveness, has admitted, however, that there have been a few occasions when the wool was pulled over her eyes by the cheats and counters. She said in an interview: "A couple of Asian men managed to get into our clients’ casinos by dressing up as women and make big scores counting cards at the blackjack tables. The problem was our investigators were the macho types so the idea that a man would put on high heels didn’t even cross their minds." She must have been referring to Andy Anderson when talking about the macho attitude.

As far as the movie '21' about the MIT blackjack card counting team goes, Griffin has said that the strong-arm tactics shown in the movie were never used by anyone associated with her agency. "The truth just isn’t as interesting," she said. "We don’t follow people and beat them up. We have strict rules against that." Solving the MIT case may have put Griffin on the map, but the agency still doesn’t relish the attention. "When Ben Mezrich wrote the book 'Bringing Down the House,' everybody crawled out from under the rocks. But we don’t need to be famous. We’re just happy to help save the casinos money."

But unfortunately for Beverly, Griffin Investigations is now in bankruptcy due to her overzealous war against the card counters.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Robert Griffin

Robert Griffin founded the infamous Las Vegas Griffin Detective Agency in 1967 after a career as a vice detective with the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. The agency's function was to protect casinos that hired it from all types of casino crime, not only gambling related crimes but everything from casino pickpockets to purse snatchers and con artists looking to slip and fall on the casino floor and then sue the casino for negligence.

Griffin's first office was located inside the Flamingo Hotel, and most professional poker, casino and slot cheats knew this and did their best to avoid working the Flamingo. Griffin started with two field agents, and the threesome patrolled their client casinos by way of the old wearing-out-the-shoe-leather technique. Using keen eyes that ferreted out casino cheats in their disguises, the Griffin agents began to record sightings of cheats and then learned their MOs and which casinos they liked to work. The most infamous of the Griffin agents, Andy Anderson, was hired in the early '70s and became the face of the agency. Anderson and I played cat and mouse in Las Vegas for two decades. When Anderson wasn't following me he was busy stalking other cheats inside casinos and passing out flyers warning Griffin client casinos when known cheats were in town. 

Robert Griffin then began compiling all his intelligence information along with photos of known poker and casino cheats into a book that he called "The Griffin Mug Book" or just the "Griffin Book." Over the years the book became a volume, then two, three, four and finally five volumes. The tomes are loaded with the photos, physical descriptions, MOs, known associates and every other type of identifying and useful information on virtually everyone and anyone who has ever been caught or suspected of being a casino cheat, slot cheat, poker cheat and card counter. My photo and personal information appears in the Griffin Book's pages. Soon nearly every casino in Nevada was paying for the Griffin Book, and then when Atlantic City opened casinos, they subscribed as well. By the late 1980s, a fair share of all casinos in the world, even illegal ones, were paying for the Griffin Book in one way or another. Robert Griffin probably made more money off this books than he did from any other function of his agency.  

Howard Hughes, the reclusive billionaire who bought several casinos in the 1960s, was the agency’s first client. Hughes's prize property, the Desert Inn, then became Griffin's center of operations. Into the 1970s, Griffin, the ex-cop, developed a strong working relationship with the Clark County Sheriff's department and the Nevada Gaming Control Board Enforcement Division, which was virtually another law enforcement agency that specialized in casino crime. With nearly unlimited powers, Griffin agents began using their vehicles to follow organized cheat teams and blackjack card counters around Las Vegas, using police-type surveillance methods. I myself was often under Griffin surveillance and spotted his agents staking out my Las Vegas house several times. Griffin and his detective agency were a major pain in my ass!  

In the late '80s, Griffin and his wife Beverly divorced, and Beverly took control of the operation and renamed it "Griffin Investigations," moving its headquarters out of the casinos and onto West Charleston Avenue in Las Vegas. At that time, Beverly developed a close working relationship with the Mirage casino and also geared the agency heavily toward putting professional card counters out of business, which later proved to be the agency's undoing. After successively putting the reigns on the famed MIT blackjack card counting team, Griffin ran into trouble in April 2000 when two professional card counters, Michael Russo and James Grosjean, were arrested while playing blackjack at Caesars Palace and then entered into Griffin's database as casino cheats, which they were not. Both men successfully sued Griffin for defamation and the company was ordered to pay out substantial damages. 

On September 13, 2005, Griffin went into bankruptcy protection as a result of the lawsuit. Although the agency is still operating, mainly with the promotion of biometric facial recognition technology to identify cheats and counters in casinos (which I think is ineffective), it has lost most of its prestige and its clients. Casinos throughout the world have gone in other directions as far as protecting their operations from cheats and card counters. 


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Herb Killworth

Herbert Killworth is the only one of the ex-magicians calling himself a casino cheating expert who really is. The rest of them selling themselves to casinos as game protection experts are all frauds. However, Killworth knows his stuff. A magician from Boston who learned lots of card and dice scams as a kid, Killworth moved out to Las Vegas at a young age. He soon got hired as a casino surveillance operator at a Strip casino and rose to become its surveillance director, a post he's held at other Vegas and Lake Tahoe casinos as well.

Killworth, although capable, has never engaged in cheating casinos. But he has studied the moves diligently. He has served best as a poker and casino cheatcatcher by offering his services as a professional witness to prosecutors in casino cheating cases. If you happen to be a casino or poker cheating defendant and Killworth is called to the witness stand to give the judge and jury a demonstration of how you cheated, you've got problems!

I first met Killworth in the early '80s. I found him interesting after seeing him on a TV show, so I decided to drop by and pay him a visit in his Las Vegas office. At the time, I was already one of the most well-known casino cheats in the world, and Killworth had of course heard of me. When he asked me what I was doing in his office, I replied, "I just felt like shooting the shit with you."

And we shot the shit about casino cheat moves and war stories for the better part of the day. At the time, my famous Savannah roulette cheating move was not around so we couldn't talk about it then, but Killworth has since called it the best and simplest casino cheating move ever conceived. In an article about that move in FHM magazine, other casino surveillance authorities agreed. Although Killworth was never a casino security field agent like Griffin's Andy Anderson, he was well-known to most of the professional cheat teams worth their weight in moves. Today, Killworth is semi-retired but does pop up from time to time on TV segments about casinos and cheating. He´s a likeable character who looks a bit like a mob guy, but he's strictly casino and poker cheatcatching material. 

One of Killworth's patented lines is: "Most people say that if you give a thief enough rope he'll hang himself. I'd say, if you give a thief enough rope, he'll tie you up, beat the crap outta you and take your money." 


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Henry Bee

Henry Bee, also known as Hong Kong Henry, started his cheatcatching career working for Chinese casino magnate Stanley Ho back in the mid 1970s. In those days, Ho had a virtual monopoly on all the casinos in the ex-Portuguese colony of Macau, which up until the early 2000s was nothing more than a latter-day version of the American Wild West, where everything went. To what degree Ho was connected to the Chinese Triad Mafia gangs has always been a subject of debate, but it is known that Henry Bee had been a Chinese gangster fleecing dice and 3-card monte games in the streets of Hong Kong.

How Bee connected to Ho and began working for him is unknown, though it is assumed that he had gotten involved and caught in a side-betting scam with a Macau junketeer in one of Ho's casinos, and then ended up working for Ho in exchange for not getting his hands broken--or worse. Side-betting scams are when junketeers lease casino VIP rooms from casino owners and then buy chips from the cage and re-sell them to their customers, skimming money at every opportunity along the way--money that would have gone into the casino owner's coffers. The side-bet scammers bet with their customers either with or against the house in baccarat, skimming more money in the process.

Bee became to Stanley Ho what Andy Anderson was to Griffin Investigations. He patrolled Ho's casinos on the lookout for Asian cheat gangs who were usually tied to the Triads and specialists in side-betting and baccarat scams. Being a casino cheat in Macau before the turn of the century was very dangerous business. If you got caught you had to deal with much more than Griffin Investigations or the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Your judge, jury and executioner, if there was to be one, were all Stanley Ho.

This was the main reason that I never took my cheating teams to Macau. Now, however, Macau is an entirely different story. If I were still active in casino cheating, Macau would be one of my favorite places to hit. Since its major transformation beginning in 2002 from Asian Wild West to Asia's new and modern gaming capital of the Far East, it has become a casino cheating mecca, with one major baccarat scam after another. The preferred methods of Macau baccarat cheating are false shuffle scams and card-switching scams. Henry Bee is an expert on both and has broken up hundreds of these scams.

With the coming of the casino boom in Macau that now makes it the world's highest-gambling-revenue gaming capital, Henry Bee went to work as an independent casino cheatcatcher for all Macau's casinos. He works very strictly and intelligently undercover, at times personally getting involved in scams to bring the perpetrators down, something which has never been done in Vegas or anywhere else in the legalized casino world.

In 2004 he busted a $4 million card-switching baccarat scam at the Macau Sands, and then a similar huge scam at the neighboring Venetian. He has also brought down baccarat false shuffle scams and credit scams involving the casino junketeers. In order to do this, Bee uses his mastery of disguises and different Chinese speaking dialects. In fact, even his name Henry Bee is purported to be fictitious. If you ask the high-ups in the Macau casino security and surveillance business about Henry Bee, or Hong Kong Henry, they will most likely tell you they've never heard of him. And the truth is that many of them actually haven't. The photo of Bee that appears on this page is almost certainly Bee, but if you examine it closely it appears to have a certain fakeness to it. No doubt Mr. Bee is wearing one of his many disguises.   


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