Richard Marcus

Poker Cheats & Casino Cheats Hall of Fame


Thousands of poker and casino cheats have plied their crafts since poker
rooms, casino table games and slot machines have been in existence. These
poker and casino cheats are the best in poker and casino cheating history,
and their lifetimes spent in poker rooms and casinos are fabulous stories.

 

Mumbles Jerry Palmer
George Devol Dustin Marks
Dennis Sean McAndrew Pat Mallery
Tommy Glenn Carmichael Richard Marcus
Wheels Ron Harris
Canada Bill Jones Brent Eli Morris
Joe Classon Sherri Skoons
Henry Classon Monique Laurent
John Soares Duke Wilson
Balls Abramowitz Steve Forte
Phuong Quoc Truong Van Thu Tran
Russ Hamilton Pierre Dugal
Deborah "Debbie" Heidekrueger Fabrizio Renzi
Ruthie Berin Keith Taft
Ida Summers Phil Ivey
Cheung Yin Sun




Cheaters Hall of Fame

Mumbles

The man who is considered the father of modern pastposting was called Mumbles, due to an operation for throat cancer that left him with a mechanical voice box that he preferred to use only when absolutely necessary, choosing instead to mumble his yes’s and no’s. His real name is not known and he was born in New York around 1897. Mumbles’ invention of pastposting actually came through his stumbling onto a casino dealer’s legitimate mistake in early 1950s Puerto Rico, where he’d gone to recover from his cancer surgery because of its warm climate and that his sister, a registered nurse there, would be able to take care of him. Mumbles was a degenerate horse bettor who soon got hooked on casino gambling at several San Juan casinos. One day playing craps at the Americana, he placed his red $5 chips on the pass line next to another player who had just increased his previous $10 bet of two red chips to a $30 bet of one $25 green chip and one red chip. The shooter rolled a winner, and the dealer paid the pass line bets. A funny thing happened: the dealer shortchanged the guy betting next to Mumbles. He paid him only $10; he hadn’t seen the green chip underneath the red, thinking the guy’s bet was just two red $5 chips. The guy hollered at the dealer, claiming he got gypped. The dealer slid the top red chip off his bet, stunned to see the green chip underneath. He quickly apologized and correctly paid the guy $30. Mumbles noticed this with great curiosity, then asked himself, Couldn’t casino dealers make more “honest” mistakes like that? It was in the answer to that question that casino pastposting was born.

The next day, Mumbles went back to the casino and made a $10 bet on the pass line. When it won, he switched out the two $5 chips and replaced them with one green $25 chip and one red $5 chip on top. Then he grabbed the dealer’s arm claiming he got paid wrong. The dealer quickly apologized and paid Mumbles the $30. Mumbles was then in business. Every day he went to San Juan’s casinos and popped in these craps moves. Then he became intrigued with roulette and wondered how he might pastpost at that game as well. He noticed that dealers worked like robots. They spun the ball, announced and pointed to the winning number on the layout (the dolly placed on the winning number was not yet in use), swept the losing chips and paid the winners. Mumbles’ first cheating scheme at roulette was the “naked capper” move. By stealing one of another player’s roulette chips from the layout and then waiting for that particular player to win a bet on one of the inside numbers, Mumbles capitalized by pastposting two additional chips on top of the winning chips already placed while the dealer’s back was turned—his red $5 chip covered by the stolen roulette chip. The dealer would then pay Mumbles $175, thinking nothing of the winning $5 chip he hadn’t seen because it was underneath the winning roulette chip he had seen. This simple move was the basis of many sophisticated roulette pastposting moves that evolved for the next forty years.

As Mumbles continued to improve his newfound roulette cheating moves, he realized he needed another person to help him out. A phone call to his old World War One buddy, “Wheels” (called by that moniker because after taking shrapnel in the back at Verdun he was crippled and confined to a wheelchair), solved the problem. Wheels joined Mumbles and together they formed the first mechanic/claimer roulette pastposting team. Wheels became the mechanic, wheeling up to the tables and switching in the chips, while Mumbles “mumbled” the claims to get himself paid. They worked together for a short time in 1954 until Wheels died in a Binion’s Horseshoe hotel room in Las Vegas. After Wheels’ death, Mumbles taught his trade secrets to Henry Classon, with whom he worked until his own death, also in a Horseshoe hotel room, also in 1954.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

George Devol

George Devol was born in 1829 in Marietta, Ohio. He was perhaps the greatest cheat in the early days of poker on the Mississippi, and it may be because of him that poker became known as "the cheating game." As a boy, Devol hated school and was frequently in trouble. At age 10, he ran away from home and got a job as a cabin boy on a steamboat at $4 a month. He soon learned popular dice and card games and the rudiments of cheating. His heroes were the well dressed, high living professional gamblers, and he was determined to become one.

Professionals preferred to deal games that promised certain profits. These included banking and percentage games such as Faro, Twenty-one, 3-Card Monte, Bragg, and Poker, because the dealer could easily manipulate the deck. They seldom worked alone, but with a secret partner or two, called "cappers" who helped find, set up and cheat "the suckers".

The riverboat gambler customarily wore a kneelength broadcloth coat, dark, tight-fitting trousers, an ornate vest, white ruffled shirt and colorful cravat adorned with a diamond stick-pin. His hat was usually grey or black; he carried a large gold watch and chain and usually had several rings on his fingers. Most gamblers carried a gun concealed in the coat.

By the time he was 14, Devol could stack a deck, deal seconds, palm cards, recover a cut, or bring in a "cold deck". When the U.S. went to war with Mexico in 1844, young Devol decided to follow the soldiers to Texas. He later wrote, "After cheating all the soldiers I could at cards and there was no one else to rob" ...he returned to New Orleans. "I had about $2,700 and was not quite 17 years old", he recalled. It was the heyday of riverboats. Cotton buyers, plantation owners, merchants and slave traders relied on the rivers for travel and transport. The steamboats were Devol's playground. He posed as a plantation owner, complete with a slave as his personal man servant. Typically, there would be several Poker games and a couple of Monte and Faro games on a steamboat.

Although Devol could operate Keno and Roulette games and considered himself a good poker player, his favorite hustle was Monte. Simple to play and easy to cheat, Monte is a game in which the player bets and picks the winner or loser between three cards "thrown" by the dealer. In addition to his own highly honed card skills, Devol often worked with talented cappers like Canada Bill Jones to fleece the fish. He left nothing to chance. Decks of cards were commonly provided by the bartender; so Devol supplied bartenders with his custom-made marked decks and paid them well for their complicity.

Devol had no sympathy for his victims. He believed that any man who had a chance to peek at his opponent's cards without detection would not only do so but would quietly take the money when he won. For Devol, he was "just beating them at their own game". His attitude was, "All who play cards are looking for suckers that they know have money." And if the loser got too threatening, Devol didn't hesitate to introduce his mark to "Betsy Jane", the name he called the pistol in his breast coat pocket.

Over the years Devol won hundreds of thousands of dollars. An equal opportunity employer, he took it from all who succumbed to his game. On one occasion he won a plantation owner's money and his four slaves. In New Orleans Devol cashed in the slaves for $1,000 each.

He delighted in his conquests and even told the story of the time he cheated a minister out of his congregation's contributions. On another cruise, he won all the money and alligators of a man who was transporting them to a circus.
Ironically, Devol could not himself escape the attraction of the action. He had a passion for the most crooked of all frontier games, Faro.

Estimated to have won over $2 million during his forty years as a riverboat gambler, at the end of his life Devol was a man of little means. By the 1880s the great riverboat era was over eclipsed by railroads. Devol retired from gambling in 1896 and spent the remaining years of his life selling his book. The last great riverboat gambler died in 1903, while trying to sell a book he actually wrote called Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi Gambler.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Dennis Sean McAndrew

Dennis Sean McAndrew, better known by his original name, Dennis Nikrasch, was born in September, 1941, and has been called the greatest slot machine cheat in gambling history. He was the mastermind of several different slot cheating rings over a twenty-year period that rigged an estimated $16 million in jackpots, mostly in Nevada and Atlantic City. In fact, officials from the Nevada Gaming Control Board Enforcement Division have stated that McAndrew even threatened the integrity of the entire slot industry.

What brought him down? It is still a mystery, and Dennis himself has told me he isn't sure who set him up and why. What is known is that a lot of false stuff has been written and circulated about how he was set up by the FBI, mainly saying that Nikrasch's own cohorts wanted to do him in because they had grievances with him, which is not at all true. What is more likely is that whoever set him up had pressure from the FBI for crimes that had nothing to do with Nikrasch or how he got along with his slot associates.

In spite of all the security precautions taken by casinos to ensure the integrity of their games, in spite of the video surveillance cameras that monitor every inch of the gaming floors, in spite of the personnel that scrutinize everyone and everything that goes on, McAndrew found a way to beat the system. He figured out how to electronically manipulate the computer chips that govern slot machines...the chips that guarantee the random nature of play of the machines and preserve the integrity of the games. With an assortment of high-tech tools, always higher tech than the times, he and his slot cheating teams, usually consisting of a virtual glass managerie of characters, set up jackpots for huge amounts of cash as well as automobiles and other prizes. His method of attack was to have several of his team members serve as lookouts and "blockers," positioning themselves in ways that hindered floor security's vision and even that of surveillance cameras above. With them in place, McAndrew was able to open up the machines and use a computer device to alter the random number generators and rig the jackpots. Then another of his teammates would come along, put some coins or tokens in the machines and "win" the jackpots.

In November 1998, while trying to hit the huge $17 million Megabucks jackpot, McAndrew was allegedly set up by his mates and busted by the FBI and Nevada Gaming Control Board agents. Back in 1986, he was convicted for being part of a slot machine cheating ring that illegally won $10 million at Las Vegas casinos. He was sentenced to prison and released on parole in January of 1991. He'd also been convicted for rigging mechanical reel slots in the late 1970s. The slot machines of the 90s were computer marvels compared to their older cousins, and were thought to be tamperproof, yet McAndrew found a way to beat them, too, then had the intestinal fortitude to put his knowledge to work again and again and rake in millions. This guy had balls of stone! Or balls of slot!

After the FBI busted McAndrew in 1998, they agreed in conjunction with Nevada gaming officials to give him a reduced prison sentence in exchange of his secrets. Apparently, they had a lot to learn. They were also very concerned that he may have given his secrets to others, but you can bet his knowledge was the guarded secret of his very own band of thieves. Why would they want to share the technology with others? How he did it was of vital interest to the gaming industry so that they could take precautions to prevent it from happening again. McAndrew apparently did tell authorities that there may be others engaging in similar activity, which may have accounted for other heavy slot losses suffered by the gaming industry over the years. McAndrew was listed in Nevada's Black Book of persons excluded from the state's casinos until his death in 2010.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Tommy Glenn Carmichael

Tommy Glenn Carmichael was born in July, 1950, and is considered the second best slot cheat of all time. An ingenious inventor, he conspired with an elite group of thieves to bilk millions from casinos. For almost 20 years Carmichael designed slot cheat devices that made it possible for him to steal from slot machines across the Caribbean and the United States.

In 1980, Carmichael was sitting inside his Tulsa, Oklahoma TV repair shop when Ray Ming walks in. He was an old friend living in Las Vegas, and he had something to show Carmichael. Ming had a Bally’s slot machine in his car trunk, and a ” top bottom joint”. Carmichael began his first “operation” with the device, bilking a 5-cent machine at a casino near the Vegas strip, proudly strolling out with $35 in nickels. But Las Vegas had begun replacing the old machines with newer ones, forcing him to the smaller casinos around him. He was caught at one of them and was sentenced to 5 years in jail.

Inside, Carmichael met Mike Balsamo. They agreed to find each other after their release, but when freedom came in 1987, Carmichael found the machines replaced. Bally and International Game Technology had begun rolling out a new high-tech slot and video poker machines, which used microprocessors and random number generator software. Undaunted, Carmichael purchased an IGT Fortune One video poker machine. He invented the monkey paw (slider) made from a guitar wire and spring steel, which he inserted into the machine through the payout chute to trip a switch. This caused the release of coins from the hopper, the bucket holding in the quarters.

By 1991 the slider was useless, owing to the computerization of the machines. Fooling a manufacturer into thinking he was a customer, Carmichael was shown the inside of the latest slot machine. From there, he learned how to beat it. He bought one and in a few days invented a new device – the light wand. The wand was built with a camera battery and a miniature bulb, used to shine into the machine and blind a sensor, causing the hopper to pay out coins. It was nearly undetectable, and Carmichael made a fortune selling it to other cheats, although that money-making idea may not have been a good one in the long-run.

On October 4, 1996, Carmichael was caught with the light wand while escaping from security. He was charged with possession and manufacture of a cheating device, which were later dropped. In 1998 he was arrested of similar offenses in Laughlin, Nevada. The following year in Atlantic City, his luck ran out. The authorities had tapped his phone and recorded conversations with other cheats using his device. Carmichael, with six others, was charged and pled guilty to running an illegal gambling enterprise, serving 326 days and 3 years’ probation. He lost his two homes and was ordered to stay out of casinos. He is now in Nevada's Black Book, officially excluded from the state's casinos.

Carmichael is currently tinkering with a supposedly anti-cheating device, the Protector. He claims that his invention will stop all known cheating devices.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Wheels

Having been wounded at Verdun in World War One and confined to a wheelchair, this red-headed Irishman named Rusty was nicknamed Wheels by his ex-platoon buddies when they observed how quick he was getting around in the chair. Born around 1897, Wheels’ family name is not known. He was a longtime drinker in the Irish Bars on Manhattan’s West Side. One night while drinking away in celebration of a divorced friend’s new engagement in 1954, Wheels received a call from his buddy Mumbles from Puerto Rico. Mumbles recounted to him how he had discovered the trick of pastposting to cheat the casinos on the island. He needed a partner, someone he could trust with this potentially big-money-making operation. Wheels promptly made his last toast at the bar, swigged down his drink, laid the empty glass on the table and joined Mumbles at the San Juan airport.

Mumbles by that time had already abandoned San Juan’s craps tables in favor of designing roulette moves. He had envisioned the first version of what would become the classic “lay and claim” roulette pastposting move. One person would serve as the “mechanic,” switching in chips on the already determined winning number, while the other would claim them as if he’d legitimately bet them before the ball dropped into the winning slot on the spinning roulette wheel. Mumbles’ theory was that no casino bosses would ever suspect two old men, one who couldn’t speak, as Mumbles had lost his voice to throat cancer, and the other confined to a wheelchair. He decided that Wheels would be the mechanic, pushing his chair up to the table to switch the chips while he, Mumbles, would “mumble” his winning claims to the dealer.

It worked like a charm. They’d made a small fortune in Puerto Rico’s casinos when Mumbles decided they would try their luck out in Vegas. Neither Mumbles nor Wheels had ever been out west. The exhilaration of heading there made the two old men feel young again, like two pastposting pioneers. And that’s what they truly were. Instead of the picks and axes taken out west by the gold rushers a century before, Mumbles and Wheels went with the only tools they had—their wits and their balls. In downtown Las Vegas, they checked into Binion’s Horseshoe and went out to work. They hit the roulette tables on both sides of Fremont Street—day and night. Wheels rolled up to the tables, bought the chips and popped in the moves. Mumbles then mumbled his throaty claims the best he could. The pair scored in joint after joint. Nobody questioned them. Like Mumbles had believed, nobody grew suspicious of two old-timers, one in the wheelchair, the other gaping for breath as he collected the payoffs.

They worked Las Vegas for a single week. On the seventh day, Wheels collapsed and died in their Horseshoe hotel room. Also considered a father of modern pastposting like his old war buddy Mumbles, Wheels could not have asked for a better trench than Las Vegas to die in.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Canada Bill Jones

Born in the early 1800s (exact year unknown), Canada Bill Jones was the source of some of poker’s most commonly repeated quotes as well as one of the greatest card sharps in history. And with a name like Canada Bill, you might think he was born in Canada but he was actually born in Yorkshire, England, then at 20 moved to Canada where he learned three-card monte. The game, which he mastered under a veteran player named Dick Cady, would become Canada Bill’s bread and butter scam for the next 20 years. Three card monte is the classic scam in which the “dealer” has three cards that he shows to the mark and then throws them face down on the table. The mark bets on which card is the queen. The dealer uses a group of accomplices who appear to be winning players to lure the marks into the game, but once a mark puts down a bet, he always picks the wrong card and loses.

Canada Bill found that far more opportunities existed south of the border and ventured to the action in New Orleans and on the riverboats. When the action on the riverboats dried up, the railroads became his stomping grounds, and when that scam was up, he moved on to racetracks. Canada Bill loved action and mastered the art of finding unexploited territory, games, and crowds that were ripe for the picking.

Essential to Canada Bill’s success was his remarkable ability to play the fool. In fact he was perhaps one of the earliest known players to play the part of the sucker to a tee, while he cleaned out the bankrolls of his unsuspecting marks. Fellow con man and friend George Devol had this to say about Canada Bill in his book Forty Years a Gambler on the Mississippi: "Canada Bill was a character one might travel the length and breadth of the land and never see his match, or run across his equal. Imagine a medium-sized, chicken-headed, tow-haired sort of a man with mild blue eyes, and a mouth nearly from ear to ear, who walked with a shuffling, half-apologetic sort of a gait, and who, when his countenance was in repose, resembled an idiot. For hours he would sit in his chair, twisting his hair in little ringlets. His clothes were always several sizes too large, and his face was as smooth as a woman's and never had a particle of hair on it. Canada was a slick one. He had a squeaking, boyish voice, and awkward, gawky manners, and a way of asking fool questions and putting on a good natured sort of a grin that led everybody to believe he was the rankest kind of a sucker, the greenest sort of a country jake. Woe to the man who picked him up, though."

He made so much money by swindling people on monte, poker, and other games that he could have retired many times over. But ironically, Canada Bill turned out in the end to be a big sucker himself, and fell victim to the scams of other con men who ran games of Faro, one of the most popular card gambling games of the old West. Despite his lifelong winnings, Canada Bill lost it all to other swindlers and died penniless in 1880 in Reading, Pennsylvania.

One of Canada Bill’s best known quotes comes from a famous gambling story about a time Canada Bill was in Baton Rouge, and searched all over town for action until he eventually found a Faro game in the back of a barber shop. George Devol found him there, warned him that the dealer was cheating, and begged Bill to leave with him. Devol asked Bill: "Can't you see this game is crooked?" Canada Bill responded, "Sure I know it, but it's the only game in town."

But by far Canada Bill’s most legendary quote is the hustler’s motto: “It’s immoral to let a sucker keep his money.” The line was immortalized in the movie Rounders, and has become the slogan of many poker players and other gamblers who make their own sets of odds and seek to exploit the weaknesses of other players. Canada Bill’s life and times set the standard for the long line of swindlers that have followed in his footsteps.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Joe Classon

Joe Classon was born in New York City in1933. He and his older brother Henry were introduced to the gambling world in the 1940s by his uncle Stanley Classon, who was a degenerate gambler on New York’s Lower East Side. While Henry honed his poker skills into cheating skills, Joe was drafted and served his country in Korea. During breaks in combat Joe often played poker with the troops, and at the time he was an honest player. His first experience at cheating actually came as a victim, not a cheater. He and his fellow soldiers were regularly cheated out of their money by a crooked corporal dealing seconds. When they finally caught on, they gave the corporal a platoon pummeling that he was never likely to forget.

After the war, Joe fell in with his brother Henry, who had already become a full-time cardsharp and dice cheater. At first Joe was reluctant to get involved with cheating, having had his heart set at becoming a stockbroker, but eventually he caved in and joined his brother on a casino cheating venture to Puerto Rico in 1954. There, Henry taught Joe the art of pastposting roulette wheels, which they did very successfully in Puerto Rico, Cuba and Las Vegas. Joe eventually married a saucy Lido dancer at the Stardust Hotel named Ruthie, who became their roulette team’s main claimer, dancing around the pits while taking the money off the tables. In the middle of one of her patented “Marilyn Monroe number” roulette claims, a Hollywood producer who happened to be sitting at the table and saw the whole thing, including Joe’s pastposting move underneath the dolly marking the winning number, was so impressed that he gave Ruthie a screen test. Soon enough Ruthie packed up, went to Hollywood, married the producer and became a real-life movie star, starring in a handful of major motion pictures. Soon afterward, Joe split ways with Henry and began his own casino cheating operation with Jerry Palmer and Duke Swenson, who will be on the next Cheaters Hall of Fame ballot.

Joe Classon ran the world’s best blackjack, craps and roulette pastposting team from 1969 until his retirement in 1989. Richard Marcus joined his team in 1977 and credits Joe with making him one of the greatest casino cheaters the world has ever seen.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Henry Classon

Henry Classon was born in New York City in 1925. Already an avid hustler in his teens, Henry’s poker skills were perfected by the instruction of his degenerate uncle Stanley. As a young man he roamed Manhattan’s streets looking for poker and craps games where he could apply his crooked skills and fleece the gamblers who never had a chance against him. When not cheating at poker or craps, Henry found himself at New York’s race tracks trying to make an honest buck by betting horses, a foolish desire as he quickly found out. But one fall day in 1954, Henry met an old man at Aqueduct Race Track who would change not only his life and his brother’s but also that of Richard Marcus, who was not yet even born. The man’s name was Mumbles, a moniker he’d obtained after his voice box was removed during throat cancer surgery.

Henry began running into Mumbles often at the track and did what he could to help the ailing man around the grandstand. Mumbles then let Henry on to a form of casino cheating that he had stumbled upon in Puerto Rico: pastposting. Mumbles and Henry went to Puerto Rico together, where Mumbles showed him how to switch in chips of a higher denomination for those you had already bet, after the winning pass line bet on a craps table. Together they developed the two-man “mechanic and claimer” craps pastposting team. The mechanic, Mumbles, would make a $15 bet of three red $5 chips, then after the bet won switch out the $15 bet and switch in two green $25 chips with one $5 chip on top, a total of $55 replacing $15. Then Mumbles would scoot away from the table while Henry filled his spot and claimed to the dealer that he paid his bet wrong. With instant success they replaced the $25 green chips with $100 black chips. The cleverness of these moves was do them after the dealer paid and then invoking psychology to make the dealers believe they were making mistakes. Their craps pastposting moves would evolve into both bigger moves and different games, mainly blackjack.

After less than a year together, Mumbles died. At about the same time, Henry’s brother Joe returned from his tour of duty in Korea. He immediately recruited him to cheat the casinos, and they did successfully in Puerto Rico, Cuba and Las Vegas until they split up in 1969. Henry is credited with the further development of Mumbles’ craps move, adding the odds bet to it, where the mechanic switched both the pass line bet and the odds bet in a single move. Henry was also such a fearsome casino cheater that the legendary owner of the Horseshoe Casino, Benny Binion, once offered him a deal that if he left his casino alone, Benny would give him $1,000 any time he was broke. Henry, impressed with Binion's respect for him, accepted the deal, though he never asked Binion for any money, nor did he ever step foot in the Horseshoe again.

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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Jerry Palmer

Jerry Palmer was born in 1948 and first became exposed to gambling in the Army, although, unlike Joe Classon, he did not witness any cheating incidents during his military service and had no prior knowledge of cheating at gambling before hearing about it from Duke Swenson, his best high school friend. Upon an honorable discharge from the US Army, Jerry hooked up with Duke in California, where Duke was mounting a small marijuana growing business north of San Francisco. In order to finance it, Duke was part-timing with the Classon Pastposting Team. He recounted to his friend Jerry how he’d met Joe Classon through his girlfriend who was working as Classon’s secretary during the short time that Classon actually owned a legitimate financial consulting firm. Duke explained to Jerry how he, his girlfriend and Classon were beating Las Vegas’s and Reno’s casinos with the art of pastposting. He told Jerry that it was really unbelievable, but the casinos were falling for it like dominoes. Jerry, a great-looking guy with jet-black hair who’d had aspirations of forming a rock band, quickly shelved his guitar and joined up with Duke and Joe Classon.

In 1969 and 1970, the Classon Pastposting Team worked only roulette wheels and craps tables. While on a casino trip Jerry asked Joe and Duke why their craps move could not be done on blackjack tables as well. He was told that it was impossible because the dealer was simply too close to the player and his bets on the layout and that there wasn’t enough camouflaging action. “Shit!” Jerry exclaimed, “gimme those chips!” He then sat down at a blackjack table and very calmly did the first blackjack move at the Aladdin in Las Vegas, while Joe and Duke looked on stunned. He marched up and down the pits, hitting virtually every table with the same move and getting paid. Although these moves were done with two or three $100 black chips pastposted under $5 red chips, they soon upped the ante to $500 purple chips and then $1,000 yellow chips, sometimes using $25 green chips as the “cappers,” the chips on top. With incredible success, a payoff rate higher than 95%, the blackjack move became the main weapon in the Classon Team’s arsenal, and was pastposting’s #1 move for twenty-five years until the advent of the Savannah move in 1995.

Unfortunately, Jerry did not get to see his blackjack invention being used with $5,000 chips. He died of a drug overdose in 1994, two years after he left the casino cheating business because of his drug addiction. He is credited as the sole inventor of the blackjack move, which has earned millions of dollars in the world’s casinos.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Dustin Marks

Dustin Marks was born in the mid 1950s and may have been the most prolific inside casino cheater in United States history. Working in many major Las Vegas casinos in the 1970s and 1980s, Dustin’s specialty was dealing and cheating from his blackjack tables. His main method of cheating was the “peek and second deal,” popularized by many others long before Dustin’s arrival on the casino scene, although it is doubtful that many of those practicing this method of cheating could rival Dustin’s skill, cunning and balls. His other great talent was stacking and false-shuffling single and double decks of blackjack cards. At each of Dustin’s dealing jobs followed his cohorts who would come to his tables and receive the winning hands Dustin dealt to them. Unfortunately for many players not in cahoots with the infamous blackjack mechanic, it was from them that Dustin had to win back the money to balance the books at his tables.

The way it worked was that Dustin would have his “agent” come to his blackjack table and play with either $25 or $100 chips at the position on the table to his immediate left known as “first base,” where he would be the first player dealt to and always receive the first card off a new deal. Bigger denomination chips than that would bring too much heat from Dustin’s floor supervisors who were never involved in his scams—he didn’t need them. In fact, he was so good that he performed his deck manipulation right under his superiors’ eyes. Then his agents would bet anywhere from $25 to $500. After sweeping the played cards from the previous round, Dustin stole a subtle peek at the top card of the deck by gently pressuring it with a thumb-squeeze that allowed for the card to slightly bubble up, exposing its corner pip to him. When that card was an ace or a ten, Dustin signalled his agent to bet high, as the advance knowledge that either card would be the player’s first card gave that player a significant edge over the house. In other scenarios, Dustin used his knowledge of the top card on the deck to decide whether or not he would deal or not deal it in key situations, which either made a confederate’s hand good or busted his own over twenty-one.

Dustin’s second weapon of stacking and false-shuffling a deck allowed him to prearrange hands that would give his agent an instant winning blackjack off the top of a new deck. He did this by quickly calculating the number positions of each card as he scooped them up during the sweep of the last played hand, then switching the order of a card or two as he needed, and finally keeping the selected order as he shuffled the new deck. In this scam, his agent would usually bet the table maximum or close to it, depending on the atmosphere and heat in the casino.

Dustin Marks did this for several years and made in the millions of dollars cheating the casinos he dealt at. The most amazing thing about him is that he was never caught, and like Richard Marcus, the casino authorities only knew about how he scammed the casinos after he detailed his tricks in a tell-all book.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Pat Mallery

Pat Mallery was born in a small Appalachian village in 1955, as it amazingly turned out, on the same day that the father of modern pastposting, Mumbles, died. Before his seventeenth birthday, this crazy Irishman had already burglarized every house in his village at least once and held up the same Sunoco service station attendant three times with the same fake pistol and Frankenstein mask. At summer clambakes he cheated his fellow villagers at poker and craps with marked cards and loaded dice. The funny thing was that everyone knew Pat was the culprit repeatedly victimizing them but nobody cared. Everybody just liked him too much—even the village police chief who often lost his paycheck to him.

Pat did not become involved in cheating legitimate gambling casinos until he was nearly 40 years old. This was due to a chance introduction by Andy “Balls” Abromowitz (also on the next Cheaters Hall of Fame ballot), who presented Mallery to Richard Marcus in January, 1994, while Marcus was looking to build a new casino cheating team after the breakup of the famed (or infamous) Classon Pastposting Team of which he’d been a member for 12 years. Marcus immediately taught Pat his bread and butter move at the time, the blackjack pastpost move where large denomination chips were switched in for $5 red chips after the cheater’s bet had already won and been paid. The claimer would then claim a dealer mistake and invoke psychology to get his swindled payoff.

At first Pat, who had an enormous presence much like that of the late actor Jackie Gleason, was a complete bust in the casinos, screwing up the most fundamental of cheating moves. But then like the legendary late-blooming baseball pitching star of the ’60s, Sandy Koufax, Pat became a legend in his own right. He was the first casino cheater ever to pastpost $5,000 chips, and in the single summer of 1994 beat Caesars Palace alone for more than $800,000, by succeeding a record of 151 consecutive moves with $5,000 chips without a single miss. He literally went on a pastposting rampage in Las Vegas and around the world during 1994 and 1995, at the end of which he and Richard Marcus took casino cheating to new heights with the invention of their Savannah roulette “pinching” move, called by most experts in the industry the greatest cheating move in the history of casinos. Richard Marcus himself has also called Pat Mallery the most gifted casino cheater he has ever seen, and worked the Savannah with Pat and Balls until his retirement in 2000.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus first became exposed to gambling as a youngster flipping baseball cards for keeps. He learned in fact that he was the victim of a cheating scam. Several of his schoolmates where cheating Richard out of his baseball cards in a way similar to crooked poker dealers peeking at top cards and dealing seconds. Richard lost his entire collection and soon turned to playing poker, betting on horses and even which type of automobile came around the block. Concocting some clever teenaged scams, Richard scammed enough money by the age of twenty to buy a Mustang convertible, which he immediately drove out to Las Vegas in search of his fortune to be made from gambling riches. Not yet old enough to legally gamble, Richard went broke playing high-stakes baccarat and found himself living on the streets of Las Vegas in 110-degree summer heat. Busted-out and desperate, he finally landed a job at the Four Queens Casino in downtown Vegas dealing blackjack and baccarat. There he met Joe Classon, an inveterate professional casino cheater who happened upon Richard’s baccarat table. Richard agreed to meet Classon one night after his dealing shift, and Classon convinced him to try and set up the Four Queens for an inside baccarat scam. He challenged Richard to come up with an ingenious idea to rip off his own baccarat table. Richard racked his brains and came up with a unique false-shuffle scam so good that his relief dealer actually dealt the fixed hands without any knowledge that the cards in the shoe were set up for the players to win. They beat the Four Queens for $21,000, a sizeable amount for a downtown casino in 1977.

After this successful start to Richard’s cheating career, he joined Joe Classon’s pastposting team, known as the Classon Pastposting Team which consisted of Joe, Duke Swenson, and Jerry Palmer. Richard was taught different methods of pastposting on blackjack, craps, roulette and baccarat tables. Starting as a claimer, the person who collected pastposted bets switched in by the team’s mechanic, Richard eventually learned and performed each function of a skilled cheating team. During his twelve years working with these same partners, Richard enhanced several of their pastposting moves. His most important contribution on the developmental front was his invention of the “mix-up” roulette claim, where casino bosses were made to believe that the claimer made an accidental lucky winning bet, which removed their suspicions that the bet may have been pastposted.

After the Classon Pastposting Team broke up in 1989, Richard went out on his own and struggled until he met up with Pat Mallery, a longtime grifter from Massachusetts who, however, was inexperienced as far as scams in legitimate casinos were concerned. Richard quickly recognized Pat’s raw talent and patiently trained him in the art of pastposting. Soon Pat became the best Richard had ever seen. In 1994, Richard and Pat began pastposting $5,000 chips in various casinos in Las Vegas, something that Joe Classon and Henry Classon would have thought impossible. In 1995, they developed the famed Savannah roulette pinching move, called the best casino cheating move ever by many experts in the industry. After scamming the world’s casinos with the Savannah move for five years, Richard retired in 2000. He has since written five books, including American Roulette, his memoirs about his life cheating the casinos, and Dirty Poker, The Poker Underworld Exposed, an exposé about cheating in both the real and online poker worlds. He also conducts cheating seminars across the world and is generally considered the best all-around casino cheater to have ever lived.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Ron Harris

Ronald Dale Harris was born in July, 1956, and is most well known for having betrayed the Nevada Gaming Control Board, for which he worked as a computer programmer and technician, by using his knowledge to rip off the state's slot machines and then later to win fraudulent keno jackpots. Harris, in his capacity for the NGCB in the early 1990s, was responsible for finding flaws and “gaffs” in software that runs computerized casino games. His job was basically to protect casinos' slot machines from people capable of using high-tech computer programming to alter their security codes and render their jackpots vulnerable. Harris, extremely disillusioned by certain events related to the NGCB and his own work for it, especially the fiasco concerning the American Coin computer chip scam in which that company rigged its slot machines in hundreds of Las Vegas bars not to yield jackpots, decided to corrupt his allegiance to his job and go into business for himself. He was very upset that his hard work on the American Coin case seemed to be in vain, and his feelings were intensified when Larry Volk, a computer programmer for American Coin who was cooperating with the FBI investigation of his company, was shot to death in his car pulling out of  his driveway. Harris took advantage of his own expertise, stellar reputation, and access to source code in order to illegally modify certain slot machines to pay out large sums of money when a specific sequence and number of coins were inserted. From 1993 to 1995, Harris and an accomplice, John O'Connor, stole thousands of dollars from Las Vegas casinos, accomplishing one of the most successful and undetected scams in casino history.

Towards the end of his stint, Harris shifted his focus to the probability game Keno, for which he developed a program that would determine which numbers the game's pseudorandom number generator would select beforehand. On January 14, 1995, he went to Atlantic City with an accomplice named Reid McNeal, where Harris successfully determined the winning numbers in advance of a keno game from his hotel room while McNeal received the information from Harris via an audio device in his ear. McNeal then wrote out his keno ticket and won a $100,000 jackpot at Bally's casino.

What seemed the perfect scam and probably one that could have been repeated in many casinos by using different jackpot claimers, came apart because of an unbelievably stupid error on their part. When McNeal attempted to cash in his $100,000 winning ticket at Bally's, he couldn't produce any identification when asked for it. Casino executives naturally became suspicious of him and notified New Jersey gaming investigators. The investigation led authorities to Harris's hotel room where they found his high-tech equipment. Although Harris had already fled, he was arrested getting off his plane in Las Vegas by fellow agents of the Nevada Gaming Control Board Enforcement Division, who were stunned that one of their own had betrayed their trust. Harris served two years in prison and is listed in the Nevada Gaming Control Board's black book, prohibiting him from entering casinos.

The best question about Ron Harris is, How can someome so smart be so stupid?
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Brent Eli Morris

Brent Eli Morris was born in September, 1956, and holds many casino cheating records, though some of them are rather dubious. One such negative record is that Morris has eleven felony convictions related to cheating at gambling. Count 'em...ELEVEN! So, many people might wonder how someone with so many failures to his credit gets inducted to the Cheaters Hall of Fame. Well, it was not an easy decision to elect him. In fact, before his photograph and induction text were permanently posted to this page, they had been posted and deleted several times. But finally it was in comparing Morris to baseball pitching great Nolan Ryan that got him over the hump. When speaking of that flame-throwing Hall of Fame righthander, we all think of his 5,714 strikeouts and 300 plus wins. But do we forget or ignore the fact that Ryan lost almost 300 games as well? That number represents a lot of failures, the exact number of his losses being 292. So in spite of Brent Eli Morris's abundance of failures, he also had many successes. In fact, probably more than any other casino cheater in history if we're talking about sheer volume of major cheating moves of at least $200.

Not much is known about Morris's early life and how he got into casino cheating. What is known is that he got into it head over heels. His forte was craps. For more than two decades, Morris terrorized the casinoworld's craps tables. You name it, he did it. One of his many specialties was bet-pressing. Differing from Richard Marcus's pastposting operations where larger denomination chips were switched in for smaller denomination chips after a winning outcome was known, Morris's MO was to singularly add more chips to his already existing bets when their winning outcomes were known. He normally did this on the pass line, using a variety of distractions to quickly land extra chips onto his winning bets. He was a master at dropping chips from a height of an inch or more that would land squarely on chips already resting on the layout. He was able to do this without his hand carrying the chips pausing for more than a fraction of a second, which was rarely noticeable to the dealers and boxmen on the craps tables. But his true arena of work was behind the pass line, the imaginary line an inch and a half or so behind it where players placed their odds bets after a point was established on the "come-out" roll. Since players were legitimately allowed to touch their odds bets between rolls of the dice, Morris not only used that permission to legally increase or decrease his odds wagers but also abused it to illegally alter his pass line bets in the process. His odds bets actually served as camouflage for his pass line bet-presses, in spite of the fact that they were closer to him and farther from the dealer.

Morris was also keen on betting his chips on the don't pass bar, a bet with the house and against the shooter. As the don't pass players were strictly the minority around craps tables, Morris used being outnumbered by the other players to his advantage. He would place his bets on the extreme inward corner of the don't pass bar closest to the dealer and then use that angle to hide his move when he actually pushed losing chips onto the pass line, turning them into winners. He did these moves repetitively on the same table, even as often as every outcome on some tables where the dealers and boxmen were no match for his skills. In fact, Morris worked several different scams on the craps tables, often more than one at the same time. He was quite efficient at picking off other players' chips from their table chip racks as he was picking up their paid bets on the layout. His only fault was that he just worked too much. Morris cheated craps tables like normal citizens go to work, eight or more hours a day. No matter how good one can be at such an illegal craft, one cannot outsmart every casino every time. Finally, after a series of arrests and convictions over just a few years, Morris was sentenced to prison and upon release found himself included in Nevada's Black Book banning him for life from its casinos.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Sherri Skoons

Sherri Schoons was born in May, 1961, and was the only known professional female casino pastposter. She started out in the casino cheating business as simply the girlfriend of Salvatore Gillette, a member of Richard Marcus’s pastposting team in the early 1990s. Sherri would go along on their casino trips, sometimes helping out with minor parts of the operation. She would sit at a blackjack or roulette table just to fill the seat and create some needed action to facilitate move-making opportunities for Marcus and his team. Marcus liked Sherri’s spunky personality and foresaw the possiblility of her having a more integral function as a team-member. Six months after meeting her, Marcus allowed Sherri to serve as a “checkbettor.” Her function in that role was to bet certain schematic sequences in roulette, where her placement of stacks of checks (chips in casino parlance) as well as one-, two- and three-check bets would force the dealer to make certain movements and create windows of opportunity for Marcus’s roulette mechanic to make the pastpost, which consisted of switching out original bets and replacing them with the same number of chips, all of which except the top one much greater denominations.

From there Sherri was given another major responsibility helping the team cash out large amounts of chips. One thing not known by the general public is that perhaps the hardest thing about big-time professional casino cheating is not the setups and the moves but the cashing out of all those ill-gotten winning chips. With the IRS reporting laws and casinos’ internal cashier cage policies, it was difficult to cash out large sums of money and stay under the radar. Sherri became a chip courier.

After a year with team, Sherri informed Marcus that she wanted to play an even more crucial role; she wanted to be the “claimer” on roulette moves, the person who claimed the pastposted bets as their legitimate ones and took the money off the tables—the most dangerous position. Marcus at first was hesitant, but he remembered the war stories Joe Classon had recounted to him about his ex-wife Ruthie, the stunning Lido dancer who became a claimer with Joe and his brother Henry and who later became a movie star after a Hollywood producer sitting at their roulette table witnessed one of her dancing claims. So Marcus decided to give the eager young woman a shot, knowing how successful a sharp female claimer would be going up against the egos and libidos of a male-dominated casino industry.

Marcus lived not to regret his decision. Sherri became a great roulette claimer, and was especially effective playing the ditzy blond while performing Marcus’s patented mix-up roulette claim, making pit bosses believe she was a lucky, dumb blond rather than a cunning member of the world’s best casino cheating team. From there, Marcus taught Sherri how to lay and claim their blackjack move, which Sherri perfected: switching the chips, making the claims, all the while charming the pants off the casino bosses who always thought errantly that they had a chance to get in her pants. And to boot, Sherri knew how to charm the lady bosses as well, both the straight ones and lesbians.

Sherri finally decided to go back to school and quit the business in 1995. She studied—of all things—forensic criminology. Believe it or not, today Sherri Schoons is a CSI, and I think of her every time I see Marg Helgenberger on the hit TV show.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Monique Laurent

There is no doubt that Monique, born on Valentine's Day, 1948, in Deauville, France, was the most gorgeous casino cheater of all-time. Not only did she make someone a great Valentine, she also made several happy Frenchmen a nice pot of cash--before they had to give it all back. However, in spite of her eventual downfall, Monique was the main player in perhaps the most ingenious roulette scam in casino history. It happened in the summer of 1973 at the ritzy Casino Deauville on the French Atlantic coast. It became known as "The French Cigarette Pack Scam," event though the pack of cigarettes used were not of the French brand; they were Marlboros!

The scam was launched when a ham radio buff employed as a roulette dealer at the Casino Deauville built a radio transmitter into a pack of Marlboro cigarettes, embedding the tiny weightless receiver into a roulette ball made by a sculptor friend that he snuck into play. His brother-in-law placed the bets while his sister Monique, a sexy raven-haired temptress, softly pressed an invisible button on the cigarette pack as the ball was spinning, sending it into a controlled dive which resulted in the ball’s landing in groups of six numbers with ninety percent accuracy. In a week the Casino Deauville was beat for five million francs ($1 million at the time).

The owners of the casino could not figure out what was hitting them. First they thought the wheel itself was defective and that somebody had measured it. They had experts come in and completely dismantle the wheel, examine every working piece integral to the ball's spinning around the disk and the wheel's revolutions in the opposite direction. When the astonished owners were told that the wheel was in perfect balance, and that there was not even the slightest imperfection which could produce biased outcomes, they began suspecting the dealer. They watched him secretively from above, but his motion was the same every time; he was doing nothing out of the ordinary to control the movement of the ball. It always made the same number of revolutions before going into its descent.

The scam was truly a marvel, and neither the ball nor the cigarette pack ever malfunctioned. Like most ingenious scams do, it came apart for a reason that had nothing to do with the scam. The problem was that the dealer's sexy raven-haired sister was a bit too sexy and drew the attention of the principal casino owner who wanted to make Monique his mistress. He had subtly approached her in the casino several times while she was working the gadget. Being a chain smoker, he was often asking her for a cigarette with his apologies. The raven-haired beauty was cool and able to operate despite the man's presence. Monique told her husband about his advances, but he replied that the owner's libido couldn't hurt the scam, so they continued.

Finally, the owner—realizing he was going nowhere fast with the temptress—began watching her from a different eye. Why was she so often in the casino, apparently alone? Why did she always stand by the same roulette table without making more than an occasional bet? And most of all, what was the connection between her and that table losing so much money whenever she was in the casino? All the answers came when the owners, at last suspecting some kind of radio interference with the roulette wheel, had an expert debugging crew come in and sweep the casino while the wheel was in action. The next time the principal casino owner asked the temptress for a cigarette, the chief of the Deauville Police Force was there at his side to confiscate the pack and put the lovely raven-haired beauty in handcuffs.

This scam was decades ahead of its time, and there was a 1984 movie made about it called “Les Tricheurs,” which means “The Cheaters.” It certainly was a precursor to all today’s roulette scams involving computers and cell phones. Today Monique Laurent lives in Las Vegas and works in the wardrobe department of a famous Las Vegas extravaganza.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

John Soares

One of the earliest documented casino cheating teams (or crews) was headed by the legendary craps cheat John Soares, who was a thorn in the sides of casinos' craps tables for decades. Soares grew up in Oakland, California, and relocated with his high school sweetheart to Visalia, not far away. After marrying, Soares started a small family owned business selling doughnuts that soon proved to be a failure, which put pressure on his marriage due to a financial strain the couple couldn't overcome.

Soares got divorced, soon after which his good friend, Sully Kelly, offered him a job in Las Vegas. Kelly neglected to tell Soares that the job was illegal. Kelly was a low-level casino hustler who often made ends meet by snatching up silver dollars and slot tokens players unwittingly left in the mouths of slot machines. Kelly often hooked up with crooked dealers in the downtown Vegas gambling joints to rip off the house. He hired Soares as a clean-up man, a job consisting of stolen chips given to him by Kelly and the crooked casino dealers to cash in. Soares received 10 percent of the take, quite a lowly cut for the risk involved.

But still he averaged nearly $100 dollars a week in additional income, a substantial amount in 1960. But that did not lead to any good judgment on his part. He soon agreed to participate in a loan company robbery. He was busted, convicted of armed robbery and sentenced to five years at the State Prison in Carson City.

But lucky for Soares, prison turned out to be a blessing in disguise. He adjusted quite well there because the prison bullpen was nothing more than a casino. Instead of playing ball or lifting iron, Soares and some other wayward prisoners took to gambling, mainly playing poker and other card games. He met a fellow prisoner by the name of Ned Coleman who was serving time for murdering a gaming official, which was kind of ironically funny. This association, however, would change his life.

Coleman taught Soares the basic cheating techniques of card dealing. Soares practiced two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening and soon was good enough to work the prison poker games in a crooked partnership with Coleman. Next he mastered the art of dealing craps and blackjack while learning numerous ways to cheat opponents at those games as well. Thanks to these new skills, Soares' prison stay was not at all bad, and he won his share of cigarettes and commissary money. He was released after serving 18 months, then traveled back to Las Vegas to test his "legal" card skills.

In those days, it was easy for ex-cons to get dealing jobs in Las Vegas casinos. It was also not unusual for the casinos to use dealers to cheat the players. He was quickly hired as a dealer at the Riviera Hotel and soon became used as a streak-breaker or "cooler," a dealer who can easily break a winning streak by way of a few deft moves with a deck of cards.

One evening, he was approached by a hoodlum who owned points in a certain casino. He demanded that Soares let his wife win at the craps table. Soares, not yet willing to make a move against the casino and fearing the loss of his job, declined. But for some reason he never quite figured, he was fired the next day. And he was irate about it!

The next day, however, Soares was approached by Glen Grayson, a legendary casino cheat who had earned the nickname "King of the Hustlers." Grayson was born in Fort Worth, Texas in 1920. He was a natural born hustler who hustled his buddies out of lunch money. He was also a pool shark at the age of nine. In high school, Grayson would win poker games against men twice his age. He could even pitch a penny so accurately that it would land on top of the one he had already thrown, a method for which he accepted bets of long odds and constantly took people's money as their mouths hung open in disbelief.

Grayson moved to Las Vegas as a young man and soon started cheating in craps games and poker games, switching dice and cards. He also got involved in skimming slot machines. His balls, however, outweighed his skills. He was soon banned from all the casinos, thus he decided that he had to impart his knowledge to others and put together a cheating crew that he could lead to illicit casino fortunes.  

Grayson immersed himself in this new venture, with the goal of organizing the best crew of casino cheats the world would ever see. And at the time, he did succeed. He assembled a motley bunch of skilled casino cheats. John Soares was the most talented of them all as far as actual casino cheating skills were concerned. But the others had great talents too, talents that were keen to a casino cheating operation. They were Rollie Malone, the ladies man with a passion for boxing, Jackie Gillitzer, the ultimate all-around con man, Don Allison, the crooked cowboy, Barry Churchman, the religious preacher who scammed your money while blessing you, and the beautiful Jan Deerwood, who was a model, party girl, glamour queen and, most of all, top-notch thief. She only dated millionaires and never parted without getting a chunk of their money. Grayson as the mastermind, knew just how to play each of his hustler's talents.

Jan's looks were used in casinos to distract attention from the rest of the crew, who would case a casino, find a craps table and then use a miniature camera to photograph the dice in play. They would promptly send the photo to New Jersey, where some of Grayson's contacts would make duplicate pairs of dice, except these were dice were "loaded," causing them to land on certain numbers with more frequency than probability dictated. Once the gaffed dice arrived back in Vegas, the crew would switch them into live craps games and clean up.

Soares' first assignment took one hour at the craps tables and netted $140,000 dollars. They traveled to Europe, Istanbul and Macao where they beat up on the casinos. They had numerous pairs of counterfeit dice and then got into cheating slot machines by using tools to tamper with their locks and hoppers, getting them to heave up bucketfuls of coins and tokens into the machines' mouths. They would also cheat at poker and blackjack, switching cards, pastposting bets and outright pinching other players’ chips that sat on the tables. They really were without morals and ceaselessly bombarded the casinos.

Soares reportedly buried stacks of money on his beachfront property and he lived the life of a rich playboy. As his own wealth grew, he showed that he did have a heart. He befriended a married couple who were having financial problems. But instead of giving them money, he offered them an opportunity to participate in his casino scams. Grayson agreed, so they joined right up. And they loved it! The husband was cool under pressure and the wife was nearly as hot as Jan Deerwood. Before long, they were able to pay off all their debts.

Between 1962 and 1972, Grayson's crew ripped off millions of dollars from the casinos. They decided to cool it for a while and Grayson stayed in Vegas while Soares lived on the beach in California. One morning, Grayson called Soares to say he had something big to discuss, something that might earn in the tens of millions. Soares asked him to fly out so that they could discuss it in person. Grayson never made it. His private Cessna crashed and he was killed instantly. After his death, the crew disbanded, and none of its members were ever arrested.

Soares' exploits are recounted in his book "Loaded Dice." Although Grayson was clearly the leader of their team, his actual casino cheating skills were elementary, thus he has not yet been nominated for induction into the Poker and Casino Cheaters Hall of Fame. Perhaps one day he will be.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Balls Abramowitz

Mark “Balls” Abramowitz’s biggest contribution to the world of casino cheating may very well have been that he had occasion to know both Richard Marcus and Pat Mallery, each of whom had not known the other before Balls introduced them. Balls first met Marcus in a New Jersey high school poker game, where Marcus and some gambling buddies nicknamed him “Balls,” because he was a wild, stalk-thin mad Jewish gambler who smoked more than he ate and never demonstrated anything but his reckless pursuit of big-time scores without the least bit of fear of what that might cost him. He took all forms of gambling to the hilt. At no-limit poker he’d throw in his whole bankroll on a hand that couldn’t beat ace-high. At the track he’d do the same on a 20 to 1 long shot if he believed in the horse. Sometimes he won, more often he lost, but some of his scores were magnificent. At twenty-one years old Balls probably had more gambling experience than ninety percent of compulsive gamblers twice his age—and that’s saying a lot.
When the Classon Pastposting Team broke up in 1989, Richard Marcus struggled for a few years to put a new team together. Finding little success and ready to pack it in, he spotted his old high school gambling buddy Balls playing poker at the Mirage in Las Vegas. They hadn’t seen each other in 15 years. Knowing Balls’ fearlessness and cravings for big gambling action, Marcus figured correctly that Balls would make a good candidate for a casino cheating operation. He trained Balls as a roulette “claimer,” having him take the money off the table from pastposted winning bets, then as a blackjack “mechanic” and claimer, where Balls would do both the pastposting moves with his own chips and claim the payoffs. Although Balls was never more than average at any casino cheating pursuit, his value to Marcus’s new team and ticket to the Poker and Casino Cheating Hall of Fame was simply that he created the biggest-earning casino cheat team in history by bringing Richard Marcus and Pat Mallery together.
Balls had met Mallery in the sports touting business before either of them knew the first thing about cheating casinos. During the two years that Marcus and Balls worked together, mainly cheating blackjack and craps tables, they often ran into Mallery in Atlantic City. Balls introduced them, and even suggested that Mallery join their casino cheating operation, but Mallery never showed any serious interest—until his sports touting business went bust. In April, 1994, Balls and Marcus again met up with Mallery in Atlantic City, and this time Mallery said he was ready to give it a shot.
Balls helped Marcus train Pat Mallery to do blackjack pastposts, betting three red $5 chips and then switching them out and replacing them with two purple $500 chips with one $5 chip on top after the dealer paid the winning bet. After the switch, Mallery would claim that the dealer paid the bet wrong. Although Mallery at first struggled to become proficient at the move, two weeks later the new 3-man cheating team made history the night of April 22, 1994, when Michael Moorer defeated Evander Holyfield at Caesars Palace for the Heavyweight Boxing Championship of the World. Right after the fight in the parking lot of Caesars Palace, the three casino cheats, who had ringside seats, entered the casino and became the first cheats ever to pastpost $5,000 chips. It was Pat Mallery who did the majority of these monster moves at the blackjack tables, although Balls played a significant role—that as a “time-asker!” Mallery was betting three black $100 chips and then switching them out for two chocolate $5,000 chips and one black $100 chip on top, again after the dealer paid the bet and again with the same claim that the dealer paid him wrong. This outrageous move was taking the casinos for $9,800 a pop, and really set Las Vegas ablaze. While doing it, Mallery developed a quirk that bothered him. He did not like the player to his immediate right having a chance to see him switching the chips, even though Marcus assured Mallery that there was no chance anyone playing at the table would ever see or notice the move. But Mallery was a stubborn Irishman and demanded that Balls approach that player to his right at the crucial moment, when he was ready to switch the chips, and simply ask him, “Excuse me, sir, do you have the time?” As the player looked at his watch, Pat would switch the chips and then go into his claim, taking control over the entire blackjack table. The team pulled of an incredible 151 of these moves in a row without a miss (not getting paid). Marcus called that “chocolate chip rampage” the greatest casino exploit he’d ever seen.
Marcus and Mallery began playfully referring to Balls as the highest-paid “time-asker” in the world, as he did receive a full third of their profits, and Marcus and Mallery loved to joke about it. Balls laughed all the way to the bank as well.
When the $5,000 chocolate chip blackjack moves finally took heat in the summer of 1995, after a relentless assault on Las Vegas’s casinos that bled out nearly a million dollars, Marcus and Mallery developed the famous “Savannah” roulette move. Balls was also the third member of that operation, and performed his share of the Savannah moves as the team raked in millions doing them in all the world’s major casinos. That roulette move (shown on the video page) is considered the greatest casino cheating move ever conceived. They simply hid $5,000 chips under $5 chips on the bottom columns of roulette layouts, making dealers believe that their bets consisted of $10, two $5 chips. When the bet won, the dealer would be shocked to find the winning $5,000 chip on the bottom. When it lost, whichever cheat had placed it simply raked it off the layout before the dealer could take it. Then he would replace the bet with two $5 chips, getting away with it because the dealer thought that the original bet was indeed $10, never having seen the $5,000 chip on the bottom. The casinos never figured out the Savannah move until Richard Marcus revealed it in his memoirs, American Roulette.
Balls and Mallery worked the casinos for a few years after Marcus’s retirement in 2000, then they retired in 2003.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Duke Wilson

Duke Wilson was the greatest “wheel mechanic” in the history of casino cheating. He was an original member of the notorious 4-man Classon Pastposting Team, joining its ranks in 1969. How Wilson got involved in casino cheating is quite remarkable, given the fact that he’d never had the slightest involvement in gambling or casinos until the day he joined the cheating team in his early twenties. He was first introduced to the master casino cheater Joe Classon by his own wife, Paula, shortly after they married. Not that Paula had anything to do with casino cheating. It turned out that Joe, during a brief period away from casinos in the late ’60s, ran a legitimate brokerage firm in northern California, where Paula worked as his secretary. While his wife worked for Joe, Duke spent most of his time growing marijuana plants for profit but was often smoking more of his product than he sold. He also became very friendly with Joe, who during get-togethers over mountain campfires and marshmallow roasts tried to convince Duke to abandon the marijuana business and start life anew as a casino cheat. Duke was continually reluctant to abandon his “Deadhead” existence in California, but due to the endless shortcomings of his pot business he finally gave in and decided to take Joe up on his offer.
Starting off as a “claimer,” where he claimed pastposted bets on roulette tables that Joe switched in for him, Duke soon became Joe’s student and learned the difficult mechanics of pastposting those bets, which was the switching in of higher denomination casino chips for lower denomination roulette chips after the roulette ball dropped into the winning number and the dealer marked that number on the layout with the dolly. Before long, in a classic instance of student surpassing teacher in efficiency, Duke became a fabulous wheel mechanic, able to lift the dolly off the winning number, remove the chips that were there and replace them with the boosted amount of chips—all in a split second of time that the dealer took his eyes off the layout.
Once Duke became the Classon Pastposting Team’s roulette mechanic, Joe led him and his wife Paula, along with Jerry Palmer who became the 4th member of the team, through Las Vegas, Reno, Puerto Rico and the Caribbean islands, and finally to Europe on an eight-year casino cheating tour that matured the team into maybe the best organized casino cheating operation ever. Duke’s brilliance as a roulette mechanic shined remarkably, as he began doing difficult chip-switches with one hand while simultaneously using his other hand to distract the dealer by tossing chips toward him. That is, he was able to lift the dolly, pull out the chips sitting underneath it, replace them with new chips and then replace the dolly smoothly on top, all in less than a second. This roulette move “under the piece” was probably the most difficult and pressure-packed of all chip-manipulation casino moves ever attempted in casinos. Duke’s specialty was pastposting black $100 or purple $500 chips (depending on casino maximum payouts) straight up on numbers at the top of the layout in the first dozen; in other words, right under the dealer’s nose.
Duke remained with the Classon Pastposting Team (Richard Marcus joined in 1977) until 1989, at which time Joe Classon retired and the team broke up. In the early ‘90s, Richard Marcus, Duke Wilson and Jerry Palmer tried to make a go of a new LasVegas/Atlantic City casino operation, but with Classon’s departure there was too much infighting over who should lead the team and other conflicts that finally caused the demise of the team. Marcus went his own way forming a new team, while Wilson retired and Palmer died in 1994 of a drug overdose.
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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Steve Forte

Many people may be surprised that Steve Forte has been inducted into the Poker and Casino Cheaters Hall of Fame. After all, he has not been vastly successful at it, and is one strike away from becoming a three-time loser, having first been busted two decades ago for switching in a cooler at an Atlantic City blackjack table, which is actually exchanging a pre-arranged six-deck shoe of cards with the dealer, who then deals out a long series of winning hands to the players who bet the table maximum and clean out the dealer’s chip rack. In June, 2007, Forte was again busted for a major high-tech poker scam in the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City that made headlines across the world. The charges against Forte claim that he and three cohorts set up a hotel suite with hidden cameras in the walls that filmed opponents’ hole cards in a very high stakes poker game. They then enticed poker players with large cash bankrolls who had come to the Borgata for Atlantic City’s biggest poker tournament into their rigged private game. But unfortunately for Forte, one of the suckers they coerced into the game recognized him and grew suspicious of his involvement in a private poker game high above the casino’s public poker room where the Borgata Open was slated to take place. And to top all that off, Forte was voted the “Silver Turkey Award” for being the second biggest turkey in the world of casino cheating in 2007.

So why then is he in the Cheaters Hall of Fame? It’s because of Forte’s accomplishments during the period between his two busts. In that time, Forte became a gaming cheating expert and is still considered to be the most skilled sleight-of-hand artist in the world. In the twenty years after the “cooler” bust, he was the top anti-cheating casino consultant to the entire casino industry, thus he is unique in really having played both sides of the fence! Forte has worked in, managed and consulted with casinos worldwide on how to spot cheaters and scam artists. He has conducted seminars for governments and gaming commissions worldwide. His expertise includes all facets of cheating, advantage play, detection and prevention, time and motion analysis, controls and procedural analysis for all casino table games, and slots. He spent years studying and practicing to attain all his knowledge.
As a consultant he has provided in-depth instruction, live demonstrations, and hands-on game protection training for all management capacities, as well as gaming/criminal case preparation, outside surveillance, procedural reviews, game pace audits, evaluation of suspect casino equipment (dice, cards, wheel, shufflers etc.), and evaluations of suspect surveillance footage. Whenever Forte spoke or published, people in the business took note. He has been featured in many television shows and newspaper articles and has written two books on poker and casino game protection. His video series and books are among the most sought after products in the field of casino cheating. He was also the main consultant on the now classic poker movie, “Rounders,” starring Matt Damon and Ed Norton.
So what happened? Why did Forte (allegedly as he’s not been tried yet) go back to cheating? There, it can only be surmised: either he got bored or realized the felt was really greener on the other side!
Many people may be surprised that Steve Forte has been inducted into the Poker and Casino Cheaters Hall of Fame. After all, he has not been vastly successful at it, and is one strike away from becoming a three-time loser, having first been busted two decades ago for switching in a cooler at an Atlantic City blackjack table, which is actually exchanging a pre-arranged six-deck shoe of cards with the dealer, who then deals out a long series of winning hands to the players who bet the table maximum and clean out the dealer’s chip rack. In June, 2007, Forte was again busted for a major high-tech poker scam in the Borgata Hotel in Atlantic City that made headlines across the world. The charges against Forte claim that he and three cohorts set up a hotel suite with hidden cameras in the walls that filmed opponents’ hole cards in a very high stakes poker game. They then enticed poker players with large cash bankrolls who had come to the Borgata for Atlantic City’s biggest poker tournament into their rigged private game. But unfortunately for Forte, one of the suckers they coerced into the game recognized him and grew suspicious of his involvement in a private poker game high above the casino’s public poker room where the Borgata Open was slated to take place. And to top all that off, Forte was voted the “Silver Turkey Award” for being the second biggest turkey in the world of casino cheating in 2007.

So why then is he in the Cheaters Hall of Fame? It’s because of Forte’s accomplishments during the period between his two busts. In that time, Forte became a gaming cheating expert and is still considered to be the most skilled sleight-of-hand artist in the world. In the twenty years after the “cooler” bust, he was the top anti-cheating casino consultant to the entire casino industry, thus he is unique in really having played both sides of the fence! Forte has worked in, managed and consulted with casinos worldwide on how to spot cheaters and scam artists. He has conducted seminars for governments and gaming commissions worldwide. His expertise includes all facets of cheating, advantage play, detection and prevention, time and motion analysis, controls and procedural analysis for all casino table games, and slots. He spent years studying and practicing to attain all his knowledge.
As a consultant he has provided in-depth instruction, live demonstrations, and hands-on game protection training for all management capacities, as well as gaming/criminal case preparation, outside surveillance, procedural reviews, game pace audits, evaluation of suspect casino equipment (dice, cards, wheel, shufflers etc.), and evaluations of suspect surveillance footage. Whenever Forte spoke or published, people in the business took note. He has been featured in many television shows and newspaper articles and has written two books on poker and casino game protection. His video series and books are among the most sought after products in the field of casino cheating. He was also the main consultant on the now classic poker movie, “Rounders,” starring Matt Damon and Ed Norton.
So what happened? Why did Forte (allegedly as he’s not been tried yet) go back to cheating? There, it can only be surmised: either he got bored or realized the felt was really greener on the other side!

Forte was formally indicted for the Borgata scam in October, 2008. 


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Phuong Quoc Truong

Phuong Quoc Truong is the first casino cheater who has truly brought the term "racketeering" to organized casino cheating where the actual owners of the victim casinos are not involved. The head of the now infamous Tran Organization, a band of Vietnamese criminals and Caucasian casino workers, Truong organized what has been by far the largest, longest and most profitable casino cheating scam of all time, victimizing dozens of casinos, raking in tens of millions of dollars from both US and Canadian casinos, and operating for a period of at least six years between 2002 and 2007. The scam was so pernicious because it corrupted dozens of casino employees in two countries, including the son of a Seattle mayor, showing to the world just how vulnerable casino employees are to corruption and bribery, and just how serious a breach of internal security occurs when casino employees do team up with skillful and organized cheats against the house. Truong is currently awaiting sentencing after having pleaded guilty to conspiracy and other casino cheating charges related to this monster scam.

In his plea agreement, Truong admitted that he and his co-conspirators unlawfully obtained up to $7 million during card cheats, but the real figure is surely much higher. According to the original indictment, Truong and his dealer recruits executed a "false shuffle" cheating scheme at dozens of casinos during blackjack and mini-baccarat games. Members of the criminal organization bribed casino card dealers and supervisors to perform these false shuffles during card games, thereby creating "slugs" of un-shuffled cards. After tracking the order of cards dealt in a card game, a member of the organization would signal to the card dealer to perform a "false shuffle," and then members of the group would bet on the known order of cards when the slug appeared on the table. By doing so, members of the conspiracy repeatedly won thousands of dollars during card games - up to $868,000 on one occasion.The members of the organization also used sophisticated mechanisms for tracking the order of cards during games, including hidden transmitter devices and specially created software that would predict the order in which cards would reappear during mini-baccarat and blackjack games.

The casino cheating case, which in the US mostly victimized Indian Reservation casinos, was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's San Diego Division; the Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation; the San Diego Sheriff's Department; and the California Department of Justice's Bureau of Gambling Control. The investigation has received assistance from federal, state, tribal and foreign authorities, including: the Ontario Provincial Police; the National Indian Gaming Commission; the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Washington; the FBI's Gulfport, Miss., Tacoma, Wash., and Toledo, Ohio Resident Agencies; the Indiana State Police; the Rumsey Rancheria Tribal Gaming Agency; the Sycuan Gaming Commission; the Barona Gaming Commission; the Mississippi Gaming Commission; the Washington State Gambling Commission; and others. The prosecution of the case was run by the U.S. Department of Justice's Organized Crime and Racketeering Section.

To sum this scam up in a nutshell: it was big stuff! To read more about how this false shuffle scam works, click here where it appears on my Scam of the Month Page.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Van Thu Tran

Van Thu Tran was Phuong Quoc Truong's partner in the infamous Tran Organization False Shuffle Baccarat Scam. It is not clear whether they were married, romantically involved or just ruthless business partners, or some combination thereof, but what is clear is that Tran had a major role in the giant blackjack and baccarat scam that victimized dozens of casinos in the US and Canada. Part of her role may have been seducing some male dealers into participating in the scam, in addition to furnishing cash bribes to those willing to accept them. She has also pleaded guilty to a variety of criminal charges related to the scam. Her inclusion in the Casino and Poker Cheaters Hall of Fame, as Truong's, is based solely on the massive false shuffle scam, which will probably never be equalled in the annals of organized casino cheating. To read more about the inner workings of the scam, click here where it appears on my Scam of the Month Page.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Russ Hamilton

Russ Hamilton is the first person inducted into the Poker and Casino Cheaters Hall of Fame who has been famous and infamous in both the brick and mortar and online gambling worlds. In fact, he is the first person inducted into the Hall who has achieved fame as a legitimate poker player or gambler, or at least it appeared that way in 1994 when he won the 1994 World Series of Poker main event championship, defeating Hugh Vincent in heads-up play and winning $1 million in first-prize money, as well as his body weight (which was and still is quite significant) in silver. He was most well known in the gambling world for this feat and was never publicly linked to any cheating in real or online poker rooms until the fall of 2008, when he was linked to the biggest poker scandal in the history of gambling, either online or off, the huge UltimateBet online poker scandal that according to some reports ripped off online poker players to the tune of $60 million.Hamilton initially attended college and pursued a degree in electrical engineering, before a conversation with a professor led him to decide that playing poker for a living would be more profitable. After playing and dominating in several underground poker games in his native Detroit, he moved to Las Vegas at the age of 36, where he joined a tournament blackjack team and used his remarkable ability to remember cards to help the team consistently turn profits in tournaments they entered. They enjoyed quite a successful run, and it appeared that Hamilton would make his first million playing blackjack, but then suddenly blackjack tournament officials pulled out the rug and started banning blackjack pros from playing. This bad news almost knocked Hamilton out of Vegas and back to Detroit’s poker games, but he decided to remain there and try his luck against the world’s best poker players who had gathered there. Building up his bankroll playing in cash games, Hamilton naturally evolved to the big-time professional poker tournament circuit. After winning some average-sized tournaments, he made his first major score when he won the 1994 World Series of poker and the gold bracelet in addition to the million bucks. After that win, he accumulated another $500,000 or so in poker tournament winnings, but never really attained much success since the advent of the poker TV craze in the early 2000s. His lifetime tournament winnings were a bit more than $1,500,000.But Russ Hamilton was to move on to far bigger and cheater things. Since winning his World Series bracelet in 1994, Hamilton has served as a gaming industry expert, including his services as a consultant for the online poker cardroom UltimateBet, for which he was involved in recruiting some prominent poker players, including Phil Hellmuth, to promote the site. He then went on to found the Ultimate Blackjack Tour, which has been a success and aired on American CBS network TV, although it never garnered the popularity that televised Poker has. Perhaps a little of that disappointment led Hamilton to what he is currently being accused of.On September 29, 2008, the Kahnawake Gaming Commission, which to some immesaurable extent regulates online gaming in Canada, stated it had found clear and convincing evidence to support a conclusion that between the approximate dates of May 2004 to January 2008, Russ Hamilton was the main person responsible for, and benefitting from, multiple cheating incidents at UltimateBet. These cheating incidents were all concocted from inside UltimateBet itself and consisted mainly of manipulation of the site’s software to enable Hamilton (allegedly) to read online poker-player opponents’ hole cards as he played in the games under several screen names. It has been estimated the scam bilked online players out of as much as $60 million, and Hamilton got a second round of exposure from the CBS network, this time as the headlining name in the network’s TV news magazine “60 Minutes” segment about the online ultimateBet poker scandal, watched by more than 50 million people.

There has been no official indictment of Hamilton for his allegedly masterminding the scam, and there might never be.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Pierre Dugal

Pierre Dugal is certainly the person who has waited the longest for his induction into the Poker and Casino Cheaters Hall of fame. The second French citizen to be so honored (although his exploits occurred long before the first), Dugal became the first nemesis of the fabled French Gaming Police back in the early 1800s, when that unique law enforcement agency was established to combat casino crime among the royalty who gambled in Monte Carlo’s princely gaming palace, Le Grand Casino, and later on in the other Côte d’Azur beachside gaming playgrounds lining the Mediterranean. Surprising these gaming gendarmes, European royalty were found on both sides of the fence. Dukes, barons and earls could not only be found buying their “chances” at a roulette wheel but often pocketing other royal family members’ gold pieces they had furtively removed from the layout when somebody else wasn’t looking. Generals, polo players, and even a beloved princess, had all been caught tampering with spinning wheels to give themselves a little noble edge over the commoners.                          

Dugal, who had become both infamous and a celebrity as a French casino cheat, also had a second occupation. He was a carpenter who could do just about anything with or to wood. His specialty  was hiding inside ritzy French casinos with a tool box from his atelier when they closed in the early morning. He would do this by gambling on chemin de fer tables, and then just before the casino closed, he would slip into a toilet stall in the bathroom and squat atop the bowl to hide his legs when security checked to make sure no one remained inside. Then as soon as the maintenance workers finished cleaning and left the casino, Dugal would emerge from the bathroom and go to work. Alone in the darkness, he lit his torch and went to work filing down the wooden grooves on the inner disk of certain roulette wheel cylinders, which resulted in biased roulette balls preferring to land with odds-defying frequency on a few select numbers. Then he would send trusted family members into the casino the next day, including at least four different wives over the years, to play roulette on the biased wheels. Back in those days, casino security did not have sophisticated equipment to identify cheating moves or catch the cheaters, so Dugal was able to operate virtually without worry.

He got wealthy, but then problems started to surface mainly due to his womanizing and drinking. One of his wives who was jealous of one of Dugal’s girlfriends, who soon became another of Dugal’s wives, blew the whistle on Dugal’s scheme to the French Gaming Police. Dugal got busted, then went broke, then got divorced, served time in jail, got released, got married again, filed down more French roulette wheels for his new wife, who eventually learned of a new girlfriend (who would become yet another new wife) and turned him in to the French Gaming Police, who threw him in jail again. The cycle repeated itself three more times before Dugal finally died broke and divorced in a French Riviera prison. The grand irony of it all was that his final prison cell was made of wood, and Duvall could not figure out how to file his way out of the wooden cell.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Deborah "Debbie" Heidekrueger

Deborah "Debbie" Heidekrueger is the fourth woman inducted into the Poker and Casino Cheats Hall of Fame. The longtime wife of professional tournament poker player David "Rabbi" Danheiser, Debbie was born in Chicago in 1951 and moved out to Las Vegas, Nevada in the late 1980s after having been found guilty of a financial crime by an Illinois court. As a recent arrival to Sin City, Heidekrueger did not waste much time learning the trade of cheating at gambling. She began as a poker cheat working collusion teams on Vegas's and Reno's poker tables before taking her act to the Caribbean and finally Atlantic City when the New Jersey gambling town legalized casino poker in the early 90s.

Heidekrueger seemed destined to remain a lifelong poker cheat but then in 1992 she met Mark "Balls" Abramowitz during a poker collusion cheat trip in Aruba. Abramowitz, also a Cheating Hall of Fame inductee, was at the island resort working the blackjack and craps tables. He also played poker on the square whenever he took breaks from cheating the casinos. It was in one of these cash games that he caught on to Heidekrueger's collusion team working the game he was playing in. Balls found the heavyset blond woman interesting and decided to approach her.

The two quickly formed an amicable relationship, and Balls even more quickly suggested to Heidekrueger that she join his own cheat team as a claimer. His reasoning was in direct contrast to the usual beautiful female casino cheat who could play on male casino bosses' egos to get the money off the tables. He figured, Who would ever suspect a very large woman to be a casino cheat?

He was right! After instilling confidence in a very shaky Heidekrueger, he managed to get her to claim some roulette pastposts he put in on the wheels. But this did not come easy. In one particular scenario with a black $100 chip successfully pastposted straight-up on a number waiting for a $3,500 payoff, Debbie froze up on the claim. An enterprizing guy wearing a ball cap who had absolutely nothing to do with the move took advantage when a pit boss came over to the roulette wheel and asked whose $100 chip was sitting on the winning number. The casino ended up paying the guy the $3,500 that Heidekrueger whould have been paid had she opened up her mouth.

But Balls did not give up on her. After a year of her successful roulette claiming he decided it was time to teach her the blackjack ten-oh-five move. Although she did not have the smooth buttery fingers and hands that most casino-cheat mechanics have, she managed to learn the basics of the move--and then developed the balls to lay it in and claim it all by herself. Her first successful lay and claim of a blackjack pastpost took place at the Tropicana casino in Las Vegas in 1993. From there it was smooth sailing for the large female pastposter. She really took off when the new MGM Grand opened in Vegas in early 1993. During several championship boxing matches staged there, including those featuring George Foreman, Heidekrueger TKO'd the tables, perforing more than a hundred ten-oh-fives and fifty two-thousand-twenty-fives (yellow $1,000 chips switched in for green $25 chips) at the MGM Grand alone. She hit other Strip casinos in Vegas and then Balls took her on the road to Atlantic City, the Caribbean and Europe. Heidekrueger became the most successful female blackjack mechanic in history, substituting matronly charm for a lack of sex appeal to workover the pit bosses who just loved paying her pastposts.

But then she got greedy. During the Memorial Day weekend of 1993, Heidekrueger went to Lake Tahoe by herself to bail out her husband who owed a lot of money from poker loans. Despite her skills on the blackjack tables, Debbie did not have enough experience and overall casino knowledge to protect her own ass while cheating casinos. She got busted at Caesars Tahoe doing a blackjack move and ended up spending six months in the Douglas County jail. She gave up casino cheating for six years but then returned to it when Balls showed her the famed Savannah move that he'd learned from Hall of Fame casino cheat Richard Marcus. Ironically, Debbie got caught doing the Savannah at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas and got taken to the security back room. However, she did not get arrested due to a lack of evidence. After that incident, Heidekrueger recruited several inexperienced casino people, mostly women and ex-dealers, whom she tried to teach the Savannah. After having limited success with her associates, Heidekrueger retired from casino cheating in the year 2000. Currently she sweats the poker action of her husband David "Rabbi" Danheiser.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Fabrizio Renzi

Fabrizio Renzi was born with casino cheating in his blood--literally! His father, Armando Renzi, was a casino cheat, and so was his grandfather, Vittorio Renzi--and so were a dozen uncles and aunts. Getting the picture? Fabrizio Renzi came from a long line of casino cheats whose specialty was, and still is, roulette pastposting. Fabrizio was born in 1949 in Palermo, Italy. As is customary in Italian familes living on the island of Sicily, the son followed in the father's and grandfather's footsteps. Veterans on the European casino-cheating turf, especially that of Monaco and throughout France, Armando and Vittorio taught young Fabrizio in the roulette-wheel trenches. You might say he learned with an iron hand--and he learned well. Before too long he became both a proficient wheel mechanic and claimer. He was also a charmer, probably the most charming casino cheat of all time. In fact, he was so charming that he used these abilities to seduce heterosexual male casino bosses into paying his pastposts without suspicion.

Unlike his father and grandfather, Fabrizio was very cultured and well-spoken--in several languages. After learning the bread and butter move of the family's casino-cheating arsenal, the roulette slide, Fabrizio perfected it at about the same time he took over the Renzi pastposting team upon Armando's retirement. That roulette move is considered the second greatest chip-manipulation casino move after Richard Marcus's heralded Savannah move.

The roulette slide was developed by Vittorio in the 1950s, improved substantially by Armando in the 60s and taken to the hilt and internationalized by Fabrizio in the 70s, 80s and 90s. It is still being done by Fabrizio's son, Luigi, who we might one day see in the Casino Cheats Hall of Fame as well. The beauty of the roulette slide move was that it allowed longtime exposure at roulette tables without taking heat. It was that ultimate rare move that could be done time and again on the same roulette table, often amassing a dozen or more payoffs there before the Italian cheat team moved on--often to another table inside the same casino. When Richard Marcus ran into Fabrizio's team in 1977 at Harrah's Casino in Lake Tahoe, Nevada, he saw their move but could not quite figure it out at first glance. Nor could he figure it out at second, third, fourth or fifth glance. It actually took Marcus 15 years of intermittent spying on the Renzi cheat team to figure out exactly what the slide move was. When he did, he was impressed more by this move than any other move he had ever seen or heard about. Over the years he would run into Fabrizio and his team and spy on them whenever he could. He marvelled at their slide move each time he saw it. When the two teams were aware of each other's presence in the same casino location, they would draw up a truce, dividing up that area's casinos: "these for the Renzi team, those for the Marcus/Classon team."

Fabrizio Renzi retired in 2002, leaving the "family business" to his son Luigi. What his legacy in the casino-cheating world is most recognized for is the carrying out of a move that literally withstands the passage of time. Despite modern casinos' state of the art surveillance systems equipped with digital cameras and highly developed software technology, Fabrizio Renzi proved (and his son Luigi still proves) that the hand is always quicker than the eye--and the camera. No matter how much surveillance technology improves in the coming decades, it will never stop the Renzi's famed move from cheating the world's casinos out of millions.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Ruthie Berin

Ruthie Berin (not her real name or face but close!) is the fifth woman inducted into the Poker Cheats and Casino Cheats Hall of Fame. She is also the first Hollywood actress to receive the honor. In fact, had she not been a casino cheat, she might never have become a Hollywood Actress, as you will soon read.

Ruthie was born in the Midwest in the 1940s. She grew into a wholesome American beauty who gave up working on her family's farm at seventeen to become a model and dancer. In 1964 she moved out to Las Vegas and joined the Lido extravaganza at the Stardust Hotel and Casino. She quickly became one of the show's best dancers and main attractions. One night after the show she met Hall of Fame Casino Cheat Joe Classon at a Strip saloon. She was intrigued by Classon's strong personality and good looks and accepted a date with him. When she found out that Joe had his own Strip extravaganza, mainly scooting in and around casinos and then out with loads of pilfered cash, Ruthie quickly advised Joe that she might be able to pirouette around casinos and come out with the cash as well.

Joe loved the idea of having a beautiful and charismatic woman claiming casino cheat moves, especially at roulette tables where most women gamblers spent their time and money inside casinos. He knew that Ruthie would be able to charm the pants of pit bosses who would all be willing to pay her claims on pastposted roulette bets. As Vegas casinos in the 60s were completely dominated by male bosses with big egos, Ruthie would slither up to them in the pits doing a Marilyn Monroe swirling-dress number each time she noticed their hesitation to authorize the dealers to pay her claims. She would whisper into their ears with her hot breath, practically promising sex to the enraptured bosses when her evening of gambling was done.

Of course they paid her nearly every time and of course she never delivered the sex. She just blew them kisses as she danced around roulette pits collecting $3,500 and $7,000 payoffs.

Ruthie became so enamored of her "new" Vegas dance show that she quit the Lido at the Stardust. Besides, she was making more money claiming Joe's pastposts. She was so good that Joe brought her to the craps tables, where women usually stayed on the arms of high rollers, and had her claim craps moves. The stickmen and boxmen on the craps tables couldn't get enough of her. She was admired by casino personnel much the way Sharon Stone's hustling character was in the film "Casino."

And "film" was her ultimate destiny, much to the chagrin of Joe Classon. New Year's Eve, 1967 at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas marked the beginning of Ruthie's acting career. Joe Classon had just pastposted two $100 chips on number 13 after the ball on the spinning roulette wheel dropped into that corresponding number slot. Ruthie, ravishing as usual, decked-out in her revealing cocktail dress, danced and sang her way to the $7,000 payoff. The pit boss who authorized the payoff surely thought he was gonna start the new year off with a "bang" after Ruthie hugged and kissed him.

Unbeknownst to Ruthie and Joe, a successful Hollywood movie producer was sitting at that roulette table when the move and claim went down. He happened to be an experienced gambler as well, and he saw Joe pop in the move and understood immediately that Ruthie was his partner "acting out" the claim. The producer was quite taken aback by her performance and said to her, "Where have you been all my life?" He gave her his business card and told her to call him the following morning in Hollywood. She did, and that very afternoon flew to L.A. and had lunch with him. That evening, she called Joe back in Vegas and told him both their relationship and her casino-cheating career were over.

13 really proved to be Joe Classon's unlucky number.

Ruthie went on to become an internationally-known movie actress in the 1970s, although she was never quite a top star. Of course "Ruthie Berin" is not her Hollywood name and of course you want to know exactly who she really is. Sorry, but that information cannot be given out for reasons of potential libel lawsuits--unless Ruthie one day gives permission to make her pre-Hollywood career known.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Keith Taft

Keith Taft was a real-life "Inspector Gadget" character, a true genius who spent three decades developing and perfecting electronic devices to cheat US casinos. He began working with casino computers with his son, Marty Taft, back in the late 60s. Today he is believed to be the first casino or poker cheat to develop a computer that captured digital video the way today's microcomputers are processing data filmed in false-shuffle and other baccarat and blackjack cheat scams.

While vacationing in the Bahamas in the 60s, Taft got interested in Edward O. Thorp's famous blackjack card-counting book "Beat the Dealer." In fact, he quickly became obsessed by it. However, he did not make any money counting cards at blackjack using Thorp's plus-minus count system.

Thus he turned his attention to developing computers to beat the blackjack tables. His first and now famous invention was a 5-kilo computer that he called "George." He used it to enter data while counting cards at blackjack, using his toes to enter the data to the prototype computer he had tucked underneath his baggy shirt. He later decided that George was a bit unwieldy and developed a lighter device that he called "David."

Taft had immediate success with David, beating Vegas casinos out of fifty grand in the first two weeks of operation. made $40,000 the first week he used it. After taking some heat in casinos, Taft decided he would do better by selling his minicomputers based on the David prototype for ten or fifteen grand apiece, which included his training of the buyers.

This decision Taft made after being grabbed up in a casino and taken to the back room, where he was interrogated by Nevada Gaming Control Board agents as well as the FBI. But neither law enforcement agency had the slightest idea of what the microcomputer actually was and failed to make any legal connection to casino cheating that they could use in court, therefore Taft was releaed.

Another casino.cheating computer deeloped by Taft´s sons Marty and Keith was called the "belly-telly." This was a small video camera they fitted into their belts and could film the dealer's hole-card at blackjack. The image was then transmitted to their cheating partners sitting in a van at the casino's parking lot. These cohorts would then send a signal back to the cheating blackjack players at the table, identifying the value of the hole card.

Yet another electronic gismo invented by Taft and his sons was the "Thor" computer, which could track the positions of cards in a multiple-deck shuffle. This was the first casino-cheat invention that directly led to today's high-tech video-reader devices that are used in blackjack and baccarat shuffle-tracking scams, which are currently costing casinos worldwide millions, especially in Macau.

In 1986, the Nevada Gaming Commission created a law making it illegal to use any electronic devices whatsoever in gaming casinos, which today is a felony punishable by up to ten years in prison.

A true casino-cheating pioneer, Keith Taft was also inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame in 2004.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Ida Summers

Most woman casino cheats are used as diversions to get the attention of male pit bosses away from the table layout where the cheat move goes down, but With Ida Summers, who was one hot babe in her day, the male attention could be right on her when she made those cheat moves. Later known as the Vegas Vixen, she was a master at cunning, quickness (at the casino blackjack table, I don't know about in bed) and getting the money off the table. She was one of the early Nevada female pioneer casino cheats.

Her cheat gig was first "hand-mucking" cards at blackjack tables and then later switching in entire "coolers" (blackjack shoes filled with prearranged cards to cheat the house) at those same blackjack tables. Hand mucking is the art of hiding a card (usually by palming) that has been snuck to the table before the play of a hand or taken off the table after it had been put into play by the dealer. Then with a quick sleight-of-hand movement the mucked card is either returned to play or taken off the table by the card-mucker, all in accordance with whether the cheat needs the card in his or her hand or back in the deck.

Ida Summers used all her beauty and talent to pull of these card swithces.

In addition to her good-looks, she was very flirtatious and very socialable, much like fellow Hall of "Famestress" Ruthie Berin. She was also quite petite, five-feet-two and less than a hundred pounds. This petiteness appealed greatly to the macho pit bosses of her day. She played them on her charm as she expertly and effortlessly switched cards in and out of decks.

But Ida took her cheating to the hilt. Uninspired by the ease of hand-mucking cards, she stepped up her craft to switching entire coolers into play. These are also called "cold decks" that are already prearranged to make the involved players at the table winners on as many hands they want. Some losing hands may be placed between the winners just to make the scam look more believable. After all, a player winning every hand, even if it be a beautiful woman, would surely raise suspicions in even the most distracted pit boss.

What made this move so bold was that the original card show on the table had to be physically lifted off the layout while the cooler was slipped into its spot, all in a split second. AND the shoe taken off the table had to be hidden from everyone's view. Ida managed this by placing that original shoe on her lap and then passing it off to a male cohort standing behind her at the first opportune moment. Then she would leave the table herself while other cohorts would begin playing the hands the dealer dealt from the cooler. The idea was that if they were caught, they would never catch Ida with the removed card shoe at the table.

In spite of this, gaming commission officials in Las Vegas, working in conjunction with the FBI, eventually caught Ida and her casino cheat partners, but they must have been very impressed with her skills and looks as well: she received but probation for her trouble.

At the time of her exploits and arrest, Ida Summers was the only known professional female casino cheat, which made her a true legend in casino cheating and underworld lore.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Phil Ivey

There has been quite the debate about whether or not Phil Ivey should be inducted into the Casino Cheats Hall of Fame, mainly because the voting members had not been able to come up with a majority verdict as to define “edge-sorting” as actual cheating. So the result, for the first time in the history of the infamous cheat institution, we had a hung casino-cheating jury.

But now the vote is in—and it unambiguously defines edge-sorting as casino cheating, and therefore Ivey as a MAJOR casino cheat, perhaps the biggest cheat-earner in the history of gambling casinos. By some estimates, Ivey and his foxy edge-sorting Asian female partner known as “Sun” cheated casinos in the US and UK out of $30 to $40 million. Their main victims were Crockfords Club in London and the Borgata in Atlantic City.

Edge-sorting is a very clever cheat scam. By noting defects in Gemaco playing cards that were used in these casinos, mainly due to the years of diligent studying by Sun, Ivey was able to determine that when the cards were oriented in certain positions, some of the values of key cards favorable to baccarat players could be detected, much the way marked-cards give off their value to cheats “in the blind.” By using his celebrity status to coax dealers and supervisors in the baccarat games to orientate the cards to his liking, Ivey had a big advantage in knowing the value of the first card he would receive to his baccarat hand. In some casinos he was allowed to bet after all four initial cards were already drawn face-down from the shoe, allowing him to see all four backs of the cards, increasing his advantage. 

The cheating act is defined by Ivey’s premeditated disturbance of proper dealing procedure in order to gain and preserve his dishonest edge against the casinos, which is clearly cheating and not the advanced advantage-play tactic that Ivey is using as a defense in several lawsuits going on against him.

The Hall’s Induction Committee greatly appreciates the ingenuity and the boldness in carrying out this edge-sorting scam, and clearly considers it as one of the best casino-cheat scams of all-time--if not the best.

Phil Ivey was born in 1976 and grew up in New Jersey, where he worked as a grocery store clerk before taking his shot as a professional poker player. That shot would earn him tens of millions of dollars and make him arguably the best tournament poker player of all-time. He is also a grand master of cash games, and speaking of cheating, it has been alleged that Ivey is also a poker cheat who took part in huge cash-game collusion rings that beat wealthy recreational poker players for vast sums of money.

Despite all the poker cheating allegations and edge-sorting card scandals, Ivey has never been arrested or charged with any casino-crime, and likely never will be.


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Cheaters Hall of Fame

Cheung Yin Sun

"Kelly" Cheung Yin Sun is probably the only person ever inducted into the Casino Cheats Hall of Fame who was born a multi-millionaire. This is true because her father was a megarich factory owner in Hong Kong. In fact, Sun claims to have lost $20 million of her father's money in casinos while still in her early twenties. She has said the gambling losses did not bother her a bit. Some gamblers, like Hall of Fame casino cheat Richard Marcus, got into cheating to recover gambling losses. But another type of gambling-related incident propelled the young Chinese woman into casino cheating.

Back in her legit gamblng days, Cheung Yin Sun incurred $93,000 in markers from the MGM Grand Casino, losing the money at baccarat. She did not repay the markers in timely fashion, so the MGM pressed charges and had her thrown in jail for three weeks, where she recounts having suffered a horrible experience.

And she vowed revenge against the MGM Grand. She would exact this revenge against all MGM properties.

So Sun started out with two casino facts she knew she could use to her advantage. The first was that casinos consider Chinese gamblers to be reckless. The second was that they consider Chinese gamblers to be extremely superstitious. Then she set out to discover the means to combine these facts with the cheating technique that would not only pay back the MGM for her jail time but also make her tens of millions of dollars.

Thus came her complete immmersion into edge-sorting, a technique whereby the cheat recognizes tiny assymmetries on the backs of playing cards that are virtually invisible to everyone else not keenly attuned to seeing them. She bought packs and packs of discarded casino cards and spent years studying their backs, and eventually noticed these tiny assymmetries along the criss-crossed patterns on the edges of the cards. And luckily for her, the same card-manufacturing company that produced these cards was the supplier to many of the world's top casinos.

She immediately recognized that the game of baccarat was the perfect target for her edge-sorting cheat scam. It was easily the favorite game of wild Chinese gamblers who often exhibited their bouts of superstition at the high-stakes tables. She put together an edge-sorting team and started at the Aria Casino in Las Vegas, where she convinced the casino bosses to allow their dealers to alter their dealing procedure so that Sun could differentiate the high cards from the low cards and bet on the hands that she knew contained 7s, 8s and 9s, the key baccarat cards.

Sun and her cohorts had the dealers turn the high cards from one shoe 180 degrees so that their compromised edges would be opposite the low cards on the following shoe, provided the dealers used the same shoe, which of course they did when Sun claimed she was superstitious about staying with the same cards.

What blew this scam into a $30 million winfall was the recruitment of her star cohort, none other than the champion poker player Phil Ivey, a big gambler himself. Ivey used his celebrity to entice casino management to allow him more leeway in the deal of the game, which further facilitated accurate reading of the cards' edges. Sun and Ivey travelled the world edge-sorting the crap out of casinos, hauling in more than $10 million alone from both Crockfords Casino in London and the Borgata Casino in Atlantic city. It is estimated that they raked in another $10 million worldwide.

But it all fell apart when a floor inspector at Crockfords mentioned to his suspicious superiors that his grandfather had once shown him a card trick whereby he showed his grandson how he could identify cards picked out of a deck face down by tiny imperfections on their back designs. The casino soon realized what had hit them and word then got out to the Borgata, and before long courts on both sides of the Atlantic staged lawsuits and countersuits which resulted in Sun and Ivey having to give back the majority of their winnings to casinos, and in the case of Crockfords, who'd withheld the profits from Sun and Ivey, the courts decided that the casino did not have to pay out their winnings.

This edge-sorting scam may be the best casino-cheat scam in history, simply because it is not considered an illegal act even though the courts ruled in favor of the casinos. The scam itself had been around for years before Sun took it to the next level, but casino operators failed to heed warnings they received about it. Had it not been for that floor inspector and his grandfather, who knows how much Sun and Ivey could have made from this incredible but simple technique of bilking the world's casinos.


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