Blackjack Casino Scams

Blackjack scamsWhile card counting might be legal, many have gone well beyond the line and attempted high stakes scams to rip off casinos while playing blackjack and other casino games. On this page we'll take a look at some of the most famous scams of all time, see how the scam worked, find out what was stolen and see how they got caught.

Tran Organization's $7 Million Scam

Perhaps the most famous network of thieves, the Tran Organization developed a scam that allowed their team to walk away with just under a million dollars per hit and at their height, a grand total of over $7 million USD. It all began in San Diego back in 2002, when a dealer was caught performing a mechanic's trick known as a false shuffle, pretending to shuffle the deck while actually keeping them in the order in which they were dealt, that tipped off a multi-year FBI sting.

Those people within the ring would play at a dirty dealer's table and could track the order of the cards and know exactly how to bet. The ringleader, Phuong Truong, would recruit dealers and jump from casino to casino and even from game to game, including baccarat with his group. The team used sophisticated hidden microphones with a tracker, watching the order of the cards. A team member would call out signals for players to make correct moves at any given point in play. The team developed signals and more sophisticated methods of cheating as their greed grew.

Eventually, Truong purportedly started to short-change dealers who then decided to turn against him and become FBI informants. The United States government used undercover agents to make inroads with Truong directly to gather more damning evidence. Eventually, Truong and his team were arrested in 2007 in San Diego. He pled guilty and was sentenced to 70 months in prison and ordered to pay back millions to casinos and the government.

Richard Marcus, Shady Blackjack Player

Richard Marcus was a failure as a professional gambler and took up a job, as most failed gamblers do, as a dealer in Las Vegas. While working on the other side of the table, Marcus figured out a way to scam casinos out of money and ended up making millions, based on a sleight of hand trick. After his shift, he would go to a different casino and sit at blackjack tables. There, he would place two red $5 chips on top of one $500 chip.

Marcus would place the bet so that through the eyes of the dealer, it would only appear to be a $15 bet with three red chips. If he won, Marcus would inform the dealer of the size of the bet and pocket over a grand, but if he lost, he would wait until the dealer looked away and replace the $510 with the expected $15 in chips. This scam worked for years, until Marcus was caught and prosecuted. While he's banned from casinos, he acts as a mentor to other cheaters and operates a popular blog while authoring books on the subject of cheating casinos.

Mark "Balls" Abromowitz

A disciple of Richard Marcus, Abromowitz took the "pastposting" scam to a whole new level, to the tune of using $5,000 chips instead of $500 chips. The two worked as a team, as Marcus would ask for the time while Abromowitz would make the switch. They claimed to have successfully pulled off, along with another partner, 151 moves in a row without missing a single switch. Balls Abromovitz retired in the year 2003 and purportedly left the casino cheating business for good.

Caesars Palace Blackjack Fraud Ring

Some of the best heists in history have involved people "on the inside" to help scam artists pull off the job. In 1999, Caesar's Palace in South Africa was the target of a blackjack fraud ring. These players pulled money off of tables thanks to dealers that were in on the scam, who would place subtle markings on high cards. The heist was blown when a regular casino patron noticed that the high cards in the deck had been marked, making all players aware of those markings the ability to play perfect blackjack. Thanks to the honest player, those in the ring were arrested.