Baccarat Scam Hits Melbourne’s Crown Casino

Baccarat is one of the glitziest and most glamorous games you can play at any casino. As the game of choice for James Bond, baccarat has become the go-to game for high rollers around the globe with hundreds of thousands of dollars changing hands sometimes in just a single round of cards. Unfortunately, the allure of a massive payday is a bit too tempting for gamblers and some even try to tip the tables in their favor. A group of Chinese gamblers have been caught doing just this at the Crown Casino in Melbourne. Three scammers cut the dealer in on their winnings for signaling the which cards were coming next, so they could fix the game and win big.

58 Hours of Table Time

Between March and May last year, the group worked tables for a total of 58 hours according to the court hearing. In that time, the group managed to win a whopping A$431,000. Michael Huo – a baccarat dealer at the casino – was hired by the group to tell them exactly what cards were coming next so they could place winning bets.

When the casino checked footage of the most recent big winners, it noticed “suspicious card handling” at Huo’s table and decided to inspect further. Following a full investigation, the group was charged with dealing in the proceeds of crime. One of the group members was sentenced to pay A$500 to a gambling addicts association as penance for the crime. The sentences for the remaining players have yet to be decided.

So, Why Baccarat?

If you’re going to rope the dealer in on a scam, one of the easiest games to do it with would be baccarat. There is no external influence on the game, and the dealer simply draws cards according to the rules of play. This gives the dealer plenty of time to peak at the cards, or even count them. Tables have a limited number of seats and to get into these high-roller rooms you need a fair amount of cash, meaning they are discreet from the prying eyes of bystanders on the open casino floor.

How Simple is Baccarat?

Unless you’re the dealer, baccarat is incredibly simple and can be played by a total novice. All you have to do as a player is pick which outcome you think will happen – banker hand wins, player hand wins, or tie. Baccarat has one of the lowest house edges too, meaning there is less chance of losing all your cash to the house across a game session. It’s likely that for these reasons the group chose baccarat.

This sort of scam is a far cry from the card counting operations that routinely happens in Las Vegas on high stakes games, but the group is likely to be banned from every casino in the world after this debacle. Archie Karas is famed for his blackjack scam, whereby he marked high-value cards with ink. While this group’s scam isn’t quite anywhere near Karas’ caliber of scam, it will certainly go down in the history books.