When Cheaters Take Card Marking to the Next Level

Cheating has been around since before there were even casinos, and it has evolved drastically ever since. When trying to beat an opponent or a casino at Poker, Blackjack or Punto Banco, card marking is one of the oldest tricks in the book.

Security measures are constantly being updated, but cheaters are becoming increasingly inventive.

Here are three card marking stories that have made the news these past years …

card marking

#1: Berlin police find radioactive iodine on playing cards

This story began a few weeks ago with normal checks taking place on a truck at a rubbish processing facility. Increased levels of radiation were discovered, which led to an immediate investigation of the source. Police were able to pinpoint the source as being 13 playing cards mixed in with the waste, which they were able to track to a restaurant in the German capital.

The restaurant had no gambling licence, but apparently the cards were coated in iodine-125 which players could pick up with a radiation testing device. The owner of the restaurant, a  41-year-old woman is currently the prime suspect.

Police said that Iodine-125 only poses a health risk through direct contact with no protection. The element is commonly used for medical purposes.

#2: Teaming up with the only card manufacturer in the country

When you have cornered the market in playing cards in an entire country, certain underhanded opportunities become available. This thought had clearly occurred to a playing card manufacturer in South Africa, which began producing marked cards and distributing them to local casinos. The company was the sole card supplier to all 22 of South Africa’s casinos and others in southern Africa for more than a decade.

Caesar’s Casino in Johannesburg were alarmed to find their Blackjack profits had fallen by 11% over a three-week period, and soon began to investigate the reason.

They soon found a tiny blank spot on a floral design on the backs of their playing cards – but only on the high value cards. The fault was traced to the manufacturers, who it seems, had been selling this information to local gamblers.

Over a year the equivalent losses across the whole industry would have reached some $10m.

#3: Shameful end to the career of mythical poker player

The gambling career of Archie Karas will always be known for one insane hot streak, but his remarkable story has in recent times reached a sad and dishonest conclusion. The legendary gambler pleaded guilty in 2014 to card marking while gambling in San Diego. Video surveillance caught Karas in the act, and further investigation of his home led to the discovery of a substance he had been using to mark the backs of high value cards while playing at a Blackjack table. He was sentenced to three years probation, and had to give back the $6,850 he had made during the scam.

Archie Karas is famous for the largest documented winning streak in casino history, simply known as The Run, in which he turned a $50 into more than $40 million.

The Run – Full Story


Article by Craig Bradshaw