Cheat at blackjack
Cheat at blackjack

Bill Zender, a Las Vegas casino security consultant, believes that baccarat cheating is on the rise, and may soon overcome blackjack as the card cheater’s game of choice.

The mathematical nature of blackjack card games appeals to cheaters who use mechanical and electronic devices to help them count cards and stay a step ahead of the dealer. But cheating at blackjack is complicated, and usually requires strong math skills to pull off.

Baccarat draws cheaters for other reasons. It’s a game with simple rules and few strategy decisions to complicate things. Baccarat tables often have high limits, making them ripe for the picking. Because baccarat is a much simpler game than blackjack, baccarat cheating tends to be less mathematical and more technical.

In a recent video demonstration given to security officers at the Tuscany Casino in Vegas, Zender showed off some of the devices that are being used to cheat at baccarat in Cambodia. Most are mechanical card switchers – small concealed devices that let players quickly and secretly swap bad cards for good cards. This sort of card-switching equipment requires cheaters to steal high-value cards from various casinos, but that has not stopped them from growing in popularity across Asia.

While Cambodia is far from Las Vegas, Zender warns local casino operators that these cheating devices are making their way to the US.

While the famous MIT Blackjack Team made headlines in the early 90s for taking Vegas casinos for hundreds of thousands of dollars using a complicated blackjack card counting system, the largest casino cheating ring in US history actually involved baccarat. A team called the Tran Organization took dozens of casinos across 10 states for some $15 million by cheating at baccarat before they were shut down by the FBI in 2007.

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