Baccarat lends itself to cheating because of the traditions surrounding the game. Baccarat is traditionally a high roller casino game, thanks to high betting limits and the higher class of casino gambler that plays the game. Baccarat is not as popular in American casinos as it is in Europe or in Asia, but baccarat games in Las Vegas are just as vulnerable to cheating as in other casinos, maybe more so thanks to the downturn in the economy and the desire of Vegas casinos to offer high baccarat limits to high rollers for larger profits.
What makes baccarat vulnerable to cheating is the high limits in high roller games, with wagers starting as much as $100,000 per hand at luxury Vegas casinos. Baccarat, as the preferred game of whales, tends to look the other way when gamblers want to participate in ridiculous traditions and superstitions. Casino employees tell stories of baccarat players tearing up cards when they lose, screaming at the dealers and other gamblers, and acting in a way that wouldn’t be tolerated at other casino games.
For the most part, the superstitious and childish behavior of baccarat high rollers doesn’t go unnoticed by security employees. Casino security watches tables, even when gamblers are dropping big numbers on hands. The downturn in the economy hasn’t just given cheats a reason to try to steal from the casino. It has forced casino security to pay special attention to gambling tables that offer large bet amounts. In other words, casinos know that people are out to steal, and they are capable of tracking all the action at their baccarat tables.
Baccarat is a high-limit game with simple rules and no strategy to speak of, which makes it more vulnerable to cheating than more complex games.
The San Diego-based Tran cheating group was responsible for the single largest instance of casino cheating, reportedly stealing as much as $15 million from American casinos at the baccarat tables. This organization cheated baccarat games for years until the FBI arrested most of the group back in 2007.
They pulled this of with a combination of dealer bribing and using hidden cameras to gain an edge at the baccarat table. Dealers were bribed to falsely shuffle the cards at the baccarat table, leaving the game open for cheating and manipulation.
Once the dealer manipulated the deck, members of the organization would watch the cards move through the game, then tell their cheating partners about the advantageous arrangement of unshuffled cards, so they knew when and how to bet. When you know the outcome of the hands in baccarat before wagering, you can stack huge bets without fear of losing.
In card games like blackjack, gamblers have the choice of getting more cards or not. In baccarat, the rules of the game require players to draw a third card under certain game conditions. This helps cheaters if they know the order of cards in the deck due to dealer shuffling manipulation.
The Cutters Baccarat Cheats
Recently, a group of Asian baccarat players, called “The Cutters” by casino security, have been caught using high-tech methods to cheat high limit baccarat games. According to casino security employees, The Cutters would put seven or eight baccarat cheaters in a gambling jurisdiction at once, hitting one casino after the other.
The Cutters use one person with a hidden camera at a high-limit baccarat table to cut the deck and let the camera view the order of the cards. The recording of the sequence of the cards is then sent to another member of the cheating team, usually in the restroom analyzing the card sequence to gain an advantage. The group also reportedly uses their own software programs to record and analyze the order of cards to give them an advantage in future deals.
When cheaters work together in a group and practice their cheating ahead of time, it can be difficult to catch them in the act. Hidden camera technology has increased to the point that these cameras can be concealed in such a way that casino security is less likely to find them. Working in groups also makes it difficult to catch all the cheaters at once; if one member of a cheating ring is caught, he is simply replaced and the cheaters move onto a different set of casinos.
Other Baccarat Cheats
Not all baccarat cheating involves bribing dealers and learning the order of cards. Simpler baccarat cheats like hiding cards in your sleeve or trading cards under the table with cheating partners are also common ways of increasing profits through cheating. Like any card game, baccarat cheats often mark cards before they go back into the shoe, so that they know when a particular card is about to appear.
Baccarat is vulnerable to cheating because of high limits traditionally offered at luxury casinos. Baccarat has an air of sophistication about it, and baccarat dealers and other casino employees tend to let gamblers get away with antics that other table games wouldn’t allow. Since baccarat bets can go up into the six figures and even higher, the profits available to cheaters are extremely high. As long as baccarat tables offer top-end betting limits, and as long as dealers are vulnerable to bribing, baccarat cheating will be a part of casino gambling.