Phuong Quoc Truong and his "Tran Organization" unlawfully obtained up to $7 million by cheating casinos during card games by bribing the dealers into false shuffling and having pit bosses look the other way while they cheated.
Truong and others were using what card cheats call shuffle tracking.
Shuffle tracking is when a cheater follows a group of cards. After a round of play is finished, the cards are turned face up by the players and then gathered up by the dealer, put back into the deck and shuffled. Most shuffles are not perfect, so a cheat can follow the cards through the deck and predict where they are likely to appear.
There are different types of shuffle tracking:
- In Zone Tracking, the tracker looks for zones of high cards, follows them through the deck and bets when they are likely to appear.
- In a Key Card Location, the tracker follows a specific card, which is followed by other cards. When he sees his Key Card, he knows the other card or cards are likely to appear.
- In Sequential Tracking, which is what the Tran Organization was using, the tracker records all the cards picked up by the dealer, usually with the help of a secret computer. Since the dealer has also been bribed, the dealer picks up the cards in a certain order so the cards will create a small "stack" or "slug" of cards whose order is known. The dealer then shuffles the cards, but does a false shuffle so that the small group of cards is not disturbed. When this "slug" of cards is dealt out to the players, a cheat now knows who will get what card, and can bet accordingly, sometimes with the help of a computer which tracks what hands are best.
Tran was sentenced to 70 months in prison. He must also forfeit $2,791,146 and to pay $5,753,416 in restitution.
The U. S. Department of Justice Indictment>>
How did this affect others? See The Casino, the Mayor's Son, and the Shuffle That May Have Suckered Them Both from Seattle Weekly>>
Want to learn shuffle tracking? See Blackbelt in Blackjack: Playing 21 as a Martial Art by Arnold Snyder>>