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Two Years In Prison For Using Infrared Contact Lenses To Cheat At Poker

Soulskill posted 1 year,26 days | from the somebody-warn-levar-burton dept.

Crime 320

dmfinn writes "It was back in 2011 when Stefano Ampollini and two accomplices cheated a French casino out of over €90,000 thanks to the help of Chinese-made infrared contact lenses. According to French authorities, Ampollini and two casino workers marked cards using an invisible liquid that would be picked up by the infrared lenses, which Ampollini then used to read his competitors' cards. Though the contacts themselves cost over €2,000, the crew managed to take €71,000 in their first night. However, the trio was finally caught when a lawyer working for the casino became suspicious after Ampollini folded with an unbelievably good hand, which suggested he knew the croupier's cards. This week, a French court sentenced Ampollini to two years in prison and a €100,000 fine. His main accomplice was handed an even harsher sentence; he was forced to pay the same fine and given a 36-month sentence. It appears, despite their best efforts and advanced tactics, that the men were still unable to beat the house without raising significant alarms. So, at least for now, it seems modern technology still can't simulate good old 'luck.'"

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They were greedy (5, Insightful)

bartron (772079) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983703)

Be greedy and you raise suspicion. If you have a hand that you would consider a winning hand under normal circumstances then you play it, regardless if you know you will lose. Start doing impossible or improbable moves and you may as well be wearing a huge neon arrow sign on your head.

Re:They were greedy (5, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983957)

The only surprising thing in this story is that casinos don't have infra-red cameras.

Re:They were greedy (1)

thegarbz (1787294) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984197)

Which would bring them what precisely?

Casinos are well lit and have thousands of cameras viewing the floors from different angles. What benefit would it bring them to drop back to black and white where the only practical gain would be they can see in the dark? And if they did have IR cameras would they have sufficient resolution to detect a small dot on the back of a card?

Re:They were greedy (5, Insightful)

Tom (822) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984081)

This. Every cheater knows that to stay undetected, you can't win too often. Even aimbots quickly included code to intentionally miss a shot every now and then.

There are only two ways to get away with stealing money at a casino. One is to remain within the margin if probability - appear to be lucky, but not impossibly lucky. Either win some, lose some, with a total just slightly in your favour, or lose mostly, but then get the jackpot and stop playing after that. Make it a huge thing. Celebrate, rent a limo, marry a stranger, whatever. Don't pocket it and vanish, that'll be crazy suspicious.

Oh, the second way. That is, of course, to own the casino.

Re:They were greedy (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984089)

Nonsense. It's easy to monitor cheats, you certainly don't have to know if they're folding improbable hands or not. All you have to do is see how often they win. If they win too often, they're cheating. Stats don't lie.

Re:They were greedy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984189)

"If they win too often, they're cheating. Stats don't lie.*

You have no idea whatsoever of stats.

How many years do you observe them?

Re:They were greedy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984259)

Oh no worries, he took mandatory stats classes on his gender studies course, he knows everything there possibly is about statistics.

Re:They were greedy (1)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984235)


i'm sure you have heard about standard deviation, haven't you? without it, *no one* would ever win at a casino and then, hopefully, no one would then be foolish enough to ever try. casinos would be out of business.

people win at casino's all the time...certain people even go on week long lucky streaks and defy the odds for days...without cheating.

i read the original story...there is some odd things about it. it reports that "two casino employees" marked the cards ahead of time and then "put the cards back in the cellophane". if i remember right, the whole purpose of the cellophane is to prevent this type of tampering and ive heard its pretty secure.

also, how in the world did anyone know exactly what decks of cards were going to be used at the time this guy was going to gamble? finally, people do all sorts of stupid shit when playing cards...hell i lived in vegas for 2 years and saw people double-down on 12 and hit 17s all the time in about dumb.

its more likely that 1. no casino employees were needed for this scam 2. the guy marked the cards on-the-fly with ink on his fingers and 3. somebody snitched on him.

Re:They were greedy (4, Insightful)

jandersen (462034) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984109)

Greedy? I suppose so. But it has always struck me as a funny way to look at things, when casinoes call people cheaters; they are the ones who invite people to come and throw their money out against overwhelming odds: "You MIGHT win" - yeah, and all the air molecules in the room might suddenly end up in one corner. After all, it is only probability that keeps it from happening.

The standard argument one always hears is that "Nobody forces people go and be stupid". All that means, IMO, is that some people don't have the backbone to stand up for decency.

Re:They were greedy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984309)

All I know is casinos look like a picture of honesty compared to the real estate industry.

Re:They were greedy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984147)

Seriously, they could have pulled this scam for a couple thousand a night, maybe ten or twenty thousand on a really good night, for over a year with no one being suspicious if they just made sure to keep up the appearance of a really good "poker pro" going at it. I mean, infrared contacts? I love gadgets and have never heard of them, and who would suspect infrared dye? But no, you get to blow a fantastic scam on overzealous impatience.

Re:They were greedy (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984207)

Anyone who wins more than once at a casino is under suspicion. The odds are against you. Winning big once is luck, twice is cheating.

Re:They were greedy (2)

slick7 (1703596) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984353)

Anyone who wins more than once at a casino is under suspicion. The odds are against you. Winning big once is luck, twice is cheating.

Anybody who walks into a casino is under suspicion. The casino thinks everybody who walks into a casino is a sucker and rightly so. Someone once said "Of course the game is rigged, but you can't win if you don't play."
Besides, the casinos are sanctioned by the government which doesn't like cheaters and theives, too much competion.

Re:They were greedy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984371)

If they deliberately screwed themselves at times, they would likely have gotten away with it.

Like, for example, huge win, then lose half of it, continue playing on and progressively building up like that with varying values of win:lose, equally also maybe winning every 3-4 to every loss, slowly going towards more "loss" until you give up and "quit while you are high enough".
Go off, come back another day, do the opposite.

These people were just moronic.
Exceptional winnings are scrutinized to hell and back. It'd be like winning the lottery 2 times in a row, you'd be investigated to high hell and back even if it was legit.
And likely still investigated even after being proven without a shadow of a doubt that you were just extremely lucky.
Cleaning up bank, nobody wants that. How else will they make a money fort when everyone has left for the night?! THINK OF THE MONEY FORTS!

Bullshit (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983721)

The only reason he got caught was because he folded with a great hand. He wasn't playing as if he was being watched the entire time. The technology had nothing to do with it, except perhaps make him cocky.

Your Bullshit is BS (5, Interesting)

frovingslosh (582462) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983881)

You're leaving out something really important and the real reason that he got caught: the casino was cheating too. Otherwise they wouldn't know that he had good cards when he folded. When he, or anyone else, folds, they just throw in their cards face down and those cards are not exposed for all players to see. The casino can't legitimately claim that they know he was cheating because he folded on good hands unless they were cheating and knew what his hands were.

Re:Your Bullshit is BS (5, Insightful)

wvmarle (1070040) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983905)

It was not the croupier, but some casino lawyer who got suspicious. For all we know this lawyer could have been in the audience, just standing behind the player looking at the player's cards.

Besides, the casino's play is usually bound to fixed rules, and the croupier has no influence on it.

Re:Your Bullshit is BS (1)

Demonantis (1340557) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984019)

You have obviously never watched serious poker. You look at your cards by lifting the corner with your hands over it. You have no idea if an audience person is sending signals intentionally or by mistake.

Re:Your Bullshit is BS (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984061)

You have obviously never watched serious poker. You look at your cards by lifting the corner with your hands over it. You have no idea if an audience person is sending signals intentionally or by mistake.

This was not a player vs. player Texas Hold'em game, it was Carribean Stud poker. Get your facts straight next time.

Re:Your Bullshit is BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984261)

To be fair, this wasn't mentioned in TFA, although you are correct.

Re:Your Bullshit is BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984069)


"Casino security found his behaviour rather strange as he won very easily and, above all, because he folded twice when he had an excellent hand, suggesting he knew the croupier's cards," said Marc Concas, lawyer for the Groupe Lucien Barrière, which owns the casino.

As usual, one is left to wonder if the submitter actually read the article.

get real (5, Interesting)

frovingslosh (582462) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984077)

In such a poker game, the player does not willing expose his cards for either a spectator or a casino camera to see. If that happened then someone else sitting at the table would have a team of accomplices watching everyone's hands and giving pre-arranged signals. Poker is not played with spectators watching all of the cards in any player's hand. Even casino cameras are generally overhead watching the cards to insure that none leave the table or are added, but players wouldn't play if they believed that the casino could read their cards when they took a well guarded glimpse of their dealt hand. Too much chance for a player to be cheated by the cameras if that could happen, as it would be extremely easy to signal to a house player or shill and win hands. No, if the casino knew what was in his hands they were cheating. Most likely they knew because the controlled the deal and dealt him some very good hands, expecting him to bet big and then lose to better hands they dealt themselves. When that didn't work they suspected that they were not the only ones cheating.

Your Bullshit is BS is bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983913)

Casinos have cameras - lots of cameras. When a player is winning heavily, they get heavy surveillance. Have a nice day!

Re:Your Bullshit is BS is bullshit (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984009)

So I get modded down for knowing actual facts about the casino industry?

I get modded down for bothering to find out that the player was cheating at a house game (Caribbean Stud Poker) rather than a player vs player game like Texas Holdem?

I don't see why using CCTV to monitor a house game where one player is winning heavily would count as the "casino cheating". Does anybody have an explanation?

Re:Your Bullshit is BS is bullshit (0, Offtopic)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984037)

There is not a moderation system anywhere in the history of the planet which hasn't been re-interpreted to

up = I agree / I like you / I'm trolling you;
down = I disagree / I like you / I'm trolling you.

Welcome to human interaction.

Re:Your Bullshit is BS is bullshit (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984051)

*dislike. Although sometimes "like", because people often treat familiarity with contempt.

You're right, of course. Any good casino can see anything you can see, and these dorks obviously played cockily, i.e. unrealistically. They probably didn't even make an attempt to hide their cards from people standing behind them - and if they had such a run of "luck", people would be very interested. Hiding gamblers' ruin is, after all, important casino buzz.

Gambling against the House should be treated like buying a snack: you get the enjoyment of a tasty nibble, but you lose money to pay for it. Sure, you can try to leave the store without paying for the snack, and you may get away with it once or twice. But you try it too often, and you're going to pay for all those snacks and more.

Re:Your Bullshit is BS is bullshit (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984107)

I know, you're right ...

I hate it when Slashdot covers stories about casinos, poker or gambling. A large percentage of the posters and mods know very little about the gambling industry, but participate anyway.

It makes me realize that the same people must be posting comments about stories where I have very little knowledge of the subject matter. People in general seem more and more obsessed with "sounding" knowledgeable than actually being knowledgeable.

Re:Your Bullshit is BS (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984141)

Since this comment is modded up to +5, can somebody explain how the casino was "cheating" in this instance? Why isn't the casino allowed to monitor the player's cards on CCTV when they suspect a player of cheating the house?

Re:Bullshit (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984203)

"He wasn't playing as if he was being watched the entire time. "

Especially since he _was_ watched, all the time, like in all casinos.

The house ALWAYS wins. (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983725)

Even if it somehow loses. They WILL find a way to win.

Re:The house ALWAYS wins. (3, Insightful)

jamesh (87723) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984049)

Even if it somehow loses. They WILL find a way to win.

If the house loses, it's because someone is cheating. That's how they tell you are cheating - if you are winning in a game of chance with the odds firmly tilted in the houses favour then you must be cheating. It's that simple.

Just avoid being stupid (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983731)

On the other hand, how did the "lawyer working for the casino" know the hand that the crook folded with? That sounds like we are talking about crooks on both sides. An important part of poker is that folding does not expose your betting strategy.

Re: Just avoid being stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983751)

Exactly my thoughts. I'm guessing the casino somehow knows each players hands (cameras in the table?). My other question is how did they figure out he was using special contacts? I feel like he could have easily bluffed his way out of this. They wouldn't find any equipment on him (I doubt they would have figured out his contact lenses were different). He must have confessed, I'm guessing under duress.

I agree though, this story smells suspicious.

Re: Just avoid being stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983775)

Yes, there are cameras everywhere in a casino. Yes, they can see everyone's hands. No that doesn't have to mean they are cheating. The people who can see the camera monitors are not in communication with the dealers. They go straight to the lawyers apparently.

Re: Just avoid being stupid (4, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983829)

How about this: RTFA and as usual it answers all of your questions and more...

Re: Just avoid being stupid (2)

Barny (103770) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983993)

Don't be so harsh on them. They read 2-3 lines of information on the internet. Not only are those lines absolute truth but no more information is needed before wild speculation and drama can be generated.

Re: Just avoid being stupid (2)

worf_mo (193770) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984225)

TFA does not answer how the casino knew the crook had an excellent hand:

"security found his behavior rather strange as he won very easily and, above all, because he folded twice when he had an excellent hand, suggesting he knew the croupier's cards."

How would anybody know what hand he had? I thought cards were only seen by the player, and when a player folds his cards are not exposed.

Re: Just avoid being stupid (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984287)

9 times out of 10 you would be correct. However, TFA (and all related articles) seem to be omitting some of the specifics of the crime. Such as exactly what game was being played, how the casino detected the cheating etc.

Presumably the casino doesn't want all the facts out in the open to prevent any further cheating attempts.

Re: Just avoid being stupid (3, Informative)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983833)

My other question is how did they figure out he was using special contacts? I feel like he could have easily bluffed his way out of this.

(According to the article) once the casino got suspicious, they called the betting police (whatever those are), who used telephone surveillance to figure out how they had cheated.

So once you raise suspicions, you need to avoid surveillance.

Re: Just avoid being stupid (1)

bruce_the_loon (856617) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984347)

Depends on the form of the game. In the televised Texas Hold'em games, some of the cards are exposed, others are held covered for the viewers. A decent croupier would have a gut feeling about how the game is going and roughly what hand the players have.

He did confess, and impressed the judge with it. Given the chap's age and location, he probably was an honourable gentleman who decided once he was caught, not to drag out the obvious, I guess to save his honour.

Outliers and out and out liars... (3, Insightful)

DontScotty (978874) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983757)

If you find a way to game the gaming system, you will appear as an anomaly.

And, anomaly detection will highlight you as such.

Winning at a game of chance over a long enough sample period? Cheating is more probable than an improbable string of luck.

The only effective way to steal is to steal from people who are powerless to detect it, powerless to stop it, or weak enough in both areas.

Can you win the day at a casino? YES.

Can you win during your entire life? YES, considering your life will probably be forfeit when you've stolen too much from the wrong people.

Re:Outliers and out and out liars... (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983819)

Poker is a bit more than 'a game of chance'. There's a chance element, of course, but skill is a major factor. The most important aspect is you're not playing against the house. There's no such thing as 'winning the day at a casino' in poker. 'It's all one big session.'

It's not a typical casino game like roulette or craps where you're playing against the house and the payouts are structured such that every bet has negative expectation. If you consistently play against people who make worse betting decisions than you, you will be a consistent winner in the long term.

So your assertion that winning over a long period in poker is cheating is false (although, it is true that most players are long-term losing players).

The reason the casino went after them is that it's in the casinos interest to run a fair game. The casino takes a cut of each pot over a certain amount, and some also collect an hourly vig from sitting at the table. Players won't play in an unfair game though, so the casino has to protect this model or lose its players. It was the threat of an indirect loss of money that necessitated action, not that the players were taking directly from the casino.

And the reality is - these guys got caught because they were greedy. There have been several highly publicised (within the poker community anyway) cases of cheating, and its always the same. The cheater makes some ridiculous reads, bets / bluffs consistently at the right time with very marginal holdings, or folds big hands in big pots when they are beat. Once that suspicion is triggered, anyone who understands the game will spot it easily.

If they were smart, they would be much more subtle about it, losing their fair share but making sure they get the big pots. Once the cash starts rolling in though, I guess it's very hard to resist pushing it just a little too hard.

Casinos take this shit very seriously. From a purely academic point of view the IR contact lenses are an interesting concept, but you have to be pretty damn stupid to try it so brazenly.

Re:Outliers and out and out liars... (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983887)

Interesting - but they weren't playing poker against other players ...

Re:Outliers and out and out liars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984093)

What? Yes they were.

Re:Outliers and out and out liars... (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984161)

Where does the article say that? It mentions "the cheater knew the croupier's cards" - are you suggesting that the croupier participates in the action in a standard poker game like Texas Holdem?

It seems that they were playing Caribbean Stud Poker, which is a game where the players compete against the house, and where the croupier does indeed have a hand representing the house.

Re:Outliers and out and out liars... (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983837)

Winning at a game of chance over a long enough sample period?

FWIW poker is a game of skill.

Re:Outliers and out and out liars... (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984121)

...when you've stolen too much from the wrong people.

So it's stealing when you control the odds but it's not stealing when the 'wrong people' control the odds?

Just who is stealing from whom here?

Re:Outliers and out and out liars... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984269)

> Can you win during your entire life? YES,

you just have to own a casino.

They got off easy (3, Insightful)

VinylRecords (1292374) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983799)

Two years? For cheating at cards? That's nothing. Lots of people are killed over cheating at high stakes gambling. You cheat the casinos and they usually take it up with the police and lawyers. They can't break your legs and keep operating a legitimate business.

You cheat a private game? You deal with individuals who might smash your fucking face in and throw you in a six foot feet hole in the desert. At the very least you get beaten within an inch of your life and then they take back all of your 'winnings'. Those guys should have tried to get into a private game where high rollers in organized crime or even professional sports play.

The most hilarious part about this story though. Is that there are bankers that make billions cheating the system. Insider trading, fraud, embezzlement, Ponzi scheme, and so on. And those guys get a free pass as long as they throw the occasional six-figure-pass to the politicians. These morons get two years for cheating the casinos.

Re:They got off easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983825)

So it's Aces and Eights: In comparison, these guys were lucky -- doing what amounts to be shop lifting on steroids.

Re:They got off easy (1)

phantomfive (622387) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984071)

You cheat a private game? You deal with individuals who might smash your fucking face in and throw you in a six foot feet hole in the desert.

I am kind of worried about the kind of people you play poker with.....For me the worst that would happen is they'd make me buy donuts for the next poker-night....

Re:They got off easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984075)

How is cheating at poker even illegal?
Do the french have a law that makes cheating at poker illegal, or is it any game?
If I cheat at a game of mahjong with my friends could they have me arrested too?
Or is this just a matter of rich assholes being pissed off and using the police to get their revenge?
Does my post contain too many questions?

Re:They got off easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984451)

Get caught cheating in say, a Vegas casino and see what happens.

Re:They got off easy (1)

martin-boundary (547041) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984209)

Eh? Killing people would be illegal.

If you're going to allow illegal killing of people as a valid penalty things, then you might as well say that anyone who isn't killed gets off easy for /anything/.

Cheaters are bad poker players (1)

tsotha (720379) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983801)

This reminds me of the Absolute Poker scandal in 2007. Even a relative novice should realize at some point you have to lose a showdown so it isn't obvious you're cheating.

and this is on slashdot because...? (2)

npwa (1017242) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983803)

oh, yes - an expensive gadget was used in a crime. news at 11

Re:and this is on slashdot because...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984231)

oh, yes - an expensive gadget was used in a crime. news at 11

You openly admit not to be a gadgetls nerd, but you unintendedly also reveal not to be a statistics nerd.

Just not careful ... etc... use data and analysis (1)

theNAM666 (179776) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983809)

OK, point looks to already have been made (-1, redundant?)

They weren't careful. A careful strategy, would not raise alarms by taking extraordinarily high wins, and would accept reasonable losses, ie, not fold with a great hand *even if* you know you'll loose.

What you'd want, is to scrape in marginally better positive wins, not great hits, -- and then move on. Heck, just in case, take some more-than-usual losses at some casinos. Build a data model; speadsheet it; look for a reasonably higher ROI, say 50%/annum on the operation, not spectacular wins.

Re:Just not careful ... etc... use data and analys (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983885)

There is a standard distribution of poker skill. You can only exceed that win % by some much before you are conspicuously lucky. Without a big name and track record behind you to justify the perceived "skill" then it rapidly becomes suspicious.

Should not be a felony (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983823)

This kind of stuff should just be judged in civil court, not federal. The fact that it's federal is not right at all.

Information missing from summary and articles (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983871)

Most people associate "poker" with games where the players compete against each other, rather than the house. Texas Holdem and Draw poker are two well known variants. Many casinos have poker tables now - they provide a dealer, and make their money by taking a small percentage of each pot.

The article talks about Stefano Ampollini knowing which cards the croupier had. The croupier would not have any cards in a normal game of poker.

Looking at their website, it appears that the Les Princes Casino in Cannes does not have any normal poker tables. Instead, they run a casino game called "Casino Stud" or "Caribbean Stud Poker". It is a normal casino game that gives the house a 5% edge if the player uses the best possible strategy.

The players must ante before each game. After they have seen their cards, if they want to continue they must place a "raise" - a bet which is double the ante.

When the cheat decided whether or not to raise, he looked at the dealer's face down hand. He knew if the dealer would win or lose before he made his "raise" bet.

It's likely that the casino knew the cheat's cards from the video surveillance footage.

Re:Information missing from summary and articles (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983899)

Each player competes individually against the croupier's hand. If the dealer has a better hand than them at the showdown, they lose their money. If the dealer has a worse hand than them, they double up. It is a house (table) game - you play only against the casino, not the other players. I might not have made that clear above.

Infared Contact Lenses? (5, Interesting)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983883)

Shut up and take my money!

How do you make these? You need something that will convert a frequency our eyes can't detect, in your focal plane (it's a contact lens) into something you can detect without changing direction of the light wave. Never mind they cost allegedly $2000 I want to know what the science behind them is.

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983909)

Exactly. Where the fuck are these?

Re: Infared Contact Lenses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983925)

Exactly what I was thinking. The only thing you can do with lenses is filter out frequencies, not convert one frequency into another, without diffusing the light. Or would this be possible with microscopic directional light guides?

Re: Infared Contact Lenses? (1)

Woek (161635) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983949)

Well actually it's not in the focal plane, that would be the retina, but your point is valid!

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983961)

How about this?

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (1)

Zorpheus (857617) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984211)

Doesn't work with such low light intensities

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (2)

retchdog (1319261) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983981)

maybe the lenses are actually a very precise notch filter for a color of ink matched close (but not quite) to the color of the design on the card backs? by applying this ink very carefully you could, in principle at least, add what appear to you as dark markings that way. seems pretty tough to pull off, but i have no other idea.

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983983)!-For-Under-$10/

I think this is how they did it. This isn't true IR, but near-IR. The ink would need to be near IR but I think you could find something that would work and it would be all but invisible under brought lights at a casino.

For those to lazy to follow the link. Someone makes near-IR goggles using welding glasses and two theatrical movie light gel sheets. Am guessing someone in china would be willing to make this into contact lenses. With the right equipment you could make them your self.

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (2)

Cyberax (705495) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984007)

Simple - they aren't. Frequency doubling materials can make near infrared visible, but they can't really fit into contact lenses.

Most probably, these lenses are simple polarizing filters and the invisible paint is an optically-active liquid. Alternatively, it can be a highly-refractive liquid - it'll be visible because it polarizes light a little bit differently than the reflection from the card's surface (different Brewster angles). Bonus points: it'll be visible only at a certain range of angles.

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (2)

mysidia (191772) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984025)

They probably hid a pattern on the card using visible colors, so a lense tinted with the right color would make the pattern visible to the human eye.

What's so nasty here is the degree of the penalty.... they cheated the Casino out of 21,000 EUR, so they don't get to keep the 21K and each of them has to pay a 100,000 EUR fine, plus two years jail.

Now if instead; the Casino was cheating, the Casino could have to pay a fine or damages that would be some miniscule fraction of the casino's revenue.

On the other hand... if a player cheats; the penalty is astronomically higher, in relative terms.

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (1)

Eskarel (565631) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984065)

Well actually the penalty for a casino cheating is to have their gaming license revoked, at least in civilised countries where they don't just kill you for cheating the casino. Having your gaming license revoked shuts down your casino, potentially for ever. Even a new owner may not be able to get a license so even the property itself isn't necessarily worth anything to you.

Given how much revenue a casino generates, that's one hell of a fine.

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984033)

They probably used contact lenses with a phosphor coating which slightly flouresces whenever infrared hits it.

It doesnt need to be in focus, the card thats been marked can just "glow".

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (2)

404 Clue Not Found (763556) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984063)

My guess... maybe the glasses block certain frequencies instead of adding to the human visible range, enhancing contrast rather than enhancing range?

An explanation:

1) Suppose your eyes can see near-infrared (NIR) light (they can).
2) Then suppose your eyes are more sensitive to lower-frequency light, especially around the yellow-green portion of the spectrum [] (so far this isn't controversial)
3) (This is where it gets hypothetical) Maybe minute changes in the NIR portion of the spectrum aren't very noticeable to the unaided eye under normal, multi-spectral light because your eye cells are more tuned to the lower frequencies.
4) But if you wear glasses or contacts that filter out lower-frequency light, suddenly your entire range of vision is limited to the NIR portion and you can focus your vision and attention on that and not be overwhelmed by the other data.
5) Then if you used special ink that could affect this contrast, absorbing slightly more or less NIR light than the regular printing ink, maybe you can use it to mark cards such that they'd be unnoticeable to most people under normal lighting conditions.

As an analogy, if you have a pair of those old-school 3D glasses (red and blue), try drawing a bunch of red Xs on a piece of paper. Then with a pen of a different color, draw a tiny dot in the middle of one of the Xs. Not very noticeable, right? But if you look through the red lens of those glasses, all the Xs disappear and the dot will stand out. The card trick could be the NIR version of that, with fancier inks and more selective wavelength filtration.

Just a guess.

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (1)

tinkerton (199273) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984299)

That's a reasonable explanation, but I would generalize it to any filter.

For starters, the only meaning of infrared lenses I know is lenses that are transparent for infrared, which is rather useless in this case since you can't see them.

A step of frequency conversion is also pretty hard since you've got to increase the frequency and using low energy photons to release high energy photons is a nontrivial undertaking.

But then we think of the fact that we are in fact extremely colourblind. If we take a bundle of light it covers a spectrum of about 400nm. Now assume that to represent this spectrum fairly accurately we need 400 parameters, one per nm. Our eyes will roughly reduce this spectrum to 3 RGB parameters, meaning that a huge space of color parameters look exactly the same to us. Someone who we call colorblind usually has two parameters.

Then a well chosen filter can indeed make two light bundles look different that look exactly the same without the filter. Just imagine you have two reds, one a rather wide spectrum and the other one very narrow. If a filter is tuned to block that very narrow spectrum and little more then one red will pass through while the other will be blacked out.

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (2)

Sqr(twg) (2126054) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984155)

It's near-infrared - not infrared - whoever wrote TFA probably does not understand the distinciton. Essentially, the near-IR markings on the cards are too faint to see in normal light. You then wear lenses that diminish all light, except near-IR, by a factor 100 or so. The eye compensates for this, and as a result the markings become visible.

I found this by googling: []

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984187)

I've used Near IR detector cards before for viewing NIR beams. I think they are a phosphorescent material that is both excited and emits in the visible range. The thing is the phosphorescent material has a very long lived excited state because the return of the excited electron to the ground state is spin forbidden, so it doesn't emit much light normally. But put enough energy in of the right NIR wavelength, and it will go to an excited state that is not spin forbidden and emit light. No reason that couldn't be put into a contact lens.

If you use a compound that is fluorescence, with an excitation in the visible and emission in the NIR. Then you could potentially be able to see it with something like that, while nobody else could.

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (4, Informative)

hankwang (413283) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984193)

Near-infrared ink (as posted by an AC) sounds like the most plausible approach. In the range 700-750 nm, the sensitivity for light is less than 1% of the peak sensitivity. You would need (1) a proper long-wavelength-pass filter, (2) ink that absorbs only in this wavelength range, and (3) an illumination source that is heavy in this wavelength area (e.g. halogen/incandescent lights).

For the naked eye, the ink would appear as a very pale cyan color. With a proper filter, everything would look very dark due to the filter removing 99% of the visible light, but the ink would show up with much more contrast. Effective long-pass filters do exist, e.g. Schott RG695 or RG715 for a 695 or 715 nm cut-off [] , respectively. There are plenty of suitable dyes [] . Probably you would want to have this filter only on one eye, otherwise the world around you might appear very dark.

The other theories that have been posted here make no sense.

Frequency-doubling needs extremely high intensities (like a high-power or focused low-power laser beam), which would render you blind. Moreeover, frequency-doubling requires proper phase matching, which boils down to the requirement of an exact combination of angle and wavelength.

Polarizers: it is not possible to turn unpolarized light into polarized light without throwing away half of the light. Once the light is polarized, the polarization direction can be manipulated with optically active materials, though.

A high-refractive index coating would not only change at the Brewster angle, it would make the cards much more glossy as seen from any angle. It is not possible to make the refractive index change dramatically within a short wavelength range without changing the absorption as well, so the glossiness would appear in visible light as well.

A phosphor coating would not work for several reasons: phosphors do not emit the phosphorence in the same direction as the absorbed radiation; they always convert from short wavelengths to long wavelengths, and the phosphorence light would be completely out of focus.

Re:Infared Contact Lenses? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984223)

Why would frequency doubling require high intensities? My Radio Shack IR detector card has a strip of chemicals on it that glow pink when a remote control is aimed at it... Granted, however it works, it works better after having spent a few minutes being "charged" under a CFL lamp.

It was an inside job, too (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983927)

It must not be forgotten that two casino employees were involved as well. That were the people who arranged for the cards to be marked, so the cheats could play their game.

No mention on punishment for those two. Not only were they accomplices, without whom the scheme would not have worked to begin with, they also breached the trust their employer placed in them. The latter is also a serious issue.

Re:It was an inside job, too (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984103)

"Employer trust" hahahahaha.

The only way an employer can put "trust" in an employee is to share ownership of the business, as in a partnership or co-operative. Anything else is just sleight of hand to get your employer to accept worse remuneration.

Re:It was an inside job, too (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984173)

Dunno in what kind of backwards country you live, but where I live I have seen employees getting harsher sentences as breach of trust of an employer was involved.

Here there is the expectation of honesty of an employee. So that you can e.g. have an employee work with customers, without expectation that said employee is trying to cheat the company using their position. Or that you can expect that a casino employee is not out to help customers cheat on the casino.

Re:It was an inside job, too (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984249)

My point, unnecessary as it seems to repeat it, was that you're not putting trust in your employee unless you give them an ownership stake.

IOW, trust is something which leaves you fucked if someone breaks it - as in trust in a personal relationship. It's not trust if you have a well-established legal framework to run to if things go wrong. Make sense?

LTR (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984131)

No mention on punishment for those two.

At least read the summary.

"His main accomplice was handed an even harsher sentence..."

Re:LTR (1)

wvmarle (1070040) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984163)

Well I read the article, which mentions at least two people on the floor (the player and an accomplice giving signals), plus two casino employees. Total four people. Summary involves only two.

IR contact lenses can be bought here (5, Informative)

bactus (101056) | 1 year,26 days | (#44983947)

The moral of the story is... (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44983979)

If you want to cheat at gambling, work for a large bank or investment broker. If you get caught claim you were acting in the fiduciary interests of your shareholders making your misconduct legal and that your company is too big to fail. You will then receive a government bailout. Then cry that the very bailout you received was an unconstitutional government encroachment on the rights of corporations and an attack on capitalism. Profit.

Re:The moral of the story is... (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984117)

So, what you mean is, if you want to cheat, cheat in a way that the people approve.

Everyone knows that capitalism has created institutions too big to fail, and most people were okay with the enabling (de-)regulation of the last 15 years - having voted in all the governments which supported them. So, the bailouts are really with the consent of the people.

Re:The moral of the story is... (1)

diamondmagic (877411) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984331)

Well, no: It is politicians that created institutions they called "too big to fail".

There was never any danger in large companies going bankrupt. It's not as if when a company fails, their capital resources suddenly vanish into thin air.

Re:The moral of the story is... (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984407)

Is it not posible to have one mention of anything related to capital without a dullard walking in and whining about how IT'S ALL DA GUBMINT'S FAULT? It's like bible bashers shrieking every time the Sky Fairy's name is taken in vain.

Companies, or indeed all the law which supports capitalism, wouldn't exist without "politicians". And politicians wouldn't exist without the organisations which support them. It's all one fun dynamic system and you get away with things iff enough of the right people are on your side.

They marked the cards! (1)

opus_magnum (1688810) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984005)

It's not like they merely used some tool to better calculate odds, this is outright cheating and in other times (and on a riverboat) it could have very well caused that Derringer to go off.

Re:They marked the cards! (1)

Joining Yet Again (2992179) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984123)

Yeah. If I were caught cheating at high stakes gambling, I think, "I'm reporting you to the police," would be the most relieving thing to hear.

Not exactly a new idea (1)

mendax (114116) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984101)

This is a story right out of the old Mission: Impossible TV series. An episode used this exact premise in at least one episode I can think of to cheat a guy who was using the same trick at his own game. They way they beat him was by remarking the cards and then remarking them using a different technology. In that show, the game was baccarat instead of poker. Of course, this was television and rather fanciful, yet I'm glad to see that someone actually has done it.... and even happier to see that they got caught at it.

Croupier? (1)

_Ludwig (86077) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984127)

What kind of poker games are they running over there that the house plays a hand?

Re:Croupier? (1)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984165)

Caribbean stud poker []

Re:Croupier? (0)

Anonymous Coward | 1 year,26 days | (#44984253)

It is described in TFA as "stud poker". The casino's website (in French):

Stud Poker []

Incompetent hacks (1)

gweihir (88907) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984349)

They might have been able to buy an expensive gadget, but they did not have what it takes to understand the game. Folding with a really good hand is an absolute beginners mistake in this type of games.

Aw hell (1)

Arancaytar (966377) | 1 year,26 days | (#44984379)

I was hoping they'd have done something cool with those lenses, like looking at the other players' face and body heat to determine their level of excitement/stress. Instead it's just a regular card marking fraud.

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