Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Catch the Cheater Catcher

Check out this story in The Press of Atlantic City, by Donald Wittkowski.

Steve Forte is an acclaimed cheater catcher when it comes to the casino world. He has made a pretty good (and I mean really good) living at showing casinos how to catch cheats. He's made books, videos and even helped with the movie 'Rounders.'

He was arrested on June 7 in connection with a high stakes private poker game being run out of hotel rooms in the Borgata. Him, and three other men, would lure big games players up to the room for big cash games. There were private surveillance cameras set up that allowed someone to view the hole cards. That person then relayed information to the "shills."

This all happened around the time the Borgata had their big poker tourney, which had a prize pool of $1.7 million. Some people are spreading rumors that the tourney was compromised saying the scam artists tapped into the live video feed. However, this tournament wasn't a World Poker Tour sponsored event and was not taped for television. There were no cameras involved.

This is the shady world of poker. Every one trying to catch on to the fever and frenzy. The Borgata had nothing to do with these games, but I find it hard to believe people don't know what is going on in the rooms.

While there are many different casinos and an vast array of people coming in and out of them all day long, the poker community is very, very small. I can walk into any card room and any time in Atlantic City and know at least three people, certainly more.

Dealers always hear the gossip. Many times even help fuel it. I find it difficult to think that no one in the poker room knew about this.

I didn't know and for two reasons: 1. I'm not a big stakes player. 2. I don't enjoy playing at the Borgata.

I actually returned to the Borgata after a six-month hiatus during the big tournament. I figured the cash game would be fun while everyone was in tournament mode. (I was right).

Gambling is a shady business. It brings all kinds of cheats, crooks and robbers out. Some are dressed like well-meaning businessmen and you don't know what you lost until you are roaming the streets of Atlantic City trying to find bus fare home.

Don't trust anyone. Don't lend money to anyone. Play in the environment of a public card room where there is at least some comfort of security. Don't fall for trying to get the quick buck.

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