This week the New Jersey Attorney General's office released details on the arrests of four individuals involved in a poker-related cheating scam at the Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in Atlantic City on June 7, 2007. A noted casino-industry cheating expert, Steve Forte, along with Joseph T. Ingargiola, Stephen Phillips, and James C. Harrison, have been charged with using a computer and cheating devices to commit theft, attempted theft by deception and conspiracy. All defendants are currently free on bail.
The four men allegedly were involved in a scheme that involved luring high-stakes poker players to a Borgata hotel room which was fitted with hidden cameras. The cameras were placed in a manner such that players' hole cards were visible. There were also instances where marked decks of cards were employed. The NJ Attorney General's Office also alleged that the men were using computer simulation programs to calculate their odds in any given hand.
According to his website, defendant Steve Forte is president of his own consulting company, International Gaming Protection, and lists many of the nation's largest casinos as his clients. Forte has a book out entitled "Poker Protection – Cheating…and the World of Poker" that specifically addresses how to detect cheating in a private game and details the use of marked cards and cheating crews.
Early news reports implied that the cheating scam was concurrent and somehow associated with the Borgata's Summer Open Championship Event. The arrests, however, were made almost one week prior to the start of the tournament's preliminary events. According to both the Borgata and the New Jersey Attorney Generals Office, the cheating scam was conducted off the gaming floor and was never intended to target the Borgata's poker or tournament rooms.
While high technology was employed in this cheating scam, the scenario represented nothing new. The cheaters thought they were too smart to get caught and the cheated probably should have known better – well, they might have known better if they had read Steve Forte's book.