Card Cheating Ring From San Diego

A former casino card dealer was convicted in a federal court for being part of a San Diego-based casino cheating ring. He was condemned for conspiracy in a scam that profited $1.5 million from an Indian casino. Known as the Tran Organization, 41 members have pleaded guilty to scamming 27 casinos in the United States and Canada including the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, CA, the Barona Valley Ranch Casino in Lakeside, CA, and the Sycuan Casino in El Cajon, CA.

The False Shuffle

The ring recruited and bribed dealers to perform false shuffles which is a method that creates a set of unshuffled cards of approximately 40. During this process, a slug would be created which is a place card that notifies the criminals to track all subsequent cards. Other Tran Organization members would then track the specific order of the cards that were played to know which cards are next in the deck. This gives the players a significant advantage in games like blackjack.
When the slug would appear in the deck, Tran Organization members sitting at the table would know the order of succeeding cards and bet based on them. This led them to win thousands of dollars per hand from numerous casinos.

The Latest Conviction

The latest conviction of the Tran Organization was Mike Waseleski who was a dealer at Resorts East Chicago Casino in East Chicago, Indiana. He faces a maximum sentence of five years imprisonment and a hefty fine of $250,000 at his upcoming sentence on March 28th, 2011. In addition to the conviction of Waseleski, seven other dealers from the East Chicago resort were charged with similar crimes.

The Tran Organization

According to federal agents who have been tracking the Tran Organization, the card-cheating scam involved dozens of individuals many of whom work inside casinos across the country. Card cheating techniques are being utilized by the Tran Organization daily.

The Process

In 2005, Waseleski was flown to Houston to learn the intricacies of the cheating scam. He and other dealers were taught how to false shuffle during mini-baccarat and blackjack games. Members of the Tran Organization bribed casino dealers and their supervisors to perform false shuffles and create slugs. Once the members at the table could successfully track the cards they would signal the dealer to execute a false shuffle.

This is a common but difficult to detect scam that repeats itself across the country and under the watchful eye of casino surveillance. Hopefully, in the future, employee personnel will be better prepared to identify these illegal acts.