Tuesday 23 January 2018

Casino cheat wore infra-red lenses to count cards

Henry Samuel Paris

An Italian card sharp who used infra-red contact lenses to count cards marked with invisible ink has been jailed for two years.

The self-styled "player and cheat of international renown" impressed even the presiding judge for his sophisticated use of "old techniques and high-end technology" to win thousands of euro at a casino in Cannes on the Cote d'Azur. The court in Grasse heard how Stefano Ampollini (56) – code-named Parmesan – turned up at Les Princes casino in August 2011, wearing a set of infra-red contact lenses bought online from China for €2,000.

Opposite him on the stud poker table was a discreet accomplice – another Italian code-named The Israeli – who sniffed or snorted to help Ampollini choose the right cards. Two corrupt casino staff members had already marked the cards with invisible ink. Thanks to his special lenses, Ampollini was able to win €70,000 without being caught.

"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, the lawyer for the Groupe Lucien Barriere, which owns the casino. They called the betting police, who began an investigation. He was arrested two months later after winning €21,000 at the same casino.

Ampollini reportedly smiled as Marc Joando, the presiding judge, marvelled at his exploits. That did not stop the court jailing him and fining him €100,000.

His two Italian accomplices were also convicted.

"This is the first time this sort of technique has been seen in Europe," Mr Concas said. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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