Inside a Boston Encore Dealer’s Elaborate Plot to Scam His Casino

Dealer Standing At A Table And A Room Full of Slot Machines With Encore Boston Harbor Logo

Casinos must place great trust in their dealers. After all, croupiers have full control over table games and could technically cheat.

This is exactly what happened at the Encore Boston Harbor casino recently, with a dealer and two accomplices working out an elaborate scheme to rip off the casino.

You can keep reading to find out who scammed the Encore and how. This post also covers other stories involving dealers scamming casinos for as much as $1 million.

Baccarat Dealer Uses Detailed Plot to Steal Over $23k in Just Two Nights

Jianming Li is at the heart of this cheating scandal. The 53-year-old and now-former Encore Boston dealer colluded with De Lin, of Philadelphia, and Jun Zhang, a former casino dealer who’s living in New York, through baccarat.

Li was central to this plot as he would expose cards, memorize them, and use a “bookmark” card to identify them. He then used his smartphone to relay the card values and their order to Zhang when they both went to use different bathrooms.

A Middlesex County Grand Jury convicted Li and Zhang on charges of conspiracy (two counts each), casino cheating (two counts each), and larceny of a single scheme (one count each). Li also received an additional charge for making a false statement to the Massachusetts Gaming Commission.

Other Times When Dealers Have Scammed Casinos

This certainly isn’t the only time that a dealer has scammed their employer. Here are some other incidents when croupiers took to crime.

Tran Organization Makes $7 Million in Biggest Dealer Cheating Scandal Ever

The Tran Organization was a group of Vietnamese dealers and gamblers who ran one of the most extensive casino cheating rings of all time. They used a method called “fast shuffling” to make over $7 million through their scam.

This technique begins with the dealer shuffling cards so that they’re in a pre-arranged order. But the dealer isn’t really shuffling the shoe.

Instead, they merely pretend to shuffle so that cards stay in a pre-arranged order based on the previous round. The unshuffled portion is known as the “slug,” which consists of around 50 cards that retain the same order from when they were in the discard tray.

The accomplice-players, meanwhile, must track this slug and bet accordingly. To help in this matter, they write down card values from the previous round.

These players merely look like they’re recording values for trend betting purposes. In reality, though, they’re trying to ensure that they can easily identify a slug.

Man Dealing a Blackjack Game

The ringleader may even identify the slug before anybody else and make a gesture to signal that it has arrived. At this point, accomplices increase bets on the player or banker—depending upon who has the edge—to take advantage of the situation.

The Tran Organization included Phuong Quoc Truong, his wife Van Thu Tran, and another family member named Tai Khiem Tran. The family recruited and bribed dealers to help them in the scheme.

Their elaborate scam was hard to detect and netted the family around $20,000 in every shift. The Tran Organization was so successful that that it branched out from California to other places across the US and even Canada.

By 2005, just three years after starting, the group included over 40 members. Everything came crashing down, though, when they got caught bribing an undercover FBI agent.

This incident, combined with angry dealers turned informants, brought down the group. The dealers turned on the organization after being shortchanged on their pay.

Iowa Casino Supervisor and Dealer Caught Cheating in Roulette

Most dealer-run cheating schemes only involve the croupier and their gambling accomplices. In 2016, though, a supervisor at the Horseshoe Casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, joined forces with a dealer and another accomplice to cheat.

The cheating took place at a roulette table. The dealer would add extra chips to an accomplice-gambler’s stack after wins. They’d also take late bets from the player after a winning number had already been identified.

The group made around $30,000 before getting caught. It wasn’t surveillance or security that did them in, but rather a regular player who noticed the cheating.

Casino Gran Madrid Roulette Table

The Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation (DCI) looked into the matter and discovered that the group was indeed ripping off the casino. Jonathan Rumery, a table games supervisor, Jonathan Waugh, a dealer, and Cody Schroeder, a player, were all arrested in the aftermath.

Schroeder and Rumery were charged with four felonies, including cheating at gambling, conspiracy, criminal conduct, and first-degree theft. Waugh only received one charge for cheating.

Ameristar East Chicago Dealer Helps Tran Organization Win $646k in Baccarat

As covered earlier, the Tran Organization had a far-reaching effect. Mike Waseleski became part of the organization in 2005 and helped it make $646,000.

Dealing at Resorts East Chicago (now Ameristar Casino Hotel East Chicago) at the time, Waseleski used the same false shuffling technique as other Tran Organization dealers.

He also worked with five co-conspirators to make it happen. Prosecutors pointed out that the group was so effective that it made $376,000 in one of Waseleski’s fast shuffles alone.

Mike Waseleski was just one of the key cogs to go down in the Tran Organization in 2007. He originally got his start when the organization flew him to Houston to train in the art of fast shuffling.

He only had to work with the Trans during two separate stints to rack up $646k. Aside form the $376k session, he helped the five accomplices make $270k over a three-day span.

Maryland Baccarat Dealer Helps Bilk Casinos Out of $1.05 Million

Ming Zhang spearheaded a dealing heist that netted $1,046,560 from two Maryland casinos in 2017. He certainly didn’t get off lightly after being sentenced to 18 months in prison for conspiracy to transport stolen funds.

This story began when Zhang worked out a plot with two co-conspirators to scam casinos he worked for, including MGM National Harbor.

Zhang would stack decks and communicate which cards were coming to the accomplices. They could then bet more based on if they thought the player or banker would win.

The then 32-year-old would let the co-conspirators know ahead of time when he’d be dealing. Zhang even allowed one of the gamblers to take a photo of a deck he’d be dealing, then set that deck aside for the perfect point. The group then split the profits afterward.

Baccarat Dealer Reaching for Cards on Table, Pile of Money

However, the casinos that Zhang worked for eventually caught on that they were losing serious money. An investigation eventually uncovered the plot.

Teenage Blackjack Dealer Busted in Washington State

To many, Steven Darnell Singer might have seemed like some sort of casino-dealing prodigy. After all, he was just 19 years old when landing a job at Clearwater Casino in Suquamish, Washington. However, the young dealer let his immaturity show by cheating Clearwater in blackjack games.

Located near Seattle, Clearwater is a unique Native-American casino that allows anybody who’s 18 years old and above to gamble. This is the big reason why Singer landed a job here.

He worked with accomplices to help them win more blackjack hands. In one case, Singer dealt in a way that guaranteed a co-conspirator a natural blackjack.

A fellow dealer was the first to notice that Singer wasn’t dealing games in a proper manner. Clearwater security later caught him cheating on tape.

They then alerted the authorities, who arrested Singer for his role in the caper. He was charged with first-degree cheating, which is a Class C felony in Washington.

It Doesn’t Pay to Cheat

Dealers don’t have much standing in the way of them cheating a card game. After all, they know the games better than anybody else. Furthermore, casino surveillance and supervisors can’t be everywhere.

In some cases, croupiers get away with their crimes for a while and make a great deal of money. The Trans and Ming Zhang both led operations that made seven figures through cheating rings.

Eventually, though, dealers get caught and must face the penalties for their crimes. These penalties typically include heavy restitution and, in some cases, prison time.