In the world of high-stakes gambling, the house always wins - or so they say. But in December 2022, a daring syndicate risked all at the Marina Bay Sands Casino in Singapore, using a master plan to beat the game of baccarat.
As the title of the article suggests; it didn’t end well!
The syndicate's modus operandi was straight out of the movies. A member known as the "Sorcerer" would play 7 Up baccarat, wearing a concealed earphone connected to her mobile device.
She would relay the values of the dealt cards to accomplices, known as "marksmen", who would then consult an Excel spreadsheet before relaying back the correct strategy.
This formula, the nature of which was not disclosed in court documents, was purported to give players an edge in the game.
You see, the syndicate reckoned they had happened across a secret formula that promised them riches from a game designed to send money only in one direction across the long run — to the house.
Eventually, the syndicate's luck ran out when casino staff who were monitoring surveillance footage became suspicious of their behaviour.
One of the syndicate members was arrested on December 24, 2022, leaving the rest of the group to flee the country the following day to Malaysia where they were promptly arrested and returned to Singapore.
They were spooked enough to leave behind SG$790,000 in casino chips in their Marina Bay Sands hotel rooms in their haste to get out of Dodge.
Among those charged was Malaysian man Tan Kian Yi, who pleaded guilty to four charges under Singapore's Casino Control Act for his role as a "marksman" in the syndicate.
Two of Tan's alleged accomplices, Taiwanese Hung Jung-Hao and Malaysian Chai Hee Keong, were also charged earlier this year. Three other individuals are also accused of being part of the syndicate, but the status of their cases remains undisclosed.
A Fair Cop?
Despite the guilty plea, defence lawyers have argued that there is no evidence that the Excel formula involved cheating or fraud.
They contend that the system involved manipulating data, not cheating or fraud, which carries a heavy penalty in Singapore of up to seven years in prison.
It doesn’t take an expert witness to show that baccarat is a game which is skewed in favour of the house. Has the group been convicted of a ham-fisted attempt to gain an edge using covert communication?
Channel News Asia reported:
“Under the Casino Control Act, a person who uses a device to count or record cards dealt in the course of gaming in the casino can be jailed up to seven years, fined up to S$150,000, or both.”
This group of edge-seekers might all end up serving long prison sentences for nothing more than wishful thinking.