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Metropolitan Police
Poker face

Man jailed for cheating at poker in the Playboy Club

He was done for “swift and subtle” card marking.

POLICE IN LONDON have secured their first conviction for a specific type of poker cheating called ‘card marking’.

A 62-year-old man has been jailed for 18 months for the offence. He was also found guilty of using false IDs in casinos across the UK.

Mihai Lacatos used fake identity cards and driving licences to gain entry to casinos he had been banned from.

Met Police said he used the ‘card marking’ technique to cheat at three-card poker at the Playboy Club in Mayfair.

“This involved him using slight of hand to bend specific cards at the poker table, so that he would later be able to tell what the dealer and other players had been dealt, giving him a significant advantage,” police said.

“He spent hours playing at one table so that he could dent the centre of as many cards as he wanted.

He was so swift, and the dents so subtle, that his cheating initially went unnoticed.

PastedImage-62721 One of the dented cards.

He managed to cheat the casino out of $43,400 between 8 January and 15 January last year.

The owners of the casino, Caesars Entertainment, eventually became suspicious. They contacted detectives from the force’s dedicated Gaming Unit who began investigating that same month.

They circulated his image to casinos across the UK and he was arrested on 31 March 2014 at the Rubicon Casino on Regent Street, Northampton after staff there recognised him and called police.


Officers seized £1,485 from him under the Proceeds of Crime Act (POCA) and he was taken into custody. He was subsequently bailed to return to Charing Cross Police Station on 13 May 2014 but did not do so. While on bail, he continued to commit fraud in at least three more casinos.

Detectives began searching for him again and eventually managed to trace him, arresting him in the departure lounge at Luton Airport on 20 November 2014, seizing about £3,000.

“Lacatos spent hours marking cards because he thought he could get away with it, but the gamble didn’t pay off in the long run,” said Detective Sergeant Claire Hutcheon.

We work closely with the casino industry to stop even the most dedicated cheats, like Lacatos.

Lacatos was charged on 20 November 2014 and pleaded guilty to 18 offences at Southwark Crown Court on 27 February. He was sentenced to 12 months for the false document offences, 16 months for the fraud offences for card marking and 18 months for the cheating carried out whilst on bail. All three sentences are to be served concurrently.

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