A man codenamed Parmesan used infrared contact lenses and marked cards to cheat a French Riviera casino
An Italian has been sentenced to two years in prison after using infra-red contact lenses to count cards marked with invisible ink, in a daring poker scam believed to be “the first of its kind in Europe”
This tale of poker cheats has all the signs of a Hollywood movie: high-tech contact lenses, marked playing cards, corrupt casino employees, and the French Riviera. Back in 2011, an Italian man codenamed “Parmesan” racked up 70,000 euros in one day of poker winnings followed up by 21,000 more in another visit, according to The Telegraph. He and his accomplices — which included two casino employees — found a way to mark the cards with invisible ink. Parmesan, a 56-year-old man whose real name is Stefano Ampollini, then used infrared contact lenses purchased online for 2,000 euros from a Chinese company to read his competitors’ hands.
Like many other card sharps, the men’s downfall was their success. The casino’s lawyer told The Telegraph that “security found his behavior 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.” As with other schemes, it’s one thing to figure out a way to beat the house. It’s quite another to replicate that success without raising alarms in casinos with complete surveillance. This week Ampollini was handed a 100,000 euro fine and a two-year prison sentence for his crimes, while another accomplice was fined the same amount with a three-year sentence. One last man in on the deal was given a 30-month sentence and a 50,000 euro fine.
Guy’s Actual Job: Playing Fantasy Football
His job is literally a fantasy: Drew Dinkmeyer makes his money by betting on fantasy games, and he’s not exactly struggling. The 31-year-old quit his work as an investment analyst in June so he could concentrate on fantasy sports, and he’s making comparable money. “After a few years of playing, I started to have income levels that were commensurate with what I was making in the financial world,” he tells NPR. But Dinkmeyer may not be playing what you’re playing: He plays “daily fantasy sports,” where instead of being stuck with a team for a season, the action is compressed into a single night. So instead of laying down one bet per season, he makes daily bets. (The Wall Street Journal has a good rundown on how it works, and how “advanced statistics” play a part.)
Being a “daily fantasy” player is like day-trading, Dinkmeyer says. “What you’re doing is you’re trying to find a company that is trading for less than it’s really worth.” Fantasy players get a football-player price list, for instance, “and they have to figure out which ones are worth more than those actual prices to compile the best team that can put together the most points.” The Journal reports that of the 30 million fantasy players in America, experts believe no more than 100 earned at least $40,000 last year. NPR notes that Dinkmeyer pads his income by writing about fantasy sports online and hosting a satellite radio show, and has a wife who “does very well in the financial industry.”
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