One current and one former member of Team PokerStars are the targets of a lawsuit by Wynn Las Vegas, which is looking to recover $700,000 it says the two won at the casino by illegally cheating at craps.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Leo Fernandez, who is currently a member of Team PokerStars, and Veronica “Princesa” Dabul, who is a former member of the team, allegedly used dice throwing technique known as “sliding” to tip the odds in their favor over the course of about a month this summer. They might have won more than $700,000 had they not been arrested on July 18th.
Dice sliding is exactly what it sounds like: throwing the dice so that one die only slides across the table, rather than tumble, allowing the shooter to control what number is face up when the die comes to rest. The concept of dice sliding is controversial, in that many experts don’t think it is possible to do it effectively or consistently enough to make a difference, but there is no doubt that if someone is able to master the technique that it could pay off significantly. For example, those who do try to slide, or “scoot,” may try to throw the dice so that one ends up on six. This increases the chances of rolling “box cars,” or two sixes, from 30-to-1 to 6-to-1, making the box car bet much more profitable. Though even the best sliders likely wouldn’t be able to make the same number come up repeatedly, even limiting it to one of two numbers would cut down on the losing plays tremendously.
Fernandez and Dabul are suspected of possibly working with other customers to pull off the cheat. During the time period in question, Fernandez checked into the Wynn on June 3rd, while Dabul checked into the Encore, which is connected to the Wynn, on June 12th. They didn’t always play together and Fernandez never bet on rolls in which he was doing the sliding. According to the lawsuit, casino officials pulled the security tapes when the Argentinian couple won $145,000 on just seven slides on July 17th. After confirming the sliding, the Nevada Gaming Control Board was called the two were arrested.
A “legal” roll in craps is one in which the dice are thrown above the table surface, hit the back wall, and tumble randomly. Part of the sliding technique is to roll the dice so that they stop before hitting the back wall, because if they did, they would then bounce off and roll randomly. The walls of a craps table are usually textured with bumps shaped like diamonds or pyramids that will alter the roll of the dice once they make contact. If the dice do not hit the back wall, the boxman (the official at the table who guards the chips) may declare a “no roll” and require the dice to be re-rolled. It is not unusual, however, for a boxman to allow an improper roll if it is viewed as an honest mistake, perhaps by an inexperienced or weak-armed player.
It is suspected that Fernandez, Dabul, or possible accomplices may have distracted the boxman momentarily, causing him to not notice the slide.
Many craps tables now have a “speed bump” built in so as to deter sliders. This bump is either a wire across the center of the table or a small raised portion of the table that would cause a scooting die to start tumbling when it passes over it.
Dabul was released from custody two days after her arrest, while Fernandez was turned over to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Service on July 25th.