The Turlock Poker Room caught three alleged cheaters on July 12, 2010 as skilled players were making unusual moves leading up to a 30 minute win streak totaling $24,000.
Turlock Poker Room co-owners Joe Fernandez and Phil Rheinschild investigated and reported their case that involved one of their own employees.
Attorney General Edmund G. Brown Jr. announced criminal charges on Friday against three people who marked cards at the Turlock Poker Room and stole $24,000 in 30 minutes.
“These people wanted to ensure they would win big at blackjack so they rigged the game, putting hard-to-detect grease marks on the outside edge of the King, Queen, Jack and 10s as well as marks on other cards,” Brown said. “They won $24,000 in 30 minutes but today face felony charges for their actions.”
Media and online gambling news from all over are reporting on the incident while Attorney General Jerry Brown released that “so far this year, the Attorney General has made 100 felony arrests related to gaming-related crimes, such as counterfeit cases, loan sharking, extortion and robbery.”
Turlock Poker Room co-owner Phil Rheinschild said “The fact that these three individuals were caught shows our capacity and our vigilance to provide a fair place to play cards.”
Robert Younan, 46, a Turlock Poker Room floor supervisor, Gabriel Urbieta Rodriguez, 71, and In Cha Say, 58, were scheduled to be arraigned Friday in Stanislaus County Superior Court in Modesto. The three are charged with a total of 11 criminal counts including burglary, conspiracy, grand theft and winning by fraudulent means. If convicted, they could each could face a maximum of three years and eight months in prison.
Agents with the state’s Bureau of Gambling Control arrested the suspects last month for crimes that took place on July 12 at the Turlock Poker Room, which operates 12 tables of card games 24 hours a day.
In two hours, Rodriguez played at a blackjack table where players bet a minimum of $25 and a maximum of $2,500 per hand.
At first, Rodriguez lost more than $6,000. But then, playing two or three hands at the same time, he began to win. Turlock Poker Room employees became suspicious of his unusual playing patterns.. Sometimes, when his cards added up to 17, Rodriguez would ask for another card, or “hit” – the opposite of normal strategy. Other times, he would “stand,” or decline another card, when his cards totaled 11 – also contrary to usual play. In a span of 30 minutes, he won more than $24,000. Those watching him play said that they were, at first, surprised by his run of good luck, and one patron even joked that he found some winning strategies, but soon his actions caught even more attention.
After poker room employees introduced new cards to the table, Rodriguez immediately cashed his chips and left. Agents with the Bureau of Gambling Control later found the cards Rodriguez had played showed grease marks indicating their value. For 10s and face cards, there were marks on the outer edge, while 7s, 8s, and 9s cards were marked at the center. Other cards – aces, 2s, 3s, 4s, 5s and 6s – were not marked.
A review of surveillance video before Rodriguez began winning showed Say placing a large yellow bag behind Younan, the card room floor supervisor. Younan walked to the bag and minutes later, swapped out the cards in the six deck “shoe,” a container that held the three decks of red-colored cards and three decks of blue-colored cards on the blackjack table where Rodriguez was playing.
Turlock Poker Room co-owner Joe Fernandez has summed up the entire media spotlight on the incident involving three alleged cheaters by saying “My deal is hey, if you’re going to come to the Turlock Poker Room and try a stunt like that, we’ll nail you to the wall.”
The case is being prosecuted by the Stanislaus County District Attorney.