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.