Card cheat swindled Chicago casinos out of $219,000: prosecutors

Jianchu Liu (Cook County sheriff’s office, Google)

CHICAGO – A California man cheated two Chicago area casinos out of $219,000, officials said Friday. Jianchu Liu, 47, is accused of working with at least one accomplice to swindle the new Bally’s casino in River North and the Hollywood Casino Aurora between September 12 and November 26.

An Illinois State Police arrest report, which lists Liu’s occupation as “gambler,” does not have many details about how authorities believe Liu cheated the casinos. However, the Bay Area resident was arrested last week for cheating at a Pennsylvania casino’s baccarat table.

Officials there accused Liu of using his phone camera to secretly record the order of cards in a deck. When a dealer offered Liu the opportunity to cut the cards, he manipulated the deck, quickly fanning it out so his phone could capture an image of the card values and sequence, according to the allegations.

Security officials at the Mohegan Sun casino in Wilkes-Barre keyed in on Liu on February 24 when he launched an app on his phone at a baccarat table and darkened the screen so security could not see what he was doing, according to a report by Casino.org. The outlet said he then placed the phone under a stack of scorecards that baccarat players use to keep track of games.

Liu walked away from the table after getting into a “verbal exchange” with a baccarat dealer about how the deck should be handled, Casino.org reported. A few days later, Liu returned and allegedly “attempted to forcefully fan [out]” a deck of cards.

The gaming news outlet said officials believe Liu sent images of deck sequences to an accomplice, who examined the images and provided Liu with betting instructions via a hidden earpiece.

“Liu’s technique, however, appeared to be clumsy,” the report said.

Casino security identified him through his loyalty card and learned he was suspected of being part of a “professional cheating ring” that conned two casinos in Biloxi, Mississippi. The Pennsylvania authorities finally arrested him at Mohegan Sun around 4:30 a.m. on February 26.

Liu was arrested at O’Hare to face local charges of operating a continuing financial crime enterprise and financial crime conspiracy.

Prosecutors had asked Judge Susana Ortiz to detain Liu as a flight risk, saying he was trying to flee to Hong Kong when law enforcement officers arrested him at O’Hare. He allegedly told the cops he was leaving the USA and would never return. Instead, Ortiz will allow him to be released on electronic monitoring if he surrenders his passport and finds a place to stay in Cook County. So far, he has not managed to do that.

He is at least the second person to be criminally charged with cheating at the Chicago Bally’s casino since it opened in September.

Earlier this year, prosecutors charged Isaias Garcia-Martinez, with placing a 200-to-1 bet at a Bally’s baccarat table after the cards were dealt and the outcome of the hand was known. The dealer, not realizing he placed the bet after the game was over, paid him $5,000 and he walked away, according to the allegations.

Gaming agents arrested him when he returned to the casino two days later.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com