|Jail for Cannes
poker cheat who used infra-red lenses to read the cards and win thousands of
dollars - Stefano Ampollini was self-styled 'player and cheat of international
An Italian card sharp
who used infra-red contact lenses to count cards marked with invisible ink has
been jailed for two years.
The self-styled player and cheat of
international renown impressed even the presiding judge for his
sophisticated use of old techniques and high-end technology to win
thousands of dollars at a casino in Cannes on the Cote dAzur. The court
in Grasse heard how Stefano Ampollini, 56 code-named Parmesan
turned up at Les Princes casino in August 2011, wearing a set of infra-red
contact lenses bought online from China for euros 2,000 ($2,800).
Opposite him on the stud poker table was a
discreet accomplice another Italian code-named The Israeli who
sniffed or snorted to help Ampollini choose the right cards. Two corrupt casino
staff members had already marked the cards with invisible ink. Thanks to his
special contact lenses, Ampollini was able to keep track of the game, winning
euros 70,000 ($98,000) without being caught.
Ampollini, who told the
court that he was a player and cheat of international renown (I
have never seen him in the GPI), purchased a pair of infra-red contact lenses
from an online store in China for 2,000, and then created a small team of
men to help him cheat the casinos.
Casino security found his behaviour rather strange as he won
very easily and, above all, because he folded twice when he had an excellent
hand, suggesting he knew the croupiers cards, said Marc Concas, the
lawyer for the Groupe Lucien Barriere, which owns the casino. They called the
betting police, who began an investigation.
After tapping telephones,
the police worked out that staff members had handed cards to the Italians who
had marked them with invisible ink.
They were then placed under
cellophane and returned to the casino cupboard, ready for use. When the Italian
returned alone two months later, he won euros 21,000 ($30,000), but was
arrested as he left the casino.
Ampollini, who confirmed that he had
given other pairs of infra-red contact lenses to unnamed friends,
reportedly smiled as Marc Joando, the presiding judge, marvelled at his
exploits. That did no stop the court on Wednesday jailing him and fining him
euros 100,000 ($140,000).
Two other Italians were also convicted.
Gianfranco Tirrito, 55, described as an elegant professional cheat
and probably the mastermind, was jailed for three years and fined
euros 100,000 ($140,000). Rocco Grassanno, 57, who claimed to have come to the
Cote dAzur for tourism and to meet beautiful women, was
jailed for 30 months and fined euros 50,000 ($70,000).
the first time this sort of technique has been seen in Europe, Mr Concas
The scandal doesnt end there as Ampollini told the court
that he had given other pairs of these infrared contact lenses to some unnamed