MGM National Harbor Dealer Accused of Cheating the Casino

A dealer at MGM National Harbor Casino in Maryland is accused of cheating the house. Ming Zhang lost his job at the casino and faces federal conspiracy charges. The dealer allegedly orchestrated a scheme to give players an advantage in baccarat. Prosecutors say they have photos and phone records related to the scheme.

Zhang is charged with conspiracy to transport stolen funds and is scheduled to appear in US District Court in Maryland this week. According to accusations, Zhang exposed a portion of the deck to a player, allowing them to take a picture with their smartphone. He then carefully avoided shuffling that part of the deck before dealing.

The alleged scheme took place in September 2017. Prosecutors say multiple co-conspirators are suspected to have participated in the scheme with Zhang, with phone records and photographs connecting at least one co-conspirator.

Baccarat is the game of choice for a variety of cheaters and so-called advantage players. Unlike other casino card games, it has a relatively low house edge, a slow pace of play, and requires little-to-no skill from players. This means gaining even a small edge on the house is guaranteed to produce winnings over time.

A small edge was all it took for professional poker player Phil Ivey to win millions from the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City and Crockfords in London playing baccarat. Though neither casino could prove he was cheating, they both won lawsuits against Ivey and his playing partner for their use of an advantage called edge sorting.

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