How agents foiled a real-life 'Ocean's 11'

Willy Tran, right, and Phuong Truong were part of the Tran Organization, a multi-state casino crime ring. Truong was the leader of the organization. (FBI)

May 26, 2012 6:32:24 AM PDT
Casino heists make for great movies, but in real life they usually end up considerably less glamorous.

Take the botched attempt earlier this week when two thieves attempted to steal $155,000 from a dealer at the Bellagio Hotel in Las Vegas. After spraying the dealer with mace and grabbing the chips, one of the two alleged bandits was literally knocked out of his wig and sunglasses by casino security, quickly foiling the robbery.

There is an exception, however: a group known as the Tran Organization. Based out of San Diego, the group stole more than $7 million from 19 casinos across the country using techniques even Hollywood hadn't thought of.

It started simply enough. In 2002, a dealer at San Diego's Sycuan Casino was caught performing what is known as a false shuffle. The false shuffle is an old sleight-of-hand trick in which a dealer appears to wash and shuffle a deck of cards. In reality, the dealer actually protects a large portion of the cards and keeps them in the order in which they were dealt. That way, players at the table who were watching and tracking the order the cards came out will know exactly how to bet when that deck, or slug, of cards comes back into play.

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