June 29, 2014

29-Year-Old Poker Pro Johannes Strassmann Found Dead in Ljubljana

After receiving the results of a DNA test, Slovenian police confirmed that the body found in the river Ljubljianica on Friday is the one of German poker player Johannes Strassmann.

Strassmann, who was in Slovenia to meet with some local high-stakes players, was reported missing on Saturday, June 21, when he disappeared from Ljubljana's old town.

Since then, the local police had tried their best to find him, carrying out numerous operations across the whole country involving a large number of agents, helicopters, and search dogs.

On Friday morning, police found a body on the banks of the Ljublianica River in Ljubljana and performed a DNA test on it as the body was reported to be in too poor of a condition to proceed with an immediate identification.

Twenty-four hours later the test results came in, and authorities confirmed that the body was the one of 29-year-old Johannes Strassmann.

Slovenian police officer Vinko Stojnsek confirmed the identity match. "It is very sad to say that, but it is true," Stojnsek told PokerNews. "The body we have found on Friday is of Johannes Strassmann."

June 27, 2014

Bookmakers count cost of England’s early exit

British bookmakers are cursing their luck that England delivered such a dire display and see themselves dumped out of the World Cup at such an early stage. They had been been anticipating a monumental haul this tournament, one which would provide a financial breakwater ahead of the forthcoming tax changes.

William Hill predicted a turnover double that of the previous World Cup in 2010, to the tune of £200m. Despite England’s lacklustre showing however bookmakers remain positive due to the excitement created amongst gamblers by the array of high scoring and unpredictable matches.

“We are hopeful interest will remain high given the number of goals in the tournament and the free-flowing football,” explained Ciaran O’Brien, a Ladbrokes spokesperson.

A representative of William Hill, Kate Miller, stated how they are pleased with their current turnover and that “pre-tournament targets still remain achievable.” She moved on to say that though England bowing out is a blow, “they were always realistic about their likely performance.”

The general consensus amongst bookmakers is that, with the knockout stages not yet played, it’s too early to draw any overall conclusions from this campaign at this point.

After a fall in bets placed for the meaningless Costa Rica game Ladbrokes and Betfair have attempted to come up with solutions to maintain interest in the competition. Ladbrokes have offered to refund some losing bets from England’s 2-1 loss to Uruguay whilst Betfair have adopted a similar approach.

It’s an extremely difficult time for British bookmakers with the looming tax alterations and the recent general tightening of regulations which have seen share prices fall drastically. As such this World Cup gained enhanced significance with all seeking to gain a larger market share ahead of the changes. They are not the only victims however; pubs and bars, hopeful of a early summer treat with England’s games always certain to pack the place out, will also bear the brunt of another disappointing performance.

The tournament has at least confirmed the expected, continued trend for in-play betting and the popularity of betting via smart phone or tablet. With precious few draws in the competition so far bookmakers have been helped by the performances of Costa Rica and Chile who have surprised many with some excellent results.
Betfair’s James Midmer said how; “Costa Rica and Chile have been the bookmakers’ friends in the group stages.” Both made it through to the next stage with Costa Rica the shock package of the World Cup having beaten both Uruguay and Italy.

June 26, 2014

888 to review Luis Suarez poker sponsorship

888poker are currently reviewing their partnership with Luis Suarez, after FIFA launched an investigation into yesterday’s alleged bite on Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini.

The controversial Liverpool and Uruguay playmaker clashed with the Juventus clubman in the 79th minute of their 1-0 win at the Estadio das Dunas. Referee Marco Rodriguez missed the incident, although he awarded a free kick against the South Americans. However, the company released a statement via their official twitter account, which reads: “Following recent allegations made against Luis Suárez, we are reviewing our relationship with him. We will not tolerate unsporting behavior.”

The striker penned an agreement to become their global brand ambassador just last month, but that deal is now in jeopardy, as is his career with the Reds. The number 9 could face another spell on the sidelines after the governing body confirmed that it has the power to take retrospective action. FIFA intervened after Italy’s Mauro Tassotti lashed out at Spain’s Luis Enrique in their World Cup quarter final clash at USA 94. He was subsequently banned for a record eight international games, but given Suarez’s previous in his time for Ajax and the Reds, he could be barred for up to two years if proven guilty.

Potential suitors Real Madrid and Barcelona have expressed interest, but question marks will remain as to whether Brendan Rodgers will cash in on the frontman, someone he stuck by after biting Chelsea’s Ivanovic last year.

Poland to amend Gambling Act and allow foreign operators

The Polish Government drafted its first ever amendment on licensed online gambling. The amendment will look to be attached to Poland’s existing Gambling Act, and would remove various obstacles for foreign based sports betting and igaming operators to market products in the region.

The amendment will remove existing legislations that require gambling companies to operate within Polish borders. This existing legislation has limited the number of operators wanting to target the Polish igaming market.

The new Polish gambling legislations, will permit for EU licensed and regulated igaming operators to enter the market. However all operators wishing to enter the market, will have to comply with Polish tax frameworks regarding gambling.

The new amendment will ask all operators to supply financial documents and reports in the Polish language.

Poland had been pressured by the EU to review its igaming framework, since it did not comply with European Commission laws. It is thought that Poland will fast track online gambling legislation with a view to have the necessary framework for foreign operator licensing by the first quarter of 2015.

Bwin.Party Considering Selling Off Some Or All Of The Company

UK-listed online gambling operator Bwin.party digital entertainment is reportedly considering selling off pieces of itself following a strategic review. Quoting two anonymous sources “with knowledge of the matter,” Bloomberg reported that the company is looking at either selling off its components piecemeal or possibly putting the entire company on the block.

Bwin.party has reportedly hired Deutsche Bank AG to take a long hard look at the online gambling firm’s best and worst-case scenarios. A decision is expected in two months.

The news caps off a particularly grim month for Bwin.party, which closed Wednesday’s trading at 92.65p, a new all-time low. The shares have fallen 22% since June 10, right about the time that New Jersey’s online gambling market reported its second straight month of revenue decline. Days later, rumors of Amaya Gaming’s acquisition of PokerStars reached their fever pitch. Investors have come to realize that not only is the US market incapable of delivering the short-term revenue bump they’d expected, but PokerStars’ imminent arrival in New Jersey means Bwin.party’s slice of that pie is going to get even smaller.

In February, before Bwin.party made peace with its new activist investor Jason Ader, speculation ran high that Ader would push for a breakup of the company. Last July, rumors flew that the company would split into one division focused on regulated markets, another on grey markets and yet another on the fledgling US online market. Bwin.party pulled out of 18 grey markets last April as the company sought to improve its compliance reputation while it underwent scrutiny by New Jersey gaming regulators, a move that accelerated an already downward revenue trend.

It’s been three years since the ill-fated merger of Bwin and PartyGaming, which Calvin Ayre predicted would not end well for investors. Amaya’s acquisition of PokerStars stripped Bwin.party of its ability to describe itself as the world’s largest online gambling company, but it appears that Bwin.party was preparing to pull that trigger itself.

June 21, 2014

Former Whitehawk defender Michael Boateng jailed for involvement in match-fixing

Three men have been jailed at Birmingham Crown Court for conspiring to fix lower league matches last year.

Former Whitehawk defender Michael Boateng was sentenced to 16 months while businessmen Chann Sankaran and Krishna Ganeshan were handed five-year terms after being found guilty of conspiracy to commit bribery.

The jury in Birmingham found Sankaran and Ganeshan were the central conspirators in the plot, and had recruited Boateng, a player from Brighton-based Conference South team Whitehawk FC, to help them. A fourth man, Hakeem Adelakun, was acquitted.

The three guilty men were unanimously convicted on Tuesday following an investigation conducted by the National Crime Agency following evidence of wrongdoing supplied to the agency by the Daily Telegraph.

Ganeshan and Sankaran were caught on camera by an NCA surveillance operation paying Boateng and later placing bets and exchanging large amounts of foreign currency.

Telephone conversations were also recorded before the NCA took the decision to go in and arrest Sankaran and Ganeshan who were carrying over £3,000 in cash between them at the time when they were detained.

NCA branch commander Richard Warner said: “The NCA is in no doubt that Ganeshan and Sankaran were at the very beginning of a concerted attempt to build a network of corrupt players in the UK.

“Their aim was to influence play so that they could make spot bets and manipulate scorelines to generate large sums of money. They clearly had links to business-like networks overseas.

“This is not sport as a football-loving nation recognises it. It is corruption and bribery linked to serious organised crime, and the NCA is determined to stop criminals benefiting from it.

“The evidence in corruption cases is often either verbal or visual. Unless you are there when money changes hands, or plans are made, that evidence is gone.

“We had a vital opportunity here to intervene early, secure the evidence to get convictions, and put a stop to Sankaran’s and Ganeshan’s much wider and more sinister ambitions”.

In his closing address, Judge Melbourne Inman said: "Professional football and sport play an important part in national life and individuals' lives in this country.

"Those who make determined attempts to destroy its integrity for personal gain must expect significant prison sentences so when such acts are discovered a clear signal is sent to others."

The NCA has liaised with the Gambling Commission and the Football Association. Its investigation continues.

The Football Association, which last month ratified a worldwide ban on football betting, due to be introduced on August 1, issued a brief statement saying: "The FA notes the verdicts in this case and will continue to liaise with the appropriate authorities. The FA will make no further comment at this time.”

June 16, 2014

Thai crackdown on illegal WC betting

Police in Thailand have arrested 58 people involved in illegal betting on the World Cup , according to local news source The Nation.

Pol Lt-General Anant Srihiran said that seven are alleged bookmakers, with two suspected of being bet couriers while the rest are punters. Anant said that the police has also seized Bt41,430 (£753) in cash and four bankbooks with deposits totalling Bt99,530 (£1,800).

The enforcement has also seen 391 betting websites blocked, with Srihiran warning that the police were continuing to monitor and blocking any attempts of the sites to reopen under new domains.

Coral starts pub marketing offer with Admiral

Admiral Taverns has announced an exclusive partnership with bookmaker Coral to give pub customers free bets during the Brazil World Cup – the first campaign of its kind for both companies. The World Cup Football Jackpot promotion will run in almost 200 selected Admiral Taverns pubs, all of which are within a half-mile radius of a Coral betting shop.

The business building initiative, which is designed to drive footfall to pubs, and awareness and engagement with live televised games in pubs, will give licensees a certain quota of free bets – for both them and their customers.

Admiral commercial manager Simon Eyles, who spearheaded the initiative on behalf of the community pub group, said: “This is about maximising a once-in-four-year event for our licensees and their pubs. The World Cup is a fantastic trading opportunity for pubs all over the country, especially given Brazil’s pub-friendly timezone, and offers licensees a chance to engage with current customers and attract new ones.

“Some in the industry might regard bookmakers as something of a competitive threat but we believe there are some great opportunities to build partnerships, and believe this initiative will serve as a great platform for further collaboration between Admiral and Coral.”

Participating pubs have 200 £1 free bet coupons to offer customers to predict the outcome – win, lose or draw – of 15 matches from the World Cup group stages. Furthermore, during each of England’s three group matches, customers can pick up one of 100 £5 free bet codes to use on their smartphone via the Coral website, when they watch the live England match in the pub. Licensees also have 10 £5 free bets to use themselves, or for their staff, as a thank you for taking part.

Jack Chapman, head of retail sports marketing at Coral, said: “This is the first such promotion Coral has run in the pub sector, and we are delighted to be doing so exclusively with Admiral, who have many great sports pubs across the country. We look forward to seeing how customers and licensees engage with the promotion during England’s campaign in Brazil.”

A range of POS will support the offer in pub, including beer mats, posters, bar runners, leaflets and a bar-top voucher dispenser, and all of the marketing material has been created to complement Admiral’s current world cup promotion, in a similar design.

June 13, 2014

European Court upholds German online gambling regulations

The European Court of Justice ruled on today that Germany’s strict regulation of online gambling was justified even if the regional state of Schleswig-Holstein had eased the rules for online gambling.

Digibet had taken the case to the European court as they had been blocked from offering online gambling in Germany and believed it to be unconstitutional as one stae allows online gambling so why not all of Germany.

“The 15 remaining states were not required to change their rules just because a single state had pursued a more liberal policy for a limited time,” the European court said in a statement.

June 10, 2014

Sportsbet go for World Cup stunt

Sportsbet in Australia finding that gamblers were not rushing to bet on their national football team in the forthcoming World Cup in Brazil, went for a Paddy Power style stunt with a 46-metre high hot air balloon in the image of Brazil’s famous Christ the Redeemer statue.

Gamblers in Australia have not been too inspired in betting on the countries Socceroos team to do well in the tournament so Sportsbet took to the skies over Melbourne with the giant air balloon to generate some interest.

However not all were impressed with the stunt with Twitter being split on the use of a Christian religious figure being used to promote gambling.

one user joked “He has amazing healing powers!” while another labelled it “revolting and offensive”.

The Anglican Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr Philip Freier, was unimpressed with the stunt.

“The Sportsbet campaign is simply a blatant attempt to boost business. The fact that it has sought to exploit Christian symbols shows both the power of those symbols and the company’s desperation to be relevant,” Dr Freier said in a statement.

“But the campaign is hypocritical because the Jesus who overturned the money-changers’ tables in the Jerusalem Temple would not encourage betting. And it is incoherent, in claiming the Socceroos are so inadequate that they need a miracle but patrons should nevertheless bet on them, while suggesting that the company is the author of miracles.”

Sportsbet.com.au spokesman Matthew Campbell said the stunt was to get people behind the Socceroos.

“The statue’s an icon of Brazil and all we’re doing is bringing it to Australia.”

June 06, 2014

Millionaire to sue Les Ambassadeurs for £10 million

A millionaire businessman and poker player is suing London’s Les Ambassadeurs Casino for £10 million because he believes that two professional pokers players he played against at the casino were colluding to ensure he lost millions over the years he played poker there.

In what has been said to be high stakes poker games held at the casino with Arab Sheikhs and footballers such as Nicklas Bendtner worth millions over the years he played, he suspected that two professional poker players were teaming up to beat him and hence refused to pay a cheque he wrote to the casino for £185,000.

This reacted in Les Ambassadeurs filing a court action against Iraj Parvizi for the unpaid debt, followed after then by the claim by Parvizi that he wants £10 million because of the collusion he says went on.

Neither of the professional poker players were named in the court action, which also includes the casinos masseuses which he says were signalling to the poker players what cards he had at the table.

Lawyers for Les Ambassadeurs have denied the charges and say they will now fight the case in court. On a separate issue Parvizi is also facing a court battle of his own for alleged insider trading in stocks and shares in the London Stock exchange.

Bally acquire social casino company Dragonplay

Bally Technologies today announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Dragonplay Ltd. (“Dragonplay”), a leading online social casino company headquartered in Tel Aviv, Israel, with top-grossing applications for Android, as well as a significant presence on Facebook and Apple iOS.

Launched in 2010, Dragonplay ranks among the 10 top-grossing game developers in the social casino genre with approximately 700,000 daily active users (“DAU”) and nearly three million MAU across all platforms. In the “Card” category on Google Play, Dragonplay’s poker game Live Hold’em Pro is ranked number one in the top-grossing category.1 In the “Casino” category on Google Play, Dragonplay Slots is a top 10 performer in terms of active users.1

“With over three years of topping various performance charts on Google Play, Dragonplay has successfully and consistently demonstrated its ability to acquire, monetize and retain social gamers by creating compelling games with staying power in the social casino space,” said Bally’s Chief Executive Officer Richard Haddrill. “We expect this strategic acquisition to help position Bally at the forefront of social casino gaming by leveraging our world-class content, including proprietary table games and award-winning video slots, on Dragonplay’s increasingly popular social casino. Additionally, with the majority of its revenues generated from smartphones and tablets, Dragonplay has proven remarkable foresight and leadership in the mobile space, which is the fastest growing segment of social gaming.”

Total consideration includes approximately $51 million in upfront cash, plus the amount of net working capital, payable to Dragonplay’s shareholders in exchange for all of the issued and outstanding equity, and approximately $49 million in additional earn-out consideration and employee retention payments over the next 18 months subject to Dragonplay meeting certain financial performance targets. Bally expects to fund the transaction from cash on hand and proceeds from its revolving credit facility. For the 12 months ended March 31, 2014, Dragonplay generated over $10 million in EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization, including share-based compensation).

Dragonplay’s Chief Executive Officer Sharon Tal said, “Dragonplay and Bally share complementary cultures focused on innovation and user experience. Both companies are committed to providing unique and stimulating content to players across the globe that enjoy playing entertaining casino-style games. I am confident that leveraging Bally’s vast library of proven slot and proprietary table game content will provide our loyal player base with an even more robust experience, which is expected to augment Dragonplay’s growth trajectory.”

Subject to completion of certain customary closing conditions, Bally expects to close the acquisition of Dragonplay in July 2014 and expects the acquisition to be accretive to Bally’s fiscal 2015 adjusted earnings per share.

Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP and Meitar Liquornik Geva Leshem Tal are serving as legal counsel to Bally. The Raine Group is serving as financial advisor to Dragonplay, and Fenwick & West LLP and Raved, Magriso, Benkel & Co are serving as legal counsel to Dragonplay.

June 04, 2014

LGBT poker room unveiled

LGBT poker room unveiled as lgbt-poker.com opens for business with the lofty aim of being one of the most prestigious and highest ranked poker rooms in the world.

“We were born on May 17th, 2014.”

That’s the statement adorning the newest online poker room to hit the market: lgbt-poker.com.

Not much is known about the new site except that it is tailored to provide a poker-playing, and social experience, for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) community.

It’s a play money site, but it does offer a twice-weekly free roll with the chance to earn €100 in cash, and these tournaments start at 8pm (GMT) on a Wednesday and Saturday, with the top three finishers receiving a cash prize. Each player has 1,500 chips and the blinds increase every 5-minutes!

The site welcomes complete newbies to the game with a well-tailored video designed to explain the rules of Texas Hold’em, which is the only game played on the site.

There are plans for a Bad Beat Jackpot, and cash games, but at the moment only tournaments and SNGs are available.

There were around 67 players on the site when I dropped in to the say hello. Players have the ability to use a live webcam and mic to chat and have a gander, but everyone was a bit camera shy during my visit. There is also a private chat area where you can send a private message to any individual player.

The game is browser based, so it’s very quick and easy to get up and running, and any money won in the free roll tournaments is transferred via ‘Western Union within 12 hours after filling in the appropriate forms.’

The new site has also spawned social media outlets on Twitter and Facebook, but as of yet the noise is very quiet indeed.

Unified California tribes’ draft of online poker bill features PokerStars poison pill

As promised, a coalition of California’s major tribes has cobbled together the draft text of a new online poker bill (viewable here). The 13 unified tribes – including the Agua Caliente Band of Mission Indians, the San Manuel Band of Mission Indians, the Pechanga Band of Luiseño Indians, the Rincon Band of Luiseño Indians, the Pala Band of Mission Indians and the United Auburn Indian Community — wrote a letter expressing their support of the Internet Poker Consumer Protection Act of 2014 to state Assemblyman Reggie Jones-Sawyer and state Sen. Lou Correa, the authors of two previous legislative efforts to bring online poker to the Golden State.

However, the apparent lack of support of the Morongo Band of Mission Indians and the draft’s explicit exclusion of the Morongo’s chosen technology partners PokerStars could doom the bill’s chances. The bill contains strict ‘bad actor’ provisions that would prevent any company that took wagers from US residents after Dec. 31, 2006 from participating in a regulated California online poker market. That prohibition extends to those companies’ software, brands, databases and other assets.

At a recent online gaming conference in Sacramento, Morongo chairman Robert Martin said his group would likely mount a legal challenge of any legislation that included such bad actor provisions, arguing that determinations of suitability were best left to regulators, not legislators. However, the draft contains a poison pill that would nullify the entire bill if a court ruled that its bad actor provisions were unconstitutional.

As for the bill’s other nuts and bolts, eligibility for licensing is limited to licensed card rooms and federally recognized California tribes already offering poker at their land-based gaming facilities. (Racetracks are out of luck.) Licensees would be limited to offering two online poker ‘skins’. A license would cost $5m up front but this would be credited against future tax payments, which are set at 5% of revenue. Licenses would be valid for 10 years, with automatic renewals for the same duration.

The bill is explicitly intrastate, meaning any liquidity sharing with other states and/or foreign jurisdictions would require separate legislation. Players would have to be 21 years of age and it would be a misdemeanor to play online poker on sites not holding a California license. Specific regulations would need to be drawn up within 180 days of the bill’s passage and all licensees would face the same ‘go live’ date to ensure no one got a head start.

And now it gets interesting. If the draft bill were to be introduced as is and receive the support of 2/3 of both legislative houses and become law, do the Morongo choose to mount a legal fight against what they view as the anti-compeitive impulses of the 13 other tribes, thereby subjecting implementation of the state’s online poker regime to a lengthy delay? What’s more, should the Morongo win the fight, the legislative clock resets to zero, resulting in even more delay (and frustration) for California poker players.

June 03, 2014

Vietnam charges 59 over links to M88.com sports betting site

Vietnamese authorities have filed charges against 59 individuals over their involvement with online sports betting site M88.com. The illegal betting ring was broken up last January following a three-year investigation into the local connections of the Philippines-based website. Police said the ring involved some 12k locally registered bank accounts the site used to transfer money to and from local bettors via agents on the ground. The ring is believed to have processed wagers worth hundreds of millions of US dollars before being shut down.

Among those facing organized gambling charges are Nguyen Le Sang, a former deputy director of PR and marketing at the Vietnam International Bank. Thanh Nien News reported that Sang was paid US $100k to open eight bank accounts through which more than VND 585b (US $27.6m) in betting funds was transmitted. Cu Thi Thanh Hai, a former deputy director with telecom firm News Plus, was paid $35k for opening six accounts through which VND 64b was wagered. Two other agents are accused of opening accounts handling over VND 500b apiece, for which they received unknown remuneration.

Nugyen vo Hoai Tram, also a director at News Plus and the ring’s alleged mastermind, remains at large. Police say Tram began his relationship as M88’s advertising agent in 2010. The timing of the charges was no doubt intended to remind other would-be sports betting entrepreneurs that handling wagers on this month’s FIFA World Cup is not without its potential downside.

Not content to focus on football, Vietnamese authorities are also taking action against illegal lotteries. A major illegal numbers operation that handled “dozens of billions” in daily wagers (12b VND = US $564k) was broken up in Ho Chi Minh City last month. Players could win up to 80x their original wager by playing the so de numbers game, which was based on the official state lottery. Police fingered 36-year-old Nguyen Ngoc Thang as the ringleader who utilized dozens of agents across the city to collect bets and pay winnings. Police arrested 28 individuals and seized computers, phones, fax machines and over VND 2b in cash.

Federbet Press Conference on match fixing in the European Parliament

How Does Counting Cards in Blackjack Work?

Owning a casino isn't much of a gamble. In almost every game, the casino has a statistical advantage—so for every one gambler raking it in, there are more than enough people leaving with empty pockets to net an enormous profit. But between the rolling dice and spinning roulette wheels, there’s one game—if played with the right strategy—where the odds are actually in the gambler’s favor. That game is blackjack. You just have to learn how to count cards.

Blackjack, also called twenty-one, is one of the most popular casino games in the world. In this push-your-luck card game, you attempt to beat the dealer at getting as close to 21 points worth of cards. While the dealer always has to follow a simple set of betting rules, the gambler is free to pursue the best strategy available. And despite popular belief, with enough practice, anyone can count cards in blackjack; you don’t have to be a genius, and although it’s called "counting cards," you’re not memorizing which cards have been played. Here’s why and how it works.

In a normal game of blackjack played with a single deck of cards, the "house edge"—the statistical likelihood that the casino will come out on top—is essentially nil. That means that if you play according to the very best strategy available (by memorizing and following the optimal method), in the long-run you’ll break even. That doesn’t sound like much, but blackjack is the only table-game that can claim such advantageous odds. And it’s these odds that make blackjack ripe for card counting.

In simple terms, "counting cards" just means keeping a tally of certain cards while the dealer burns through the deck. By keeping that tally—although you still play with the same strategy as before—you know approximately which cards are more likely to come up for both you and the dealer in the next hand.

And that little bit of information can tell you when to bet big, or when to bet small. Having more low-numbered cards left in the deck is bad. It means you’re less likely to get a blackjack (21 points on your first two cards, which pays a bonus) and the dealer is less likely to "bust"—get over 21 points worth of cards—due to the dealer’s rigid betting rules. And more high-numbered cards are good for the opposite reasons.

If played correctly, counting cards improves your odds by around 1 percent. Again, that doesn’t sound like much, but over many, many hours and even more hands of cards, you can count on netting in the green.

There are more than a few card counting strategies, but perhaps the best and easiest is a system called High-Low.

Using the High-Low strategy, the card counter only has to keep a simple mental tally of three groups of cards. Every time he or she sees a high number card played on the table (the 10s and all the face cards), the counter subtracts 1 from his or her tally. For every low number card (the twos through sixes) the counter adds 1 to his or her tally. The middle cards (the sevens, eights, and nines) are simply ignored.

If, for example, the running tally is at +3, that means the upcoming cards are more likely to be high, and thus it’s advantageous for the player to bet big. If the tally is at -2, the odds are on the dealer’s side because of the forthcoming low cards, and so it’s best to bet small. And when the deck is shuffled, the count goes back to 0.

With enough time, this straightforward tally becomes effortless. But the key to success is practice. Card counting is a long-term strategy, and keeping your 1 percent edge requires playing by the book game after game, while keeping count of what cards are rapidly being dealt and flipped on the table. And in a bustling casino brimming with coming and going players, that means staying focused.

Despite what any casino would like you to think, card counting is not illegal. You’re not cheating—you’re simply out-thinking the house. But casinos know that card counters can and will lose them money. And they take advantage of their right to deny service to anyone they please by searching for and kicking out suspect gamblers.

From a casino’s perspective, a telltale card counter is someone who’s hyper-focused on the game, and plays for long stretches of time, and bets amounts that vary wildly and seemingly randomly (as the odds swing in or out of the card counter’s favor). But there are a few ways you can fool the casino.

First, don't look the part. Dress like a tourist, chat with the dealer, and take your time when betting—normal players don’t have a betting strategy drilled into them. This is also where your card counting practice will help, because if keeping your tally becomes truly effortless, small-talk won’t derail your work.

Second, vary your bet minimally. While this decreases your advantage, it increases your card counter camouflage. Doubling or tripling your bet suddenly is the quickest way to flag yourself, and not only will that draw unwanted attention, but the dealer will likely shuffle the deck, ruining your count. So try to fly under the radar of the pit bosses and ever-present eyes of the casino’s security.

Lastly, don’t stay at one casino or one table for too long. As a card counter, you’re now the only (legal) snag in a casino’s otherwise solid business strategy—a wandering statistical anomaly—so take your show on the road.

Inside the Fixing: How a Gang Battered Soccer’s Frail Integrity

Rovaniemi, Finland — A man arrived at the police station here in 2011 with an unusual tip. He told the police that a Singaporean man was fixing matches with the local professional soccer team. The police were incredulous.

This city on the Arctic Circle is known as the hometown of Santa Claus. It boasts a theme park with reindeer, elves and jolly St. Nicks. It is also a popular destination for Asian couples looking to make love under the Northern Lights. Rovaniemi is known for many things, but not for organized crime.

“Then after a few days, we started to realize that we had something real,” said Arttu Granat, a police detective at the time who hunts moose on the weekends. “So we started to build up the surveillance team.”

The detectives soon discovered that Wilson Raj Perumal, a match fixer from Singapore, was toiling away in Rovaniemi, working with several players, unbeknown to the coach. Mr. Perumal was considered a risk by his associates in a Singaporean match-rigging syndicate, so the group had sent a representative to Finland to tip off the police, Mr. Granat said.

Mr. Perumal was arrested and given a choice: Talk or be sent back to Singapore, where his punishment might be severe.

Mr. Perumal talked. His account — along with confidential documents, judicial investigations and interviews with people with knowledge of the syndicate’s operations — revealed how pervasively illicit gambling operations have infected global soccer, leaving the legitimacy of what fans see on the field more fragile than ever.

The match-fixing syndicate Mr. Perumal worked for very effectively exploited soccer’s vulnerabilities. According to European police investigators, the syndicate has manipulated hundreds of professional soccer matches around the world by identifying players and referees ripe for bribery — particularly in countries that pay low wages.

The syndicate’s schemes often succeeded with apparent ease, including the rigging of exhibition games in the lead-up to the 2010 World Cup, raising concerns about the ability of officials to thwart match fixing.

The Apprentice Fixers

Mr. Perumal learned his trade in an informal school for match fixers in Singapore, along with Tan Seet Eng, a Singaporean man known widely as Dan Tan. In the early 1990s, they would gather in the stadiums where illegal bookmakers would take bets on the Malaysian-Singaporean soccer league.

The fixers were so successful that a Malaysian Cabinet minister estimated that they succeeded in fixing more than 70 percent of the league’s matches. The corruption was so bad that the Malaysian-Singaporean league collapsed.

At the bottom of the fixers’ hierarchy were runners: the go-betweens for the players and the fixers. Above the fixers were influential businessmen with the money to back the more expensive fixes and the protection muscle to make sure the network ran smoothly.

In the syndicate’s early days, there was one king, known as Uncle Frankie, a legend among match fixers. He was a Chinese-Indonesian businessman who sometimes used the name Frankie Chung, but his real name could not be confirmed. He knew that the global expansion of soccer presented lots of fixing opportunities. Uncle Frankie would go to major international tournaments, like the World Cup, and try to bribe players and referees.

Uncle Frankie taught Mr. Tan and Mr. Perumal the dirty secret of international soccer: Many teams and their personnel are poor, so they often have players, coaches and referees open to bribes.

“In every competition you find gamblers around,” said Kwesi Nyantakyi, president of the Ghana Football Association. “Yes, every competition. Every competition, they are there. It is done all the time in major competitions. In all the major tournaments, World Cup, Cup of Nations.”

“The gamblers are not Africans,” he added. “They are Europeans and Asians. So they have a lot of money to bet on these things.”

With its talented players with little money, Ghana is one of the countries that fixers frequently target at international tournaments, Mr. Nyantakyi said. So he was not surprised when, in 2007, it was discovered that there had been an attempt to fix an international match involving Ghana’s celebrated goalkeeping coach, Abukari Damba, who was working with the Singaporean fixers.

After some players turned him in, Mr. Damba confessed and said in a Ghana Football Association hearing that he had worked with the Singaporean fixers for 10 years.

Enter the Croatians

Mr. Perumal joined the international match-fixing group in 2008. In his interrogation cell in 2011, he charted the syndicate’s organization for Mr. Granat and other Finnish police officers. It had European partners and Chinese backers who supplied money allegedly laundered through casinos in Macau.

The match-fixing syndicate was a criminal network, according to European police investigators. Europeans supplied compliant referees, players and coaches; Mr. Tan and the Singaporeans provided access to the vast, unregulated sports gambling market in Asia.

If the match fixers had only the referee on the take, they would say it was a one-star fix. In this case, the Asian syndicate would bet a smaller amount. If the local fixers had the entire team and the officiating crew on the take, it was called a five-star fix, and the syndicate would wager far more.

This system was devised at a meeting in a hotel room in Vienna in September 2008 between the Asian syndicate run by Mr. Tan and Ante and Milan Sapina, two Berlin-based Croatian brothers who had a vast network of corrupt soccer players, referees and coaches. The Sapinas have twice been convicted of match fixing in Germany and are in prison there.

Together, they fixed hundreds of soccer matches around the world, targeting nearly every league — from the prestigious Champions League and World Cup qualifying matches to obscure, low-level matches. Once the Sapina brothers had persuaded their contacts to fix matches, Mr. Tan could then place bets on the Asian sports gambling market, the biggest in the world. Because much of the Asian market is underground, estimates of its size vary greatly. Patrick Jay, a senior executive of the Hong Kong Jockey Club, one of the largest government-controlled gambling companies in the world, estimated that the Asian market handled $1 trillion in wagering.

“It is huge,” Mr. Jay said. “FIFA boasts about how much money they make every four years with the World Cup. You know what they call $4 billion in the illegal betting markets in Asia? Thursday.”

680 Suspicious Matches

Terry Steans, a former FIFA investigator who now runs a sports security company in the United Kingdom, said the syndicate of Mr. Tan and Mr. Perumal moved fixing to another level from the early days of simply approaching players in hotel rooms.

“They organized tournaments where they invited entire teams — no one watched the games, they were not televised,” Steans said. “The whole thing was set up for the gambling markets.”

In February 2011, the syndicate orchestrated one of the strangest tournaments. It invited the national teams of Estonia, Bulgaria, Bolivia and Latvia to Antalya, Turkey. The tournament’s games were played in near-empty stadiums. They were not televised. Yet they attracted millions of dollars in bets on the Asian market.

All seven goals were scored on penalty kicks — all awarded by referees the syndicate had chosen and flown in.

“For sheer nerve, it has to rate high up there,” Mr. Steans said. “They hired the stadium. Would not sell tickets. Would not allow fans in. No television. Four international teams. Bought the referees and made money on the gambling market. It is pretty brazen.”

FIFA eventually barred the referees.

In February 2013, Europol, the European Union’s police intelligence agency, said the results of 680 matches worldwide from 2008 to 2011, including World Cup qualifying matches and European Champions League matches, were considered suspicious. Mr. Tan’s group did most of this work, investigators said.

In Italy, Mr. Tan was so successful working with Balkan associates who had connections with Italian organized crime that more than 20 Italian professional soccer teams were investigated for match fixing. A senior investigator of Italy’s National Organized Crime Task Force labeled Mr. Tan as the “No. 1 wanted man in Italy.”

“For their part, Dan Tan and his group constitute a criminal network that is both dangerous and quick to violence in case of anyone who breaks their rules,” an Italian prosecutor wrote in his statement. “This is stated in the testimony of one of the members who said it takes very little in the case of treason by one of the group to risk their murder.”

The European investigators determined that Mr. Tan’s syndicate also managed to fix matches played in the United States. In 2010, it persuaded a majority of El Salvador’s national team to throw a game against D.C. United of Major League Soccer as well as an international match against the United States in Miami. Many of the Salvadoran players were subsequently barred for life.

The Syndicate Lives On

In 2011, Mr. Perumal was found guilty of corruption in Finland and was sentenced to two years. He was released early. In late April, he was arrested again in Finland because, the police said, he had returned to the fixing business and had an outstanding international arrest warrant. He faces extradition to Singapore.

Last year, Singaporean law enforcement officials arrested Mr. Tan. However, he is in indefinite detention and may not stand trial. The scale of his match fixing may never be fully revealed.

Their arrests are not expected to stanch match fixing in Asia. Mr. Granat, the detective who helped disrupt Mr. Perumal’s exploits in northern Finland, said he ultimately recognized the group’s extraordinary reach.

“I remember I started to take it seriously when Wilson Raj Perumal had been in prison for a week and he told me, ‘This particular game next week will be fixed,' ” Mr. Granat said. “He was in custody, and he could still tell me these things.”

In a recent interview in Kuala Lumpur, an associate of the syndicate’s discussed the group’s next phase. “Dan Tan and the others are locked up, but the betting cartel has just carried on,” he said, speaking on the condition of anonymity for fear of retribution.

“They have new people to do their work. There is no stopping them.”