Poker player jailed for cheating with infra red contact lenses

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A poker player has been sentenced to two years in prison after being caught out using infra-red contact lenses and cards marked with invisible ink.

As technology from both sides of table fight to outwit one another, this particular scam saw Stefano Ampollini, a 56-year-old Italian known as ‘Parmesan’, win up to £60,000 pounds in one night at a Cannes casino.

Ampollini is clearly from the school where ingenious cheating is a badge of honour. He told his court hearing in Grasse in the South of France that he was a ‘player and cheat with an international reputation’, and that he was proud of his ‘work’. Words that may resonate with many a gambler, but probably did him few favours in court.

He used insiders at ‘Les Princes’ casino to mark cards with the invisible ink, and then used his infra red contact lenses which he had bought in China to read the marked cards.

Ampollini would sit opposite an accomplice, another Italian codenamed ‘The Israeli’, who would make a range of guttural noises or dissolve into a coughing fit to signal which cards should be played.

Marc Concas, the lawyer representing the casion, said: ‘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 croupier’s cards.’

Which rather implies that he would have got away with it if he had just strategically lost a few hands to remain convincing.

In court, the judge seemed particularly admiring of Ampollini’s ingenuity. As the defendant smiled warmly, the judge Marc Joando seemed sympathetic to the high tech rogue before sentencing him to two years in prison and ordering him to pay a €100,000 fine,

Two other people involved in the racket were also sentenced: Gianfranco Tirrito, 55, got three years, and Rocco Grassanno, 57, got two-and-a-half years in prison.

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