Not long after Barcelona wrapped up a big week of poker, the Civil Guard arrested three cheats who arrived in the city aboard the Wonder of the Seas.
Wonder of the Seas is an Oasis-class cruise ship in the fleet of Royal Caribbean. She pulled into Barcelona’s port over the weekend, just as the city was wrapping up a poker festival that combined the EPT with the ESPT.
The Spanish press reported that after Wonder of the Seas docked, the Civil Guard boarded her, and they dragged the three men out cowed and cuffed.
Poker pirates on the high seas
The ship has an onboard casino where the three alleged malefactors played poker. The casino staff had spotted something suspicious during the trio’s sessions at those poker tables and reported it to the police.
During the poker games, two of the players would allegedly swap cards under the table, while the third kept the dealer and other players distracted. This third player’s distraction consisted of a litany of questions that kept the game running slow enough and the table dynamics confused enough for his co-conspirators to pull off their slight of hand.
It’s a simple but bold method of cheating, but one that seems difficult to keep hidden. They were allegedly swapping cards at a table with three to six other people and with cameras trained on them from all angles. Perhaps it should come as little surprise that they were caught in the end.
The three men — two of whom are from France and one from the UK — had €37,000 ($36,738) in cash between them. The Barcelona’s gendarmería do not specify how much of that was winnings and how much was capital.
The Fiscal and Borders Unit of the Civil Guard is expected to charge the men with fraud or attempted fraud.
It has been a big year for big cheating scandals with few consequences. So it restores some faith in the game to see someone getting pinched by the authorities for cheating.