Two L.A.-area poker veterans among three arrested for 2021 Vegas casino card-bending scheme

Haley Hintze
Published by:
Posted on: August 12, 2022 6:14 pm EDT

Three men arrested by Clark County authorities in connection with a card-marking scheme used at at least three Las Vegas casinos have either reached plea deals or continue to face charges in connection with the scheme, including two well-known players from the Los Angeles poker scene. Vahan Sudzhyan and Gevorg Avagyan have reached plea deals in connection with the cheating scheme, while Pogos Simityan faces multiple charges in a still-active case.

The three men were accused by authorities of marking cards in a scheme that netted the trio at least $126,000, in a matter that came to the attention of casino security and Clark County (NV) authorities in July 2021. Playing the poker-themed house games Let It Ride and Caribbean stud, the three men were alleged to have bent numerous faces and aces in the decks being used, to make then detectable. The casino manager at Paris Las Vegas notified the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) of the alleged cheating on July 4, 2021.

Months later, after conducting an investigation, NGCB investigators discovered that the trio had also executed the alleged cheating on July 3, 2021, at Planet Hollywood, and on July 25, 2021, at Wynn Las Vegas.

Arrest warrants were issues for all three men in November of 2021, though since they all lived in California, none of the three were immediately arrested. Sudzhyan and Avagyan soon entered into plea-deal negotiations with Clark County prosecutors, while Simityan’s attorney initially sought to quash the arrest warrant, though he ultimately surrendered to the Nevada authorities on Monday.

All three men faced or continue to face four felony counts of committing a fraudulent act in a gaming establishment, while Simityan still faces two additional felony counts, for cheating in a gaming establishment and cheating at gaming. Simityan posted a $20,000 surety bond after his arrest and must appear at a preliminary hearing in November.

“Card bending is a method of cheating where a player bends the corner[s] of playing cards one way or the other based on their values,” NGBC investigators stated in their criminal complaint. “This enables a player to know what value the dealer’s hole card[s] are based on the way it lays on the table game.”

Simityan, Sudzhyan have extensive tournament-poker histories

Two of three men, Suszhyan and Simityan, have dozens of recorded poker-tournament cashes in their past. According to the Hendon Mob, Sudzhyan has amassed more than $850,000 in 77 total cashes dating back to the late ’00s, largely in L.A.-area rooms but with a few other southern California and Las Vegas events mixed in. His largest recorded cash is for a fourth-place showing in a 2019 WPT Legends of Poker prelim event for $168,630.

Simityan’s recorded poker winnings date all the way back to 1997, and he has cashes totaling more than $420,500. His cashes are exclusive to southern California (and largely L.A.-area) rooms, though his largest cash, $30,186, came in the 2009 WSOP Circuit Main Event at Harrah’s Rincon, near San Diego.

The third alleged cheat, Avagyan, does not appear to have any recorded poker-tourney cashes. Whether he has played in poker cash games in the L.A. casino scene is not publicly known.