California Poker Pros Arrested in 5k Card-bending Scam

California Poker Pros Arrested in $145k Card-bending Scam

16 Aug

Pogos Simityan

Two poker players with a combined $1.3million in Hendon Mob cashes have been charged with cheating Las Vegas Strip casinos out of tens of thousands of dollars by bending and marking cards.

California-based Armenians, Pogos Simityan and Vahan Sudzhyan, along with a third accomplice, Gevorg Avagyan, were all accused of targeting the Paris Las Vegas, Planet Hollywood and Wynn Las Vegas casinos with their card-marking scam.

Simityan is facing charges of committing fraudulent acts in a gaming establishment, cheating in a gaming establishment and cheating at gaming, while Sudzhyan and Avagyan have already taken plea deals on charges of conspiracy to commit a crime.

Their scam wasn’t carried out in traditional poker variants, but rather in Mississippi Stud and Let It Ride, two popular table games based on poker and played against the house.

Court documents reveal that the casino manager at Paris Las Vegas contacted the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB) on July 4th to report that the trio “were actively bending cards during their gameplay.”

Marking cards

For those who don’t know, bending cards is a way of marking them for future hands.

The court record explains:

“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. 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.”

This is distinct from the “edge-sorting” method used by Phil Ivey and Kelly Sun in their infamous $multi-million lawsuits, in which Sun simply read imperfections in the card designs.

Pogos Simityan is alleged to have “began bending all face cards and aces to gain an advantage during their gameplay.”

CCTV was reviewed by Paris security officers, who detained the suspects, with gaming board personnel subsequently finding that “all face cards and aces on both decks were bent either inward or outward in relation to the non-numbered [front] side of the playing card.”

Vahan Sudzhyan

Poker-based table games

Simityan had cashed out “cashed out approximately $60,000 in gaming chips earlier during his gameplay,” with the total scammed from the Mississippi Stud and Let It Ride games reported as $126,000.

Investigators claim that the same three men “were bending cards the day before at Planet Hollywood,” and on July 5th, the Wynn Las Vegas also contacted the gaming board, claiming “they had also been victimized by the same card bending scheme and suspects.”

The trio allegedly “cashed out approximately $19,000 as a result of their criminal activities,” at the Wynn.

Faking a heart attack

According to reports, Simityan reported chest pain during the NGCB inspection and was taken to hospital. When investigators later went to the Wynn, they discovered Simityan had “abandoned his hotel room,” and was only arrested last Monday.

Pogos Simityan has $420,502 in live poker earnings according to the Hendon Mob, his record stretching back to 1997 and mostly made up of four and small five-figure scores.

Vahan Sudzhyan has a Hendon Mob listing going back to 2007, his live earnings of $851,856 including a fourth-place finish worth $168,630 at the 2019 WPT Legends of Poker Main Event.

Following his arrest last Monday, Simityan was ordered to stay out of all casinos pending his next hearing. Meanwhile, Sudzhyan and Avagyan, who were arrested earlier, “agreed to pay restitution and may serve jail time upon sentencing”, according to reports.

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