A chef who turned high-tech poker cheat with an array of James Bond-style spy equipment to pocket an estimated £250,000 (US$491,000) was jailed for nine months today.
Yau Yiv Lam, 45, and two other partners in crime, repeatedly preyed on casinos throughout London using miniature "up-the-sleeve" cameras and virtually invisible earpieces to reverse the odds and chalk up a string of spectacular wins.
As he filmed cards dealt by the croupier, footage was beamed to an accomplice in a van equipped with video recorders and screen monitors.
London's Southwark Crown Court was told the secretly shot images were played in slow motion so the cards could be identified as they were laid face down on the table.
The vital information was then relayed to a hidden microphone worn by a third gang member and seasoned player at the table.
Police believe the gang targeted a total of six of the capital's 25 gambling joints altogether, making £38,000 in one week alone.
"These casinos have suggested they may have experienced losses of as much as £250,000 from this scam," said Detective Inspector Darren Warner of the Clubs and Vice Gaming Unit.
In the dock with Lam, of Edgware, north London, were Fan Leung Tsang, 41, of Paddington, west London, who was positioned in the van, and player, Bit Chai Wong, 39, from Swiss Cottage, north west London.
Tsang and Wong, who, like Lam, pleaded guilty to one count of "cheating at play" under the 1846 Gaming Act, were also given nine-month prison sentences but suspended for two years.
In addition, they were ordered to carry out 150 hours' unpaid community work and were forbidden from entering any casino or other gambling club for the next 24 months.
Passing sentence, Judge Geoffrey Rivlin QC said: "Between you, you constructed a sophisticated audio transmission system ... a system involving you, Wong and Lam being inside the casino."
The result gave the gang a "virtually foolproof advantage" to walk away with thousands of pounds.
But their very success, said the judge, proved their downfall.
In the early hours of one morning in September 2005, staff at the Mint Casino in Cromwell Road, south Kensington, became suspicious about Wong's apparently extraordinary run of luck.
Out of a total of 44 "plays", she lost just 10 — well above statistical odds.
The judge, who was dealing with the gang only for that single night of dishonesty, continued: "The crime of cheating at play may well be over 150 years old, but, as has been demonstrated in this case, it is still alive and kicking.
"The offense you committed was obviously a carefully planned and executed crime and I have no doubt it passes the custody threshold," the judge added.