Radioactive Playing Cards Found in Berlin

10 months ago
Radioactive Playing Cards Found in Berlin
29 Nov

It’s really only half a story – or to be more precise a quarter, or one suit, of a story – but Berlin police recently discovered 13 playing cards laced with a radioactive substance during a raid on a restaurant – the implication being that they were deliberately impregnated in order for card cheats to somehow read them.

According to a brief BBC article on the discovery, ‘Detectives believe players could wear a hidden detector on their bodies allowing them to recognise certain cards, giving them an advantage,’ the find coming after ‘a routine check at a waste treatment facility uncovered an increased level of radioactivity in a rubbish truck’.

On tracing the vehicle back to a Berlin restaurant, police then found ‘13 playing cards laced with iodine-125, a substance used in medicine that has a half-life of 60 days’ which according to the report ‘means it stays radioactive for longer than most other types of radioactive iodine’.

There is no indication what game the cards were being used for, the unnamed venue ‘not authorised for gambling’ according to the BBC, but it wouldn’t be the first time that cards have been marked for nefarious purposes.

Last June I reported on the case of 57-year old Russian Valeriy Mikhaylets who was jailed for 4 months after being convicted of ‘cheating at gambling’ at an exclusive London Casino. Mikhaylets cheated almost £60,000 from other players at the Palm Beach Casino in London’s Mayfair district back in 2014, but fled the country after being released on bail, later being arrested when he traveled from Moscow to Finland.

The cheating was discovered after suspicions were raised about his play in several NLHE events at the Genting-operated casino and mirrors a story from a year previously reported by my former colleague Ines Slatinac.

In that tale, 61-year old Mihai Lacatos was able to cheat numerous casinos across the UK by leaving dents on the cards. The Romanian National was also responsible for entering casinos that he had been banned from using fake ID cards and driver licenses.’

In similar fashion to Mikhaylets, unemployed Lacatos ‘attempted to flee to Romania from Luton Airport but was caught in the departure lounge by detectives’ according to newspaper reports, and was subsequently jailed for 18 months for his crimes.

The BBC report on the Berlin ‘marked cards’ find also relates the story of Italian gambler Stefano Ampollini, who was jailed along with 2 others for a scam involving ‘invisible ink’ and infra-red contact lenses.

In the current case involving the radioactive iodine, it has been reported that ‘German authorities ordered the area to be sealed and cleaned, and say that there is no wider risk of contamination’ and no-one has been arrested in connection with the discovery.

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Andrew from Edinburgh, Scotland, is a professional journalist, international-titled chess master, and avid poker player.Read more


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