Three poker players have been arrested in Barcelona after allegedly cheating on a cruise ship, using distraction and sleight of hand techniques that may have netted them a five-figure sum.
The trio, two Frenchmen and one from the UK, were arrested by Spanish police as the world’s largest cruise ship, the Wonder of the Seas, docked in Barcelona.
It is not clear what game the men were playing, but the cruise-liner’s Casino Royale offers Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Caribbean Stud and Big Raise Stud (all played against the house) as well as poker tournaments and a VIP area for private games.
The ruse involved one man distracting the dealer, while the other two exchanged cards, which makes it likely it was a game against the house.
Their shenanigans, carried out while at sea, were eventually spotted, and when the ship docked in Barcelona – which had just hosted the EPT – agents from Spain’s Guardia Civil Fiscal and Borders Unit were waiting to arrest them.
The unnamed trio were charged with fraud and had roughly €37K (US$37k/£32k) in cash seized, though it’s not clear how much of that was seed money for the scam and how much was profit from their dodgy but ultimately unsuccessful operation.
According to police reports, at least one of the alleged culprits had previous for similar cheating, his name coming up on a database showing a police record dating from 2014 in the US for “the commission of similar acts”.
Launched this year, 2022, the Royal Caribbean cruise ship the Wonder of the Seas truly lives up to its name, with 18 decks and 18 neighbourhoods, including 2,867 cabins and 20 restaurants.
Aside from its casino, it boasts a full-size basketball court, an ice- rink, a surf simulator, and a 10-deck-high zip line, as well as a 1400-seat theatre, two 43-foot (13 m) rock-climbing walls and a “Central Park” which consists of over 10,000 real plants.