In Vietnam’s gambling world, where cheating is common, the loser is the one who believes winning comes from talent and luck.
A chip is attached on the disk and others on sides of dice for a "xoc dia" game
From zero to hero
In Vietnam’s gambling world, where cheating is common, the loser is the one who believes winning comes from talent and luck
I had some conversations with Quang – a reputable gambler in Hanoi who earns his living by gambling – on the cheating technology used in Vietnam’s gambling world and he promised to show me the deepest secrets of his business.
One night he invited me to a coffee shop. After meeting, he asked me to drive straight to a hotel room near Giang Vo Lake. The room became larger when the bed was moved to a corner and gamblers took to the center to begin playing cards.
Within two hours, Quang had lost just over VND50 million (US$2,440). The cards, after two hours, had become wrinkled and crumpled. Quang asked a servant to replace the deck.
Suddenly, while slowly smoking, Quang increased his bet to VND80 million. His decision surprised the other players. Unlike the previous games, Quang seemed more confident and coolheaded. He flipped his 13 cards and the other players’ faces turned white. He was the winner of the game. The others seemed like they didn’t understand what was happening.
After five hours of gambling, Quang had won a lot of money. On the way back home at dawn I still couldn’t believe how lucky he was. Quang pointed to his eyes and told me the secret was in his contact lenses. He let me wear them, and I felt a little uncomfortable in the dark for a while. But soon I could see every number, every heart, diamond, club and spade, even though he showed me the backsides of the cards. This is where Quang’s luck came from; the lenses and the conveniently timed deck substitution by the servant (Quang had the lenses in before the game began). He also revealed that there are many more “knickknacks” for cheating at gambling.
Whatever you like
As Quang told me, I searched “tools for gambling” on Google and I was up to my eyeballs with results. According to some advertisements the prices vary. For example, a marked deck can be bought for VND100,000. More high-tech tools run in the millions of dong, and others much higher.
I called a seller, Duy, and we set a meeting at a guarded pub in Cau Giay, Hanoi. Duy refused to show me the equipment because he thought doing business in such a place was extremely dangerous. Instead, he said he could bring me to an address where I could buy them.
I agreed and he led me to a house located in a very small alley. The house was stuffed full of boxes he said came from China.
He took a ceramic plate from one open box, a Nokia 6030 and some cards. These were the tools for a popular gambling game in Vietnam – xoc dia. It uses a dice that has pictures of a fish, a prawn, a crab, a rooster, a gourd and a stag. Players place wagers on a board, betting on which picture will appear.
There was a sensor equipped under the ceramic plate and six other sensors installed in each side of the dice that would send signals to the cellphone, Duy explained.
Each side of the dice is installed with a chip so that if the side of a crab is on the top, the crab button on the phone lights up, or vice versa, if the crab button is pressed, the side will appear face-up after shaking. This appliance is used by the person behind the players.
The price of the set was VND6 million ($US293).
He also showed me another winning instrument, a barcoded deck of cards and contact lenses – the devices Quang had used. The price was between VND3 million and VND3.5 million.
Duy said his clients mainly come from northern provinces such as Thai Binh, Nam Dinh, Hai Phong and Quang Ninh.
“Sometimes the supply can’t meet the huge demand,” he said. “Even in Hanoi where a great deal of customers have ordered lenses and barcoded decks. Any game has its own supporting tool. In case the customers have different requirements for the tools, it’s OK too, but the prices will change.”
Electronic tool secretly tied under a player's calf to control the game