New Hampshire

Bottom-Dealing Dealer Arrested After New Hampshire Casino Gaming Theft

A card dealer at one of New Hampshire’s numerous small casinos and card clubs has been arrested after allegedly bottom-dealing from a deck during a house-banked game to steer a $2,000 winning hand to a player also believed to be a partner in the scheme. Christopher Hopf, 40, of Shirley, Massachusetts, was arrested on Tuesday after turning himself in to authorities, following an investigation into an incident at Nashua, New Hampshire’s Boston Billiard Club and Casino.

Hopf was formally charged this week with theft by deception, a Class A felony, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. Hopf’s dealing came under scrutiny after police were called to the Nashua club to investigate the probable theft, which included security footage allegedly showing Hopf dealing the winning hand in an unusual style to the winning player. The likely theft occurred during one or more hands of Mississippi Stud, a house-banked table game using prize payouts based on achieving various high poker hands. The alleged theft by deception did not involve a true “poker” game, despite the claims of some local reports.

Hopf (pictured at right) was released on his own recognizance after voluntarily surrendering to authorities and faces an arraignment hearing on March 21 in the March 21 at Hillsborough County (NH) Superior Court South. His alleged partner in the scheme, the player who collected the $2,000 payout, remains publicly unidentified but is also the subject of an arrest warrant, likely for the same theft-by-deception charge. Nashua police stated to local media that the player was believed to be in another state — likely nearby Massachusetts — but was still being sought.

Hopf, who had worked at the Nashua casino for only six weeks, was fired on the spot after the incident was discovered. His as-yet-unnamed partner was banned for life from the club.

According to Kurt Mathias, president of Boston Billiard Club, “The hand that was dealt is a pretty hard hand to get.” Speaking to Nashua’s WMUR TV, Mathias said, “It seemed odd to the pit boss, basically the floor manager, and they immediately went to security and the security cameras.”

“The player was somehow signaled to that table at that time, and he had figured out a way to get the cards to the bottom of the deck so it could work out for his friend,” Mathias added. “The dealer was immediately removed from the table, and the player was removed from the table, and they were separated.”

Cheating of this nature has become far less common in the age of electronic surveillance, though as this episode illustrates, it does still occur. The risk is rarely worth the reward, particularly if the card “mechanic” is less than sufficiently skilled, as appears to be the case with Hopf’s clumsy efforts.

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