Everyone knows that casinos have some of the most advanced security systems in the world. You’d have to have a special kind of genius, or perhaps insanity, to beat these systems. Here are eight of the biggest and most impressive casino cheaters in history.
Tommy Glenn Carmichael
Tommy Glenn Carmichael gained millions of dollars over four decades in Las Vegas, by pulling one of the biggest gambling cheats on slot machines of all time. He was a television repairman, and so rigging slot machines so they worked in his favour came naturally. Slot machines changed a great deal over the years, so he had to change his methods as well. He was notorious, and even collaborated with other cheaters on several occasions. He was caught and released several times over the years, before eventually earning a jail sentence in 1996 and reforming his ways. He even helped develop an anti-cheating device for slot machines.
The self-proclaimed inventor of some of the best casino cheats ever, Richard Marcus, was never charged with anything. He spent over 20 years visiting casinos ll over Las Vegas and finding tricks to cheat them out of millions of dollars. His signature move was a way to win $500 000 on the roulette table if he won, and only lose $5-10 if he lost. If he lost he would quickly move his chip away, and if the dealer saw him he would act drunk and apologetic, and replace the chip, but with a $5 or $10 chip he had hidden in his hand. He had many other casino scams for blackjack, baccarat, poker and roulette, all involving sleight of hand and psychological manipulation (the kind of trick you could never pull on online or mobile casino games!). He was arrested several times but the courts never had enough evidence to charge him. However, he has been blacklisted at all casinos in Nevada. He is notoriously boastful about his and has even written a book.
Dominic “The Dominator” LoRiggio was a master at casino cheats at the craps tables. He practiced for years, and finally mastered a technique of rolling the dice so he could control where they landed. The utmost care is needed for this: the dice need to be set a certain way, gripped precisely, tossed up together into the air and land as softly as possible against the back of the craps table, all while looking perfectly natural. This is in fact not illegal and LoRiggio is still gambling, but many casinos know him and force him to throw differently. But he will be always be known as “The Man with the Golden Arm”, master of gambling cheats that use the laws of physics.
Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo is the most famous at roulette cheater ever. He had a theory that roulette wheels were not random, and so spent hours recording roulette results and analysing them with the help of a computer programme, to figure out the probabilities of the game. He realized that each wheel had imperfections that led it to land on some numbers more often than others. On one of his first nights using this method, he won over 600 000 euros. After amassing over $2 million dollars over the early 1990s, he was banned from casinos. However, the supreme court ruled that nothing he did was illegal, and so he was never charged. And yet, his roulette casino cheats are the reason casinos today constantly test and monitor their roulette wheels – so don’t think you can pull a copycat trick today.
MIT Blackjack Team
You’ve heard of the film 21 – immortalizing one of the most famous casino scams in history. A team of nerdy blackjack players from MIT developed a strategy that used statistical tactics to take card-counting to new levels. They used a variety of techniques and disguises that kept them from getting caught, and their teamwork strategy won them thousands of dollars every weekend. They gradually began to be identified by casinos, leading members to start quitting. New students would replace those that quit, but casinos began to get much better at identifying card counters, and the team had to retire, but not without their profit of over $5 million.
Edward Thorpe may not be as famous as the MIT blackjack team, but they would not exist if it were not for him, as he invented card-counting. As a mathematics professor, he became convinced there was a mathematical way to beat the game. He studied it for years, using a computer programme to simulate billions of blackjack hands. This was the 1960s, so the computer filled an entire room. His findings boiled down to the fact that smaller cards were more advantageous to the dealer, so when they left the deck players should bet more, and larger cards were more advantageous to the player, so when they left the deck players should bet less. Using this method, the player could gain a 1%-5% edge against the house. Thorpe was no mere theorist: he and his wife on a typical weekend could win $700 000 in today’s money. After a while, casinos asked Thorpe to leave simply because he was winning too much – but they could not work out how. He let the world find out when he published a book in 1962. He was one of the first gambling cheats to be inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.
We end this list with another genius of slot-machine casino scams. He was a computer programmer employed by the Nevada Gaming Control Board for 12 years as a gaming device evaluation specialist. He had to identify flaws in the software that powered casino games at casinos all over Las Vegas. This gave him access to the source code, and a way to rig slot machines in a much more modern way. He modified certain slot machines to pay out large sums of cash whenever a certain number of coins in a certain sequence was put into the machine. From 1993-1995, he and an accomplice proceeded to rob Las Vegas casinos blind. He later developed a programme to cheat at Keno. However, his partner was caught after he arose suspicion by winning $100 000 at Keno and showing little emotion. Harris served two years in jail. Today he is blacklisted and can never gamble again.
You Can’t Cheat Forever
History is full of clever cheaters who managed to win millions before getting caught, or whose method of cheating cannot actually be charged. Casino cheaters come in all shapes and sizes – computer and maths geeks, mechanics, psychological manipulaters and those with deft sleight of hand. They all have something in common though – greed. They don’t play for fun, they play to get rich. Some of them are reformed and some are still blowing their own horns. But all of them eventually get banned from casinos.