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Cheating In Casinos

Do not cheat at an online casino. We do not condone cheating in casinos, whether you do it online or at a bricks-and-mortar establishment. Now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s explore how people cheat. 

How People Cheat in Casinos 

Cheating in casinos has existed since the first gaming establishment opened its doors. Name any casino game and some crafty person has found a way to cheat. People have used inside knowledge, mechanical know-how, sleight of hand and accomplices to gain an advantage. Some casino cheats were caught immediately, while others enjoyed a 20-year crime spree before getting caught. There are probably hundreds of people who have gotten away with cheating in casinos that we don’t even know about. They say the best cheaters are those who never get caught. 

Cheating at Roulette

Roulette cheaters have used a number of different tactics: wheel gaffing, sector targeting, top-hatting and magnetic balls.

•    Wheel gaffing: when someone loosens a pocket or sprays it with adhesive to make sure it catches the ball more often

•    Sector targeting: when someone leans on the wheel or the table the wheel is on, causing it to dip to one side

•    Top-hatting: when one players distracts the dealer, while another player places the ball in a different pocket, or the dealer is involved in the scheme and places the ball themselves

•    Magnetic balls: when someone replaces the traditional roulette ball with a magnetic one and a magnet is placed behind the wheel to control where the ball lands

The croupier or dealer is often involved in the plot of most well-known roulette scams over the years. This is common on most of the table games because the dealer is the one in charge of oversight. The pit boss and security personnel watching through cameras overhead also focus on suspicious gamblers, which is why croupiers and dealers often get caught.

Cheating at Blackjack

Counting cards is probably the most famous way to cheat at blackjack; however, it’s not as easy as the movies would have you believe. First, you have to assign a value to every card. Then, you have to keep a running count that is based on the value of the card dealt and calculate the count per deck. Once you’ve figured out the count, you can alter your bets to make a profit. Cheating at an online casino blackjack game is near impossible (we’ll get to that in a bit). 

Cheating at Poker 

Besides bluffing (which is basically lying or “loosely pretending” you have a better hand than you do), cheating at poker is all about sleight of hand and peeking. If the dealer is in on the scam, then they’ll perform a magical sleight of hand trick where you can peek at the cards as they are dealt. The dealer can also give themselves extra cards and reintroduce them into the deck to give you an advantage later. 

Slot Machine Cheats

Cheating the slot machines is the most common way to beat the casino because of the lack of supervision and security around the machines. The crudest method of cheating the slot machines has been through the use of counterfeit money or fake coins (slugs). In the old days (basically any time before 1999), people would tie a coin to their finger, trip the sensor and then pull the coin back out of the device. 

EGM Cheats

Most electronic gaming machine (EGM) cheats involve a combined knowledge of electronics and the machines themselves. Using a lock decoder, criminals have picked the lock on the machines or used electromagnetic pulses to shut off the machine’s electronics, therefore thwarting its defenses. 

Cheating in Online Gambling 

Cheating in online gambling is a little more difficult. Creators of online casino game software know that there are apps and programs on the internet designed to help you cheat. They keep this in mind when making their games. Cheating in casinos is one thing but you’d have to be some kind of IT genius hacker to be able to cheat in an online casino.

Famous Cheaters

Cheating in casinos has become an art form for many people. Not all of them were lucky enough to have their stories turned into Hollywood movies. 

Monique Laurent

In 1973, Monique Laurent, her brother-in-law and their croupier friend devised a remote-controlled roulette ball activated with a transmitter to alter the path of the ball. Stored in a pack of cigarettes, the remote-controlled ball was put into play by the croupier, allowing the scammers to win big. This caper was aptly named the “French Cigarette Pack Scandal” in the media and if not for one of the casino’s security staff members putting two and two together, they probably wouldn’t have been caught.

Joseph Jagger

In the 19th century, Englishman Joseph Jagger hit the Casino at Monte Carlo for about $450,000 before the managers realized what he was doing. Jagger hired six clerks to record results on the casino’s roulette games. He studied the numbers and discovered that one number came up more often, no doubt due to an unbalanced wheel. Such scams are why casinos these days check their machines so often.

Charles Wells

Charles Wells, another Englishman, once won 23 of 30 spins on a roulette wheel in Monte Carlo. During his winning sessions, he won more than $70,000. This feat became so legendary that songwriter Fred Gilbert penned a song about the incident in 1892. The song, “The Man Who Broke the Bank in Monte Carlo,” became a staple of English music hall singer Charles Coburn. It’s reported that Coburn sang the tune over 250,000 times throughout the course of his singing career, which is probably the same number of times that Bruno Mars is going to have to sing “Uptown Funk” over the course of his career. We’re not sure what’s worse. 

The Eudaemons

A group of inventive grad students from the University of California at Santa Cruz built a portable computing machine to help them beat roulette. This group, who called themselves the Eudaemons, had an expected return on their spinning wheel bets of 144 percent. This continued until their machine overheated and started smoking on the casino floor. But, they were able to collect about $10,000 before their scheme went up in flames.

Tommy Glenn Carmichael

In terms of casino cheaters, Tommy Glenn Carmichael is considered by many to be one of the best slots cheats ever. He certainly was the most prolific inventor of mechanical cheating tools and built devices with fun names like the “Light Wand” and “Monkey’s Paw.” His tools were used to beat slot machines in the 1990s until games designers at International Game Technology (IGT) caught wise and came up with their own fail-safe devices to protect their machines. Carmichael was eventually caught and served time in prison. Upon his release, he worked with the Nevada Gaming Commission to come up with “The Protector,” an anti-cheating device. Much to Carmichael’s chagrin, the commission placed his name firmly in their black book, meaning he cannot set foot in a Nevada casino ever again.

Dennis Nikrasch

Over a 22-year period, Dennis Nikrasch cheated Las Vegas slot machines out of around $16 million. Using the tools and know-how he gained by working as a locksmith in Chicago, Nikrasch was able to open up a slot machine, place a computer chip inside that would help him win and close it up in less than a minute. He’d then have an accomplice play the slot machine and collect the winnings on his behalf. Eventually, one of his accomplices ratted him out and Nikrasch spent 7.5 years in prison for his crimes.

Richard Marcus

Using his sleight-of-hand skills, Richard Marcus would run a scam at the roulette table with a $5 chip. Resting the chip on top of a much bigger chip, Marcus would pull one of the chips off the table depending on whether he won or lost the best. Marcus was caught and arrested for his crimes. He wrote a book about his experiences of ripping off some of the world’s most famous casinos.

MIT Blackjack Team

A group of students and ex-students from MIT, Harvard Business School, Harvard University and other colleges in Massachusetts created card-counting teams to beat the casino at blackjack. The whitewashed movie 21 is loosely based on these various card-counting scams. 

The Cutter Gang

This gang used a tiny camera hidden in the coat jacket cufflink of one of their members to record the order of the cards in a baccarat shuffle. Using this information, the Cutter Gang would cut the deck to the player’s advantage. They collected approximately $1 million from the Cosmopolitan Casino on the Las Vegas Strip before being caught at a casino in the Philippines where they reportedly escaped. Rumor has it that they tried to defraud a casino in New Zealand shortly after but fled the scene before the authorities arrived.

Keith Taft

In 1972, Keith Taft devised a 15-pound personal computer that he carried around Reno casinos. To keep the computer out of view, he disguised it as his gut and held it up with a large belt. He also kept a small electronic device in his shoe that helped him make calculations by patting his foot to transmit codes. His sons even got in on the action and invented a small video camera that they could affix to one of their belts. The camera would broadcast video to one son who sat in a van outside the casino and advised the other on what bets to place. 

Ronald Dale Harris

As an inspector for the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Ronald Dale Harris was able to install programming in the machines he inspected. When the machine lever was pulled in the right sequence, the programming would trigger the max payout amount to be paid. When his accomplice, Reid Errol McNeal, acted suspiciously after winning a $100,000 jackpot in Atlantic City, they were caught.

The Unglamorous Part of Cheating at Casinos

Cheating at casinos has been the plot of many movies. From Rain Man to Casino to Ocean’s Eleven, cheating is made to look like it’s easy and without consequences (except for the scene in Casino where a cheater is caught … hammer time!). If you cheat in a casino, you will probably be caught and charged. Remember that cheating at a casino is breaking the law and prison is where you’ll end up. Please gamble for entertainment, not profit.