History`s Biggest Casino Cheats

Casinos pay a lot of money for security. They install sophisticated surveillance systems. They hire specialists in identifying suspicious behaviour. They train small armies of guards to walk the floors and detain anyone who appears to be cheating.

Nevertheless, someone is always out to beat the system, and many believe that bending or breaking a few rules is simply part of the game. Following are a few of the spoilers who managed to cheat their way to wealth…at least for a little while.

The Slot Scoundrel – Tommy Glenn Carmichael (b. 1950, USA) has to rank among the world’s most infamous slot cheats. In the 1980’s, he used a device called the “top-bottom joint” to defraud machines. After serving time in jail, he invented a more sophisticated tool that he called a “monkey paw.” With it, he could trip the payout switch in electronic slot machines to make them release cash or add credits to a machine at will. He later developed a light wand to deceive optical sensors and “The Hanger” to trip up the new Actuator Arm created as an anti-theft device. As clever as he was as an engineer, Carmichael got caught again. After serving more time in prison, he became a security consultant to casinos.

The Roulette Rouge – Hungarian gambler Laszlo Sendor Kovacs made headlines in 2005 by secreting a small computer in his shoe. Whenever he tapped the sole of it below a casino’s roulette wheel, he could determine wheel speed and ball velocity, allowing him to predict where the ball would land. Before he got caught, Kovacs managed to cheat Australian casinos out of $200,000. Use of electronic devices in the pit area of a casino anywhere in the world is strictly verboten.

The Keno Killer – Reid Errol McNeal did the seemingly impossible, winning a $100,000 keno jackpot at Bally’s Park Place Casino in Atlantic City. Perhaps his only mistake was not appearing to be especially surprised. As it turned out, McNeal was a Nevada state employee. His job was to examine slot machines and make sure that the proper chips were used. He managed to access Bally’s computer and discover its random number generator code used in Keno. By applying some special equipment to analyse the code, he came up with a sequence of numbers to play and win the huge keno jackpot.

The Dice Dominator – Dominic LoRiggio has been known as “The Man with the Golden Arm” and is often referred to as “The Dominator.” Through practice, he mastered the art of controlled dice throwing. For a time he joined dice mechanic Chris Pawlicki on a craps team named “Rosebud,” but their betting was too conservative for the Dom’s tastes. He rolled on his own and won massive amounts of money at the craps tables before casinos began turning him away. Technically, there is nothing illegal about tossing dice well, but casinos don’t like to lose. Banned from the tables, LoRiggio today teaches others how to role the bones and continues to make “honest” money.

The Card Counters – Folks from Massachusetts have a long love affair with Blackjack. In the 1960s, former M.I.T. mathematics professor Dr. Edward O. Thorp developed a “card counting” technique to exploit aspects of the game and revealed it in his landmark book “Beat the Dealer.” The book’s “ten count” strategy was so effective that it caused casinos across the United States to change their Blackjack rules. In the 1970s, Yale-Harvard graduate Ken Uston and his colleagues used hidden computers programmed with the strategy to win thousands of dollars a month playing Blackjack at Nevada casinos. And in the 1990s, a group of M.I.T. students allegedly made millions by card counting as a team before they got caught and banned from play. Of course, card counting is not against any law, but casinos take a dim view of consistent winners.

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