With advances in security measures and surveillance technology, cheating in the casino hasn’t been harder than it is now. While not the best way to make it rich in the casino, but that doesn’t mean it hasn’t been done. Nowadays, though, not many people are willing to try their hand and beat the casino by employing forbidden moves or devices.
Casino cheaters have taken away fortunes, some getting caught, a few eventually getting away and some you don’t get to hear of. Unusual thefts from inside the heavily secured physical casino fortresses usually involved the use of gadgetry or simple math tricks. Vulnerable casino games that have been scammed include manual and electronic slot machines, roulette table, poker, craps, baccarat and keno.
While the controversial system baccarat card counting has been responsible for facilitating most of these casino cheats, many of these individuals were eventually caught. Five famous casino cheaters that have succeeded in their craftiness and graced the annals of gambling history include;
1. Inventive Slot Machine Modifier, Tommy Glenn Carmichael
Tommy Glenn Carmichael designed a slot machine cheating device that facilitated his 20-year thieving reign. Born in 1950, Carmichael conspired with Ray Ming to alter slot machines around Las Vegas in the early 80s, until he was caught and given a five-year jail term. It was while inside the prison that Tommy Glenn Carmichael met Mike Balsamo, and they conspired to continue tripping slot machines after being released.
On his 1987 release, Carmichael found all the old slots had been replaced with high-tech RGN software microprocessor machines. Unfazed, he invented a spring steel and guitar wire slider called ‘the monkey paw’ which would trip the switch to the machine’s pay-out chute, causing the hopper to release coins. The early ’90s saw another computerised upgrade to the slot machines, rendering the monkey paw useless.
Tommy Glenn Carmichael didn’t lose heart, he studied the insides of one machine on tour to the manufacturer, posing as a prospective client of course. He devised the light wand, built out of a miniature bulb powered by a camera battery, which he would use to blind one of the machine’s sensors.
2. Incredible Run of the MIT Blackjack Card Counting Team
Math department nerds turned blackjack card counting cheats, and making millions. In the movie 21, their incredible story was later told; narrating how this group of college students and their professor took Vegas and Atlantic City casinos to the launderers. Using strategies, techniques and disguises not only to play statistical tactics but also to cover their tracks, the group made over $5 million by the time casinos began to wise up.
For nearly ten years from 1979 to 1989, the MIT team decimated blackjack tables by counting cards, often leaving tables with over $400,000 after a weekend cheating. Split into various groups, the team operated centrally from the professor’s study and would fly back and forth between the college and casino cities. To avoid being caught, the groups would make secret signals of high cards to each other, placing winning bets but hedging them with other large break-even bets.
3. Richard Marcus and You Miss It
Though never charged with a single casino cheating crime, Richard Marcus is the daddy of sleight of hand scams. For over 20 years, Richard visited Las Vegas to perform his signature carry half a million away or lose only 5 to 10 dollars. On the roulette tables, he would move his chip away when his number lost but would replace it with a different value chip depending on the outcome of the ball.
Richard Marcus has a trick for every casino game, most involving his sleight of hand tricks, or dealer manipulation. Dealers would report that chips or cards would change value right in front of their eyes, but nobody had evidence to tie anything to Richard whenever he was arrested. After being blacklisted in all casinos in the state of Nevada, Richard published a book, boasting of his casino cheating escapades.
A few years of not being able to scam casinos and Richard Marcus became broke, being forced to take a baccarat and blackjack dealer job in Las Vegas. Richard saw the other side of the casino operation and soon after started devising a new way to cheat casinos out of millions. Despite being caught again and banned for good, Richard made millions, wrote two books, started a blog and runs a website that teaches others to cheat.
4. Phil Ivey with Cheung Yin ‘Kelly’ Sun, Casino Cheats Bonnie and Clyde
When a professional is caught cheating, it puts a dent in their reputation, and this was the case with famous world series of poker maverick, Phil Ivey. Phil was caught cheating, and at baccarat for that matter, and the Borgata casino in Atlantic City wasn’t going to let it slide. Alongside his co-conspirator Cheung Yin Sun aka ‘Kelly’, the two cheated the casino out of a cool $10 million using a technique called edge sorting.
This baccarat strategy exploits the smallest of defects to utilise a 20% edge advantage against the table, in effect amassing massive winnings. The duplicitous pair had a successful run before casinos like the Crockfords Club Casino in London could figure out how they were doing it. During a high stakes baccarat game against Punto Banco, the two made use of some cards with slight misprints on their backs to predict whether a high or low card would be next.
At the Mayfair club, Phil Ivey and Kelly wrangled up winnings of over $7 million, but the funds were frozen after the casino launched investigations. The Borgata casino across the ocean, another one of their haunts, wasn’t as lucky as Crockfords, and by the time they wised up had been taken for over $12 million by the duo.
5. Ida Summers, Reign of the Vegas Vixen
Though women have been involved in the commission of casino cheating, it’s usually as a decoy or diversion as their braver male accomplices do the dirty deed. Ida Summers, however, escaped that stereotype as the woman who, despite being distractingly beautiful to pit bosses, carried out the cheating herself. Her ability to defraud Las Vegas casinos in the 60s gave her the nickname the Vegas Vixen.
A fraudulent femme fatale, Ida Summers put on a one-woman operation for the most part with her sleight of hand skills. The charmingly deviant Ms Summers wreaked havoc in the late 60s and early 70s, resultantly pocketing thousands of dollars while flaunting her beauty.
Come and Play Without Cheating at Cashino
Famous casino cheaters faced the consequences for their actions, and apart from the myriad legal troubles which befall them, they were banned for life from the casinos. Some former casino cheating operatives have since reformed and have collaborated with the casinos to improve surveillance or to catch other potential cheats. Learn more at cashino.com where you’ll find tips on roulette, blackjack, slots, lifestyle and casino news.