Gambling and cheating go together like Salt and Pepper. Since the beginning of time they have seemed intertwined to such a degree that where you find one, you will almost certainly the other. With the advent of land-based casinos, cheaters were provided with a one stop shop to practice and execute their nefarious skills.
The “relationship” has been of a better mouse and better mousetrap. Casinos are always improving their surveillance and investigative skills, while the cheaters are always coming up with new ways to scam or cheat the casino. It’s all fun and games (just like our online casino partner FairGO) until someone gets caught, and when that happens the s**t will hit the fan. Fortunately for the cheaters the punishment is meted out by the authorities and not the casinos. We have watched the clip in the movie in “Casino” when the cheater received a hammer to his hand which is no longer used, or maybe it is in some cases.
How do Casino Cheaters get Caught?
As with the case of every criminal that gets caught, eventually they slip up. No matter how good you are or think you are, when the stakes get this high, the authorities pull out every tool to catch you.
Casinos are no fools, and with so much money at stake, they need to have nothing but the best in terms of technology, people and information. Many of the people who work for the casinos are former cheaters themselves who have insight into those scamming the casino. Of course, nothing is full proof, but casinos do everything they can to catch these thieves and prosecute them to the full extent of the law.
Who are some of the Most Notorious Cheaters in Gambling History?
The best way to cheat in any situation is to set yourself up on the inside. Whether you’re a pro athlete who throws a game or an accountant in the finance department of a corporation, when you’re the one with the responsibility, it is always much easier to get away with it. This was the case with Ron “the dude” Harris who worked for the NGCG (Nevada gaming Control Board) as a certified inspector of the slot / pokie machines.
As with the mouse guarding the cheese, Ron was able to manipulate these machines with a custom algorithm which enabled someone to cheat the casino. Obliviously Ron could not be the one to perpetrate the crime, so he recruited a not so smart accomplice. Unfortunately for Ron, this would be his quick undoing.
His ill-prepared partner in crime failed to bring the proper documents to acquire his winnings and made the mistake of being stone faced when he won the big jackpots. Emotions, or lack of in this case, are one of the tell-tale signs of a cheater and a trait which the Casinos are always investigating when there is a big winner.
MIT (Mass. Institute of Technology) Blackjack Team
A popular story made even more known by the 2008 film “21” starring Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne, and Kate Bosworth. To make a very long story short, the students from MIT were organized in a way where they increased their chances of winning at Blackjack in land-based casinos. With the leadership of Bill Kaplan, the team starting from 1980 was able to play and use their skills to win money at various casinos.
Contrary to the movie “21” the “team”, sometimes made up of 30 players, were going to casinos in Atlantic City, Vegas, Canada and other establishments and not just Vegas. The team was consistently turning over players as the veterans graduated with new players and students taking their place.
With a team and business as large as this, eventually the casino industry would become aware of the situation and decided to hire detectives. Many of the top players were eventually banned from the casinos in the early 90s which hastened the fall of this notorious bunch. Its hard to say what the overall take was but some reports claim the take from the scam for Bill Kaplan was around $10 million.
Tommy Glenn Carmichael
For more than 4 decades starting in the 60s, this former TV repair man was able to hack his way into the slots (pokie machines) using various methods he devised at home and from his jail cell. Nothing too sophisticated, Tommy was also a bit of an entrepreneur who sold one of his products, the “light wand”, to fellow casino cheaters.
With the light wand banking some players around $10,000 per day, Tommy’s products became a hot and lucrative piece of kit. Unfortunately for Tommy, the law finally caught up to him on a few occasions as he was arrested in 1985, 96’, 98’ and 99’. Luckily his 1996 arrest did not stick although he would still end up being sought after by authorities.
We usually don’t equate cheating with the casino game Roulette as it seems to be one of those games where it would be impossible to crack. But when it comes to money, there is never anything that can’t be “hacked”. Gonzalo became King of the Mountain of Roulette cheaters and still to this day is considered the best.
As we have discussed in other articles, Gonzalo was able to use his math and analytical skills to decode the patterns and any inconsistencies in the randomness of the wheel. With an inquisitive mind and a knack for numbers, Gonzalo was able, with the help of a computer, exploit the slight faults of the wheels. He was able to calculate and exploit the predictability of the wheel which increased his odds of winning with certain numbers. Putting this into practice he was able to win around €600,000 in one of his first nights of play.
Putting his knowledge to use, Gonzalo used his system to make millions at the casinos throughout Las Vegas. Unfortunately for him, something this profitable would not go unnoticed at the casinos where he was eventually banned. He challenged the casinos” decision to ban him over his tactics and with a challenge in the US Supreme Court he had his conviction and ban overturned.