9 Famous Casino Cheaters (That Got Caught)
You never realize how smart gamblers can be until they turn into casino cheaters who try to outsmart casinos.
If you thought card counting is hard, listen to this:
How about building a machine that does the counting for you?
Might be an easy task today, but back in the ‘70s, it was another level of effort put into beating the house.
That’s why we've decided to take a look at the biggest and most famous casino cheaters in history.
You can learn a thing or two from them.
Because all of them got caught.
These are the players who made their mark in the history of land-based real money gambling. Even if this mark is not the prettiest one.
If these stories inspire you, good for you. Then, you might become the next biggest casino cheater in the world. And we’d have to put your name on this list for others to read about it… and laugh.
Phil Ivey - How to Ruin Your Reputation at the Baccarat Table
‘Tiger Woods of Poker’. Rings any bells?
Yes, one of these casino cheaters is a well-known professional poker player Phil Ivey. But it was not a poker table he was accused of cheating at.
It was baccarat.
Punto Banco version of it, to be exact.
Back in 2012, Ivey and a fellow gambler & cheater named Cheung Yin Sun won big at the Crockfords Club in Mayfair, London, thanks to a technique called edge-sorting.
In a nutshell, the duo was clever enough to spot some small differences in the pattern painted on the backside of the cards. This allowed them to identify whether a card was low or high when it landed on the table.
If you think this is a small, nerd-ish way to cheat at a casino - think again.
Not only did Ivey use it (successfully) more than once as he was playing at different casinos in the US and in Europe (at least these are the episodes that we know of), but he also won a lot of money with it.
How much money is a lot of money?
Ivey and his fellow cheater put together winnings for £7,700,000 at Crockfords alone!
Too bad they didn't manage to cash out a single penny.
The money was immediately withheld by the casino and nothing ever reached the two smart players. After a , the London Supreme Court ruled that edge-sorting is not just an advantage play (as Ivey claimed) but mere cheating.
London. Ivey v Genting Casinos Ltd t/a Crockfords is one of the largest legal battles in the history of gambling and it offers some very interesting readings to those who would like to go Perry Mason on Ivey.
You can read all the official acts from the Supreme Court or skip straight to the juicy stuff and where it is said that Ivey was "undoubtedly cheating."
Charles Oakley - Former NBA Star Gone Sneaky
One of the most recent casino cheats happened in Las Vegas.
The gambler in the spotlight was Charles Oakley. You may know his name if you are into NBA since the Nineties when the grass was greener, basketball was great, and we all played with Oakley on NBA Jam.
Earlier this month, a during a visit at The Cosmopolitan Casino, Las Vegas, where he removed a $100 wager from the roulette table once the outcome of the game was already known and it was clear that he had lost.
Sure, you can fool a dealer but...
...Security cameras, anyone?
However, this is not entirely new nor unexpected from a professional gambler Oakley. He has a solid history of as he had already picked up a few fights with security officers, thrown the dice at casino employees, and smashed champagne bottles to make sure his disappointment would not go unnoticed.
What a gentleman, right?
Edward Thorp - How to Turn Your Cheating Technique into a Bestseller
Edward Thorp might be the nicest casino cheater on this list.
After he invented card counting to win at blackjack, he did not just travel from one casino to another to build a personal fortune - he published a book about it!
As a former professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Thorp used his skills and an IBM computer to analyze the probabilities of blackjack and crack the game.
His book, Beat the Dealer, became a New York Times bestseller right away. Up to this day, gamblers all over the world use it to study the science (or art?) of card counting.
And with a good reason.
Together with an engineer named Claude Elwood Shannon, Thorp put blackjack counting to practice to make $50,000 or more every single weekend the two spent in Vegas.
Not a bad pay for a weekend job!
Later on, Thorp turned to other casino games, too, and analyzed the probabilities of roulette.
Thorp published a , too. And it must have worked pretty well, considering that in a bit more than a decade, driving a Porsche.
Nowadays, Thorp barely plays casino games. He uses his knowledge and skills to make it big on Wall Street instead.
Keith Taft - Bringing Magic Equipment to Casinos
Keith Taft tried Thorp’s way, too.
But after failing and losing one too many times, he decided to implement his own way to beat the dealers.
And that’s how he ended up in the history gambling, on the Blackjack Hall of Fame, and on our list.
Why? Let's travel back in time to 1972.
Although wearables and personal computers did not exist yet, Taft created connected to his glasses and some switches located in one of his shoes.
Initially, everything was hit-and-miss. However, he continued to work hard to perfect the device until it became an entire computer network capable to connect different players and help them count cards.
Taft, his son, and some other fellow gamblers are believed to have won over $120,000 right when they used their system for the first time.
The second time, however, it's when things went South. The cheaters were caught and fined. And their magic equipment got confiscated.
Monique Laurent - Failure at Flirting
It’s a mystery why the best technology we use now wasn’t invented to win at the casino.
After all, casino cheaters have always been able to come up with . If Taft’s example was not enough for you, you should hear the story of Monique Laurent.
Only one year after Taft created his system, Monique teamed up with her brother and her husband with one clear goal in mind: to win money at roulette.
The result? They pocketed winnings of nearly $1,000,000!
In one week!
And the best part is: this had nothing to do with luck.
All the terrible trio did was to create a roulette ball that had a small radio receiver inside it.
Monique’s brother, who worked as a croupier, would use the ball during the roulette games.
Her husband would be a betting player while Monique, from a table close by, would control the ball with a radio transmitter hidden in a pack of cigarettes.
How did they get caught?
The casino owner tried to flirt with Monique, but she quickly turned him down.
He was p*ssed off, naturally. And he kept an eye on her.
It wasn’t hard to notice she was always next to the winning table and always with a pack of cigarettes. Though she never smoked.
And when asked for a cigarette, couldn’t share one.
This suspicion was enough for the security to check her pack and figure out the whole thing.
Conclusion? If you’re trying to scam a casino, you might as well flirt with its owner.
Or you might get caught.
Tommy Glenn Carmichael - Beating Slot Machines
Here’s another famous casino cheater you should know.
Meet Tommy Glenn Carmichael, a professional scammer who earned his living by cheating at Las Vegas casinos.
Sounds fun, right?
Maybe it does...unless eventually, it leads you to a cold prison cell. But let’s talk about this part later.
What did this casino cheater do to earn such a punishment?
He cheated on Slot machines.
You might think that’s impossible -and it is-, but here we are talking about the good old days of gambling. When the technology wasn’t as advanced as it is today.
And when there were many great opportunities for cheaters to do their nasty deeds.
Tommy Glenn Carmichael was one of them.
He rigged land-based Slot machines in Las Vegas with a tool called a top-bottom joint.
His experience as a television mechanic might have had something to do with it.
Over the years, Carmichael won millions of dollars from unsuspecting casinos. He was so successful that he could win $10,000 in a few days.
However, every fairy tale comes to an end, and the story of Tommy Glenn Carmichael is no exception.
As the years went by, casino owners became well aware of the cheating methods that people like Tommy used. The Slot technology kept on becoming better and better, and Slots in big casinos started to use Random Number Generators.
However, smaller casinos were not rich enough to upgrade all their games.
That's where Tommy’s unbelievable luck was finally noticed. In small casinos, your consistent huge wins stick out like a sore thumb.
When he was finally arrested, it turned out that the police had been investigating him for a while. As a punishment for his cheating, Tommy had to serve five years in prison.
Ida Summers - the Power of Beauty
Sometimes, it pays to be a woman in Las Vegas.
Especially when it comes to cheating, of course.
Ida Summers, also known as Vegas Vixen, is one of the most famous casino cheaters in history.
She made land-based casinos lose thousands of dollars a day… just because she was really good at flirting.
Her favorite real money game to cheat on was blackjack. Her favorite technique – hand mucking. In other words, Ida brought her own cards to switch them when needed.
Normally, dealers would notice such scamming. However, it is Vegas Vixen we’re talking about.
Her looks and charm were enough to distract the male dealers from her illegal actions.
Over the years, she managed to gather millions of dollars.
However, it was not enough for her and she started to use more daring cheating techniques. Cold decks, to be precise.
In other words, she brought her own casino shoes filled with cards. Now, these cards had certain combinations that would lead to Ida's victory.
Sadly, she was finally caught by the FBI. The circumstances of this are still unclear, but it might have been one of her partners in crime who spilled the beans.
Now, here's the best part:
Any other person would have had to serve a long time in prison. However, Vegas Vixen was so charming that she got away with just a few years of probation.
Now that's what I call luck.
Ronald Harris and Reid McNeal - Don't Forget to Act Surprized When You Win
Ronald Harris and Reid McNeal are a famous duo who managed to win thousands of dollars by manipulating Slot machines in Vegas and New Jersey casinos.
Let’s begin with the fact that Ronald Harris worked as a Slot machine analyzer. His extensive knowledge of the Slots mechanics helped him to come up with a way to cheat.
However, he needed the help of his friend Reid McNeal, a person who didn’t work in the casino industry.
In other words, a person nobody could suspect.
To put it simply, Ronald replaced the real microchips of Slot machines with his own ones. These were pre-programmed to spew a huge win after a certain sequence of coins:
- Three coins
- Two coins
- Two coins
- One coin
- Three coins
- Five coins
This sequence triggered the machine to instantly give a load of cash.
Unfortunately, once the duo won $100,000 on a Keno machine in New Jersey, they were finally caught.
One of the reasons?
Reid didn’t show any surprise.
And that was his biggest mistake.
Richard Marcus - from Savannah to Casino Consultancy
Let’s end the list with Richard Marcus.
He is often called one of the greatest casino cheaters. And he proved a simple method can go a long way.
As long as you are brave enough to go with it.
Marcus named his method after his favorite stripper, Savannah.
How did it work?
He used to bet on roulette, placing a couple of chips on the table. The top chip would be a small one, $5 or even lower, while the value of the bottom one was a lot higher.
If he won the game, he won legitimately. The dealer only then would see the higher chip, but hey – no harm has been done. Even if the security cameras looked it up, all was fair.
When he lost, he would angrily fling the chips at the dealer, imitating a drunk gambler.
What’s the catch?
Meanwhile, he would switch the higher denomination chip for a lower one, thus minimizing the losses. The dealers would rule it out for drunkenness and he’d continue playing.
This way Marcus made almost $112,000 in one weekend.
The best part? He never got caught.
Instead, he made enough money while gambling this way, stopped cheating, and wrote a book on it. He also has a and tricks. Not only roulette but other casino games, too.
Nowadays, he consults casinos on how not to get cheated on.
Quite a turn of events.
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