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Since gambling exists, there have been people who tried to beat the system and to use all kinds of methods in order to win. From rigging machines to card counting, there have been several ways of cheating. Most cheaters were caught sooner or later, but they still managed to get away with lots of money. You can read more about them in our list of the biggest cheaters in gambling.
Winning in gambling mostly depends on your luck and good fortune. Of course, you can also practice and learn new techniques, but at the end of the day, your chance of winning is not guaranteed. Unless you use some forbidden tricks and cheat the system as the following people did. From slot machine cheaters to the MIT Blackjack Team, we can find some really exceptional gamblers on the list. But no matter how good they were, all of them were caught at the end. Except for a former casino worker who simply disappeared with a bag of cash 30 years ago.
Biggest cheaters in gambling
1. The first slot machine cheater
Tommy Glenn Carmichael started to cheat slot machines in the 1980s when it was much easier to deceive them due to their simplicity. Carmichael used a metal device to trigger a payout but he was caught and sent to prison for five years. Upon his release, he invented a special device, a so-called monkey paw which worked on a similar basis. A wire was inserted into the payout chute in order to trip the switch which released the jackpot.
After the development of the slot machines, the creative gambler used a light wand to trick them. It was essentially a small light bulb that blinded the machines’ sensors and made them spit out coins. Carmichael was later caught again, but he has been one of the biggest cheaters in gambling.
2. The MIT Blackjack Team’s card-counting technique
We already mentioned the special team of MIT students who won $500,000 in one night using card-counting techniques. They used a scientific approach that successfully beat casinos between the 1970s and 1990s. The best MIT students were trained by the group leader, Bill Kaplan who earned millions of dollars in different casinos. As card-counting didn’t break any law, the MIT Team technically didn’t cheat. Their techniques are still not illegal but obviously not welcomed by casinos. Now they can remove any player using it and ban him from entering, just like they did with the MIT students.
But what is card-counting exactly? Well, it’s a mental method when you keep track of the played cards to know what cards are still out. And change your bets according to the number of the remaining face and low-value cards. In one of the easiest versions, you assign a certain value for these cards and set a threshold for when to change your bets. Might sound a bit complicated at first, but luckily you can practice it on one of the online casinos in the US.
3. Richard Marcus and his betting scams
Another great example for the biggest cheaters in the history of gambling is Richard Marcus, who has actually never been caught. His techniques included a fair share of acting as he pretended to be drunk which explained his sudden moves. Marcus played roulette but he hid higher value chips under a $5 chip. If he lost his bet, he would swap the high-value chip for another $5 one. But when he won, he revealed the hidden chip for the surprise of the dealer. With this trick, Marcus only lost a few dollars but was able to win huge amounts. As he was cheating more on his losing bets than on his winning ones, he was never caught. Now the former cheater works for casinos and has written books about his successful techniques.
4. The software designer who rigged machines
In the 1990s Ron Harris worked as a software engineer for the Nevada Gaming Control Board. His job was to write anti-cheating software for electronic slot machines. So he could easily place a hidden software switch that paid out huge jackpots. Players, his selected accomplices only had to insert coins in a certain sequence to trigger it. Harris was able to win hundreds of thousands of dollars with this method until one of his partners, Reid McNeal was caught in Atlantic City.
McNeal won the jackpot in keno after using a program written by Harris, which predicted the drawn numbers. The engineer was sentenced to seven years in prison but he was released after two years. Thanks to online gambling sites in the US, you don’t need to use any special code to win. Just visit Intertops Casino and play with one of their online slot games.
5. Casino employee walking out with $500,000
Working in a casino can be hard and the salary is not as good as people would think. This must have been what Bill Brennan, the cashier of the Stardust Hotel and Casino thought. As Brennan, one night in 1992 took a bag of cash and chips worth $500,000 and simply walked out of the casino. No cameras recorded his departure and he hasn’t been seen ever since. There have been theories about his possible accomplice, a former major gambler of the casino who spent lots of time with Brennan before his disappearance. The former casino worker is on the FBI’s most-wanted list for decades now, but probably we’ll never know what happened to him and the stolen money.