Forget the epic casino robberies from the Ocean’s films. The following masterminds pulled off remarkable thefts in real life on the way to becoming the most infamous cheaters in casino history. Using simple math, inside people or gadgets, these people were able to rob millions of dollars off casinos.
However, regardless of how glamorous casino cheating appears in movies, the aftermath for these cheaters, once they were caught, was less than fun. They were banned from casinos for life and had to face other consequences as well. However, on the bright side, many are now working with casinos to enhance security, expose possible cheats, and make casinos safer.
Tommy Glenn Carmichael
Carmichael is one of the most successful slot machine cheaters, even though he paid the price by spending time in jail. He started cheating slot machines in 1980 when he discovered that inserting a metal into the coin slot triggered a payout. As the casinos started tightening their security with new machine updates, Carmichael soon found his device was no longer working. He therefore moved to smaller and old-fashioned casinos that still used older slot machines. However, he was eventually caught and sentenced to 5 years in prison.
But that wasn’t enough to stop him. With the help of the plan that he crafted while he was in prison, Carmichael continued cheating after developing a new tool, known as the monkey paw, to hack and alter into slot machines. With the evolution in the slot machine technology, Carmichael’s tricks also improved, and in 1991 he invented the light wand, which were compatible with newer slot machines. He sold this device to other cheaters, and was able to make $10,000 every day with the help of this tool. But he was arrested in 1996 and later in 1998 and 1999.
Many people believe the notorious MIT Blackjack Team was able to invent card counting thanks to the movie 21. In reality, they only perfected the methods invented by mathematics professor, Edward Thorp, in the 60s. Thorp is crowned the father of card counting, and had no interest in gambling until a friend happened to introduce him and his wife to Blackjack. After playing it a couple of times, Thorp was hooked and started searching for any loopholes and ways to beat the house.
He was finally able to come up with a system that allowed him to take advantage of the casino via card counting that he could correctly predict the results of each hand. With this technique, Thorp and his friend were able to pocket thousands of dollars at every visit. At this point, casinos were oblivious to Thorp’s techniques and only found out about it when he published his famous book, “How to Beat the Dealer”.
After failing to earn a living via legal gambling, Richard Marcus became homeless and took a job as a blackjack baccarat dealer, which allowed him a new perspective about how casinos operate. That information was sufficient for Marcus to find a way to fraud casinos out of money, and in his case, the money multiplied to millions. What he would do is place a basic bet, comprising of $5 chips on a $500 brown chip.
However, Marcus would place it in a way that to the dealer, it appeared only as a $15 bet comprising of only 3 red chips. If he won the bet, he would tell the dealer about the size of the bet and take over $1,000. However, if he lost it, he would wait until the dealer was distracted and replace the $510 in chips with $15 in chips. Although the scam was simple, it continued to work for years until Marcus was prosecuted and banned for life.