Famous Online Casino Cheaters

Do you remember the times when playing card or board games with family members? There are always those people whom, if you know better, you’ll choose to be on their team. They always win. You’re not sure whether they’re brilliant, it’s luck or they’re straight-up cheating.

Casinos also have to deal with such. It’s the reason excellent online casinos constantly develop their security technologies. There have been many cases where players have tried to cheat on casino games so they could win big, and some have succeeded.

Most of the well-known casino cheaters have done their illegal deeds in land-based casinos. But some have also figured out tricks that scored them big wins in online gambling. We’ve explored these below and some of the most famous casino cheating stories.

Cheating in Online Casinos: Is it Possible?

Cheating in online casino games is possible. Hence there are so many security technologies and other measures to ensure that the chances of it happening are slim. But nothing man-made is ever 100% unbreakable. This is the reason there are constant developments in security measures as technology becomes even more advanced.

The most common ways people have used to cheat online casinos are:

  • Figuring out the RNG of an online casino game. One notorious player has done this in an online poker game after discovering that the decks aren’t completely random but selected from 200,000 possible configurations. This was during the early times of online casinos and most casinos weren’t as secure as they are today.
  • There was also a player who was an online casino worker and used his accessibility to the administrative accounts of the casino he was working for to his advantage. While playing Absolute Poker, he was able to check the hands of other players so he could win. Players of that online casino started noticing and questioning his level of winning game after game and that’s how he got caught.
  • Some players create bots to play for them 24/7 in poker rooms.
  • Players experienced in software engineering tamper with slot codes so that the outcomes work in their favour.
  • Online casinos and game software with weaker security technologies can be hacked to manipulate the results and win big.
  • Most online casinos state, in their terms and conditions, that opening multiple accounts is prohibited because that’s how some players cheat to try and obtain as much money as possible from a casino.
Well known casino cheaters

Well-Known Casino Cheaters

Below are some of the most notorious casino cheaters the world still talks about today. They saw some loopholes in gambling and decided to use them to their advantage. Some of these scammers used their mathematical skills, card counting, bribing casino staff and other tactics to rip casinos off of millions of dollars.

Tommy Glenn Carmichael

We had to start with the famous slot rigging boss. When you think about it, how do you cheat on slot games? Carmichael didn’t think that much about the game but focused on the machine standing in front of him in a Las Vegas casino.

The former TV repairman used the skill that’s been putting food on the table for his entire career. He figured out a way to get those coins flowing out of the slot machine without waiting for luck to be on his side. This started in the 1960s and proceeded for close to four decades.

He first developed a gadget called the “Slider” which had a guitar wire. This was used to trip the payout switch on the slot machines that existed then and money would come out flowing there. He did this a couple of times without drawing much attention to himself or getting caught.

Casinos developed their machines and the “Slider” creator also developed his gadget and opted for one that would work better with the new machine. Again, using the same technique, the next device was called a “Light Wand” and it tampered with the payout sensors, forcing them to trigger a huge payout.

This invention made even more money for him as he worked with other cheaters to get more. He even sold this gadget to interested parties. However, his greed got him noticed by more people and eventually, the police.

He was arrested a couple of times before, but between 1996 and 1998, everything came to an end. He was finally sentenced and banned from entering and playing in any casino around the globe. This was the end of his slot rigging career but afterwards, he did assist casinos to create anti-cheating devices.

Richard Marcus

Richard Marcus is one of the biggest casino scammers that never got sentenced for ripping casinos off of millions of dollars. He used his scamming technique mostly in table games, especially roulette. It’s similar to other table game scams but it had an element that made him not get caught for two decades.

It all started when this former loyal gambler lost his money and started roaming the streets of Las Vegas homeless and without a cent. Luckily, he got a job as a croupier in one of the Las Vegas casinos and got to know the world of gambling even better.

He then took it upon himself to use this knowledge to his advantage and make large sums of money out of it. He would sit on table games, and place a bet that was seemingly small from the croupier and other players’ eyes. If he loses, he keeps it that way, but if his bet wins, he would reveal that he placed a bigger bet and score an even bigger amount.

How did he do this? Here’s a practical example: placing two $5 red chips on top of a $500 brown chip. These would be stacked in a way that makes it seem like the $500 chip is also a $5 chip. Everyone would think that he has placed a small bet of $15.

If the bet loses, he would act fast and exchange the bottom $500 for a $5 chip. No one would suspect anything because that’s what they thought the bet amount was anyway. If he wins, he’d start celebrating and the croupier would be lost because, with a $15 bet, you don’t win that much. Then he reveals that it’s actually a $510 bet.

He started getting noticed as the $15 or less bet loser and the over $500,000 winner. He got arrested but was never sentenced as there was no evidence to prove his cheating. But today, he is blacklisted from casinos in Nevada and other casinos that know his face. He also works for casinos and teaches them ways to avoid being scammed.

Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo

Gonzalo is one of the casino cheaters that discovered that a certain game didn’t have results that are as random as claimed. To prove his theory, he made large sums of money. He worked as a record producer until he went to a casino in Madrid. It’s there that he suspected that roulette wheels were not perfectly random.

He spent time studying them and with the help of a computer, he discovered that roulette wheels produced certain outcomes more often than others. He earned over $1 million on the first night of proving this theory in Madrid. And that was the beginning of his roulette casino gambling.

He then travelled to Las Vegas in the 1990s, and he made, even more, using the same theory on different roulette wheels. After making over $2 million and his theory still working in his favour, he was banned from playing in Las Vegas casinos.

He was not sentenced as there was nothing to charge him for. He is one of the reasons why casinos constantly check their roulette wheels to ensure that the results are completely random.

Ron Harris

Ron Harris cheated Nevada casinos from the inside. He worked as a computer technician for the Nevada Gaming Control Board. His role was to ensure that casino cheaters do not use fake chips on slot machines. He programmed the machines to ensure that they reject these and only accept legit ones.

Harris did his job but decided to take a step further and mess up with the random number generator of certain keno machines. When a certain bet amount was inserted and certain button combinations were pressed, it would trigger large sums of winnings.

This was realised after he had earned over $100,000 through an accomplice, Reid McNeal. McNeal had hit the jackpot in a keno machine at Bally’s, a casino in Atlantic City. He didn’t show any excitement or seem shocked by this big win and wanted his money in cash.

The casino had to first verify this win as per New Jersey law, and an investigation was made. It led back to Harris, he was sentenced to seven years and lost his job.

MIT Blackjack Team

The MIT Blackjack Team is one of the most famous casino cheaters they made a movie inspired by the story. The movie, 21, was released in March 2008 but this MIT team started operation in the 1990s.

Founded by Bill Kaplan, it was made up of brilliant mathematics students who were taught card counting so they could master blackjack. The founder first started alone, he asked his parents for a gap year so he could travel to Vegas and make money playing blackjack.

His mother didn’t approve of it at first until he proved that he can play the game very well. He beat his father at it for two weeks. After his parents agreed, he travelled to Las Vegas with $1,000 which he turned into $35,000 in nine months.

He went back to school and eventually graduated from Havard while continuing to play blackjack globally. He then met the MIT group in 1992 through their leader. The leader overheard Kaplan talking about how he’s been winning big playing blackjack through a certain strategy.

He was asked and agreed to teach a group of students, who were good with numbers, card counting. They then took on casinos around the world. As soon as they saw 100% returns on the money they invested in this scheme, a partnership company was started.

More MIT students were recruited and sent out to casinos around the world. The company managers ensured that these students looked like high rollers so that casinos would take care of them and wouldn’t be shocked when they placed big bets.

This went on and on until some faces became too familiar and casinos started recognising them. They would get arrested by casino securities and taken in for questioning. Then a private investigator was employed and he was able to figure out that these were MIT students, through their addresses.

Then the group started falling apart as some were banned from playing in casinos, others didn’t dare to go back after being suspected or getting caught and a few remained and opened their own smaller groups. They further operated and, of course, taking into consideration some of the things they learnt through their previous experiences.

One of the students, Mike Aponte, also formed his team but then also became too famous and was hunted down. So, he had to stop the card counting scheme. But, he never stopped making money from blackjack. He was crowned the World Series Blackjack champion in 2004.

Now, he assists and advises casinos with strategies to catch blackjack cheaters. He also teaches people how to play the game.

Dennis Sean McAndrew

Also known as Nikrasch, Dennis Sean McAndrew is the biggest well-known slot machine cheater. He was able to rob casinos off of over $16 million. He used excellent gadgets and untraceable methods to do this.

Career-wise, Denis was a locksmith proficient in mechanical engineering. He first developed a gadget that would help force payouts from slot machines in the 1980s. But he was caught and sentenced.

After serving his sentence, he returned to Las Vegas stronger than ever. He recruited a team that would help hide him from the CCTV footage when entering the casino. Once inside, he would then work on a slot and use a different technique from before he was arrested as slot machines were no longer mechanical but more computerised.

This technique was untraceable and because he was known as a casino cheater, he didn’t play the slots after this. Then one of his crew members would play and win a jackpot. No one knows how long this happened and how much he earned from it before he was arrested again.

The technique he used was so ahead of time that no one’s sure if it has been invented even now. Also, his way of dodging the security camera was so slick that someone set him up for him to be arrested.

In Closing

People are always looking for easier ways to make large sums of money fast. Sometimes the strategies they come up with are legal and sometimes they are illegal. Either way, if these are developed to beat the casino at its own games, it hits hard in their pockets. Hence casinos around the world invest so much in putting strong security measures in place.

Online casinos haven’t experienced as drastic losses as brick-and-mortar ones have. Most stories of the most notorious casino cheaters happened in land-based casinos. This could mean that online casinos are doing very well in protecting their funds and data. It can also mean that the cheaters are still enjoying themselves and haven’t been discovered yet.

54 Articles

Wayne Goodchild photo

Wayne Goodchild

iGaming Expert

Wayne has been writing about iGaming news and sites for several years, with a particular focus on New Zealand casinos. His background includes being an English teacher, and a professionally-published writer/editor for over ten years.

More Articles From The Author