"You can only ride a horse so far" -- Tommy Glenn Carmichael
First things first, approximately 80% of a casino's revenue comes from slot machines and there are millions of slot machines available for play all over the world. Thus it should come as no surprise that a) cheats targets slot machines more than any other game and b) Vegas casinos, who have been taken by thieves for over $100 million over the years, very quickly plug the holes the cheats find.
Over the years slot cheats have used coat hangers, counterfeit tokens, shaved coins, coins on stick, lights on a stick, and plenty of other homemade devices to steal from slots. One particular tool, the light wand, developed by the king of slot masters Tommy Glen Carmichael, allowed Carmichael, and other cheats who bought the device from him, bilk machines for profits of $10,000 a day in the early nineties. Carmichael was eventually arrested in the late nineties and he can now be found developing anti-cheating devices for Nevada casinos. You can also find him front and center in Nevada's Black Book.
These days, slot machines have become more silicon than gears, and a new fangled contraption being introduced requires card entry instead of coins or cash, so cheating has become more and more difficult. However, just because slot cheating requires more intelligence doesn't mean it no longer exists. Take a look at the 804c Gambling Machine Jackpotter & Credit Signaler, one of the top sellers on Hacker's Home Page and it seems would-be cheats are still giving it a go. Surely somewhere--more than likely in a suburban garage--someone is developing the next great cheating device.
Nothing. This is another reason why slot cheats are so numerous -- there is no play advantage that can increase your chances of winning. Not doubling down bets, not seeking out "hot machines", and not even cycling your play between machines. Furthermore, casinos are riddled with security cameras, so finding a blind spot to even attempt your cheats can be a major challenge.
"This is the best casino move ever concocted" -- Richard Marcus
Ok, here it is, the most successful casino cheat move ever. Bet three $5 red chips. A small enough bet not to arouse dealer suspicion, or be called out by the eye in the sky. If the hand wins, the cheater starts carrying on like you just won the lottery. The dealer is confused, isn't your pay out just $30? Nope, there is a brown chip under your three red ones. That brown chip is worth $500. This chip, plus the three $5 red chips equals a $515 bet, which pays $1,030.
If you lose the bet, immediately put the chips back in your pocket. Of course the dealer will see this and tell you to drop your three reds back on the table. Richard suggest acting a bit drunk and apologizing profusely as you drop your three reds, but not your brown chip, back on the table.
The key is the dealer not seeing the brown chip. When the bet loses you take back your brown. If the bet wins, the cheater wins.
Richard Markus, the inventor of this move, and more than likely Vegas's most successful cheat ever, calls this move "Savannah". Aptly, the move is named after the stripper that was giving him a lap dance when he thought of it. Richard claims the move is "so stupid it works", though he also claims he is retired and isn't stupid enough to try this in a casino today.
In casino-speak, this move is called past posting and or capping bets and yes, it is a felony. The casino is no doubt more skilled at spotting patrons trying this move than 99 percent of the public is at performing it and 99:1 are not great odds.
You can look for an old-school bias roulette wheel--built so that it tilts slightly more one way or the other--but you really think casinos are still using those? Skilled players look for dealers signature spins to riff off of and claim combining dealers spin habits with visualizing rotations can lead to "fall zone" predictions.
"This kind of s^&% will get you killed" -- Jiggaboo Jones
While we are not doubting the Jiggaboo Jones can roll any number he wants during street dice, dropping the dice like he does wouldn't fly at a Vegas craps table. That said, neither would any of the other lame methods that many scammers attempt, like swapping the dice out for "magic store dice", drilled down dice with added lead weights, or easy baked dice -- microwaved to make one side heavier. Nope, this isn't Oceans 13, so don't even attempt these scams. That said, we aren't saying Jiggaboo Jones, or any other skilled roller couldn't have *some* control over what he or she rolls, or more precisely exercise some control over what he or she doesn't roll.
There are plenty of books and sites out there that will teach you the techniques used in "controlled rolling". This type of rolling theory is built off of three tenants: grip, alignment, and delivery. However, whether you will walk away with tens of thousands or a bad case of carpal tunnel is really up in the air.
There is no way to report the number of people who think they know how to count or have some theory of blackjack but don't or blow it here. I can only go by experience, anecdote and the lack of a state income tax. --Richard Abowitz
Ok, the real story with blackjack is advantage play, that's where the bulk of the action is. However, that doesn't stop cheaters from trying. Marked cards, dealer collusion cheating, card muck, touchy-feely loving "couples" switching cards as they grope one another, and plenty of other methods still persist, but thanks to that infamous MIT gang of "Bringing Down The House," (the movie version, "21" was filmed at Planet Hollywood) along with a mountain of books and movies, many blackjack players have turned to advantage play.
As usual, technology is blurring the line between legit card counting and cheating. Most recently Apple's iPhone, and more specifically this card counting app showed up on the casino radar. In response the Nevada Gaming Control Board issued a warning stating this app makes card counting more accessible to the average blackjack player. So is it legal?
Just as a reminder, use of this type of program or possession of a device with this type of program on it — with the intent to use it - in a licensed gaming establishment, is a violation of NRS 465.075. Counting cards with a device is a felony under Nevada law and is punishable by prison terms of between one and six years, or a fine of no more than $10,000, for the first offense.
We aren't going to get into the intricacies of card counting here. However we will tell you that you should read this story and remember that cameras and on-the-the-floor personnel have made it extremely difficult for card-counting teams to escape detection.
[Photo of Blackjack table: fictures]