Slot machines are one of the most lucrative casino games, and that goes for both parties — players and the house. When we say players, we count cheaters as well — ones that are so eager to win that are willing to circumvent because Lady Luck turns her back on them.
Some say that slots, even though they are electronic, attract as many cheaters as the regular table games like poker.
Slots can scoop up the most money from the stakes, but they can also pay out some of the biggest jackpot prizes. It’s understandable that these machines can be triggered by slot tricksters.
Here, we will present to you some of slot machine cheats and consequences of them.
Ronald Dale Harris
Each part of our society has its authorities, which exist to ensure that that part functions regularly and fairly.
So it is like that with gambling. In Nevada, it is the duty of the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Computer programmers that work for this board are responsible for finding flaws and mistakes in software for computerized casino games.
One of their own took advantage of their position as an engineer and falsified the source codes. The notorious swindler Ronald Dale Harris did that for years before his partner in crime was caught.
Ronald started with slots and then shifted his focus on keno. Using his program, he was able to discover which number a pseudorandom number generator would single out.
In 1998, his collaborator, Reid Errol McNeal, won $1,000,000 on a keno game, and Ronald was discovered. He was to spend seven years in jail.
He is still in the Nevada Gaming Control Board’s black book.
Fake Tokens & ‘The Coin’
Louis B. Colavecchio, better known as “The Coin,” is a con man who used false coins in several ground-based casinos in Atlantic City and Connecticut.
He even led a gang which produced numerous coins for slot machines from hardened steel dies of the originals. Casinos started to notice that they had extra coins.
In 1998, he was arrested and convicted. After spending seven years in prison, Luis was freed in 2006, only to be apprehended a few months later for same “activities.”
Today, because of his fake tokens, casinos use paper vouchers.
With the progress in technology comes the invention of light sensors. They used those to register the payment on slot machines.
In most of the apparatus, this optical electric eye worked independently from the physical detector. It was a gap that tricksters used to introduce shaved coins.
At the same time, they put into a machine a shaved coin plus the item that doubled the original stake coin in shape and size. The cut coin would return while the other one would thump into the machine and initiate the play.
Another classic, Yo-Yo, was a technique used in the coin era. The scammers used a coin attached to a string. They would put the coin into the machine until it started the game, and then the player pulled out the coin using the cord.
This one is also oldie, from the time of mechanical cabinets.
The group of gamblers gathered in Atlantic City back in 1982. One of the comrades opened the selected slot machine with a mini-drill. Then he fastened piano wires that were long 20 inches deep into the very guts of the device.
Manipulating the wheels and cogs with the wires, the cheater stopped the cogs at the winning spin. His happiness didn’t last long. As soon as he cashed out $50,000 and tried to leave the premises, he was booked.
He played the role of his life that was filmed by the casino’s camera.
Machines use bills as well as coins. This device imitates the top of a $100 banknote. One covers a one-buck bill with it and inserts it into the chute of the slot. Fooled by the cover, the machine grants the player the $100 bet.
Computer Chip Replacement
Dennis Nikrasch was one of the infamous Vegas swindlers with $16,000,000 ripped from slot machines in his career that lasted for 22 years. He was a locksmith in Chicago. Using his professional knowledge, he joined one of the key crime families.
From 1961 to 1970 he served time. After he was released from prison, Dennis realized that it would be more beneficial if he changed the profession. He started to manipulate slot devices. Caught once more, he spent five years in prison until 1991.
Dennis bought a slot machine, disassembled it, and studied the mechanism in his garage. Finally, he developed the computer chips to reprogram the device in that manner that it paid out jackpots on tap.
With a group of like-minded people and a bundle of slot machine keys, Dennis started his quest and kept casinos dry for years. One of his accomplices betrayed Dennis on November 1998. He left jail in 2004 and died in 2010.
Tommy Glenn Carmichael
One of the colossal cheats in the history of gambling in land-based casinos was the one that involved Tommy Glenn Carmichael. He developed several advanced tools and used them for scoring instant wins for nearly 40 years.
Tommy was born in the mid-1950s. Since he was a kid, he was interested in finding out how electronic machines worked. In 1980, he opened a television merchandise and repair shop.
After some time, his business was running dry. His friend, Ray Ming, introduced him to a miniature slot machine, and they produced a classic cheater’s tool — a top-bottom joint. Tommy practiced, and when he was ready, he went to the very first casino to try it out. In the end, he was caught and sentenced to five years in prison.
While on the subject, the top-bottom joint was one of the most loved and used devices throughout the 1970s and 1980s. This two-part tool has the top metal rod bent in the shape of “q” letter and a long wire bottom.
Chances of winning were improved with bottom part in the coin chute and top through the coin slot. The machine was jammed with this contraption. When used correctly, it would make it spit all money from its guts.
Another weird looking contraptions of his is the light wand. With this one, Tommy would blind optical sensor so the machine was not able to detect how many coins had been deposited — it wouldn’t know when or how much to pay back.
However, with the invention of video slot machines, Tommy changed his tools. He constructed a particular device called Monkey’s Paw. It was made of flexible material, about a foot long and had a claw device at one end.
For one to use it, they had to stick it up the disburse coin chute and into the counter itself. Tommy used this invention to interfere with the counter and compel the machine grant greater amounts than usual. Again, he was caught and sentenced to jail.
After all, done and served, Tommy hooked up with the Nevada Gaming Commission to generate anti-cheating tools that could be applied to new slot machines. Their joint venture produced “The Protector.” It blocks all cheating gadgets people ever created and is still in use.
One of the latest stories is about a Russian guy called Alex. He was a freelance programmer and hacker. One of the Russian casinos employed him to finagle RTP on a particular provider’s slot machines.
In short, he learned how to exploit an innate weakness of the PRNG (Pseudo Random Number Generator) algorithm to foresee the random number that was coming. PRNG is the program that forms never-ending chains of single-digit numbers, mostly in base 10, known as the decimal system.
For better understanding, a PRNG generated series is not exactly random because an initial value entirely determines it, named the PRNG’s seed (which may contain genuinely random numbers).
Alex configured an algorithm that could anticipate the current PRNG parameters. He even made an iPhone app, whose objective was to determine the exact moment to spin the reels in order to win. Finally, he hired agents to test all this “in vivo.”
He tried to make an agreement with Aristocrat, but they refused his offer. However, do not expect too much from Alex and his system. Even if he published all data and algorithms, you still wouldn’t stand a chance against online casinos — they will most certainly turn off all affected slots.
So one thing is for sure — do not cheat. It doesn’t pay off. Maybe it was easier on old-school mechanical devices but surely wasn’t lawful. As you read, many guys served time in prison because of their “jobs.”
Nowadays, with the computerized machines and all that stuff like RNG and algorithms, it is literally impossible to do that. First, you have to be a genius, but let me reassure you that you will be caught. Have no doubt about it.
Even at online casinos, rules and regulations strictly forbid cheating. If you try to pull a scam on an online slot machine, you will be banned not only from that one, but they will be free to send your private data to all other online casinos. Consequence — you will be prosecuted and won’t be able to play anywhere at all.
So play safe and by the rules. Who knows, maybe Lady Luck will smile on you one day. Patience is a virtue.