Cheats That Changed The Casino Industry

From slot machine hacks to counting cards, here are some of the biggest cheat examples from around the world in the last 60 years.

Cheats That Changed The Casino Industry

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These days, casinos are very accustomed and much better prepared to handle cheaters.

However, over the years there have been a lot of people who have tried and succeeded at tricking the system to make a pretty penny.

From slot machine hacks to counting cards, here are some of the biggest cheat examples from around the world in the last 60 years.

Coin on a string

This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, but it’s been very successful for some scam artists. The idea was first brought to light in Dwight and Louise Crevelt’s 1988 book, ‘Slot Machine Mania’.

In the book, they explain how a technician found a coin with a small hole drilled into it and a nylon string attached inside the machine.

Tricksters would use the coin to trip the slot counting mechanism until credits were added and pull it back out again.

Since this old cheat method was discovered, slot machines in the big casinos often only accept special cards or notes. However, there are still some older slot machines in casinos which haven’t disappeared yet.

Counterfeit coins

In the 1980s, a hardware manufacturer in Nevada sold washers that were, coincidentally, the same size and weight as the United States of America’s coin currency.

The 1985 Mexican one-peso coins were worth just half an American cent, but were similar enough to fool the slot machines into thinking they were inserting quarters as well.

In 1998, Louis “The Coin” Colavecchio managed to make counterfeit coins and tokens. He used his link with bad people, as well as his other job as a jeweller to make the dies.

He was caught when casinos realised they had a huge amount of fake coins in their vaults and slot machines.

Since then, more casinos have started to only accept notes as wagers. Naturally, people tried to use counterfeit bills in slot machines, which lead to bigger casinos incorporating a validator in the slot machines.

Cigarette pack radio transmitter

Back in 1973, a French roulette dealer, his sister and brother-in-law cheated their way to one million dollars. The dealer simply built a radio transmitter inside of a pack of cigarettes and used a roulette ball that would correspond via a receiver every time his sister would press the button at a nearby table.

His brother-in-law was, therefore, able to place bets when he knew the scam was in place. The trio was eventually caught when the casino owner started getting suspicious of the dealer’s sister placing small bets at a nearby table and losing heavily.

A debugging crew eventually found the radio transmitter and they were arrested.


There was a time during the 1960s and 1970s where cheaters would use a magnet on slot machines to influence the outcome of the spin.

By applying the magnet to the machine, the slot reels would be free to float and could be stopped when the cheater chooses.

However, like most technology, it’s drastically evolved since then. Now, a winning payout isn’t determined by the slot reels you see at the front, but by a random number generator inside the slot machine.

So even if it looks like you’ve won, it won’t pay and a member of the casino staff can check to see where the random number generator was supposed to stop in the machine’s records.

Blackjack fraud

One of the more modern-day cheating scams was carried out in 2011 by a man called Phuong Quoc Truong. He brought a team of 30 card counters and blackjack dealers together to go around multiple casinos in Southern California ripping them off.

The scam worked by the dealers pretending to shuffle a deck of cards by bringing the corners together so it looks and sounds the same as regular shuffling.

They were then able to keep the winning cards together ready for the players to capitalise. A signaller would then communicate to the outside person via a small microphone in their jacket sleeve. They’d disguise this by pretending to smoke a cigarette.

The outside person would let the signaller know how they should play and he would signal to players with his cigarette.

After taking 25 different casinos for nearly seven million dollars, the group were finally caught.

Since then, casinos have started to use eight decks to reduce the likelihood of it happening again.

Sector targeting using lasers

In 2004, three gamblers cleverly hustled the London’s Ritz Casino for around one million pounds.

Using a unique system of lasers and computers called ‘sector targeting’, they were able to calculate where the descending ball was going to drop on the roulette wheel using the speed.

The lasers were put in their cell phones and allowed them to scan the roulette wheel and send it to a computer which would tell them roughly which section the ball will land.

The trio was caught, but was released as there were no laws prohibiting the use of sector targeting back then.

The monkey paw and light wand

A man called Tommy Glenn Carmichael created a number of cheating tools to trick casinos for nearly 40 years before he got arrested.

One of his most successful ones was the monkey paw. Made from a guitar string and attached to a metal wand, he would work it through the air vent trip of a slot machine and it would trigger a payout.

Another one of his more fruitful cheating tools was the light wand. This was used before slot machines started using random number generators and worked by working it up the payout chute and tripping an electronic sensor.

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