|Paul Greenhalgh||General||14 October, 2014|
There are many different people who have gone out of their way to try and beat the casinos around the world at their own game, but only a few of them have actually been successful. These people have perfected their casino cheats and stood out from the rest due to their skill. Here are ten of the most astounding gamblers in history.
Edward Thorp is known as the "Father of Counted Cards" because before he wrote his book, "Beat the Dealer", casinos had never come in contact with anyone that could count cards. He had multiple degrees, and used his superior intelligence to devise a plan to count cards and use the slight advantage this gave him to win over the house. Prior to him releasing his book, he is said to have amassed millions of dollars, and has since made a fortune in the stock market.
Richard Marcus was known to make money off of optical illusions. He would place his bet with a few chips in a stack on a number for roulette. If he won, he'd point out that there was a $500 chip at the bottom of the stack, which would be verified and paid. If he lost, however, he would flip out the chip for a smaller chip when moving his chips to the dealer and walk away with his chip. Richard Marcus did end up getting caught and prosecuted down the line, but prior to being caught, he is said to have amassed over $5 million.
While movies have been made about this team of casino cheats, most people do not quite understand how the whole system worked. MIT started an after-class club that taught about Blackjack. After a short time, this club began teaching techniques that taught these above-average students how to count cards without getting caught. These students took what they learned in this club and took it to the casinos in Las Vegas. This turned into a team venture that lasted for many years. First the students used their own money, and later opened Strategic Investments to use the money of others, which eventually got the students money that totaled in the neighborhood of $5 million. While none of the students were prosecuted, the team stopped when every MIT class had their picture uploaded into worldwide databases for casino cheats.
Louis Colavecchio was known as 'The Coin' due to his innate ability to recreate any coin or chip that was used in any casino in Las Vegas. He used the same materials that the original coins were made of, and the details were so exact, even most casinos couldn't tell the difference. It took many years for the casinos to catch on, and by then he is said to have amassed over $500,000. When he was caught he plead out to a deal that helped casinos prevent future attacks that were of the same nature.
Tommy Carmichael was known for creating devices that made slot machines pay out. First he made the top-bottom joint which was a slider used to trip the switch in slot machines and was made out of guitar string and a piece of spring steel. Next he created the monkey bar which consisted of a piece of metal shaped like a claw that fooled the slot machine into paying out a win, and then finally the light wand which was the simplest of all devices because it consisted of using a bright light to trip the machines hopper, causing it to payout without even knowing it. He was able to trick all devices into paying out without getting caught for a very long time. Carmichael has made tons of money off his tricks and was even reported to sell his light wand to other cheats for as much as $10,000 each. Mr. Carmichael has spent most of his life in prison and is banned from most casinos. He currently makes a living making devices that prevent slot thefts.
Ida Summers was not your traditional casino gambler. She was petite and quite beautiful, which was partly why casinos never thought she was capable of hiding cards or swapping out cold decks that were pre-sorted to give her the advantage. Eventually Ms. Summers was caught and prosecuted by the FBI, but no one knows just how much money she got away with before then.
Keith Taft was an electronics expert. He started in the 1970s and perfected his trade in the years beyond that. He created computers that counted cards; spied on cards the dealer had, or kept track of the card sequence to give him an advantage. He was never prosecuted, but he is said to have gotten away with many thousands of dollars from his computerized casino cheats.
Dominic LoRiggio was called 'The Dominator' due to his skill at being able to throw craps dice perfectly to get the sum he wanted nearly every time. He spent years perfecting his throw, and taking casinos for all they were worth. He was never prosecuted because his actions are technically legal, but most of the time he is told to leave casinos or to throw differently than his perfect skill required. There are no estimates as to how much he's amassed over the years.
Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo is a Spaniard who figured out that each roulette wheel has some type of imperfection that causes it to land on one number more often than others. He spent years figuring out which imperfections to focus on, and then went to casinos around the world betting on their roulette wheels. He is said to have profited over $1.5 million, and one casino tried to prosecute him, but was told his actions of ingenuity were not illegal by Spain's Supreme Court.
Ron Harris, along with Reid Errol McNeal figured out that so-called 'random' numbers were actually generated in a way that could be duplicated. This allowed them to figure out Keno numbers and win a $100,000 jackpot. They caught the attention of authorities and both were caught almost immediately. The authorities figured out that Ron Harris had a job within Nevada's gaming industry, giving him insider knowledge to help pull the cheat off.
Each of these gamblers has left their footprint in the history of gambling and casino cheats. While some of them did nothing outwardly illegal, everyone can learn from their example as to how not to play the next time they are at a casino.