Cheating gamblers have always been popular characters in pop culture. Casinos have been around since the year 1638—and so have people that have a knack for beating the system in order to make more money from the casino. Every single day, there is someone out there in a casino trying to cheat. That is just how it is. Luckily, casinos have been able to stay updated and secure enough to avoid too many incidents where the house is cheated. However, every few years, a cheater enters the system and is able to beat it.
In this post, we will be talking about some of history’s most troublesome and clever cheaters, such as:
- Tommy Glenn Carmichael
- Richard Marcus
- Ida Summers
- Dominic LoRiggio
Tommy Glenn Carmichael – The Slot Hacker
We will start this off with Tommy Glenn Carmichael—the man known as the cleverest slot machine hacker to ever have set foot in a casino. He used to gamble in a Las Vegas casino, where he spent 4 years trying to cheat—and successfully cheating slots and making money from them. Born in the mid-50s, Tommy always has a knack for how machines work. He opened his own store in Oklahoma in the 80s, where he would repair TVs. When his business started failing, and his divorce became a reality, he started to think about going to the wrong side of the law. He had already overstepped the line before because of drug possession charges. This time, he decided to go for the slots that looked like online Quick Hit slots with his high school friend Ray.
Ray introduced him to ‘top-down joint’, a tool they could use to hack slots, and Tommy learned how the slot machines worked from the inside. Tommy figured out a way to insert a rod into the machines to get higher payouts. He would also invent ‘monkey’s paw’, a technique used to get a higher payout. Eventually, he was caught in 1987, after moving to smaller casinos after the technology in the big casinos changed.
Richard Marcus – The Roulette Outcast
It can be said that this kid from New Jersey was very attracted to the prospect of gambling ever since he was little. He would bet his parents on the colour of cars that would come across while they were out on family trips. At school, he would collect baseball cards and flip them with his friends, winning more cards and making everyone jealous until everyone else started cheating.
When Richard got a little older, he showed interest in craps, playing it at his school, challenging anyone who thought they could take him on. This translated to him going to the racetracks as a teen. This was where something happened that would throw him into the gambling pit definitively. He bet and ended up winning $30,000 in one day. With hopes of making more money and greed on his mind, he headed to the casinos in Vegas and lost it all in one night.
He would spend the next months homeless, living underneath a bridge overpass. In order to better understand the game from the other side, he got himself a job at the Four Queens casino as a blackjack and baccarat dealer. This is where he would observe, learn, strategize, and develop ways to cheat players out of their money.
A man named Joe Classon happened to be a regular at the casino, and he noticed Richard’s talents and asked him to join him in his cheating scandals, offering him as much as twenty percent of all the profits. Needless to say, Richard took this offer, and he would later go on to invent his own cheating techniques.
He would invent strategies for a variety of games. Roulette, for example, had the ‘Mix-Up Strategy,’ in which he would slip in a few high-value chips into the pile after winning a bet. In another play, he would replace all his chips quickly during the spin, losing $5 but gaining great leverage. With his tactics, he was able to win as much as $500,000 in a single spin.
He was arrested several times but let go because of a lack of evidence. He was also blacklisted from a lot of casinos out there, including all casinos based in Nevada.
Ida Summers – The Charming Hustler
Ida’s story looks like it is right out of a Hollywood movie. She was a charming woman with a knack for cheating at casinos and cashing in green like it was nobody’s business. This con artist has successfully cheated casinos out of thousands and thousands—yet it is unclear as to where she came from. There are a lot of theories about it (from her being a runaway from southern Florida to being born and raised 10 minutes from the strip in Nevada), yet nothing seems to be concrete, making the vixen all the more intriguing or a character.
Active in the 1960s and early 1970s, Ida used to use her beauty to charm the players into making poor decisions and even woo the dealers to the point where they had no idea she was robbing them of thousands on a daily basis.
Specializing in poker and blackjack, she used techniques like hand-mucking (bringing your own cards and slipping them on the table) and even stealing cards from players. Later on, she used ‘coolers’, which involve blackjack shoes that have pre-arranged cards in them. It was a risky move as she had to find matching shoes and replace them, so she hired people she trusted to help her too.
It was unclear how she got caught, but after months of observation, the FBI was able to catch up to her.
Dominic LoRiggio – The King of the Dice
Dominic LoRiggio is another man no casino wants to see walking through their gates. Why? Not because he is a cheater, but because he has mastered the art of throwing dice.
Yes, you read that correctly. LoRiggio has spent so much time throwing dice that he is now a master of it. He uses techniques like letting the dice hit the table’s wall gently at a certain pace to achieve the desired number. He calls it ‘controlled shooting,’ and while technically, this isn’t cheating, many casinos beg to differ when the house ends up taking a huge loss to LoRiggio.
While gambling is a vast domain that attracts people from all walks of life, the times have changed to a point where the old ways of cheating don’t work, and security is as tight as it should be. And while all these cheaters did have their run, they all ended up in the hands of the law. Needless to say, though, it does make for an entertaining read!