With Martin Scorsese’s financial epic The Wolf of Wall Street causing quite the stir at theaters worldwide, we began thinking back on some of history’s most infamous casino cheating scandals and scams. These tales of cunning individuals and clever group scams demonstrate humanity’s ingenuity at work.
These individuals successfully bypassed casino security for years by engaging in activities ranging from card counting and machine rigging – until finally being discovered and caught.
Richard Marcus was an outstanding casino cheat who didn’t abide by high moral principles, known for inventing cheating techniques for multiple casino games over his 25-year con job against Las Vegas casinos that resulted in millions in lost profits.
Marcus would rely on his expertise to quickly and accurately place bets during Roulette games. Together with Joe Classon, they developed the “past posting” strategy of removing large wagers after results had become known and replacing them with smaller bets – effectively shortening betting rounds by cutting out ineffective bets quickly and replacing them with smarter alternatives.
Marcus managed to defraud casinos of over $30 million during his career. Now a best-selling author of books about his exploits and regularly conducting casino security and table game protection seminars, Marcus regularly warns casino managers about scammers and advantage players as well as scammer protection seminars for them. No charges of cheating were ever filed against him but instead, just proof that he excelled at what he did!
Real-life versions of Ocean’s 11 were responsible for robbing casinos of millions through using gadgets and people inside to beat the system. From tampering with mechanical slot machines to creating wearable computers, these masterminds managed to defeat roulette, blackjack and craps games successfully.
Edward Thorp was a math professor who discovered a way to beat roulette and blackjack with numbers. With this knowledge in hand, he became a hedge fund manager, New York Times best-selling author, and an integral force in developing quantitative investing.
As a young boy, Thorp demonstrated an early aptitude for science and often conducted his own experiments. This later led him to win scholarships at both UC Berkeley and UCLA before going on to earn his PhD in Mathematics. While casino game had not been discussed much at school or learned much about when visiting Las Vegas on family vacations he realized they could be beat through mathematical analysis; hence the birth of card counting strategy.
Tommy Glenn Carmichael
Tommy Glenn Carmichael opened a television repair shop and moonlighted as a pool hustler in 1980. While he did have minor drug convictions and juvenile mischief charges on his record, nothing about his life indicated that he would become one of the world’s most notorious casino cheaters.
Carmichael’s life changed abruptly when one of her high school classmates gifted her a miniature slot machine and an ancient cheaters tool known as a top-bottom joint in his car trunk. Once familiarized with how it worked, Carmichael began using it to defraud casinos nationwide.
By 1995, Carmichael had established himself as a professional gambler, winning thousands daily at the slots and taking seven cruises within six months to bring in even more cash. When casinos updated their machines however, Carmichael had to adapt his methods as the machines changed and eventually created a light wand which shined onto slots to prompt them into paying out.
Ron Harris was a well-known casino cheat who managed several gambling rings. His skills enabled him to earn millions through casino gaming at casinos and other venues; using various tactics, such as marking cards with pencil, peeking over them when no one was looking, distracting dealers with distractions or wearing disguises, Ron won millions through gambling at these establishments.
He had experience as a locksmith, giving him the ability to unlock any lock and gain entry to any game machine’s inner components. From here he could install hidden software switches that caused errors that resulted in high payouts for him.
He and his brother Don made up The Bruise Brothers in both Continental Wrestling Association (CWA) and United States Wrestling Association (USWA), later known as The Bruise Brothers. Don is currently president of MEDIA Alliance International – an association connecting Christian broadcasters globally – while Mark serves as professor of history at Dallas Baptist University and an honorary fellow with American Society for Legal History.