5 Biggest Casino Cheaters in the History of Gambling
While many have tried, only a few were successful enough to trick the casinos and become the biggest casino cheaters in history.
Some names stick out above the rest when it comes to being dishonest. A few exceptional masterminds managed to pull off such amazing thefts in real life that they easily put the likes of Ocean’s 11 to shame by earning the unceremonious epitaph of the biggest casino cheaters ever.
These intelligent individuals used anything from technology to the art of deception to hit many of the world’s largest casinos and leave with more money than most of us would win in a lifetime. Even so, all these card cheaters were caught in the end, and some were banned from casinos for life, begging the question, “was it all worth it?”.
Here is the list of the five biggest casino cheaters in the history of gambling:
1. Tommy Glenn Carmichael
Tommy Glenn Carmichael’s casino cheating adventures spanned more than four decades. His first arrest was in 1985, when he was sentenced to five years in prison. Using a plan that he devised while locked up, Carmichael continued scamming after his release, using a tool called the monkey paw, to hack into slot machines.
Carmichael’s tricks evolved over time with the invention of the light wand in 1991, which worked on the newer electronic slot machines. He went on to sell these devices to other cheaters, with some scoring over US$10,000 a day using the tool.
Carmichael was again arrested in 1996 and charged with possession and manufacturing of cheating devices, although the charges were later dropped. However, he eventually faced the music with subsequent arrests in 1998 and 1999.
2. Richard Marcus
After failing as a gambler, Richard Marcus found himself homeless in Las Vegas and took a casino dealer job, giving him insider info on how casinos operate and obstruct cheaters. Marcus now knew ways of scamming casinos, and in his case, that amounted to millions of dollars in the course of his career. His scam was simple, using a basic sleight of hand.
He’d place a simple bet of two red US$5 chips on top of one US$500 brown chip. If the bet won, Marcus would pocket over US$1,000. If the bet lost, he’d wait until the dealer was not looking and replaced the US$510 in chips with US$15.
The scam worked for years until Marcus was eventually caught, tried, and banned from casinos. This, however, didn’t stop him, and he continues to mentor other cheats to this day.
3. Dominic lo Riggio
Known as The Dominator, lo Riggio was a master of craps and one of the biggest casino cheaters in history. After years of practice, lo Riggio mastered controlled shooting, a method in craps of getting the rolls you need when you need them. The technique involves gripping the dice precisely, tossing them, so they remain together, then having them land gently against the back wall of a craps table.
4. Edward Thorp
Edward Thorp is considered the inventor of card counting, having used his knowledge of probability to gain an advantage in a simple card game. Using an IBM 704 computer, Thorp cracked the code behind blackjack by analysing the probabilities of the game. To test the theory, he went to the casinos of Reno, Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe.
Here, Thorp recruited a professional gambler, Manny Kimmel, to test the method and ended up earning over US$11,000 in two days. He was convinced that his theory was spot on, and rather than bleeding the casinos dry, he released a book in 1996 called Beat the Dealer.
That book sold over 700,000 copies and became a New York Times bestseller. The book’s proceeds allowed Thorp a comfortable life and made him one of the wealthiest gamblers in the world. Today, Richard Thorp is inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame for inventing the Thorp Count method.
5. MIT Blackjack Team
Probably the most infamous people on this list, the MIT Blackjack Team devised a strategy during the 1990s using statistical tactics to take card counting to a new level. MITs took a team approach and practised numerous mock scenarios. The result? Some of the biggest casino cheaters in history, immortalised in the film 21.