Casino cheaters have existed as long as casinos. From the earliest days of machine gambling, when mechanical parts were easy to manipulate, players trying to get something for nothing have used many different tactics to work their way into a game’s cabinet and take advantage of the machine’s design. Even though random number generators and virtual reels have replaced the clunky machine parts of the old days, some gamblers still want to do everything they can to rob the casino or pub where they spin the pokie machines’ reels.
A quick browse online turns up all sorts of bogus devices designed to confuse or get around machine game security features. And yes, while uncommon, some cheats have tried to use metal or wooden devices to simply open the coin hopper, collect cash, and walk out of the casino with free money. Even betting strategies that are sold as ways to beat modern random number generator programs can be considered a sort of cheat. Unfortunately (for cheaters) modern machine games are essentially cheat-proof.
Of course, machines weren’t always so difficult to rip off. In fact, though heightened security features and computer technology have made it very difficult to do, casinos still get cheated out of cash from time to time. High-profile cheats make the pages of newspapers and magazines – stories of advantage gamblers who use card-counting and other technically legal tactics to beat the house are fairly common. Not all casino cheating is this easy to recognize, no doubt cheating on a small scale (like stealing cash from a poker machine) occurs to this very day.
But when pokie games were mechanical machines with no electronic or computer components, cheaters had many tactics to take the candy from the baby – read about the infamous “Monkey’s Paw” created by famous American cheater Tommy Glenn Carmichael for an example of just such an unfair advantage. Carmichael’s specially-made tools weren’t even necessary on some machines. Crooks with coat hangers, shaved coins, and even coins on a string could steal cash from hoppers every now and again because the games were so simplistic in design.
Carmichael’s Monkey’s Paw device was simple enough that a wannabe casino cheater could replicate it in a metal shop. Made of steel, the Paw had a hook on one end. A cheater could get away by simply sliding the Paw up a machine’s payout chute, grabbing hold of the coin release door, then holding the door open after the next legal payout. Rather than a few credits, the open door would empty the game, increasing the value of the win many times over.
What about shaved coins? Gamblers who wanted to win a little extra learned that if they sliced the edges of their coins off the coins would pass right through the machine after triggering the game to accept the coin. The bet was recognized but the coin came right back out into the cheater’s hand. Voila, an infinite number of free spins.
Once electricity was added to games, and even after the adoption of rudimentary computer parts in the 1980s, gamblers trying to rip off the house kept trying to build or buy devices to somehow interrupt the way poker machine’s operated. These devices are slightly more sophisticated than Carmichael’s Monkey’s Paw, but thanks to better design they were less likely to work.
Still to this day people sell these devices that supposedly confuse a slot machine’s computer or electronic brain. Usually these devices are just LED bulbs lined up to confuse or interrupt the activity of a game’s internal sensors. The theory goes that these lights might trick a machine into paying more than a player legally won. Suffice it to say that as pokies have grown more sophisticated, so have machine game cheating devices and tactics.
Realistically, thanks to advances in game design, the only way to beat one of the more modern games in a casino would be to somehow hack the machine’s internal computer parts, re-program the game to your liking, and do all that without attracting attention from the constant security presence.
Even if you are an employee for a game designer and you could work in a line of code or two that you could then go to the casino to exploit, the odds of being caught are high. That’s because casino management tracks all money put into and paid out from pokies – an insider cheating the system would be obvious, especially if the jackpots were consistent or large enough to justify the complex cheat involved. The staff of a gambling venue can easily look at security camera footage and figure out that you’re really not the luckiest guy in the world.
The lesson is simple: trying to rip off a modern pokie is a great way to get in trouble and not a good way to make money. Today’s gambling floors are saturated with both live and camera-based surveillance. Today’s casinos spend a lot of cash and effort preventing the kinds of cheats that Carmichael and others got away with in decades part. If a person does find a source of a poker machine cheating device, odds are it is a worthless electronic gadget that doesn’t work. The new owner of the useless cheating device will find their wallet lighter by a few bucks but still not able to beat the house.
Even if a gambler could somehow pull off a one-time cheat, casino management spends so much effort watching big winners, a successful tactic or playing on a machine vulnerable to cheats would only be good for a single payout. Winning more from pokies requires two things: bankroll management and luck. It won’t hurt to select only those games that have the highest certified payouts. Passing an LED light box across a poker machine’s face or sliding a piece of steel into a modern game is likely to result in electrocution, a pair of handcuffs, or (at best) nothing at all.
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