Having discussed casino hacking at length, this guide would be incomplete without talking about the most successful cheats. The first two examples will discuss the most successful online hackers, while the last five will be old school hackers who did things the hard way.
Ashley Mitchell Hacks Zynga
Apparently, free-to-play casino apps are at risk from online casino hacks. Despite players been unable to claim winnings in real money, this does deter casino cheats from attempting malicious schemes.
UK fraudster Ashley Mitchell hit the headlines in 2011 after completing a hack online casino scheme of the Zynga Corporation. Having breached the company’s security, Mitchell proceeded to steal 400 billion poker chips that combined to be worth more than £7.5 million.
Mitchell then attempted to profit from his ill-gotten gains by creating fake Facebook accounts to house the chips with the aim of selling on the chips. Fortunately, the IT expert was only able to earn £50,000 before being caught, but has since developed his own successful Facebook app called Gambino Poker.
Bitcoin Dice Site Loses $1m
Some fraudsters are annoyingly talented, with not all casino cheaters caught. In this next story, it transpires that a Bitcoin dice gambling site was defrauded of $1 million back in 2014. At Primedice, the brand does not even know the identity of the hacker who took advantage of their system.
Known only as “Hufflepuff” – which is one of the four houses from Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series – this user found a way of manipulating Prime Dice’s random number generator (RNG). At one stage, Hufflepuff was staking more than $8,000 worth of Bitcoin every second over a period of hours.
Hufflepuff was able to decrypt and encrypt at will, with Primedice unable to figure out how the hacker was so successful. A request was made for a return of the funds, but predictably this has not happened. Primedice’s CEO is currently offering a reward for anyone with knowledge about the identity of Hufflepuff.
Old School Cheats
After exploring the efforts of online fraudsters, it is time to start talking about old school casino cheats. And Dennis Nikrasch is an excellent starting point, having stolen more than $15 million from Las Vegas casinos in the 1980s. Nikrasch was also known for his ability to work solo or as part of a larger crew of crooks.
Nikrasch grew up in Chicago and learned to be a locksmith before using his skills to rob houses. He was then caught and served 10 years in prison, with Nikrasch moving to Las Vegas after his release.
Upon arrival in Las Vegas, Nikrasch began fabricating keys and using magnets to trigger slot machines’ jackpots or even just open them up to steal the money. Nikrasch was so successful that he enjoyed eight years of success before being caught and returning to Vegas in 1991 and assembling a team to help him out before once again being caught.
Nikrasch wasn’t the only fraudster to cheat slot machines in the 80s. Take a look:
Richard Marcus Works the Tables
Richard Marcus became infamous with Las Vegas security for his astonishing ability to defraud casinos. Marcus had tried to earn legitimate winnings as a professional gambler, but found himself destitute for his lack of success.
Eventually, Marcus wound up living on the street and was forced to start working as a blackjack dealer. From his position on the inside, Marcus was given a fist-hand perspective that enabled to figure out scams that could tip the odds in his favour.
Marcus is best-know for his strategy of hiding a $500 chip under two $5 chips when playing roulette. If he won, Marcus would show the $500 chip and claim the higher winnings. However, if he lost, Marcus quickly swapped out the $500 chip for a $5 chip when the dealer was not looking.
Surprisingly, this scam worked for years before the casinos were able to catch Marcus. This scheme would not work nowadays, though, as Marcus implemented his strategy when CCTV and security were much lighter in casinos.
Cracking the Roulette Code
Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo worked was a Spanish record producer until he decided to take on the casinos. While living in Madrid, Garcia-Pelayo held the belief that not all roulette wheels were capable of delivering completely random results.
Garcia-Pelayo’s next move was to perform hours of rigorous research at a Madrid casino, where he would record results before analysing them at home. He eventually identified which numbers appeared more than others and used this knowledge to score more than €600,000.
The Spaniard then travelled to Las Vegas, where he enjoyed even greater success by taking the casinos for $2 million. Following a Supreme Court case, Garcia-Pelayo’s actions were deemed legal and he stepped back from his fraudulent approach in the early 1990s.
The Father of Card Counting
Edward Thorp is an MIT professor who used an IBM 704 computer and the Kelly criterion to publish a 1962 book entitled “Beat the Dealer”, which outlined how card players could use Thorp’s ten count system to their advantage.
Thorp spent his time meticulously researching blackjack possibilities before eventually seizing upon a solution. After doing so, he turned to a professional gambler called Manny Kimmel in order to road test the approach.
After winning $11,000 during a weekend playing in Vegas, Reno, and Lake Tahoe, it was clear that the technique had viable potential. For Thorp, however, it was enough to know that the technique worked, so he stopped.
Learn more about the MIT blackjack team:
Remote Control Roulette Balls
The final scam is easily the funniest, with a trio of fraudsters using remote control roulette ball to their advantage, which is extremely impressive considering they made the ball back in 1973.
After swapping the genuine roulette ball with the electronic version, it would then be activated by a transmitter. The trio stole five million francs in a week before the attractive woman with the transmitter drew too much attention and they were caught.
There are many famous examples of online and old school casino fraud. These make for entertaining stories that we can all enjoy, but never try to repeat them.