Top Casino Cheats of All Time

Top Casino Cheats of All Time

13 Oct 2012 | 12:27 Author: Seth Shafer

Some shady gamblers have been trying to cheat in casinos for hundreds of years.

The lure of easy money will always encourage some people to try to cheat and scam casinos, especially when it's easy to view casinos as "greedy" villains with plenty of money to spare.

Below you'll find some of the most notorious and successful casino cheats of all time; don't be tempted to follow in their footsteps, as casino security is almost always one step ahead of would-be cheaters.

Dennis Nikrasch and slot machine scams:

Slot machines have always been a target for cheaters but few managed the success that Dennis Nikrasch did. Nikrasch began hitting up slot machines in Vegas in the late 1970s-early 1980s, working with a crew that would distract employees while another made an imprint of slot machine keys.

Armed with a key to open slot machines, the team would open various slots and manipulate the reels to produce a winning jackpot. Nikrasch was eventually caught using this crude method and sent to prison, but he returned with more sophisticated scams. He was rumored to have netted more than $15 million from his various schemes but it came with a price as he served mutliple prison terms.


Cheating teams have been finding ways to tilt their odds their way at the roulette table for decades. Simple cheats involve teams working to distracting the croupier and other employees to slide out bets after bets are closed -- using the position of the ball to correctly estimate a very small rnage of numbers it will land in -- while more complicated scams involve using portable computers to use the ball position and speed to predict where it will land. 

Blackjack switching:

No, this isn't about the blackjack variant Blackjack Switch that lets players legally swap cards between two hands, but instead when a team of cheaters works so that two members at a blackjack table switch their cards.

The goal is to improve one of the two hands to a nearly certain winner, with other team members not at the table working to distract employees and keep security from seeing the switch take place.

Collusion at the poker tables:

Poker has always been plagued by collusion -- especially at high stakes games -- where two or more players team up and use various signals to let one another know the strength of their hands. Colluding players can bet and raise in a certain fashion to either drive other players out and split the profits or to gain more information about an opponent's hand.

Tommy Carmichael's light wand:

This was another slot machine scam that netted Carmichael millions. He invented a 7 inch long light wand that could be inserted into slot machines that would trick it into paying out midsized payouts of hundreds of dollars at a time.

Like Nikrasch, while Carmichael's light wand definitely worked and earned him millions in ill-gotten gains he also spent time in federal prison for his cheating ways.

Card counting at blackjack:

Including card counting on a list of cheats and scams isn't fair as there's nothing illegal about counting cards at blackjack. Many casinos do have the right to bar players for any reason, which is why card counters are often shown the door and prevented from returning via the threat of being arrested for trespassing.

Teams of card counters have successfully taken casinos for millions over the years, including resorting to elaborate costumes and rehearsed skits and actions in order to trick casinos into allowing them to continue to play at the tables.

Dice sliding:

This is a craps cheating technique that will likely always be around. Players practice throwing the dice so that one slides down the table (not moving from the number it is set on) while the other tumbles as normal.

The fact that one die slides and doesn't change cuts down dramtically on the possible number combinations, giving the cheater an edge as they only have to cover a greatly reduced combination of numbers. This scam often involves casino employees on the take who intentionally ignore the fact the cheater is using the sliding technique but can also be used with new and inexperienced croupiers who aren't savvy enough to catch it.  

The Tran Organization:

Cheating at baccarat is difficult but the Tran Organization found a way, scooping up more than $15 million in the early 2000s. They employed a variety of methods but mostly relied on bribing baccarat dealers to perform false shuffles, with players in on the cheat thus knowing that the results would duplicate hands seen in the previous shuffle and deal.

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