The house always has the advantage but there will always be successful gamblers that can beat the casino. But is there really a rule on how to beat the casino or is it just down to pure luck and determination? In today’s blog we’ll be looking at 7 famous gamblers who have indeed beat the house!
Is There Really a Way to Beat the House?
Every gambler whether it be famous gamblers or ordinary gamblers like you and us, all enter a casino with one hope. That we win. Nothing more, nothing less. Unfortunately, due to the house edge most gamblers will walk out with a loss because this is just the way the games are mathematically designed.
You’ll win some. You’ll lose some. However, there’ll always be people that go that one step further to try and beat the edge and that’s how they make their name as some of the biggest gamblers in the world.
Most gamblers will walk out with a loss but there’ll always be successful gamblers that do beat the house edge.
There are people that believe that they can beat the edge whether that be through intelligence, cheating or cleverness. Whichever one it may be those famous gamblers have walked out with a pretty hefty profit indeed.
Now most games are down to pure luck like slots but of course there are some games that require a certain amount of skill. This is where successful gamblers use it to their advantage. They know how to make money and they know when to make it so without further ado let’s introduce our top 7 list of famous gamblers:
7. Ron Harris
The programmer, while working for Nevada State Gambling believed he could beat slot machines. He used to his advantage his skills to be able to take thousands of dollars from casinos in Las Vegas.
He also had an accomplice, Reid Errol McNeal and together they defied 1 million to 1 odds and hit a monster $100,000 jackpot at the Bally’s Casino in the Atlantic City of New Jersey. The professional casino gambler knew the casinos themselves were not aware of his scam so he as able to make his fortune.
Later when officials searched Harris’ hotel room, they found computer equipment, books and notes which detailed exactly how Bally’s random number generator worked. They then learnt that his job was actually to test slot machines through Nevada and make sure only computer chips that were approved by the state were being used.
It was later found that he used his inside knowledge to access the programming for the Kenos random number generator and used his special equipment to duplicate the calculations and win the jackpot. He was able to predict the outcome of the slot machine before it happened to pass on to his accomplice. Both were arrested and Harris lost his job.
6. Dominic LoRiggio
Known with many nicknames like ‘The Man with the Golden Arm’ and ‘The Dominator’, earned through years and hours upon hours of craps-controlled shooting. This is a technique which helped him get the rolls he needed in the game of craps.
He developed precise dice control techniques which involved setting the dice in a certain way, gripping them and tossing them in the air so they stay together. This special technique would then see the dice land as gently as possible against the back wall of the craps table.
He then developed a team known as Rosebud and they attacked the Vegas Strip with their specialized way of shooting. The successful gambler, LoRiggio claims it is done through simple physics despite many speculations.
As time went on, he left the group as he felt the others were restraining him from making serious bucks and this is when he teamed up with one of the famous gamblers Frank Scoblete. They have used their technique to win thousands of dollars at various casinos and have still not committed anything illegal.
However, many casinos now identify controlled shooters and will force them to shoot their dice differently or risk being on a list of people banned from casinos. LoRiggio now runs dice throwing classes giving players looking to become successful gamblers a helping hand.
5. Ida Summers
Ida was a woman who at glance you would never believe to be a casino cheater, but she ruled in the 60’s and 70’s raking in tens of thousands of dollars from casinos using guile and shiftiness. She specialized in ‘hand-mucking’ and ‘coolers’ at the blackjack tables.
This technique involved concealing a card that had already been brought to the table or removed from the game. This would then through sleight of hand be brought back to the table to benefit the player.
Ida was attractive with striking good looks which helped her go a long way to deflect the heat from herself as the switched the cards. Her cunning ways helped her make her way into Las Vegas and she became even more brazen. She further began to insert cold decks and coolers into the game. Ida was able to execute her moves effortlessly and unnoticed and she remained invincible for a long time.
She became a legend, but it was only a matter of time before the FBI hunted her down and ended her casino cheating.
4. Louis “The Coin” Colavcchio
Colavcchio was able to duplicate anything that was made out of precious metals and stones and used this to his advantage to become a professional gambler. And in the late 90’s a search of his premises by FBI found thousands of manufactured slot tokens from dozens of casinos throughout North America.
But the coins weren’t just duplicates, they were that good essentially they were the same thing. Colavcchio was able to decimate casinos in Vegas before the law had any perception of his crimes. It wasn’t until large surpluses of coins showed up on the casinos inventory in other parts of the continents that the law realised he was cashing in large sums of coins.
The exact amount he cashed in is still unknown, but it’s estimated anything between $100,000 to $500,000. In court a plea deal was reached and Colavcchio had to show the law enforcement exactly how the coins were made to prevent it happening at casinos again in the future.
3. MIT Blackjack Team
Possibly one of the most famous gamblers is this one! A team of brilliant students decided to come together to use statistic-based systems to beat the game of blackjack. It all started at The Massachusetts Institute of Technology and little did they know they’d become famous card counters.
They put flyers up around the campus for students to apply to join the team who would then learn the system of card counting which would give them a slight yet substantial edge over the house. The idea of card counting was already new, but the MIT took it to a whole new level.
Their team arrangement minimized their chances of being caught and they were able to mask their activity from the casinos very well. They spent hours upon hours perfecting the system and members had to pass gruelling tests before being able to visit a real live casino.
They then required financial backing from investors and invaded Vegas casinos with hundreds of thousands of dollars. They return far exceeded their expectations with $400,000 of winnings in just one weekend. Eventually casinos started to notice the team and after a few brushes with the law the original members dropped out. Photos were shared to the school database which caused the team to shut down with a profit of over $5 million!
2. Richard Marcus
He’s one of the most successful gamblers in the history of casino gambling and it all started with a gambling addiction that went wrong. He went from living under a bridge to becoming a blackjack and baccarat dealer when he first came up with his sinister ideas.
He named his best roulette strategy ‘The Savannah’ which involved betting a low denomination of chips, such as three $5 bets to avoid any kind of attention. If he won, he would show excitement just like the average gambler. The dealer would wonder why he became so happy with such a modest win and this is when Marcus would strike.
Marcus would then alert the dealer that there was a brown $500 chip underneath the three $5 chips. And upon checking, there was which was all done by Marcus’ extremely difficult to pull off hand manoeuvre. Alternatively, if Marcus didn’t’ win he would remove the $500 chip without anyone noticing.
This move wasn’t unknown to casinos, the difference was Marcus done it backwards and casinos were not on the lookout for this leaving him noticed. At the top of his game, he and his accomplices were dropping $5,000 chips under $100 ones.
Of course, he was eventually caught and prosecuted but not after had had collected roughly $5 million in profits. He also claims in his released books that he is still involved in casino cheating, but he’ll never get caught.
1. Edward Thorp
Finally, on to the most professional casino gambler of all time and the father of famous card counters, Edward Thorp. He invented the original system and was a mathematics professor who had a master’s degree in physics and a doctorate degree in mathematics.
After a friend introduced him to a casino in Vegas he became very interested in blackjack and later became convinced that there was a mathematical way to gain advantage and beat the house. He studied the game extensively and simulated billions of blackjack hands to delve further into the game.
He learnt that smaller cards were more advantageous for the dealer and when left in the deck the advantage shifted to the player meaning they should bet more. Using this method Thorp calculated that he could own up to a 5% advantage over the house.
He and his accomplices invaded Vegas casinos lining their pockets with cash and since he was the inventor of card counting, casinos were completely unaware of the cheat. It wasn’t until he started winning huge sums of cash that casinos bosses were alerted that he must be cheating. He was asked to leave at multiple casinos because he was winning too much.
In 1962, Thorp later went on to write a book which detailed his ‘ten count system’ which became an instant hit making him a fortune! He later went on to write a second book too. He later applied his mathematics into the stock market making yet more cash and was eventually one of the first seven inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.
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