Everyone walks into a casino thinking “today is the day my luck will change,” but unfortunately for most, it rarely does. But what if luck had nothing to do with your winning or losing? Here are six people who — either through great intelligence, practice or just plain cheating — knew they would be leaving a winner.
As the first person to exploit the wheel bias in roulette, Garcia-Pelayo was able to beat the odds. Wheel bias is the belief that every roulette wheel favors some numbers over others, because of minute differences in the internal gears and leveling. Using what he learned from studying hundreds of wheels, he bet on that wheels’ “hot numbers,” giving him a 15% edge over the house. For a decade he studied and hit every casino from Spain to America, earning a total of $1.5 million in winnings.
After decades of research and development, Taft created a wearable computer that helped him count cards. After just one week, Taft won $40,000. His other famous inventions include a belt buckle video camera, used to see the dealer’s hole card and a computer that could tell the positioning of cards in a perfectly shuffled deck.
Ida Summers’ good looks, small frame and social graces allowed her to pull off the most daring cons ever attempted at a casino. Summers was a pro at swapping out the dealer’s deck with her own pre stacked ones, known as a cool deck. After thousands of dollars won and even more people conned, her luck ultimately ran out when the FBI arrested her.
Also known as the man who could beat any slot machine, Carmichael made his fortune by hacking nearly every machine across Las Vegas. Carmichael created a “light wand” that he was able to insert into a machine, cut off the light sensor and drop the coins. Ironically, Carmichael now works with slot machine manufacturers to help make foolproof machines.
Unlike others who tricked the game in order to make money, Colavecchio went straight to the source. Throughout the 90’s, he created almost exact replicas of slot machine coins. He was not caught until casino managers realized there were thousands more coins in stock than were ever ordered by the casino itself. Like Carmichael, he too now works with law enforcement to prevent and catch counterfeiters.
Known as the father of card counting, Thorp not only used the method, he also created it. By essentially keeping track of what value cards were where on the table, Thorp and his friend, Claude Shannon, left the casino with roughly $70,000 every time. Because no one had ever heard of card counting, Thorp was never actually caught, but he was kicked out of every casino he entered because he was suspected of cheating.
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