As an essentially computerized game, cheating at pokies isn’t the first thing that comes to mind, even for the more devious-minded amongst us. How, after all, can that even be possible? And if it is, has anyone actually been caught in the act? In other words, are pokies players caught cheating an actual thing? The answers may surprise you. But we’ll get to them in due course. Let’s first explore cheating at gambling games, then pokies in particular, and finally the question of being caught, all in turn.
Cheating in card games
When people think about cheating the casino, they are most likely thinking about the cheating potential involved in playing the various card games.
We all get the potential for cheating at blackjack, let’s say. For example, we have all certainly heard of the card counters out there, as well as the response of the casinos in turn. Card marking is also a well-known “strategy” for those looking to cheat in a blackjack game. Or it that isn’t bad enough, there is also the potential to enlist the dealer, and get them to help you out on what is called the second deal. That is taking a sneak-peak at the cards, and giving you the better one. Theoretically, actually, this last one can work both ways, with the dealer ripping you off on behalf of the casino, as much as siding with you – which is another good reason (if you were looking for one) to always play at a reputable establishment.
Poker, of course, is another card game that lends itself rather well to cheating. Some methods are really unsubtle like simply dropping your hand. Some are really devious like actually physically hiding a card from your hand, or even bringing in a card from a matching deck which you later slip in. But as in blackjack, the cheating potential can go both ways. That is, the poker dealer also has plenty of opportunities to cheat. For example, they can engage in what is called bottom dealing or stacking the deck. They can also slip themselves or someone they’re colluding with more than one card, on any given deal. And, needless to say, in poker, there is also the threat of card marking, which can work to either side’s advantage.
In card games, basically, the physical factor works to the cheater’s advantage. At least in a land-based casino that is. When you are playing online, however, it is far more difficult to cheat the software, and it is certainly impossible to pull many of these illicit card tricks. The same goes for pokies, where playing both online and offline, you simply can’t manipulate the materials in any real way.
Cheating at pokies – A few methods devious players have tried
Although it seems unlikely that one could cheat at pokies it doesn’t stop some from trying. Certainly, for most of us, this isn’t even a remote thought. The randomness of a win, after all, is a huge part of the draw as much as the overall fun. But so you have it, there are spoilsports in just about every activity, and pokies are no exception. As such, there are those sly individuals out there trying to beat the pokies machines the dishonest way, though, never all that clever.
So how could a person go about trying to cheat a pokies machine? There are in fact, a number of ways. Let’s start with the super low tech. If someone is playing at an old-fashioned pokies machine where it still accepts coins, they could try and pull the old coin tied to a string trick. This is super lame, but it does possibly have the potential to work. That being said, in all honesty, if the person does it more than once, with all those security cameras around, he will very likely get caught.
In the old-fashioned coin accepting machines, some people have also tried to use similar looking foreign coins of a lower value, say in lieu of a quarter. Or they have used what are called slugs, which are basically valueless pieces that are made of metal and are of the same weight and shape as a coin, so as to trick the machine. These methods, even if they worked, would take quite some effort to put into effect, especially over a long-haul gaming run. Still, they do exist and have been tried. Also on the same thought level, some people have tried feeding the machine with fake paper notes, which if they are exceptionally well produced may pass the game’s bill validators, though highly unlikely.
Once upon a time, there was also what’s called spooning – and we’re not talking about the lovey-dovey cuddling going to sleep type of thing. In this method, scheming pokies players would press a little spoon into the slot at the bottom of a game, as the coin payout triggered by a win began. This would ensure that extra coins would fall out, in addition to what the player was owed. Rest-assured, the casinos have since gotten far smarter and this method in no way works in the modern age.
In the old days, casino workers who filled the pokies machines could also cheat a bit, pinching a few coins here and there as they filled and unloaded the machines, much in a manner like a naughty cashier might do. Again, this was a very lame tactic, and not a financial return that we can imagine was in any way worth the risk.
And finally, once upon a time, believe it or not, magnets could be used to cheat a pokies machine. The magnet pressed to the screen would basically unhinge the reels from their intended action, setting them in a freeroll, which the player could stop as he or she pleased (i.e. once a winning combination was spotted) – and reap the prize. This underhanded method hasn’t really been relevant since the 1970s when game developers once again got smarter – adding a protective shield to the machine’s screen plus an unbreakable RNG. Yet, in an assessment of how pokies can be cheated, this was a tactic that worked for some.
Consequences for cheating at pokies
As we have seen, most if not all manners in which one could cheat a pokies machine have become obsolete over time. Technology has stepped in to put in place more stoppers, and the machines have evolved to circumvent any attempts.
But on the odd chance that someone does succeed at cheating the pokies machine – or at least wants to try – it’s important to keep one thing in mind. And that is this. Cheating is not just morally reprehensible. It is illegal. And casinos take cheating very seriously. If you are caught, the police will be called. And you could well be fined or face time in jail. Plus, you will have to pay the casino back the funds that you stole. In other words, don’t cheat playing pokies or any other game. It is not worth the risk, and more so, simply not a respectable thing to do.
Players who have managed to cheat the pokies machines
Unlike the famous bank robbers perhaps, or other similar high profile criminals, pokies cheats are not a well-known bunch. This could be because there haven’t been all that many over time. Or just as likely, that most of the pokies heists have not been of particularly consequential sums, hence not meriting media coverage.
Needless to say, that does not mean there have not been pokies players who have been caught cheating. More likely, in most cases, they simply were dealt with by the casino staff and the local authorities in a more subdued manner.
There is, however, one poky cheat legend out there. And that is a seedy fellow by the name of Tommy Glenn Carmichael. Instead of going out and using his smarts the honorable way, he spent (or you might say wasted) some four decades thinking up ways to rig pokies machines and rip off the casinos of Las Vegas. How did he do this? A television repairman by profession, he used his skills to manipulate the mechanics on the pokies machines in a number of different ways. The cheat methods he was known for amongst others included the top-bottom joint (which earned him his first ticket to jail), the monkey paw device, and finally the light wand. It is true he managed to win a fair bit of money along the way, but he also got caught more than once and sat in jail a number of times.
While Tommy worked many jobs alone, he also teamed up regularly with other known casino and pokies cheats. These collaborations included working the pokies cheating circuit with his partner Michael Balsamo, as well as gigs with gambling cheat pro Ramon David Pereira.
Another somewhat well-known cheat from the world of pokies is Ronald Dale Harris. He was actually an employee of the Nevada Gaming Commission and used his insider status of monitoring and auditing electronic gaming devices to his advantage. Still, he didn’t end up getting away with much. While he did manage to win about $100K on a video keno game, using the info he garnered from his pokies work, he was arrested soon after – which of course, is a rather poor payoff indeed.
There was also Russian team operating in the US to cheat the Aristocrat Mark VI machine a few years back. Here they were able to reverse engineer the game’s RNG to figure out the algorithm and then worked together to pinpoint the exact time at which it would payout. In the end, however, the scam was discovered, and the cheaters were arrested in due course. This again proved that cheating the pokies don’t really work.
Ways to cheat playing online pokies
As unlikely as all those scenarios sound for cheating at an actual, physical pokies machine, it’s even less likely one could cheat playing an online game. Unless you are a master hacker, or working on the casino’s development team and have inside access to the game’s random number generator, there is almost no possibility to cheat playing online pokies.
There is, however, a way to gain an unfair advantage or somewhat rip off the casino, and that is cheating with a pokies bonus. This is actually something that is usually associated with the welcome bonus, which some players have figured out how to master to their own advantage. This most commonly is done by the same person opening more than one account (with different email addresses of course) and in turn collecting on the welcome bonus multiple times. Ironically, a bonus is a way to gain extra money the legitimate way, but still, those with a cheating nature apparently can’t seem to help themselves and will always look for ways to get a little more, even out of what is essentially a gift. By the way, if you’ve ever wondered why the wagering requirements have increased over time, it is in many ways due to the bonus abuse that took place at the advent of online casinos, with players withdrawing their free fund’s restriction-free.
Why people cheat
If you’re an upstanding citizen who loves the thrill of the game, the thought of cheating is likely a turnoff. As it should be. But what can you do? There are cheaters out there. Some are born with a mischievous nature, always looking for loopholes to exploit in any system. Others, however, particularly in a casino atmosphere with so much money floating around, are simply overcome by the temptation. And others, perhaps after playing a long time, may potentially develop a more sinister side. After all, they might think, I’ve put in so much money to the casino, I absolutely deserve something in return.
At the end of the day, there is no good reason to cheat. If you don’t want to spend the money don’t. You can easily play online pokies for free, at zero risks and zero charges.
And so to summarise, let us say this, cheating at pokies or any other game is simply not worth the risk. You will come across as a complete jerk if you are caught, at the very least. More likely, there will be a rather hefty price to pay. Besides, it’s so hard to cheat a pokies machine, it’s mostly a wasted effort to try.
And while there are a number of pokies players caught cheating, these aren’t people that are generally looked up to. In fact, very few people know their names. So even notoriety is off the table. As such, with weak odds and worse consequences, the bottom line is cheating at pokies is a poor bet.