Thursday, March 13, 2008

Slot Cheating: Who is the Slot Machine Cheating King?

Who is the world's best slot cheat? Many sports have two great players that are debated about to determine which is the greatest ever. In the slot cheating world, which may be considered a casino sport so to speak, there are two notorious cheaters who vie for the crowning title of "Greatest Slot Machine Cheater Ever." They are Tommy Glenn Carmichael and Dennis Sean McAndrew, better know by his original name, Dennis Nikrasch.

TOMMY GLENN CARMICHAEL was born in July, 1950, and is considered the second best slot cheat of all time. An ingenious inventor, he conspired with an elite group of thieves to bilk millions from casinos. For almost 20 years Carmichael designed slot cheat devices that made it possible for him to steal from slot machines across the Caribbean and the United States.

In 1980, Carmichael was sitting inside his Tulsa, Oklahoma TV repair shop when Ray Ming walks in. He was an old friend living in Las Vegas, and he had something to show Carmichael. Ming had a Bally’s slot machine in his car trunk, and a ” top bottom joint”. Carmichael began his first “operation” with the device, bilking a 5-cent machine at a casino near the Vegas strip, proudly strolling out with $35 in nickels. But Las Vegas had begun replacing the old machines with newer ones, forcing him to the smaller casinos around him. He was caught at one of them and was sentenced to 5 years in jail.

Inside, Carmichael met Mike Balsamo. They agreed to find each other after their release, but when freedom came in 1987, Carmichael found the machines replaced. Bally and International Game Technology had begun rolling out a new high-tech slot and video poker machines, which used microprocessors and random number generator software. Undaunted, Carmichael purchased an IGT Fortune One video poker machine. He invented the monkey paw (slider) made from a guitar wire and spring steel, which he inserted into the machine through the payout chute to trip a switch. This caused the release of coins from the hopper, the bucket holding in the quarters.

By 1991 the slider was useless, owing to the computerization of the machines. Fooling a manufacturer into thinking he was a customer, Carmichael was shown the inside of the latest slot machine. From there, he learned how to beat it. He bought one and in a few days invented a new device – the light wand. The wand was built with a camera battery and a miniature bulb, used to shine into the machine and blind a sensor, causing the hopper to pay out coins. It was nearly undetectable, and Carmichael made a fortune selling it to other cheats, although that money-making idea may not have been a good one in the long-run.

On October 4, 1996, Carmichael was caught with the light wand while escaping from security. He was charged with possession and manufacture of a cheating device, which were later dropped. In 1998 he was arrested of similar offenses in Laughlin, Nevada. The following year in Atlantic City, his luck ran out. The authorities had tapped his phone and recorded conversations with other cheats using his device. Carmichael, with six others, was charged and pled guilty to running an illegal gambling enterprise, serving 326 days and 3 years’ probation. He lost his two homes and was ordered to stay out of casinos. He is now in Nevada's Black Book, officially excluded from the state's casinos.

Carmichael is currently tinkering with a supposedly anti-cheating device, the Protector. He claims that his invention will stop all known cheating devices.

DENNIS SEAN McANDREW, better know by his original name, DENNIS NIKRASCH, was born in September, 1941, and has been called the greatest slot machine cheat in gambling history. He was the mastermind of several different slot cheating rings over a twenty-year period that rigged an estimated $16 million in jackpots, mostly in Nevada and Atlantic City. In fact, officials from the Nevada Gaming Control Board Enforcement Division have stated that McAndrew even threatened the integrity of the entire slot industry.

What brought him down? His nastiness. He was nasty and stingy with those who worked for him, and they eventually turned on him and brought him down in a setup for the FBI.

In spite of all the security precautions taken by casinos to ensure the integrity of their games, in spite of the video surveillance cameras that monitor every inch of the gaming floors, in spite of the personnel that scrutinize everyone and everything that goes on, McAndrew found a way to beat the system. He figured out how to electronically manipulate the computer chips that govern slot machines...the chips that guarantee the random nature of play of the machines and preserve the integrity of the games. With an assortment of high-tech tools, always higher tech than the times, he and his slot cheating teams, usually consisting of a virtual glass managerie of characters, set up jackpots for huge amounts of cash as well as automobiles and other prizes. His method of attack was to have several of his team members serve as lookouts and "blockers," positioning themselves in ways that hindered floor security's vision and even that of surveillance cameras above. With them in place, McAndrew was able to open up the machines and use a computer device to alter the random number generators and rig the jackpots. Then another of his teammates would come along, put some coins or tokens in the machines and "win" the jackpots.

In November 1998, while trying to hit the huge $17 million Megabucks jackpot, McAndrew was set up by his mates and busted by the FBI and Nevada Gaming Control Board agents. Back in 1986, he was convicted for being part of a slot machine cheating ring that illegally won $10 million at Las Vegas casinos. He was sentenced to prison and released on parole in January of 1991. He'd also been convicted for rigging mechanical reel slots in the late 1970s. The slot machines of the 90s were computer marvels compared to their older cousins, and were thought to be tamperproof, yet McAndrew found a way to beat them, too, then had the intestinal fortitude to put his knowledge to work again and again and rake in millions. This guy had balls of stone! Or balls of slot!

After the FBI busted McAndrew in 1998, they agreed in conjunction with Nevada gaming officials to give him a reduced prison sentence in exchange of his secrets. Apparently, they had a lot to learn. They were also very concerned that he may have given his secrets to others, but you can bet his knowledge was the guarded secret of his very own band of thieves. Why would they want to share the technology with others? How he did it was of vital interest to the gaming industry so that they could take precautions to prevent it from happening again. McAndrew apparently did tell authorities that there may be others engaging in similar activity, which may have accounted for other heavy slot losses suffered by the gaming industry over the years. McAndrew is now listed in Nevada's Black Book of persons excluded from the state's casinos.

I guess after reading this, my vote goes to McAndrew!