Most well known cheating methods for pokies
Manipulation Methods for Australian Pokies
People have tried to outsmart the system for as long as gambling has existed, using various scams. For example, dice have been manipulated to show a predetermined number, and cards have been marked, or “marked,” to give the player an advantage.
When commercial gambling was still in its infancy, cheats were quite successful. Even more tricky methods were used to take advantage of the gambling establishments.
In the past, pokies, in particular, offered a lot of scope for an attack. With relatively simple tricks, fraudsters coaxed money out of the classic pokies from Novoline, Merkur & Co. that still functioned purely mechanically at the time.
But over time, the technology developed further, and the pokie machine manufacturers integrated efficient protective measures to protect against fraud.
However, the skills of the fraudsters also developed further. Resourceful tinkerers sometimes manage to outsmart machine games equipped with protection programs and bypass their security systems.
Land-based casinos and online casinos generate around 70 billion dollars a year worldwide. Compared to the enormous revenues generated by the gambling venues, the losses lost by gambling companies due to fraud are comparatively small. According to Worldwide Casino Consulting, no more than 0.1 % of the revenues end up in the hands of fraudsters. In most cases, it is also possible to track down the fraudsters.
Casinos employ staff whose main task is to protect the bank from fraud. It is their job, so to speak, to know about fraud schemes and pokie machine tips & tricks.
If someone is caught cheating, the gambling operators are not squeamish about dealing with the person in question.
The Most Common Methods of Pokie Manipulation
In the following, we present some of the most common methods, some of which have been used successfully in the past. Nevertheless, we advise against trying the tricks.
The Coin on a String (yo-yo cheat)
The trick with the coin attached to a string, also known as “yo-yo cheat,” is one of the classic methods of manipulating a pokie machine.
The coin is thrown into the pokie machine. A sensor detects that money has been inserted, and the player can start his game rounds. However, he pulls the coin out again beforehand to use it again. T
his trick no longer works today because electronic devices have replaced mechanical sensors.
The classic pokies of the older generation used a system that detected the coin’s weight. Their value was determined analogously. Some fraudsters used fake coins of the same weight made of similar metal.
One of the most famous fraudsters who used this trick was Louis “The Coin” Colavecchio, who robbed casinos of a lot of money for years with this scam. He was finally arrested in 1998.
After he was released in 2006, he continued his deception. However, he was caught again after a few months.
As pokie machine technology advanced, the machines incorporated both an optical sensor and a physical measuring device. When the coin is inserted, the optical sensor detects the currency. However, this sensor was not connected to the second measuring device.
Fraudsters inserted a plastic coin of the same size and ground it off on one side.
Since the sensor could not detect the ground coin, it was ejected again, while the plastic chip remained in the machine and triggered the game round.
Coins Replaced by Player Cards
The scams that used manipulated coins no longer work today. Player cards are used in most gambling halls and casinos instead of cash.
The player card works similarly to mobile phone credit. The credit is topped up at the cash desk or a particular cash machine. The card is then inserted into the designated pokie, and one plays until the credit is used up. If winnings are achieved, they are credited to the card.
The credit can be paid out at the cash desk or the machine.
Scam with a Magnet
Cheating with a magnet was a method that worked when the reels of pokie machines were not yet electronically controlled but rotated mechanically.
The cheater only had to hold a strong magnet in front of the spinning reels at the right moment to generate the desired winning combination.
Today, this method is no longer possible.
Manipulating Pokies with a Piano String
In 1982, a group devised a plan to manipulate pokie machines at Caesars Boardwalk Regency casino in Atlantic City using a piano string. To do this, the machine was first opened to attach the wire to the mechanism of the reels.
The piano string was then pulled to obtain the desired winning combinations during play.
However, the surveillance cameras filmed the team taking a lot of money out of the machine. Before the perpetrators could even leave the casino, they were arrested by the security forces.
Fraud using Modern Technology
As the technology of gambling machines evolved and simple tricks like fake coins or the yo-yo trick were no longer applicable, resourceful tinkerers came up with other ideas to outsmart the pokies.
Fraud with the Banknote Verifier
In this scam, a tiny device is wound onto a 1-dollar banknote. However, the pokie machine is fooled into thinking that the player is depositing USD 100. This pokie machine trick is even said to have worked for a while.
Tommy Glenn Carmichael invented a light wand to trick the coin sensor, one of the most notorious pokie cheats. This wand was inserted into the coin pokie. The flashing lights messed up the system so severely that the machines turned small payouts into massive wins.
The Monkey’s Paw
The so-called “monkey’s paw” was another invention of the trickster Carmichael. It was a bent metal rod to which a guitar string was attached. This was then inserted into the pokie machine’s vent to grip the trigger switch for the coin hopper, at which point the coins were ejected.
Top-Bottom Joint (the connection between top and bottom)
This manipulation method is probably one of the trickiest in the history of casinos. It was prevalent in the 70s and 80s.
A unique tool was used for this, which consisted of two parts, an upper and a lower one, where the trick’s name also comes from. The upper part was a metal rod whose end was bent in a “q” shape. The lower part was a long wire.
The upper part was attached to the money pokie, while the lower one was placed where the winnings were ejected. This created an electrical circuit that caused the machine to boot the money.
Replacing the Computer Chips
Replacing computer chips was another method of manipulating a pokie machine. Dennis Nikrasch bought a pokie machine and studied its inner workings. He found out how it worked and also discovered its weak points.
He came up with reprogramming a chip and replacing it with the chips in the machines. To do this, he put together a whole team of accomplices who managed to place the manipulated chips in the vending machines.
Between 1976 and 1979, the group of cheats allegedly relieved the casinos in Las Vegas of around USD 10 million.
Pokie Cheat Code
In the 1990s, the Nevada Gaming Authority hired Ronald D. Harris. He was tasked with examining the software of pokies in casinos in the state for possible errors. His position enabled Harris to know the RNG source codes. This meant that it was no longer a problem for him to manipulate the codes to his advantage.
Together with his accomplice Reid McNeal, they planned to extract only a few thousand dollars from the machines every night so as not to attract attention. But one day, they were too greedy.
A $100,000 win at Bally’s Park Place Hotel in Atlantic City attracted management’s attention, leading to a search of Harris’ room. There, police investigators found the equipment.
Manipulation with the Smartphone: From Russia With “Cheats”
An exceedingly spectacular case of pokie machine tampering occurred in 2014. A casino in St. Louis discovered that some machines had paid out more than usual. The casino’s security staff noticed that the same man was consistently winning big when reviewing the video footage.
They also observed that the man held his iPhone close to the screen, that the machines were all Aristocrat pokies and that he suddenly pressed the spin button after a break. It soon emerged that other casinos had also been victims of pokie machine tampering and that the same man was involved.
The authorities tracked down the man named Murat Bilev. Further investigation revealed that he was a member of a Russian team that had robbed several casinos in the USA and Macau of millions.
The hacker team had previously determined how the RNG of the Aristocrat machines worked and developed a hacking app. This software predicted precisely when the button had to be pressed to receive a payout.