Courageous Casino Cheats!
We all know cheating is wrong, but, sometimes, you have to admire the brass of someone pulling a detailed and well-orchestrated con. Like the three people below who all came up with clever ways to work against casinos!
What better way to cheat a casino than to learn their tricks first? Richard Marcus’ story begins in a familiar way; he went to Las Vegas and quite quickly burned through every dollar he had.
But rather than go home and write it off, he went a different path. Marcus instead became a dealer so he could see first-hand how the house could influence a game. Eventually he ran into Joe Classon and the two joined forces to exploit their shared knowledge before Marcus went on to form his own team. Whenever they were caught, Marcus would feign ignorance of the rules or pretend to be too drunk to understand his ‘mistake’. Amazingly, this worked with remarkable regularity. His favourite trick, which he called the “Savanna Strategy”, involved stacking two $5 chips over a $5000 one so it was hidden from view. If he won the bet, he revealed the chip and reaped the benefits. If he didn’t, then when it came time to pay up he switched the chip with a $5 one and tried again. Eventually, in 1999 he was caught and arrested, as well as blacklisted from every single casino in Nevada. And 5 years later in 2004, he published a book called American Roulette: How I Turned the Odds Upside Down talking about all the cheating he’d gotten away with. If nothing else, you have to admire his guts. There would be no chance of someone like Marcus getting away with these actions today, in either brick and mortar casinos or even online at places such as Betfair casino.
Utilising his knowledge of probability and statistics (as well as an IBM 704), Edward Thorp is widely seen as the pioneer of card counting. Thorp was very interested in the science of Blackjack and came up with a purely mathematical way to give the players the best chance to win. And in 1961 with the backing of millionaire Manny Kimmel, he decided to test his theory.
While he made a profit on it, it’s perhaps a little unfair to call Thorp a cheat since the casinos up until that time welcomed people who had a ‘system’. It was just the first time that someone’s system had genuinely worked. It got to the point that he needed to wear disguises in order to get into casinos to play. After his runaway success, Thorp soon published a book which sold over 700,000 copies called Beat the Dealer which detailed his method.
He didn’t only come up with systems for casino card games, Thorp also developed systems for baccarat and roulette before finally settling down and taking up the most dangerous type of gambling there is: the stock market. In his own words, he’s not looking to play Blackjack again: “It’s not interesting to me – the stakes are very small compared to what I’ve gotten used to on Wall Street.”
In 1973, the Casino Deauville in France experienced one of the most inventive and clever cons in gambling history. The team of three consisted of the beautiful Monique Laurent, her brother and her husband. Her brother worked as a croupier in the casino and was also interested in radio technology. Together, the two came up with a plan that involved specially modifying a roulette ball to contain a radio receiver and hiding a portable transmitter within a box of cigarettes. By sending a signal, they could get the ball to drop in one of six spots with an incredible 90% success rate. With her brother spinning the wheel, her husband placing bets on all six spots and Monique at a separate table pressing the button, they raked in nearly five million Francs. The casino couldn’t work out how they were doing it until the owner became smitten with Monique. She shot him down but now, with a closer eye on her, he began to notice how often she was in the casino. And, tellingly, that despite the cigarette pack in her hands he had never seen her smoke. Once they had a look at the cigarette pack, the casino quickly worked out what had happened. While Monique never went to prison, she did have to give back the money. Since then, she’s moved to Las Vegas and has never admitted to regretting her past crimes. While Monique didn’t write a book, she was the subject of a 1984 movie called “Les Tricheurs”.