History’s Most Notorious Casino Cheats

Many have dreamed about beating the casino at its own game, and many more have tried (and failed) to cheat their way into the big money. And then there is a third group: those who actually managed to cheat the system and get away with it.

Beating the system requires either insane brilliance or brilliant insanity. Whichever way they did it, here are some of the biggest, most successful, and certainly most notorious, casino cheats of all time.

Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo

Probably the most successful Roulette cheat ever to have lived, Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo repeatedly proved his theory of Roulette wheels not being 100% random. The little wheel conman would famously spend hours jotting down tens of thousands of Roulette results and feeding them into a computer program, while trying to accurately calculate the various probabilities of the famous game.

His theory revolved around the imperfect nature of Roulette wheels – and how those imperfections led to “biased” wheels more likely to yield one set of outcomes as opposed to another. He kept at this and managed to scam the industry out of more than $2 million in illicit Roulette winnings before he was eventually banned for life from all the casinos he used to frequent.

Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo Image

MIT’s Blackjack Gang

So notorious did a team of geeky Blackjack players from MIT eventually become that there was even a movie made about their reign of cheating terror. What they did was to develop a strategy that analysed statistical tactics and outcomes in such a manner that it enabled them to take card counting to incredible levels.

They would famously use several disguises and techniques in an attempt not to get caught. By doing so, they soon ended up spending their weekends scamming casinos out of thousands of dollars. By the time casinos had managed to up their own game at identifying card counters, the Blackjack team from MIT had conned the industry out of more than $5 million.

Ron Harris The Slots Man

A computer programmer employed for over 12 years by the Nevada Gaming Control Board, Ron Harris was an expert computer programmer and professional gaming device evaluator. His very job entailed sussing out possible casino slots software flaws that could potentially lead to faulty results or even cheating.

The result was that he had permanent access to the source code behind the slots he served to protect. He eventually figured out a way to rig slot machines in such a way that whenever a certain amount of money was wagered in a specific slot machine sequence, the tampered-with machines would pay out big.

Obviously aware that being seen playing the machines himself would only create suspicion, he in 1993 enlisted the help of an accomplice. Together, the cheating duo conned Nevada casinos out of millions over the course of only two years.

He would later go on to develop a program for cheating at Keno. He was eventually caught when his partner in crime was caught after having won $100,000 at Keno without as much even a little emotion showing in his demeanor.