5 Amazing Gamblers Who Beat the Casino

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‘The safest way to double your money is to fold it over once and put it in your pocket’. Those are the words of Kin Hubbard, famous American cartoonist and humourist. Whilst only a jibe, there is some truth behind the matter. There really is no guaranteed way to double your money. But, there are ways to swing the odds in your favour while playing at luckynuggetcasino.com!

Casinos, whilst offering the potential to ‘get rich quick’, are often found on the right side of the house, which is, the side with the advantage. The luckiest man alive is still vulnerable to the percentages and odds, which, of course, are very much in the casino’s favour. When it comes down to the nuts and bolts, it is just a matter of statistics. A silent agreement between player and croupier exists, that the player, over a period of time, is statistically on the losing end of the spectrum. Yet, people still play, and people still win.

Like any other business, casinos are not in the game to lose money. Now worth $40 billion a year, the gambling market is big money. So big, in fact, that players over the years have used scrupulous techniques to pilfer some of the much desired pie. A pie that is fiercely guarded by private investigators, security guards and peering ‘eyes in the sky’. A desire that has landed once virtuous men into jail. All in the quest to beat the house.

The cheats of the past…

There are some that have challenged the casino with illegal methods ranging from modifying slot machines, ball-tracking laser scanners and computerised shoes.

One group of Hungarian and Serbians designed a computer which could predict where a ball will land within three circuits of the reel. Using laser technology, the group managed to wipe £1 million from a popular London casino. Controversially, they were allowed to keep every penny of their ill gotten gains. This decision has further widened the grey area which surrounds computerised aids during gambling.

‘If somebody is using some sort of computer technology, you take away that element of chance, which is what gambling is about, and casinos will go bust. (Roy Ramm, LC International, BBC, 2004)

Although the laser tracker was over a decade ago, players have utilised hardware hacks and nefarious techniques over the last thirty years to beat the casino. ‘Cyber cheating’, then, is not a modern fright.

In another example of cyber cheating, a gang of whiz-kids managed to literally control the outcome of a game of roulette. The main man was a croupier of a famous French casino, and as such this was an inside job. He managed to convince his brother-in-law and his sister to get in on the action. They installed a micro-radio transceiver into a roulette ball and used a HAM radio concealed in a cigarette box to control the direction of the ball. In 1973 they wiped 5 million francs from the unsuspecting casino.

The only reason they were caught was because their radio controller, Monique Laurent, was an absolute stunner. The casino manager, who was at the time investigating a strange recurrence of big wins on his roulette tables,
noticed the beautiful woman was often found perusing the roulette tables at the same time. After falling for her, he decided to flirt with Monique but to no avail. So, for some odd reason, he decided to stalk her on the camera system. Everyday.

Soon, he discovered that whenever a table lost a lot of money, Monique would be there, with a pack of cigarettes on top of the table, facing the losing table. Making the most of this hunch, he mustered up the courage and asked Monique for a single cigarette. Monique instantly clicked on to what was occurring and attempted to flee, but try as she might, she was quickly apprehended. It was, unfortunately, the end of the road for the trio. Beat the casino they did not, and once more, the casino came out on top.

There are some, though, that have beat the casino legitimately…

Cheating is quite simply, cheating. Installing microchips into slot machines which aren’t yours to constantly trigger jackpots is cheating. Marking cards to identify high values is cheating. There are some ways though, such as card counting and pure luck, that have allowed regular folk to beat the casino.

From the MIT to some bloke called Don Johnson, Lucky Nugget has rounded up some of the greatest, somewhat honest, gamblers.

Don Johnson

Don Johnson is a regular bloke who takes gambling casually. He’s the CEO of a software firm and started off gambling for fun. He made headlines in 2011 for wiping $15.1 million from Atlantic City’s top casinos in just 6 months, which is a monumental $2.51 million a month. To put it into perspective, the base salary of Tim Cook, the CEO of Apple, is $2 million a YEAR. Not bad for the CEO of a business aeons away from Apple.

Johnson states that this methods weren’t scrupulous, quipping that  it was ‘just a run of luck’. This is contrary to reports that his winnings were more than just lady luck shining down upon him. Johnson was known to negotiate special terms to decrease the house edge. Six decks, doubling whenever he wanted, dealer standing on 17 and unlimited splits were his demands – in return, he placed £100K bets. Fair deal.

***EXCLUSIVE*** LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - JUNE 27: Don Johnson spends £168,118.50 in the ONE4ONE club on Park Lane in London's biggest single nightclub spend on June 27, 2011 in London, England. Champagne king hits London! Don Mother f**kin' Johnson (DMFJ) professional gambler and US businessman has been in London this weekend to visit his personal friend, Bon Jovi, and attend his concert. When he isn't putting casinos in the red, he likes to hit the world's best night clubs and show everyone how to party like a rock star. While in the States Don heard about One For One Park Lane, a new top exclusive night club in London, selling the most expensive bottle of champagne in the world, the Armand De Brignac (Ace of Spades) Nebuchadnezzar 15 litre bottle, which an anonymous customer bought for £80,000. And immediately after this the club ordered the production of the biggest bottle of champagne ever made, the Armand De Brignac Midas, which holds an incredible 30 litres of champagne. During his stay in London Don decided to pay a visit to One For One and break the previous record buy buying the Midas bottle for a whopping £120,000 with his final bill being £168,118. This will be the 5th Armand De Brignac Midas bottle he has bought. Don Johnson was armed with a mic and hyped up the crowd all the way until 5:00am. Very few guests left without being sprayed by champagne or having a glass full. PHOTOGRAPH BY Barcroft Media UK Office, London. T +44 845 370 2233 W www.barcroftmedia.com USA Office, New York City. T +1 212 564 8159 W www.barcroftusa.com Indian Office, Delhi. T +91 11 4101 1726 W www.barcroftindia.com Australasian & Pacific Rim Office, Melbourne. E info@barcroftpacific.com T +613 9510 3188 or +613 9510 0688 W www.barcroftpacific.com
This is Don Johnson. He’s a lot richer than you so he can pull off a backwards facing red cap.

Over time, casinos realised Johnson was wiping them dry and in a dubious – but logical – decision, he was banned from Caesars, Harrah’s and the Trump Taj Mahal. Soon after, he gained the reputation of being a card counter. Something he fiercely denies.

Johnson was extremely nonplussed about the whole façade, and after his ban it came out that he said ‘…it’s not going to change my life. If I don’t play blackjack, I’ll just go to the horse races’.

The casino could throw anybody out with $15 million in their pocket. In fact, most would never look back. Johnson certainly didn’t, partying with Bon Jovi and splashing $210K on a bottle of champagne. Enjoy your life Don.

Charles Deville Wells

Back in 1891, when the world existed in black and white,  Charles Deville Wells managed to beat the casino out of 1 million francs, which is around $500K in today’s dollars.

You would be right to be suspicious (the name Deville would make one wary), with Wells’ history not being crystal clean. He tricked investors out of £400 under the guise producing of a musical jump rope – don’t ask, we don’t know –  to fund his trip to Monte Carlo, where Wells made his money legitimately playing roulette.

There's even a film about him, played by someone who looks nothing like him.
There’s even a film about Wells, played by someone who looks nothing like him. It’s called Breaking the Bank in Monte Carlo. It’s not very good.

Sadly, all did not end too well for the conniving confidence trickster. He ended up losing all the money he won and, on returning home, was arrested for participating in confidence schemes. It just goes to show, money is not the route to happiness. It’s usually a route to prison.

MIT blackjack team

There’s so much to say about the M.I.T blackjack team. They have a movie (21, starring Kevin Spacey) and a book (Bringing Down the House by Ben Mezrich), and if that wasn’t enough, then the millions of dollars on top is the cherry on the cake. It’s safe to say they’ve earned their reputation and every cent on top of that.

It all started with Bill Kaplan and his obsession with winning. The straight A-student was heading for Harvard but decided to take a year out to hit the blackjack tables after reading Edward Thorpe’s book on card counting (you’ll earn about Eddie later). His mother was furious, but his father was a little more supportive. He challenged his son to beat him, and if Kaplan won, he could go. Kaplan destroyed his father over the course of two weeks and headed over to Las Vegas with $1K. Three weeks later he returned with $30K. Safe to say he impressed his parents.

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The resemblance is… striking. Can you guess which one is the real Bill Kaplan?

Overhearing a conversation about blackjack, M.I.T student J. P Massar approached the table of voices to introduce himself. There, he found Kaplan and the rest was history. On hearing about his success in blackjack, Massar asked Kaplan to observe the team he was part of. Kaplan agreed and after watching them in action, agreed to join them on a blackjack expedition across the world. It started off well, but mismanagement and a lack of organisation soon cost them and they came home with a fraction of the profit they originally acquired.

The pair decided to create a new team but with structure, a clear management system and a clocking in process, which would allow Kaplan to know where his players were at all time. This would become the M.I.T blackjack team, and would go on to win millions over the years, utilising card counting techniques.

Bill Kaplan is now the CEO of Fresh Ideas, an emailing changing service. Success was always Kaplan’s destiny, and it goes to show, blackjack can honestly change your life.

Edward Thorpe

If the M.I.T blackjack team made the most out of card counting, they’ve got Edward Thorpe to thank for it. Thorpe, with a master’s in physics and a PHD in mathematics, is the father of card counting and an all round genius. It was only towards his late 30s when he started to think about gambling, and more specifically, blackjack.

The mathematics behind the system is flabbergasting, but ultimately, smaller cards are better for the dealer and so, when they leave the deck, the advantage shifts to the player and vice versa. If used, this method can gain the player up to 5% in terms of advantage.

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Edward Thorpe card counting whilst drinking tea. Wish he could TEAch me how to card count.

Thorpe and his partner Shannon would hit the tables through the week and come back with plenty of profit in hand. Casinos became frustrated since on the surface, Edward looked innocent, but in his head he was counting the amount of small cards that had left the deck and taking them for millions. In the end, they simply banned him.

Following this he released the book ‘Beat the Dealer’, which went into the intricacies of his technique. Soon, every wannabe card counter, including the very Bill Kaplan who made history years later, owned a copy. Now, you might think that casinos trembled with fear, but since nobody could pull off the technique as well as Thorpe, many lost money.

Edward Thorpe was the first man to ever legitimately beat the casino. His trade has been passed on for many generations. He truly is a gambling genius.

Know anybody better? Think you’re one of the best? Give luckynuggetcasino.com a shout in the comment section below. Or, take a look at our huge range of blackjack games and try your luck.