So you think you can cheat playing slots? Maybe you’re looking for cheating methods that actually worked that you could use at your next trip to the casino. If so, you may want to think twice. Cheating a slot machine or even the attempt to cheat could land you in prison. Don’t believe us? Google Tommy Carmichael.

People are always looking for ways to get rich quick and with the advent of the slot machine, some players have tried to steal from the casino by rigging the slot machine with various devices. Some of the methods used to steal winnings has been as simple as the common coat hanger.

This article focuses on the various methods used. Most of the slot machine cheats you see below are pre video slot era.

How Do People Cheat a Slot Machine?

Top Bottom Joint – Although people have been cheating slot machines for ages, this was perhaps the first method that received mass media coverage. The top-bottom joint was a gimmick created by Tommy Carmichael and his associate Ray Ming.

The two created a slider, which was made of a guitar wire and a piece of spring steel. The two would snake the payout chute using the top-bottom joint until they tripped the switch. Once the switch was tripped, the machine would empty out its payload. According to an interview with USA Today with Carmichael, he was banking $1,000 per hour using this particular method.

The Light Wand – Carmichael also invented this method. He took a trip to a gaming show in Las Vegas and posed as a potential customer. He asked all the right questions and was able to get the demonstrator to open a machine so he could view the inner mechanisms. Tommy purchased the machine and within a few days was able to beat the game. The Light Wand was his newest gimmick. This time, he would simply shine an extremely bright light into the machine which would trip the hopper into not realizing that it was spitting out coins.

The Coat Hanger – By 1992 Carmichael’s light wand was defunct. IGT released a new feature dubbed the Actuator Arm. This feature was meant to be a protective device to help secure the machine from slot machine cheaters. According to Carmichael, he had the device figured out within an hour using nothing but the common coat hanger. Carmichael would use the coat hanger in a similar manner as the slider and snake it into the machine. The hanger would have the same effect as the Monkey Paw, in that the coin mechanism wouldn’t work and the machine would overpay.

The Monkey Paw – Another one of Carmichael’s inventions. The Monkey Paw was constructed of nothing more than a piece of steel, shaped into a claw. The claw would be inserted into the machine. Eventually, if done right, the hopper would make a clang noise which signaled to the cheater that they were inside coin mechanism counter. Once there, the piece of metal would cause the slot machine to overpay the slot cheaters.  

Shaved Coins – Have you ever wished the money you had in a slot machine lasted forever? You’re not alone. In 1982, the shaved coin gimmick made its way into the casinos. This cheat would require players to alter the shape of the coin. Once the coin was inserted into the slot machine, it would pass through activating a never ending game. Yes, that’s right. A single coin would provide you with hours of entertainment.

Coin on a String – This slot machine cheat seems a bit silly, but it’s true. Back in the day, players would tie a string onto the coin. The player would then insert the coin into the machine and as soon as the game was activated, they would pull it back out. The process would repeat over and over again. The coin on a string slot cheat was also called a “plug”, essentially plugging a slot machine.

While all the methods appear to be possibly workable, all of them will land get you in hot water. Carmichael has spent the majority of his life behind bars and is blacklisted from all casinos. The History Channel aired a documentary on Carmichael called Breaking Vegas – Slot Scoundrel. Cheating the casino is a federal offense. They will prosecute you. Besides, the cheating devices above are pretty much outdated as most machines have moved from a hopper to printing ticket stubs. It’s unlikely that you will be able to trick one of the more modern machines into printing you a $1,000 stub.

Other Slot Machine Cheaters

Louis B. Colavecchio, better known as “The Coin” said he could recreate anything made out of precious metals including slot coins. Louis, along with fellow fraudsters took slot machine coins and created molds replicating the original. From there, they mass produced the coins and exchanged them in Atlantic City and Connecticut casinos. It is estimated that Colavecchio was able to steal up to $500,000. There is no exact figure as some of the Vegas casinos refused to admit they had been duped but the amount is no less than $1,000. He was caught when the casinos noticed a surplus of coins on the floor. This cost him seven years of his life which he spent in a federal state prison. Louis was released in 2006, but his trip to the big house didn’t teach him anything. The FBI caught up to him a few months later where he was up to the same old tricks. Louis’s counterfeiting career was aired on the History Channel’s series dubbed Breaking Vegas.

Ronald Dale Harris – Ronald Harris was a slot machine cheater that at one point in time, worked for the Nevada Gaming Control Board. He was a computer program whose job was to find the flaws in the programming of modern slot machines.  Harris used his expertise in programming to rig certain slot machines so that when a specific number of coins are inserted along with a specific combination hit, the machine would pay out large sums of money. He managed to do this for nearly 2 years and then switched to rigging the RNG on Keno games. Harris was able to figure out the outcome of a keno game which resulted in a $100,000 win and caused suspicion with his win. He was eventually arrested and sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released after serving two.