Online pokies are among the most popular casino games and they’re definitely among our own favourites too (although we highly enjoy live dealer casinos as well). Whether you’re into pokies at a brick and mortar venue or load up from online casinos, the thrills are amazing, but they usually come at a cost. As most people enjoy the thrills, but don’t like the costs there have been a few ways to make a win and leave the casino empty handed. Although the ways to cheat the casinos have drastically gone down in recent years, they still remain fascinating if you ask us.
As you can probably imagine, these tips, tricks, and hacks haven’t gone down too well with casinos, who are legitimate companies who hate to lose. This is why casinos have tried to hunt down scammers or casino counterfeits and better protect their games against any form of manipulation. In this article, we take a closer look at 10 of the most remarkable methods to cheat pokies as it’s far from easy to manipulate the house.
Disclaimer: please note that it is not our intention to promote these actions and that they are merely featured from an informative point of view. Play responsible and play safe.
1. Ronald Dale Harris’ Cheat Code
Gambling authorities such as the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and UK Gamling Commission (UKGC) were founded to make sure that the stakeholders in the gambling industry operate correctly. This includes the pokie providers and Ronald Dale Harris was one of the ones to use the inside information for his own advantage. As an engineer working for the Nevada Gaming Commission (where Las Vegas is located), he went on and manipulated a pokie himself giving himself a major advantage over others.
2. Dennis Nikrasch Replacing the Computer Chip
Dennis Nikrasch bought his own land based pokie machine and analysed every inch of it. By carefully going through all the flaws he found different ways to manipulate the machine. Nikrasch discovered that he could replace the standard chip with one that was programmed to activate the jackpot. Instead of doing this himself, Nikrasch contracted a group of scammers who did the job for him. By creating special chips and keys he gave them major payouts while earning a part of it himself as well.
This pokie cheat was built around following the right technique referred to as yo-yo. By attaching a string to a coin (hence the name Yo-Yo), and sending a coin into the physical pokie, the play button was triggered and thus leading to a free playing session. Next, the coin would be brought back up again using the same string. Although impossible in modern pokies, you can probably imagine all the damage it did for the casinos housing the manipulated machines. Due to Yo-Yo it was not always the house winning, but also the player who turned out lucky.
4. Tommy Glenn Carmichael’s Light Wand
The so-called Light Wand was created by one of the biggest casino scammers to have ever lived: Tommy Glenn Carmichael. The Light Wand was meant to manipulate the optical sensor of a pokie, which made it stop counting the number of coins between major winnings and jackpot payouts. This way ,the pokie would lose track of when to award a jackpot and when to pause it. Instead of triggering the jackpots every once in a while, it provided frequent jackpot payouts, sometimes even activating progressive jackpots. Although the exact details have never been revealed by Carmichael it is assumed that a magnet is directly placed over the pokie machine’s sensor making it lose count.
5. Piano Wire
A group of men bundled forces at the Caesars Boardwalk Regency Casino in Atlantic City back in the eighties, in 1982 to be precise. One of the men, whose identity is unknown to the public, opened the pokies and attached a piano wire of half a metre to the whirring guts of the game with the objective of jamming the clock that measured the wheel rotations, allowing the group of men to manipulate the spins afterwards. They even managed to win a major $50,000 jackpot with their casino cheat, but the whole incident had been filmed and the main winner was already arrested before he left the building.
6. Tommy Glenn Carmichael’s Monkey Paw
It’s Carmichael again. Tommy Glenn Carmichael spent about 4 decades manipulating and cheating money from casinos in Las Vegas and the man is considered a genius when it comes to cheating, although we’re not here to promote illegal activities as you’ll understand. Carmichael was also known as the creator of the so-called “monkey paw” which made him build the correct contraption. All he needed to set up this cheat was a guitar string which he attached to a metal rod. He would thrust it into the machine’s air vent and wriggle it around until he managed to click the trigger switch for the coin hopper. This is where all the fun began for Carmichael although he was convicted twice during his “career” as a master cheater. We believe it’s fair to say that casinos in Vegas don’t like him.
7. Bill Validation
Manipulating the bill validation device is considered one of the most successful ways of cheating on pokies to this date. This is actually a simple device that fools the machine into thinking it’s taking in a 100 dollar bill while the user is actually only making a 1 dollar wager. All the bill validation device required was the player to make a win after reaching the 100 dollar and cashing out on time. As land based pokies don’t accept any cash bills anymore this is clearly a cheat that has slowly died off, while a real money casino offering online games works with online credits instead of real cash, yet again excluding this trick.
8. Pauline McKee’ Software Glitch
By following a selected pattern of stakes and games, users can confuse the machine and trigger a glitch that pays out the jackpot, often referred to as the Software Glitch. Many cheaters got the most out of this cheat during a longer period of time, but there is evidence that jackpot winners weren’t able to claim their winnings because of the trick. The most known example happened in 2015 when Pauline McKee (90), from the American state of Illinois, won an amount of 41 million US Dollars on a Miss Kitty pokie at the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo. She tried to sue the casino, but her appeals were rejected multiple times.
9. Louis “The Coin” Colavecchio’s Fake Coins
Louis “The Coin” Colavecchio’s Fake Coins is comparable to some extent with the Bill Validation on pokies that accepted dollar bills, although this cheat worked with fake coins. Fake coins were widely used by con artist Louis “The Coin” Colavecchio to scam brick and mortar casinos for years until his arrest in 1998. He was released in 2006 and quickly picked up where he left off. A few months after his release, Colavecchio was arrested once again. Due to Colavecchio’s scams, casinos in the region of Atlantic City and Connecticut slowly phased out tokens, replacing them with vouchers, either paper versions or via cards. Louis “The Coin” Colavecchio was sentenced to 15 months prison. Colavecchio died on July 6, 2020.
10. Top-Bottom Joint
Although practically out of use, this is still one of the most remarkable methods of cheating pokies and was highly popular among casino counterfeiters in the 1970s and 1980s.
In order to cheat the house, a tool was carefully split into two parts leading to a top part (typically a metal rod with its end bent in the shape of the letter “q”) and a bottom (a long wire) part. By putting the bottom in through the coin chute and the top part through the coin slot, players managed to jam the pokie and force the machine to release all the coins it saved up. As is the case with some of the other methods listed in this top 10 methods to cheat pokies, the top-bottom joint isn’t used anymore in most parts of the world.