History of Slot Machine Cheaters

In the 1960-70’s, slot machines could be a real nuisance to casino owners. The only reason they had them was to try and keep the women entertained while their husbands were gambling the “Big Bucks” in games like blackjack, craps, roulette, etc. At this point in time, the machines were strictly mechanical and were notorious for breaking down, and even more importantly cheaters were having a field day with these machines.

The Plug

  • Something as simple as a coin tied to a string could be made to cheat the slot machines of the 70’s. Often called a “plug” the coin would be dropped into the coin slot to activate the machine, and the scammer would pull the coin out with the string. That’s how easily these machines could be manipulated by people.


  • Slots were not the money makers they are today, and casinos had to constantly be on the lookout for slot cheats. Another fairly primitive way to manipulate the machines at this time was known as “shaving.” Cheats would alter the shape of a coin and that would somehow trigger the slot to let you play continuously. You put the shaved coin in the machine and the machine would continue to let you play without having to put more coins in.

In 1976, slot machines changed dramatically. People at this time were not that excited by slots. One of the reasons slots weren’t that popular had to do with the limited jackpot. The odds of winning something were directly reflected by the reels and the number of spaces on the reels. The only way to have a huge jackpot would be to have a large number of reels and people would see how impossible the odds of hitting the jackpot really were.

That all changed with the RNG. Now they could use just the three reels but a computer program could do all the calculations without having the extra reels and number of symbols on the reels. This allowed casinos to offer huge jackpots like we still see today without people realizing how truly hard it is to hit it. It looks pretty easy all you have to do is get three Wheel of Fortune symbols to win a million dollars. The 20 million to one odds could now be programed into the computer software and not be confined to the machine itself so people have no idea how hard it is to hit the jackpot.

The less mechanical machines that relied on computer programs were a bit harder to deceive, but there were plenty of slot cheats to figure out how to beat these machines as well. The most notable was a man named Tommy Carmichael.

Tommy Carmichael

  • By the 1980-90’s, casinos started to realize the gold mine that slots machines really were. There were advancements made that enabled the machines to be self-reliant. Slowly slots began to comprise two-thirds of the casinos’ entire gambling profit, a number which still holds true today. These mechanical nuisances for women were now the biggest money makers in the casino. More and more floor space was devoted to slots and table games were removed.
  • During this time, Tommy Carmichael went to work. He developed a method called the Top Bottom Joint and it became the most notorious method of its time to cheat slots. This was the first time that cheaters began stealing on a large scale. Tommy and his accomplice would use a guitar string to actually trip a switch that was in the machine that would release a payout. The slot manufacturers became aware of this method and removed the switches from the machines.
  • That’s Okay, Tommy was right behind them developing a light wand that was used to confuse the machines to release coins without it registering that coins were being dispensed.

Tommy was eventually caught as were several other infamous slot cheats. As the games became more and more advanced so did the methods slot cheats used. Today, slots are primarily video slots which make it even more difficult, but cheaters continue to find ways to manipulate the machines fraudulently. Most off the cheats today require “inside jobs” because everything is computer based so the program must be altered in some way. In order to do that you need to have someone who has access to the programs.

Slot machines are big money so manufacturers invest millions to make sure the machines cannot be tampered with, but mark my words there will be more slot cheats. It may be more difficult but there are people out there right now figuring out ways to get free money from slots.

Leave a comment

Allowed tags: <b><i><br>