Player Scams

Ken Uston

In the 1970s, no name was detested more by casino managers than Ken Uston. Ken Uston was born in New York City and received degrees from both Harvard and Yale. He followed his corporate career to California, and it was during this time that he was first recruited to a blackjack team while playing cards in Las Vegas one weekend. To be fair, the “big player” blackjack team strategy that is often credited to Ken Uston was actually invented by his mentor, Al Francesco.

When Uston and his first team were barred from Vegas, he moved back to the East Coast and immediately started fleecing the Atlantic City casinos. When the AC casino operators tried to ban him, he sued them and won. This inspired many casinos to look for new ways to inhibit card counting. In this way, Uston is directly responsible for the introduction of multi-deck shoes.

The MIT Blackjack Team

As a result of Uston’s successful lawsuit in 1979, Atlantic City casinos could no longer legally ban card counters. It was this development that inspired a small group of current and former MIT students to form a team and take on the city’s blackjack tables. Though the MIT blackjack team’s early results were mixed, by the 1980s they had mastered their formula. The team grew to up to 50 members at one point, and over the next 20 years they used their card counting skills to wring millions of dollars from American casinos before quietly disbanding at the beginning of the 21st Century.

Tommy Glenn Carmichael

Tommy Glenn Carmichael didn’t beat the casinos with math, cleverness, or collusion; he beat them with gadgets. All the way through 2001, Carmichael was at the helm of a whole new breed of cheaters. He is perhaps best known for his “monkey paw” device which could be inserted into a slot machine to trigger the pay mechanism. The FBI finally pinned Carmichael down in 2001. After serving his time, Carmichael chose to work with the casinos instead of against them, helping them to design cheat-proof machines.

Richard Marcus

Legendary cheater Richard Marcus has pulled a scam at every game offered in the casino. He’s marked his cards, counted his cards, used counterfeit chips and colluded with friends, and those are just the things he will admit to. Marcus made millions off Las Vegas casinos for over 25 years. Inexplicably, in 2006 Marcus decided to point the finger at someone else. He released a tell-all called “Dirty Poker” which explains how today’s players are being cheated, both by the casinos and their fellow competitors.  It was a claim that proved all too true when popular poker rooms Absolute Poker and UltimateBet admitted to extensive inside cheating scams in 2007.

Casino Heists

For as long as casinos have been taking people’s money, people have been dreaming of ways to get it back. While most gamblers hope to recoup their losses with a lucky win, some casino patrons are not immune to the allure of stealing the money they want. The history of casino heists seems to repeat itself; time and time again people try the same old tricks, and generally they fail. In this article, we’ll explore both the impulsive and the well-planned attempts as well as a heist that was doomed before it started.

Take the Money and Run

In Las Vegas, there have been two big-money attempts to do just that. It’s worth noting that most successful casino robberies involve multiple people and some sort of inside help. But in the case of Stardust worker Bill Brennan and his outrageous 1992 theft, one man was all it took. Brennan’s plan was simple—one day he simply stuffed $500,000 into a backpack and then walked it out the door. Neither Brennan nor the money ever returned.

Robert Solis and Heather Tallchief also utilized a straightforward plan when they robbed Circus Circus in 1993. Tallchief was an armored truck driver, so after collecting $2.5 million at the casino she simply drove away with it. Both robbers managed to escape the city and then the country without getting caught, but Tallchief was scandalized when Solis cheated her too, leaving her broke and alone in the Caribbean with their young son. After 12 years of evading the law, Tallchief turned herself in, but Solis is still at large.

High-Tech Attempts

While the two simple robberies above were surprisingly successful, many potential casino robbers put a significant amount of time, money and planning into their heists. Of course you know what they say about the best laid plans… One duo of California thieves took their money slowly through a heist that lasted several months. Both gentlemen inserted computers in their shoes; one was designed to influence and read the roulette wheel while the other received the expected result. In this way, the two men made several successful trips to the roulette tables, but their success didn’t last long. Both men were busted after a savvy security officer noted their erratic betting patterns.

Ocean’s Eleven: The Gag Reel

While casino heists get a lot of media attention, very few attempted thefts are actually successful. If you think robbing a casino sounds like an easy hit; think again! Even the small casinos tend to have big security, whether it’s their hundreds of live cameras or their extensive floor crews. Movies like Ocean’s Eleven that glamorize casino heists don’t even begin to cover the security extremes that Las Vegas’ largest casinos take with their money. In 2000, three robbers underestimated Bellagio’s security when they tried to make off with $160,000. One thief ruined the heist by not wearing a mask. When he and his suspected accomplices were apprehended, one of his partners confessed to everything and implicated the other two in hopes of getting a lighter sentence.

Video Poker

If you don’t like playing poker with a group of people or just prefer to focus on the fundamentals of the game, then video poker should suit your needs. Video poker represents an inventive combination of traditional poker, slot machines and video games. The fact that you can use your video poker prowess to win real money only adds to the game’s appeal.

That said, the dream of winning money at video poker can quickly turn into a nightmare (and major debt) if a new player comes unprepared. You can win a lot of money playing the right strategy on the right video poker machine, but you can also lose a lot of money by playing poorly on the wrong one. Casino Heaven’s advice can help you to avoid costly video poker mistakes.

Video Poker Basics

To play a hand, you will have the option to bet anywhere from 1 to 5 credits on your video poker or online video pokermachine. Bear in mind that the amount you can win increases with the amount you wager. Many people recommend betting the maximum of five credits, since this is the only way to win each machine’s top prize. To allow yourself to bet max, you should choose a machine with a betting denomination that suits your bankroll.

All video poker games are played with the basic Five Card Draw format. That is, you will be dealt five cards, will have the option of holding or discarding any number of those cards, and then will have your discards replaced to complete your final hand. Other video poker rules—like qualifying hands and payouts—differ between video poker variations. For example, some games—like Deuces Wild 9-5—include wild cards. For the tips section, we’ll concentrate on the Deuces Wild variation.


Video Poker Tips

The Deuces Wild 9-5 machine is a little different from the classic Jacks or Better video poker games in that its paytable is much smaller and tighter. Whereas many video poker games will pay for hands as low as a high pair, Deuces Wild requires a three of a kind to get a return on your bet. In this case, the payouts have been modified to compensate for the addition of four wilds to the deck. These wilds make it much easier to achieve simple combinations like one or two pairs, which is why the game will not reward players for them.

Many players read the paytable and make the mistake of pursuing only the most accessible hand: the three of a kind. The real money is made with straight flushes and—if you can hit it—the royal flush. While you should always be happy to get made hands like straights, flushes, and full houses, your ultimate goal is to hit a big combination. The best part about joining an online poker game is being able to enjoy the same online slots and video poker games you find in a online casino without changing sites.

If you’ve got four cards toward the royal flush then you should discard the fifth card, regardless of what combination it makes, unless you’re already holding the elusive straight flush. While some situations will warrant going for the royal flush with just three cards toward the combination, you should never break a made hand for anything less than four

Slot Machines

The first sight to greet your eyes when entering any live casino tends to be slot machines…rows and rows of slot machines. Many of the larger live casinos offer players a huge selection of slots; often in the hundreds. The online casinos take the slot craze one step farther by offering not only unlimited slots seats but sometimes hundreds of different slot game variations.

If you want to learn how to play a casino classic, then you’ll never go wrong with slots. There’s a reason why casinos dedicate so much space to these machines, and why players so readily crowd around them. Casino Heaven has taken the time to compile some key information about slots, from how to follow their basic rules to how to win their big payouts.

Slot Machine Basics

We won’t spend much time on the basics of live casino slots since it’s a pretty cut and dried process. Once your money is in the machine, you’ll either press a button or pull a lever to get the game started . When the dust settles and the reels stop spinning, the machine will automatically process and point out any wins.

Online slots also require little know-how. What isn’t self-explanatory (like the spin button) can often be solved by viewing the Help menu. Of course to play at all you’ll need to sign up for your own player account. Then you’ll make your first deposit. Once your account has been credited, you’re ready to make your first bet. Online slots offer a number of betting options, from credit value to lines played to credits bet per line. As soon as you make your bet, you’re ready to start playing.

Though live slots incorporate a real machine while online slots use only software, the playing and winning process is much the same. Either way you’ll be watching the reels spin for most of your time at a slot machine, and you’ll be wishing and praying for the right combinations. Should the symbols line up in your favor, you’ll see your winnings come pouring into the credit box.


Slot Machine Tips

The key to doing well at slots is choosing good payouts and odds. If a person ignores either of these two factors then they can pretty much expect to lose. So unless you don’t mind throwing your money away, it’s always in your interest to look for the most generous machine.

Regarding payouts, the paytable is typically found somewhere on each game. The paytable gives a complete listing of all paying combinations. You want a machine that offers a lot of generous payouts versus a game that has just one big prize and several small token wins. Going beyond just the payouts, a player also needs to consider overall payout percentage. As with payouts, you’ll soon find that not all slot machines are created equal. Some slots are far looser than others.

A machine with a payout percentage of 97% or more is a pretty good find and will no doubt attract crowds. The best games are those that not only pay out well, but that pay out frequently in the form of modest wins and fun bonuses. After all, having fun and winning money are what playing the slots is all about.


Are you looking for the casino game that attracts the rowdiest crowd? If you answered “yes,” then it’s time to head over to the Roulette table, because no other casino game generates the instant excitement that seems to emanate from the Roulette wheel. In fact, many seasoned gambling patrons will tell you that on a busy night when the players hit a long lucky streak Roulette is easily the most exciting game in the casino.

That said, a smart player knows that they can’t let the excitement get to their head and affect their focus on the game. A person needs to be poised at the Roulette table at all times, always mindful of the rules and of their next move. Casino Heaven can help you to learn those rules and to identify the best moves.

Roulette Basics

Anyone that’s familiar with Roulette knows that the action happens at the center of a small wheel, in the form of a single bouncing white ball. The player’s purpose in the game is to correctly predict where that ball will stop in the wheel. The most basic Roulette bet is the “single” bet which covers a single specific slot of the player’s choice. From here the bets get more complex.The second most common Roulette bet is the “split” bet. A split bet is placed on two adjacent numbers. If you want to bet on three numbers, then you’ll select the “trio” bet which covers 0, 1 and 2 or 0, 2 and 3. “Four number” bets are placed at the intersecting points of 0 through 3 and cover the numbers 0, 1, 2 and 3. There are other bets that cover multiple numbers. For example, a “street” bet can be placed on a row of three numbers. A “line” bet includes two adjacent rows for a total of six numbers covered. A “dozen bet” includes any of three sets of 12 numbers. High or low bets cover the largest spread, with players choosing either 1-18 or 19-37.

Roulette Tips

The first thing people should keep in mind when trying to win at Roulette is that there is no magic bullet that will win you the game or transform you into a pro. However, a serious player can improve their chances of making money by selecting the bets that offer the best odds. The better the odds, the more likely your bet is to win.Given a choice, Roulette players should always choose the European wheel over the American wheel. This is an obvious choice when it comes to odds, as the European wheel has a house edge that is almost half that of the American wheel. In other words, playing an American wheel doesn’t bode well for any player’s bottom line.