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.