The Big Three: Great Gambling Scandals

The Big Three: Great Gambling Scandals

By Alex J. Coyne © 2018 Great Bridge Links

When you think of scandals, you might think of Hollywood and politics before anything else, but the world of professional gambling and casinos are no stranger to scandal. We’ve collected three of the greatest, weirdest and most notorious gambling scandals ever to shake the casino floor…

The Russian slot machine hacker

As long as gambling has been in existence, there have been people who are convinced they can beat the system. And, sometimes, there are people who manage this and illegally take casinos for millions – sometimes by something simple like counting cards, other times with an elaborate scheme that involves some seriously secret agent stuff, and an app that beeps when the culprit should press the spin button. Wait…what?

That’s the case with the Russian hacker known only as Alex. The original expose was published in Wired Magazine, and his exploit of the slot machine’s system combined with other operators – the people who physically played the machines on Alex’s command, who had his own software at his disposal to tell the machine players when to play – cost casinos across the world millions.

If you’re wondering, casino security experts are very aware of these exploits and constantly working to close any loopholes they spot. No, gamblers have no reason to worry!

The great bridge cheating scandal

There have been a few cheating scandals which shook the world of professional bridge: These have been covered extensively by the media, including Vanity Fair Magazine (Is the Bridge World Rife with Cheaters?) and The New Yorker (The Cheating Problem in Professional Bridge), and they’ve been responsible for tournament rules and regulations being tightened overall. One of the most famous – and possibly first – was that of Willard S. Karn, a bridge player who was accused of being a cheater in the 1930s. And it’s not just anyone who accused him: Ely Cuthbertson hired a detective of sorts to keep an eye on Karn while he was playing. This led to Karn’s eventual withdrawal from the world of Bridge, and a defamation lawsuit against Cuthbertson, which Karn won in 1941.

For more information about cheating at bridge, check out Alex’s article A Look At Cheating, on Great Bridge Links.

Twenty one, anyone?

The events behind the movie 21 comes from the real-life story of the MIT Blackjack team, a club made out of number crunchers and card counters from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who managed to take several Vegas casinos for millions with little more than their brainpower. The movie did excellently well at the box office and we’d go as far as to call it a modern classic of card playing cinema! The movie is damn good, and today some members of the club – including Daniel Negreanu – offer personalized lessons in Blackjack if you want to learn from some of the most notorious experts that have ever graced the Blackjack table. (And, if you’re looking for another great movie happening to star Jim Sturgess, watch Across the Universe – especially if you’re a fan of the Beatles!)

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