With television debuting a new show on the glories of Las Vegas casinos approximately every four hours these days, it might be wise to consider the words of Richard Marcus in tonight’s premiere of the History Channel’s Breaking Vegas: ‘The only `sure thing’ in gambling is cheating.”
Marcus, like the other featured players in Breaking Vegas, is a career cheater. This fascinating documentary series uses interviews, old news footage and recreated scenes to tell the stories of gamblers who use everything from cutting-edge silicon chips to old-fashioned nimble fingers to gain an edge on the casinos.
High- and low-tech cheaters both get their props in tonight’s special two-hour debut. (Future episodes of Breaking Vegas will be only an hour.) But champions of traditional values will note with satisfaction that it’s the old-school guys who got away with millions of bucks, while the computer whiz kids went to jail.
To call the cheating ring led by Richard Marcus low-tech is a whopping understatement. As Marcus himself admits, his technique was ”so simple it’s idiotic” — he just slipped chips onto or off of the table when blackjack dealers and roulette tourneurs weren’t looking.
At first, Marcus and his crew added high-value chips to winning bets. But as casino surveillance teams caught on to that one, Marcus reversed his ploy: He bet high every time but replaced big chips with small ones when his bets lost. Touchingly, he named the technique ”Savannah,” after his favorite Vegas topless dancer.
Marcus, never arrested in 24 years of cheating, now lives in retirement on the French Riviera. Less lucky, and more morally ambiguous, was Ron Harris, a rogue computer-security specialist for the Nevada Gaming Commission, the agency that regulates casinos.
His job was to detect rigged software in Togel Singapore slot machines, but Harris became such an expert that he began unleashing viruses into the machines the gaming commission inspected, programming them to pay off jackpots after a certain sequence of coins was bet.
His slot-machine chicanery was never detected. But then Harris turned his attention to the lottery game keno. Carefully studying the patterns of the computers that generate the lottery numbers, he discovered that they weren’t really random but could be predicted with the aid of his own computer.
The first time Harris played keno, he won $100,000 — but got into trouble when casino officials discovered he worked for the gaming commission, whose employees are legally barred from playing in casinos. He eventually went to prison for two years.
Tampering with slot machines is cheating in anybody’s book. But what about outsmarting the casino’s keno computer? ”Is that cheating?” asks Harris. ”If you can use your wits to be as smart as the machine you’re betting against?” It’s questions like that that make Breaking Vegas well worth watching.