Players have sought to conquer video machines
for as long as the game was around. It now seems like a few guys have been able to “solve” the challenge and improve themselves in the process (although temporarily).
The well-written tale of cheating video poker comes from Wired magazine’s October issue. This explains how resident of Las Vegas John Kane and his friend Andre Nestor were able to capture jackpots reaching up to tens of thousands of dollars in video poker game tech.
The machines at issue were the ever-present video poker machines for the Game King.
Such popular video poker games are found in almost every American land-based and online casino, and are developed and operated by International Game Technology (IGT).
Only Game King machines which offered the “Double Up” feature were able to exploit the glitch. By using this feature and swapping games after a major jackpot, Kane and Nestor were able to get paid multiple times for the same winning hand and were even able to sort “past post.” In other words, they were able to increase their bet size after the hand was dealt and completed.
Wired states that Kane learned this trick while playing one of his daily video poker sessions at the Fremont, a casino in downtown Las Vegas that is not mentioned.
The lawyer for Kane says his client is one of the most addicted video poker addicts in the world. He claims Kane’s played video poker worth $12 million in one year. Wired reports Kane lost half a million dollars in video poker playback in 2006. (It was a two-for-one buffet coupon on the bright side).
Kane goes on to take in $100,000 in the first five weeks after discovering the software crash. During those first few days in Las Vegas (Nestor lived in Pennsylvania) Nestor was a bit more aggressive, Wired says he made $152,000. Ultimately, the FBI reports that out of 8 separate Las Vegas casinos, Kane won over $500,000.
Like almost any other advantage player (or “cheats” as some would term it), the two were eventually caught, after multiple high jackpot wins attracted casino surveillance attention. The men have been arrested and charged, but the story has a somewhat happy ending: charges have been dismissed, after courts ruled that the men did not “hack” the machines, and only took proper advantage of the rules that the casinos provided. As brilliantly put by Kane’s lawyer: “All of these guys did is simply push a sequence of buttons that they were legally entitled to push.”
The story is fascinating as we all played video poker machines on Game King. Some of us have been sitting for hours in front of one–zombie like–trying to chase the elusive four aces, straight flush, or Holy Grail of video poker players: the Royal flush.
Getting a code or pattern that would allow you to use a video poker machine as your own personal ATM machine brings with it a hop of ethical questions: are you going to use it? Would you report it to the casino (this would have been my choice) in hopes of reward or job offer? How often would you use it if you used the cheating code? Just how much you’d take. Ultimately, is it reasonable to benefit from such a flaw? Or would you inevitably feel a rush of joy at beating the evil, covetous money-sucking casinos at their own game like so many gamblers?
It seems to me that if you had an incredible discretion and self-discipline, having a pattern that allowed you to sort of cheat at video poker would only be worthwhile.
Caught automatically would be the player who would use this at MGM Grand to suck out $50,000 a night. However, discreet use of the code in moderation while geographically spreading your action would seem to make you undetectable, while ensuring a steady, lucrative lifetime income, or until IGT upgraded the machines with completely new software.
Casino closely tracks anomalies, but those Game King machines are everywhere in Las Vegas (and any other casino in the nation). Squeezing out just $100 per casino, spreading out more than 20 casinos a day (at local casinos, gas stations, Fremont Street and up and down the Strip), will give you a respectable $60,000 income a month. Not a bad way of earning a living.
The article in Wired suggests that Kane had to protect his video poker winnings. Sadly for Nestor, a friend accused of conspiring with him gave his funds to the police.