The Most Devious Ways Players Have Cheated Slot Machines

Slot machines are an absolute staple in the gambling scene, both in online casinos and physical ones. No other game encapsulates gambling so well. The player has absolutely no control over the outcome; you just spin the wheel and hope it works. Flashy animations take the experience to the next level and make hitting the jackpot even sweeter.ย 

Slot machines have been around for a long time. Inevitably, some players would eventually resort to more underhanded tactics to manipulate them, and this has happened quite a bit throughout the history of slots. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the insane ways players have managed to cheat at slots. 

Photo by Pixabay

Disclaimer: Please, don’t try these techniques at home

If you were looking for legitimate methods to increase your luck with slots, you’re out of luck. Slots is a game of chance you can’t control; that’s part of the game’s appeal. These methods are all straight-up cheating, and we do not condone any attempt at trying them. This list is for entertainment purposes only, as some methods are admittedly impressive testaments to human ingenuity. 

The light wand

The light wand is one of the most notorious and infamous tools players have used to cheat at slots. Pioneered by Tommy Glenn Carmichael, “The Most Powerful Casino Slot Machine Hacker In History,” the light wand is designed to exploit the coin payout portion of the slot machine. Resembling a piece of plastic in a square “U” shape, the device covers the optical sensor within the coin slot. 

The sensor determines the payout by reading the amount of inputted coins and dispensing the corresponding reward amount. By using the light wand, Carmichael was able to keep the machine dispensing far beyond the intended amount, earning huge payouts with only small inputs. 

Piano wires

In 1982, four men were arrested in what was, at the time, “the largest slot cheating scam in casino history.” The scam was simple: one of them opened up the slot machine, attaching 20-inch piano wires to the interior reel mechanism. These wires jammed the clock responsible for measuring the wheel rotations, allowing players to control the spin of the slot machine. They managed to hit the $50,000 jackpot but were arrested by authorities on a stakeout moments after. 


Magnets are an age-old, low-tech method criminals have used for decades. The premise is similar to the piano wires, except a lot easier since you don’t need to open up the machine and insert wires. With a strong enough magnet, criminals can spin and use the magnet to force the reel mechanism to stop when they see the desired combination.

Thankfully, however, magnets are completely ineffective nowadays. Modern-day slot machines aren’t magnetic anymore, no longer relying on a metal reel system. Instead, they’re software-based, with a computer program adding randomness. While this does make methods like the piano wire and magnets obsolete, it opens up the way for more advanced cheating methods, like the ones listed below. 

Photo by Pixabay

Modified computer chips

Software-based slot machines aren’t infallible, and the story of Dennis Nikrasch shows why. A notorious hacker and locksmith, Nikrasch bought a used slot machine to disassemble it. He discovered the computer chip responsible for the randomness program, using it to create his own rigged chip.

Enlisting the help of people within the casino to insert his rigged chip, Nikrasch managed to make a fortune from rigging slot machines. He earned $10 million between 1976 and 1983, getting arrested in 1986. A five-year prison stint didn’t seem to deter him at all, as he immediately went back to defrauding the machines after his release, updating his tactics to handle the more advanced slot machine security. All in all, he made about $16 million throughout a 22-year period. 

Fake tokens

Counterfeit tokens are another classic method for cheating slots, but nobody did them quite as well as Louis Colavecchio. Literally nicknamed “The Coin,” Colavecchio earned his reputation for having the best counterfeit slot token the world had ever seen. 

Back then, slot machines dispensed tokens to be redeemed at the casino for real money. Colavecchio utilized hardened steel dies to replicate these tokens, making them so similar it was hard even for experts to distinguish them. Because of the headache Colavecchio’s antics caused casino owners, most casinos now use paper vouchers instead of metal tokens. 

Top-bottom joints

The top-bottom joint was a cheating tool frequently employed in the 70s and 80s. It consisted of two parts: The top, which was a metal rod bent into a “q” shape at the end, and the bottom, which was simply a long wire. 

The bottom was inserted into the coin chute, and the top was put through the coin slot. This forces the machine to jam, causing it to release all of its stored coins. What this method lacked in subtlety was compensated by the truly absurd payout. 

Photo by Pixabay

Again, please don’t try these yourself

So, here are a few of the most absurd and creative methods players have used to cheat at slots. Thankfully, the casino game scene’s transition to the digital format has made cheating much harder since you’d have to interfere directly with the website servers to cheat. 

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