19 Aug

Tommy Glenn Carmichael: Slot Machine Cheat and Legend

When it comes to casino cheats and in particular slot machine cheats, few have reached the level of Tommy Carmichael. He is a legend in the industry, a man who made it his goal to cheat the very best machines and to consistently get one over on the developers that made them and the casinos that installed them. In a game of cat and mouse that lasted several decades, Carmichael figured out ways to hack the best machines, and when the developers changed the machines and even the rules in order to stop him, he simply changed his methods.

The Early Days

The early slot machines were simple devices, mostly mechanical. These were used everywhere from gambling halls to casinos, because whilst the technology to improve them was there, the fact that they were still making money and attracting punters meant that no one was in a rush to do so. Carmichael changed things though.

When he began to cheat the machines he wasn’t the only one doing it and he certainly wasn’t the first. He was introduced to what was known as a “Top Bottom” device by a friend, who had been using the device to rob several small-time gambling destinations out of their nickels and dimes. It was a simple but ingenious piece of metal, which was inserted into the coin slot and triggered the machine to payout. This is because the slot machines of old worked on a system of gears, which “slotted” into place to trigger a jackpot.

These devices were fairly widespread at the time, but a few users of them were caught — one of them even left the device in the machine. When the industry figured out what was going on, they changed things. Random number generators were introduced, which are still used today, and overnight the device that had earned people like Carmichael hundreds of dollars a day was rendered useless.

Carmichael was also arrested for his efforts, and spent some time in jail. However, when he was released, he was determined to beat the new machines and he created a device that could do just that. He decided that to figure the machines out he would need to see the insides of one of them. So, posing as a purchaser, he tricked the manufacturers into letting him inside and even managed to acquire one of the machines himself, for testing purposes.

Over the years, Carmichael used tactics like this to figure out the latest machines. He created an assortment of tools to beat them and he used these tools to pickup many small-time jackpots. He also sold the tools for large sums of money.

The Later Years

The 1990s was a decade which saw Carmichael arrested a number of times. By this time he was earning as much as $10,000 a day, and selling small devices for the same amount of money. He would construct these devices out of things that cost him a few cents and took him minutes to build, but because of the ingenuity of them, and the fact that they could make their money back in one night, there was no shortage of customers waiting to buy them.

Unfortunately, things came to a head for Carmichael at the end of the decade and by 2001 his career as a slot machine cheat was over. His legacy remained though, because he had single handedly advanced the evolution of the slot machine. Not only can we thank Carmichael for the increase security that these devices employ, but thanks to his continued work in the industry (on the right side of the law) we also owe many other advancements to him.