Edward ThorpeWell before the MIT team earned millions playing blackjack, this MIT professor was discovering the science of card counting that they'd later use for gain. Edward Thorp is considered the father of card counting having used his expertise in probability to discover how to gain an advantage in the simple card game.
Using a now-ancient IBM 704 computer, Thorp cracked the code behind blackjack by analyzing the probabilities of the game. Now that he had his theory, he had to test it and went to Reno, Vegas and Lake Tahoe to do just that.
Thorp enlisted the help of professional gambler Manny Kimmel to test the method and earned $11,000 in the first weekend of play. He was convinced that his theories were spot on and rather than bleeding the casinos dry, he published this science in a 1996 book, Beat the Dealer.
That book became wildly popular, selling over 700,000 copies and reaching The New York Times bestseller list. The income from the book allowed Thorp and his wife a comfortable life after that and even gave them plenty of cash to spend weekends counting cards in Vegas.
Today, Richard Thorp sits as a member of the Blackjack Hall of Fame having invented the "Thorp count" method of counting cards.
Ron HarrisDefying some million-to-one odds, the skilled team of Reid Errol McNeal and Ron Harris almost pulled off the largest keno scam in casino history. The plan involved one computer programmer/casino technician, Harris, one accomplice, Reid McNeal, and one perfect keno ticket.
Ron Harris worked for years as a technician for Las Vegas casinos in conjunction with the Nevada Gaming Control Board. Harris was tasked with keeping the casinos computer technology secure by investigating possible flaws in their security system.
Harris, distraught over shady practices by casinos, set off in 1993 to cheat those very casinos he once worked for out of their cash. Using his first accomplice, John O'Connor, Harris stole several thousand dollars over the course of two years. This was a start, but nothing even close enough to get the revenge Harris was seeking.
Using his background in casino security, Harris spent a great deal of time analyzing the game of keno and created a program that would predict the winning numbers before they were selected.
Along with McNeal, Harris tested this in Atlantic City on January 14, 1995. The numbers were spot on and netted the team a cool $100,000 grand from Bally's. All was going well until McNeal, who played the numbers, attempted to cash the ticket, but refused to give any identification, asking for cash instead.
At this point the gig was up and police tracked McNeal back to a hotel room where Harris' equipment to determine the numbers was found. Evidence in hand, police later tracked down Harris, who went on to serve two years in prison for the scam.
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