Study of the most widely used hacks used to cheat slot machines in real life, from coin sequences to stringed coins and special wires.
Even if only half of casino patrons will deny it, everyone wants to know if there were actual slot cheats they can use. There is a thrill of hitting the buttons and inserting coins in a sequence to get an instant jackpot.
Is a cheat code possible when it comes to physical or online slots? Can slot players beat the randomness of slots?
⚠️ This article and our website do not condone or encourage any form of cheating. This is an entertaining piece of content about methods and tools that have been used over the years to hack and manipulate slot machines. DO NOT CHEAT. EVER.
Real-Life Slot Cheat Code
Back in the 90s, Ronald D. Harris got hired by the Nevada Gaming Control Board to check on the software used by slot machines for any potential flaws. Ronald is responsible for going through slots across Las Vegas casinos and look for an opening that cheaters can exploit. His position allows him to know a slot’s RNG source code and find ways to manipulate it to his advantage.
Ronald’s knowledge allows him to use a “cheat code” on a slot by inserting coins in a sequence. One of the common ones was:
- dropping three coins,
- two coins,
- two coins,
- one coin,
- three coins, and
- five coins in sequential order.
His cheat codes for slot machines guarantee a large payout for each game, making his $48K annual salary seems like peanuts.
To avoid unwanted attention while striking a fortune from rigged games, he hooked up with his close friend Reid McNeal. Their plan was simple: Reid plays the slots with the exploit to win just a few grands a night. Their scheme was foolproof, except their earning was lower than what they thought.
Greed got the better of the two when they won $100,000 with a $100 bet from a keno machine in Bally’s Park Place Hotel, Atlantic City. Reid caught the attention of the casino managers, which led to police officers escorting him to his room where Ronald was staying. Ronald’s rigging equipment was visible to all officers who entered the room.
Ronald and Reid were charged with attempted cheating and computer fraud. Reid was given a choice to have his charges dropped if he were to testify against Ronald.
Thanks to Ronald’s greed, the Nevada Gaming Control Board took a stricter hiring policy for their software checker and required staff to double-check other’s reports. It is now virtually impossible to make electronic slot machine cheats work without alerting security.
Alternative Methods to Hacking Slots
Ronald Harris was not the only cheater to find casino tricks for slots. Here are some of the slot cheats and slot strategies used by criminals over the last few decades.
One of the ways to cheat a vintage slot machine is using a magnet. With the magnetic force of the magnet, cheaters can manipulate the reels by making the high-paying reels land on the payline. This trick was possible since the reels were magnetic on classic slots. It is important to note that cheaters need to hold the magnet in a way that they can target the reels without drawing attention to themselves.
It is important to note that magnets will not work on any physical slots you will find on almost all casinos.
Apart from manipulating the algorithm or the reels of a game, another method to cheat a slot machine is to trick the coin sensor. Shaved coins allow a cheater to trick a slot machine’s sensor that they dropped a legitimate and illegitimate coin. With this trick, criminals can get free spins conspicuously.
Slot manufacturers are aware of how shaved coins and other fake currency can take advantage of a fault in the coin sensor. To alleviate this, slot machines use modern light sensors to fully scan both surfaces of a coin. New light sensors can prevent any cheaters from getting free spins by using a fake coin.
A light wand is one of the infamous slot machine cheating devices invented by Tommy Glenn Carmichael. Much like shaved coins, the device is another method to trick the coin sensor of a game. Cheaters insert the tip into the coin slot and flash the sensor with a series of lights. Confusing the sensor with the slot machine wand can make the game dispense all of its money regardless of the payout rate.
To combat this device, slot machines only dispense tickets instead of coins. Tickets contain the player’s winnings, which can only be turned into money through a cashier. Modern slots will still take paper bills and coins.
Back in 1982, a group of people hatched a plan to steal money from a slot machine in Caesars Boardwalk Regency Casino, Atlantic City. One of the members opened a mechanical slot machine and rigged the mechanism with a long piano wire. With a rigged machine within the casino floor, other members of the group will play the targeted slot and pull on the wire to manipulate the reels.
It would have been a perfect crime if not for the security cameras catching the group rigging the slot machine and winning a massive payout. Before one of the members who got a large cash prize from the rigged slots could taste fresh air, security arrested him within the casino. This is why cameras are still effective in catching cheaters.
Bill Validator Device
Apart from trick coins, a bill validator device is one of the electronic slot machine cheats that manipulates the money sensor. This device has two elements attached to small bills such as a $1 or $20 bill. When it was slipped into the bill slot, the slot machine mistakes the small bill as a $100 note. Criminals can also use this trick to launder counterfeits with the slot machine or any casino game.
Fortunately, casinos got wise over bill validator devices by installing new bill acceptors on the latest machine. Not only will new slot machines stop this type of slot cheats, but they can also call security’s attention to the person inserting the bill.
Computer Chip Replacement
Dennis Nikrasch is an infamous slot machine hacker who got a brilliant idea of reverse engineering a slot machine to know how it ticks. He bought a slot machine home, took it apart, and found a microchip responsible for determining when to reward a player the jackpot prize.
Using his experience as a locksmith for eight years as well as hooking up with fellow cheaters, he manages to open slot machines and insert a rigged chip to the electronic board. Dennis and his team managed to steal $3.7 million in just one night. Unfortunately, one of his team members was angry at the small share and decided to turn Dennis in to the authorities.
One of the classic methods to cheat on any machine that accepts a coin is a stringed coin. As the coin tags the optic sensor of the machine as a signal money that was inserted, the cheater pulls back the coin and does the trick again.
Unfortunately for hackers, the stringed coin trick does not work with slot machines or vending machines with mechanical sensors. Modern slots also have security measures to prevent people from taking back their money once a slot machine accepts it.
Cheat Codes for Online Slots
As technology advances, cheaters find new exploits to use on casinos. As online casinos flourish across the globe, criminals have found ways to get into the casino itself instead of the slots.
One example of a serious attack on online casinos comes from a group called DRBControl. Their method was to send emails with spear-phishing links to employees of an online casino. When a staff opens the link by mistake, the group can inject a backdoor Trojan that can give them access to an operator’s network.
Another example is to hack slot machines with a phone to know when the RNG favors the player. Their phone will capture videos and screenshots of the slots’ reels, which are analyzed by an app to determine the PRNG patterns. The phone will vibrate to indicate the right time for a cheater to spin the reels, helping them get the best possible edge on the game.
Over time, casino platforms increased their security measures against hackers. To avoid a phishing link incident, companies monitor key employees who have access to sensitive data within their network. A casino platform also utilizes an AI system that looks for players with unusual betting patterns, helping managers find any potential cheaters.
Slot cheat codes and other cheating methods are possible due to an unseen opening or exploit among slot machines. While casinos found ways to plug the hole in their system to render “old” slot cheats unusable, hackers are still finding exploits in newer casino platforms and gaming equipment.