Five Gamblers Who Beat the Casinos

Every now and then, there are a few very clever and talented people who try to beat the casinos and some of them even suceed, at least for a little while. There are countless stories out there, how people screwed the system and walked away with tons of cash. We found five gamblers who used very different techniques to gain casino riches.


Awesome Skill

Name: Dominic LoRiggio
Casinos he beat: practically all big casinos in the US and Europe
Method: Controlled shooting

They called him “The Man With The Golden Arm” or “The Dominator”. Dominic LoRiggio is a master in a gambling technique that is often called pure BS: controlled shooting at the craps table. The man invested years of practice, thousands of hours to get the rolls he needed in order to win. When asked, LoRiggio said the key is placing the dice in the hand in a certain way, getting a good grip and letting them land as gently as possible on the felt.

The Dominator teamed up with some other controlled shooters and started his career as a craps pro on the Vegas Strip. Team “Rosebud” roamed the casinos for a few years, then LoRiggio left, because he felt he could make more money on his own. He found a new partner in legendary gambler and writer Frank Scoblete and the two claimed that they made tens of thousands of dollars using the Dominator’s controlled shooting technique. Although many experts think that dice control is impossible, LoRiggio proved them wrong on several occasions, but the details of how he controls the throw are his personal secrets.


Sleight of Hand 

Name: Ida Summers
Casinos she beat: classic Las Vegas casinos
Method: Hand mucking, insertion of cool decks

Ida Summers had everything a femme fatale needs to be successful: haunting good looks and wickedly fast hands. In the 60s and 70s, during a time when nobody would dare to accuse a woman of cheating (mostly, because nobody believed that they had the skill or guts to do it), Summers became one of the most successful sleight of hand artists at the blackjack tables in Vegas. The small and attractive woman (Ida Summers was 5’3” and weighed about 100 lbs) was an expert in hand mucking techniques and even began to insert cold decks and coolers, meaning she placed pre-stacked decks at the table and just played along. Remember, these were the 60s and 70s, when practically every casino had solid mob connections. Cheaters were more likely to turn up dead in the desert than barred from the casino floor. Ida Summers was in luck. The mob didn’t get to her – but in the late 70s the FBI did. It is not known how much money Summers made with her cheating, but she is still considered one of the most successful frauds in casino history.


Mysterious Luck – or Strategy: Charlie Wells

Name: Charlie Wells
Casinos he Monte Carlo Casino
Method: Unknown

The Mediterranean coast has always been home for great casinos and inspiration for those who visit them. Even as far back as 1891, great things could be achieved at the casinos in France and Monaco – at least by one person. Charlie Wells, a well known hustler, made his way to Monte Carlo with £4,000 in his pocket; money he cheated from gullible investors. Wells arrived in town, sat down at the world-renowned European Roulette table in the middle of the Monte Carlo Casino and did not get up until eleven hours later. By then he broke the bank twelve times and won over one million francs – $15 million in today’s money! Wells played and won constantly. Reports vary, but apparently at one time he won between 20 and 25 out of 30 successive games.

Everyone was convinced that Wells was cheating, but even the private investigators the casinos hired when he returned and repeated his stunt, couldn’t find any indication of fraud or cheating. Charlie Wells himself told the world that he just had two incredibly lucky streaks, but many experts believes he played with a system, most likely a modified Martingale or a variation of the D’Alembert system. Either way, even with these systems, a winning streak like that is just incredibly lucky.


Card Counting

Name: Edward Thorp
Casinos he beat: casinos all over the world
Method: Card Counting

We do not need to tell you much about Edward Thorp, the father of card counting, do we? He was the mathematics professor who invented card counting and profited greatly from it. In the 60s he was introduced to blackjack by a friend and became interested in the underlying mathematical systems. He ran computer simulations of billions of blackjack hands and in the end came up with the system of card counting. But that was not enough for him, he wanted to reap what he sowed. So he established the famous MIT Team that won possibly millions in the following years. On a good evening, Thorp alone could easily make $70,000.

The casinos were stumped, some simply begged him to leave, because he was winning too much and they didn’t know why. Thorp literally wrote the book on card counting – it is titled “Beating the Dealer” – and became a successful security and hedge fund manager after his gambling career. He was one of the first seven players inducted into the Blackjack Hall of Fame.



Name: Louis “The Coin” Colavecchio
Casinos he beat: countless casinos in the US
Method: Slot token forgery

During the late 90s Louis Colavecchio, also known as “The Coin”, swindled American casinos for somewhere between $100,000 and $500,000. He wasn’t a real gambler, rather, Colavecchio was a master forger. He counterfeited the tokens used for online pokie games – and he thought big. He collected the necessary metals (copper, nickel, zinc, etc), bought laser-cutters and even imported a 150-ton press from Italy. When “The Coin” was arrested, the police needed to rent two whole storage units to store all the evidence and loot Cloavecchio had collected. His forged coins were so perfect that many casino experts insisted that they were the real deal. Since many casinos did not want to admit to such a perfect forgery, it is unknown, if Colavecchio made a lot more money than the he was sued for. He eventually got a plea deal – he told the government how his operations worked and he got a very light sentence. We are sorry to say – some crime does seem to pay.


Would you like to know more about the Australian gambling facts? Do you know an Australian player who beat the casinos big time?


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