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How to Rob a Casino (And Get Away With It)

Turns out it actually is possible -- and these are the heists that prove it.



Sure, reading strategy books and trying your luck at the tables might lead to some slight financial success, but chances are that you're not going to be making enough for an early retirement anytime soon. Which is precisely why the people below decided to take matters into their own hands by increasing their odds, winning some serious coin, and -- the most impressive part -- actually getting away with it.


Laser-Guided Roulette

In 2004, a group of three cleaned up -- ostensibly without cheating -- at the roulette tables of a London casino. After two evenings of suspiciously consistent wins, the group cashed out with £1.3 million and a very confused casino staff in their wake.

Unsurprisingly, they weren't exactly playing by the rules. Using a laser scanner installed on a phone, the players could measure the speed of the roulette ball when it was released, and use that information to determine where it was likely to land -- which is exactly where they would place their bets.

The three gamblers were arrested a few days later after a suspicious casino staff reviewed the security footage and noticed the homemade advantage, and their winnings were seized. Despite the use of the device, though, it was decided that the group didn't technically break any laws with their bets, and they got to keep the winnings and walk away scot free.


Less is More

Heists don't always have to be complicated in order to be successful. Bill Brennan was a cashier at the now-defunct Stardust Casino in Vegas, putting him in direct contact with the floor's cash and chips. One day in September of '92, he went on his lunch break… with a bag full of $500 grand over his shoulder.

The most surprising part, though, is that he actually got away with it. Despite making it all the way to the FBI's Most Wanted list, Brennan managed to do what almost no one else with a simple "grab the money and run away" idea could: keep his spoils. It's assumed that he skipped town and left the country, and no one's seen him since.


Expert-level Card Counting

As it turns out, math whiz kids from MIT can play blackjack as well as they can solve differentials. Since blackjack is a game that can (theoretically, at least) be beaten without cheating by an extraordinarily skilled player, a few sharp undergraduates in 1979 decided to spend their spring break testing their math skills in Atlantic City, where they successfully used card counting techniques to win hand after hand.

The original group disbanded after that, as most of them left it as a fun one-time trip. However, two players kept the dream alive, going on to teach a card counting course at MIT which developed into a full-blown team with independent financing and a full roster of academics that continued into the 90's with consistent success and developed into a business with nearly 80 players across the US.

While it's illegal for casinos to issue sweeping bans on anyone who might be counting cards, it's perfectly legal for them to show individual players the door once it's apparent that they're counting cards. Unfortunately for the MIT team, this meant that even their best players had limited careers, since they were barred from returning to casinos once they'd been found out -- though creating elaborate personas and disguises helped them to skirt the bouncers. With their leading players banned from most tables and the maturation of some successful investments from their winnings, the company that had been founded to fund and organize the MIT team dissolved in 1993. Some players reformed into splinter groups and continued to gamble professionally, but the members who called it quits ended an incredibly successful and long-running gig -- all without breaking the law.





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