And it also got them arrested.
Wired.com came out with a very interesting story a couple days ago and I had to share it with our good readers here at OnlineBettingSites.com. The story describes, in great detail, how two men found a glitch in a certain brand of video poker machines and exploited the glitch to get rich, get arrested and then go broke.
It all started at the Femont Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas on an April evening in 2009. John Kane was playing a Game King video poker machine when he achieved a small win and hit the “cash out” button to move on. Instead of giving him his money like anyone would expect, the machine lit up and awarded him a $1,000 jackpot.
Kane tried to alert the casino but nobody took him seriously. He thought about it, played around with one of his own Game King machines at his house and discovered the bug. In short, he found a way to win a jackpot with a smaller denomination and then hit a series of buttons to change the denomination and immediately award himself an additional jackpot at the new denomination.
This glitch in the machine made it possible for Kane to play as many low level games as it took to win a small jackpot. When that happened, he could switch up the currency and achieve a much larger jackpot. Kane had finally found a way to beat the casino without tampering with the machine or engaging in any behavior that could be considered illegal.
The Wired.com article goes on to explain how John Kane called up a buddy of his, Andre Nestor, to join the action as a two-man team. Together, the two hit up numerous casinos in Las Vegas and Pennsylvania with their newfound video poker trick in hand. The men went on to win hundreds of thousands of dollars exploiting what would later turn out to be glitchy computer software.
Even though they weren’t physical tampering with the machines, both men were eventually arrested. Federal prosecutors charged both men with a litany of counts ranging from computer fraud to wire fraud. Both men were picked up separately but both hired attorneys and fought the charges.
At one point, the Wired.com article explains that both men were offered a chance to snitch on the other in return for facing probation and no jail time. Amazingly, Kane and Nestor both refused and the case almost went to trial.
I say “almost” because the government eventually dropped all charges. The men had broken no existing laws. They were required, however, to return the money and are now being hounded by the IRS for their confiscated gambling winnings.
This is just a brief summary of the whole article. You really ought to head over to Wired to read the whole story about how the glitch worked, how it was discovered and what the authorities did to investigate the case. It all makes for an interesting read.
There’s a Lesson Here Somewhere
Kane and Nestor made two big mistakes that got them caught and arrested. Mistake number one was bickering over how they should split up their shares of the loot. They had earlier agreed that Nestor would pay Kane half his winnings in return for bringing Nestor in on the gambit. Nestor eventually realized that giving up half his money would leave him in the negative come tax season.
So, the two argued over money and eventually went their own ways. They lost trust in one another and Kane was unable to warn Nestor of a pending arrest.
Mistake number two was pushing the trick too hard. They got too caught up in exploiting the glitch that they failed to keep a low profile. They hit individual casinos for so much money that multiple casinos took notice. If the men would have stuck to just taking a $10,000 jackpot every month or so, they could have earned six figure incomes for a long time.
Instead, they got greedy, fought over money and got caught. They went through an expensive trial, had their winnings confiscated and got themselves banned from casinos in two states. The lesson here is simple: don’t get greedy.
Wes Burns has more than a decade’s worth of experience as a writer, researcher, and analyst in the legal online betting industry and is co-founder of OnlineBettingSites.com. Wes approaches his work from the viewpoint of players.