Casino and Poker Scandals That Shocked the World

min read
Man in a blue hoodie, sitting at a poker table with cards and chips placed on the table.
BetMGM Aug 30, 2023, 9:11 AM

In any environment where the stakes are high and risk and reward go hand in hand, there will always be someone trying to find a loophole, exploit people and subvert processes for personal gain. Cheating, by any other name. Through the ages, gambling has attracted chancers willing to stake everything, reputations included, for money and fame. Some, depicted in movies and songs, are seen as lovable rascals, but in today’s lucrative world of online casino games and online poker tournaments, cheaters have become more sophisticated and some names have gone down in history for all the wrong reasons. Take a look at some of the most infamous scandals that rocked the gambling world.

The MIT Blackjack Team

Although technically what this group of brilliant students from MIT, Harvard and other prestigious institutions did wasn’t illegal, casinos consider card counting and dealer tracking to be unlawful and a form of a casino cheat. Back in the 1990s, these guys, trained by leader Bill Kaplan, traveled the world, visiting casinos and making the most of their prolific skills and winning big at the blackjack tables in many live dealer casino games. Operating from as far back as the 1970s, the team eventually disbanded in the late 1990s, but not before gaining enough notoriety to have inspired the movie “21,” which is based on their activities.

Jigging the Jackpot

Ingenious ways of jigging slot machines to pay out the jackpot included Tommy Glenn Carmichael’s monkey paw, a device inserted into the machine to trip the jackpot mechanism. Carmichael used the device to great effect until he was convicted and sentenced to almost one year in jail in the early 2000s. It goes without saying that a wholesale casino ban was included in the sentence. Clearly, some people never learn when you consider that a heavier, seven-year sentence had been imposed on Ron Harris some years earlier when he was busted using software to trigger the big payout when coins were introduced in a certain sequence. Maybe he was dealt with more harshly since he had been employed to create anti-cheating software, grossly abusing his inside knowledge.

Squandered Talent

Portuguese youngster José ‘Girah’ Macedo burst onto the online poker scene in 2010–2011 in a self-hyped story of rags to riches. His bold play in any position at the table you care to mention soon attracted backers and supporters as well as thousands of followers in his coaching and sweating groups. If he’d played his cards right, he might even have made the Poker Hall of Fame. Instead, he squandered his talent. He managed to persuade any number of his acolytes to take on a player known only as ‘sauron1989,’ promising easy and lucrative wins against him. After one too many of them came off worse, they began to smell a rat and Macedo was exposed as a cheat. It transpired that sauron1989 was none other than Macedo himself, who could see players’ cards via the Skype link on which he was watching the games unfold. His place on the list of spectacular poker cheats was secured. Macedo’s reputation as a prodigy was short-lived and not too much money was lost, but his fall from grace was a lesson for many. It goes without saying that Macedo has since disappeared from the online poker scene but has since established a cleaning services company in the UK.

Breaking Taboos

To this day, Mike Postle, a pro from northern California who favored Texas Hold’em poker, protests his innocence against accusations of cheating made against him by fellow player and occasional poker tournament commentator Veronica Brill. Brill broke many unspoken rules in the poker world by calling out Postle without hard evidence. It was during the live streaming of games from Stones Gambling Hall in 2019 that Brill noticed that his quirky style of play rarely let him down. His unerring success, despite some unconventional moves, was reaping him significant rewards, but Brill couldn’t help but feel uneasy.

A previously average player, Postle’s newfound skills were astounding many, with the notable exception of Brill. After analyzing a number of Postle’s hands with which he pulled off improbable wins, Brill approached the venue about their security to see if there was any way in which Postle could have sight of opponents’ cards in real time. They assured her there was no way in which he could be accessing that information, but rumors around hidden cameras in Postle’s baseball cap or the presence of a cell phone on his lap (which he looked down at often whilst contemplating a move) did the rounds.

With suspicion growing amongst an ever-growing group of players, a lawsuit was brought against the outraged Postle by Brill and almost 90 others, but the case never went to court.

Postle subsequently brought his own defamation claim against Brill, which he later dropped as he looked bankruptcy in the face. Today, Postle is still around on the circuit but made an early exit from the 2023 Beau Rivage Million Dollar Heater main event, which some saw as karma for his alleged past cheating.

Keep A Clean Game With BetMGM

Who knows why anyone would choose to take the enormous risks that cheating presents, even when weighed against potential ill-gotten gains? With the exception of the MIT crew — who arguably never actually cheated — all the other players in these stories were jailed or reviled in public (or both.) With increasing security and scrutiny in poker online games and other forms of online gambling, you have to be pretty daring to take on cameras and the many other built-in security features that are there to deter cheaters. Don’t be a cheater — play a clean game.

You can play safe and secure online slots, poker, blackjack or any other casino game you choose when you register with BetMGM.

Actress Vanessa Hudgens flipping casino chips next to the text "The King of Casinos"
About the Author


Read More

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.