Tommy Carmichael is a skilled slot cheat who has been convicted of slot cheating three times in Las Vegas and once in Atlantic City. All three convictions were for the same offense: cheating slot machines. In addition, he freely acknowledges that he deceived hundreds of other casinos until he was finally discovered.
Carmichael was the brains behind a slot machine cheating outfit that was successful in stealing millions of dollars from casinos all over the globe. Carmichael invented a wide variety of cheating devices, including as the monkey paw and the light wand, which allowed him to manipulate slot machines with great success for over two decades.
The Biggest Slot Machine Scam in the World
In the year 1980, when Carmichael was employed in a television repair shop, an old friend of his named Ray Ming showed him something that would have a profound impact on the rest of his life. Ming had a top-bottom joint and a tiny slot machine in the trunk of his automobile. Both of these items were efficient cheating tools for the era in which they were used.
Carmichael was immediately drawn in, and he made the rash decision to abandon all he was familiar with and go to Las Vegas in order to check out this top-bottom establishment there. He began by testing it on a machine that dispensed five cents at a casino on the Las Vegas Strip. He was successful in winning more than $35 worth of nickels from the machine. He used it all weekend long on a variety of slot machines, came away from the experience feeling unbeatable, and with a sizeable sum of additional cash in his pocket.
Carmichael had gone to a neighboring Denny’s for a coffee break in the middle of the day when all of a sudden, a number of law enforcement agents entered the establishment and began searching through it for him. They discovered the top-bottom joint in his pockets during the search, which he said was a tool he used to start his automobile. The search was conducted on him. Carmichael was given a sentence of five years in prison for this cheating incident because of his history of dealing narcotics and other felonies.
Carmichael met Mike Balsamo when he was incarcerated, and Balsamo assisted him in forming a small network of highly skilled game cheaters. They made a pact to look for each other after their sentences were over and they were released. Even though they were able to find one other, there were many more challenges that the couple would have to overcome in the months that were to come, most notably developments in slot machine technology that would render their previous ways of cheating obsolete.
Second Chance at Freedom after Serving Time in Prison
Bally and International Game Technology introduced a video poker slot machine that used microprocessors and random number generators during the time when Carmichael was incarcerated. Carmichael was forced to start again since it was now impossible to cheat using his previous strategies, so he went back to the drawing board.
Carmichael traveled back to Las Vegas after accumulating sufficient funds via the employment of a few part-time jobs in order to make the purchase of a video poker machine. He worked on the design and production of a gadget for about three quarters of a year, and it was eventually given the name The Monkey Paw.
This device, which was constructed out of spring steel and guitar wire, could be inserted down the payout chute, which would trip the micro switch and cause the bucket full of quarters to pay out around $1,000 an hour. It was possible to do this by placing this device through the payout chute. The technology of slot machines continued to advance, which was unfortunate for Carmichael since it meant that the monkey claw would soon become less effective.