Tommy Carmichael is a proficient slot fraud who has been convicted of slot scamming three times in Las Vegas and once in Atlantic City. Additionally, he confesses to cheating at hundreds of other casinos before being discovered.
Carmichael was the mastermind behind a slot machine deception ring that stole millions of dollars from casinos around the globe. Carmichael created a variety of cheating devices, such as the monkey paw and the light wand, which allowed him to effectively manipulate slot machines for almost two decades.
The biggest slot machine fraud in history
In 1980, while Carmichael was employed at a television repair business, his old friend Ray Ming showed him something that would permanently alter the course of his life. Ming’s trunk contained a miniaturized slot machine and a top-bottom joint, both of which were effective deception devices at the time.
Carmichael was immediately captivated and decided on the spur of the moment to abandon everything he knew and travel to Las Vegas to check out this establishment. He first attempted it on a five-cent slot machine in a casino on the Las Vegas Strip and won more than $35 in nickels. He spent the entire weekend using this device on a variety of slot machines, feeling unstoppable and winning a substantial quantity of money.
Carmichael was taking a mid-afternoon coffee break at a nearby Denny’s when a group of police officers entered the restaurant in pursuit of him. They discovered the top-bottom joint in his pockets, which he claimed was a tool he used to start his car. Due to Carmichael’s substance and misdemeanor record, he was given a five-year sentence for this deception scandal.
Carmichael met Mike Balsamo behind prison, who assisted him in forming a small group of adept game cheaters. They agreed to locate each other upon completion of their sentences. Although they were able to find each other, they would face numerous challenges in the coming months, including technological advancements in slot machines that would render their old deception methods obsolete.
Second Round of Release From Prison
Bally and International Game Technology released a video poker slot machine that utilized microprocessors and random number generators while Carmichael was incarcerated. Carmichael had to return to the drafting board because it was now impossible to deceive using his old strategies.
Carmichael returned to Las Vegas and purchased a video poker machine after accumulating sufficient funds through his part-time employment. He devoted nearly six months to the design and production of a device that would become known as The Monkey Paw.
This device, constructed from spring steel and guitar wire, could be inserted through the payout funnel, triggering the micro switch and causing the quarter-filled container to dispense approximately $1,000 per hour. Unfortunately for Carmichael, slot machine technology continued to advance, and the monkey claw would soon no longer be as effective.