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Thread: Finding a Video Poker Bug Made These Guys Rich—Then Vegas Made Them Pay

  1. #1

    Finding a Video Poker Bug Made These Guys Rich—Then Vegas Made Them Pay

    Interesting article and more relevant given the situation with Phil Ivey. In my opinon, these guys were doing nothing wrong and a complete abuse of power by the federal government.


    http://www.wired.com/2014/10/cheating-video-poker/

     
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      Charham: great article
      
      WillieMcFML:
    :freelewfather

  2. #2
    Nova Scotia's REAL #1 Webcam DJ sonatine's Avatar
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    God this made me really sad.

    [x] gambling addicts
    [x] going down because of greed
    [x] feds get rich off it
    [x] ugh
    "Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness." - Alejandro Jodorowsky

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  3. #3
    Diamond Hockey Guy's Avatar
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    They could have exploited this forever.

    Why would you walk into 1 casino & win 30K when you can walk down the strip into each & win 1k-2k @ each without spending a dime? They would have never figured it out.

     
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      mwh72: exactly this
      
      Dan Druff: yup... same reason idiot superusers on AP and UB got caught
      
      JimmyG_415: Exactly, one guy was literally on welfare.
    (•_•) ..
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hockey Guy
    I'd say good luck in the freeroll but I'm pretty sure you'll go on a bender to self-sabotage yourself & miss it completely or use it as the excuse of why you didn't cash.

  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Hockey Guy View Post
    They could have exploited this forever.

    Why would you walk into 1 casino & win 30K when you can walk down the strip into each & win 1k-2k @ each without spending a dime? They would have never figured it out.
    GREED

    Also if you find a loophole you also assume it won't last forever. Also maybe due to their money issues/etc their judgement was really clouded.

    I'm sure over time even if they just took 1-2k they would have been busted without involving other people. Casinos are a one way street for money...you give, they do not give back.

  5. #5
    I think the real crime is that they tipped the slot attendant.

     
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      WillieMcFML:

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    Platinum PLOL's Avatar
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    He still gambles occasionally in neighboring states, but his more pressing addiction right now is Candy Crush, which he plays on a cheap Android tablet. He cleared 515 levels in two months, using a trick he found on the Internet to get extra lives without paying.
    lol
    Quote Originally Posted by verminaard View Post
    Just non-stop unrelenting LGBT propaganda being shoved down our throats.

  7. #7
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    I posted about this in Scams, Scandals, and Shadiness in November, 2013: http://pokerfraudalert.com/forum/sho...t-hackers-quot

    Here is what I wrote about it:

    Two guys who cheated casinos got lucky when the federal charges against them were dismissed.

    In my opinion, they were fortunate that federal prosecutors pursued the wrong charges against them.

    Andre Nestor and John Kane found a bug in Game King video poker machines in 2009 that allowed them to get paid 10x what they were supposed to. Basically, they found that any Game King machine with the "double up" option allowed them to change limits and get re-awarded their original prize at the higher limits. It was a bit more complicated than that, but that's basically what they did. They were able to not only get paid twice for the same winning hand, but get paid 10x the amount on the re-pay.

    The feds stupidly attempted to charge them with hacking and wire fraud. The charges were dismissed. The "hacking" charge stemmed from the complicated sequence of buttons they had to press in order to exploit the bug.

    I think they should have been charged and convicted -- but not of either hacking or wire fraud.

    They should have been convicted of theft.

    Indeed, they were not "hacking" anything. That charge was ridiculous.

    Wire fraud was also ridiculous, as the fraud did not occur through mail or telephone communication.

    They were guilty of theft, as they were knowingly using a glitch in a machine to cause it to pay out 10x the intended amount. Similarly, if you notice an ATM is spitting out $200 when you try to withdraw $20 (and only removing $20 from your account), you are committing a crime by repeatedly going to that ATM and requesting $20, knowing you'll receive $200.

    That's basically what these guys did. They didn't create the bug, but they definitely took advantage of it in order to steal.

    This is MUCH different than noticing a machine with incorrect payouts that make it hugely +EV for the player.

    For example, if a Jacks-or-Better video poker machine was set to pay 50 for a flush instead of 5, you would not be committing a crime by playing it and winning huge. It is not the player's responsibility to provide the casino with an edge. If the casino wrongly prices their payouts, they have to eat it.

    However, this was a different situation. The machine's payouts were set correctly, but a separate bug made the machine exploitable to where it could be stolen from after the hand's conclusion. That was definitely theft.

  8. #8
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    It does bother me that this story is being promoted as an example of Vegas' intolerance toward winners or advantage players.

    The two guys involved here were not advantage players. They were thieves.

    The advantage play crowd is martyring these two and putting them up as examples of Nevada law enforcement being in the casinos' pockets, but that's not what was going on here at all. These guys tried to steal, they got caught, and they got arrested -- exactly like it should have been. They were lucky to get off due to the incompetence of the federal prosecutor.

    Advantage play -- which I support and practice myself -- is the act of finding flaws in casino games and turning the odds into the player's favor. Counting cards in blackjack is advantage play. Playing slot machines when the jackpot value turns them +EV is advantage play. Even what Phil Ivey did -- noticing flaws with the deck and using that to know what cards are coming next -- is advantage play. Playing video poker machines with high paytables which translate to over 100% theoretical return is advantage play. Playing machines where you are receiving overly generous comps is not cheating. In all of these cases, the player is not manipulating anything, but is rather beating existing games under existing rules by using his head.

    Cheating is different than advantage play. Using magnets in the old days to manipulate the results of slot machines was cheating. Counterfeiting casino chips is cheating. Marking cards is cheating (this is different than noticing a defective deck with manufacturer-error markings on it). Taking deliberate action to get a buggy machine to pay out 10x what it is supposed to is cheating.

     
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      NaturalBornHustler: Druff but fair

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    It does bother me that this story is being promoted as an example of Vegas' intolerance toward winners or advantage players.

    The two guys involved here were not advantage players. They were thieves.

    The advantage play crowd is martyring these two and putting them up as examples of Nevada law enforcement being in the casinos' pockets, but that's not what was going on here at all. These guys tried to steal, they got caught, and they got arrested -- exactly like it should have been. They were lucky to get off due to the incompetence of the federal prosecutor.

    Advantage play -- which I support and practice myself -- is the act of finding flaws in casino games and turning the odds into the player's favor. Counting cards in blackjack is advantage play. Playing slot machines when the jackpot value turns them +EV is advantage play. Even what Phil Ivey did -- noticing flaws with the deck and using that to know what cards are coming next -- is advantage play. Playing video poker machines with high paytables which translate to over 100% theoretical return is advantage play. Playing machines where you are receiving overly generous comps is not cheating. In all of these cases, the player is not manipulating anything, but is rather beating existing games under existing rules by using his head.

    Cheating is different than advantage play. Using magnets in the old days to manipulate the results of slot machines was cheating. Counterfeiting casino chips is cheating. Marking cards is cheating (this is different than noticing a defective deck with manufacturer-error markings on it). Taking deliberate action to get a buggy machine to pay out 10x what it is supposed to is cheating.
    Bollocks.
    Quote Originally Posted by Tyde View Post
    I stay to myself and keep out of trouble and/or potentially problematic scenarios

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    It does bother me that this story is being promoted as an example of Vegas' intolerance toward winners or advantage players.

    The two guys involved here were not advantage players. They were thieves.

    The advantage play crowd is martyring these two and putting them up as examples of Nevada law enforcement being in the casinos' pockets, but that's not what was going on here at all. These guys tried to steal, they got caught, and they got arrested -- exactly like it should have been. They were lucky to get off due to the incompetence of the federal prosecutor.

    Advantage play -- which I support and practice myself -- is the act of finding flaws in casino games and turning the odds into the player's favor. Counting cards in blackjack is advantage play. Playing slot machines when the jackpot value turns them +EV is advantage play. Even what Phil Ivey did -- noticing flaws with the deck and using that to know what cards are coming next -- is advantage play. Playing video poker machines with high paytables which translate to over 100% theoretical return is advantage play. Playing machines where you are receiving overly generous comps is not cheating. In all of these cases, the player is not manipulating anything, but is rather beating existing games under existing rules by using his head.

    Cheating is different than advantage play. Using magnets in the old days to manipulate the results of slot machines was cheating. Counterfeiting casino chips is cheating. Marking cards is cheating (this is different than noticing a defective deck with manufacturer-error markings on it). Taking deliberate action to get a buggy machine to pay out 10x what it is supposed to is cheating.
    You equivocating like a motherfucker - Bubbles from the Wire

  11. #11
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wiganer View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    It does bother me that this story is being promoted as an example of Vegas' intolerance toward winners or advantage players.

    The two guys involved here were not advantage players. They were thieves.

    The advantage play crowd is martyring these two and putting them up as examples of Nevada law enforcement being in the casinos' pockets, but that's not what was going on here at all. These guys tried to steal, they got caught, and they got arrested -- exactly like it should have been. They were lucky to get off due to the incompetence of the federal prosecutor.

    Advantage play -- which I support and practice myself -- is the act of finding flaws in casino games and turning the odds into the player's favor. Counting cards in blackjack is advantage play. Playing slot machines when the jackpot value turns them +EV is advantage play. Even what Phil Ivey did -- noticing flaws with the deck and using that to know what cards are coming next -- is advantage play. Playing video poker machines with high paytables which translate to over 100% theoretical return is advantage play. Playing machines where you are receiving overly generous comps is not cheating. In all of these cases, the player is not manipulating anything, but is rather beating existing games under existing rules by using his head.

    Cheating is different than advantage play. Using magnets in the old days to manipulate the results of slot machines was cheating. Counterfeiting casino chips is cheating. Marking cards is cheating (this is different than noticing a defective deck with manufacturer-error markings on it). Taking deliberate action to get a buggy machine to pay out 10x what it is supposed to is cheating.
    Bollocks.
    Why is it bollocks?

    This is identical to keeping money erroneously distributed by an ATM machine. Both are crimes, and rightfully so. Machines aren't human and can't catch their own errors. If people can repeatedly exploit monetary errors by machines, that is placing a huge potential liability on the back of the company utilizing them. Basically, this law says, "If a machine fucks up and erroneously pays you, it's your responsibility to give the money back and not continue exploiting it."

    Now let's say a player got erroneously paid for a loss in blackjack by an unobservant dealer. Even if the player notices, he shouldn't be arrested. Dealer error, provided there is no conspiracy, is part of the game, and the player is not required to double-check the dealer's work. Same with keeping money from a small, one-time error by a machine. So like if you get paid somehow for an ace high hand as if you made a full house, you aren't expected to catch this or immediately run and return the money. However, to repeatedly target certain machines with a specific bug, and to exploit that bug to get paid 10x what you really won, is clearly cheating. It is easy to root for the players here because they are David and the caisno is Goliath, but the casino is in the right here.

    If you want to get outraged regarding mistreatment of advantage players, there are tons of other cases where casinos abuse legitimate APs who have done nothing wrong but use their head under existing rules to give themselves an edge.

  12. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Wiganer View Post

    Bollocks.
    Why is it bollocks?

    This is identical to keeping money erroneously distributed by an ATM machine. Both are crimes, and rightfully so. Machines aren't human and can't catch their own errors. If people can repeatedly exploit monetary errors by machines, that is placing a huge potential liability on the back of the company utilizing them. Basically, this law says, "If a machine fucks up and erroneously pays you, it's your responsibility to give the money back and not continue exploiting it."

    Now let's say a player got erroneously paid for a loss in blackjack by an unobservant dealer. Even if the player notices, he shouldn't be arrested. Dealer error, provided there is no conspiracy, is part of the game, and the player is not required to double-check the dealer's work. Same with keeping money from a small, one-time error by a machine. So like if you get paid somehow for an ace high hand as if you made a full house, you aren't expected to catch this or immediately run and return the money. However, to repeatedly target certain machines with a specific bug, and to exploit that bug to get paid 10x what you really won, is clearly cheating. It is easy to root for the players here because they are David and the caisno is Goliath, but the casino is in the right here.

    If you want to get outraged regarding mistreatment of advantage players, there are tons of other cases where casinos abuse legitimate APs who have done nothing wrong but use their head under existing rules to give themselves an edge.
    I don't understand the logic here.

    It's okay if they screw up the paytables that end up causing an advantage to the player.

    But it's not okay if there is a loophole to get paid out more? Or a programmer screwed up in the ATM source code?

    Seems to me like if the paytable is way off then it's the same. Or are you saying it's okay if it ends up being +2% for the player, but it's not okay for 200%?

  13. #13
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    BTW as I said before, if this were just a matter of the paytables being set way too high, I would totally be on the players' side. In that case, they wouldn't be manipulating anything, but simply playing a +EV game. Huge difference.

  14. #14
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simpdog View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post

    Why is it bollocks?

    This is identical to keeping money erroneously distributed by an ATM machine. Both are crimes, and rightfully so. Machines aren't human and can't catch their own errors. If people can repeatedly exploit monetary errors by machines, that is placing a huge potential liability on the back of the company utilizing them. Basically, this law says, "If a machine fucks up and erroneously pays you, it's your responsibility to give the money back and not continue exploiting it."

    Now let's say a player got erroneously paid for a loss in blackjack by an unobservant dealer. Even if the player notices, he shouldn't be arrested. Dealer error, provided there is no conspiracy, is part of the game, and the player is not required to double-check the dealer's work. Same with keeping money from a small, one-time error by a machine. So like if you get paid somehow for an ace high hand as if you made a full house, you aren't expected to catch this or immediately run and return the money. However, to repeatedly target certain machines with a specific bug, and to exploit that bug to get paid 10x what you really won, is clearly cheating. It is easy to root for the players here because they are David and the caisno is Goliath, but the casino is in the right here.

    If you want to get outraged regarding mistreatment of advantage players, there are tons of other cases where casinos abuse legitimate APs who have done nothing wrong but use their head under existing rules to give themselves an edge.
    I don't understand the logic here.

    It's okay if they screw up the paytables that end up causing an advantage to the player.

    But it's not okay if there is a loophole to get paid out more? Or a programmer screwed up in the ATM source code?

    Seems to me like if the paytable is way off then it's the same. Or are you saying it's okay if it ends up being +2% for the player, but it's not okay for 200%?
    This is because paytables are set by the casino. The player is not expected to validate them or double-check them for the casino having an edge. When you sit down at a machine and play by the rules set by the casino, you have done your part as a player. If you also have an edge by doing so, then so be it.

    In this case, the casino did not erroneously set paytables or make an error designing the rules of the game. The machine had a bug that required a very specific set of button presses to generate payouts 10x of what they should have been.

    So in the "high paytable" example, the player thinks, "Wow, they are paying me way more than I would expect, but that's the way they set up this game, so who am I to argue?"

    In this situation, the player thought to himself, "I only won $100, but I found a way to manipulate the machine to pay me $1000!"

    Huuuuuuuuuge difference.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by simpdog View Post

    I don't understand the logic here.

    It's okay if they screw up the paytables that end up causing an advantage to the player.

    But it's not okay if there is a loophole to get paid out more? Or a programmer screwed up in the ATM source code?

    Seems to me like if the paytable is way off then it's the same. Or are you saying it's okay if it ends up being +2% for the player, but it's not okay for 200%?
    This is because paytables are set by the casino. The player is not expected to validate them or double-check them for the casino having an edge. When you sit down at a machine and play by the rules set by the casino, you have done your part as a player. If you also have an edge by doing so, then so be it.

    In this case, the casino did not erroneously set paytables or make an error designing the rules of the game. The machine had a bug that required a very specific set of button presses to generate payouts 10x of what they should have been.

    So in the "high paytable" example, the player thinks, "Wow, they are paying me way more than I would expect, but that's the way they set up this game, so who am I to argue?"

    In this situation, the player thought to himself, "I only won $100, but I found a way to manipulate the machine to pay me $1000!"

    Huuuuuuuuuge difference.
    IMO there's not as large of a difference.

    If the paytable for $1 video poker is fine, but the one for $25 is way off...isn't that the same?

  16. #16
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Here is an example to illustrate what I've been saying.

    Let's say I had made a bet with Willie that the Dodgers would win more than 140 games in 2014. That would have been a horrendously bad bet on my part, but Willie wouldn't be unethical by taking it. If I offered such a bet and he accepted, then the bet would be valid, even if I didn't fully understand what I was betting or why I was almost sure to lose.

    However, let's say we bet $100 on whether they would win 96 or more games (a much more reasonable bet), and Willie won. If he then requested $1000 from me, hoping I forgot the amount we bet, that would be highly unethical. If I paid him the $1000, it would be fair to call him a scammer and state that Willie stole.

     
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      Kuntmissioner: willie hcy?

  17. #17
    Platinum PLOL's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    Here is an example to illustrate what I've been saying.

    Let's say I had made a bet with Willie that the Dodgers would win more than 140 games in 2014. That would have been a horrendously bad bet on my part, but Willie wouldn't be unethical by taking it. If I offered such a bet and he accepted, then the bet would be valid, even if I didn't fully understand what I was betting or why I was almost sure to lose.

    However, let's say we bet $100 on whether they would win 96 or more games (a much more reasonable bet), and Willie won. If he then requested $1000 from me, hoping I forgot the amount we bet, that would be highly unethical. If I paid him the $1000, it would be fair to call him a scammer and state that Willie stole.
    Willie, is this true?

     
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      WillieMcFML: it was all just a big misunderstanding
    Quote Originally Posted by verminaard View Post
    Just non-stop unrelenting LGBT propaganda being shoved down our throats.

  18. #18
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by simpdog View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post

    This is because paytables are set by the casino. The player is not expected to validate them or double-check them for the casino having an edge. When you sit down at a machine and play by the rules set by the casino, you have done your part as a player. If you also have an edge by doing so, then so be it.

    In this case, the casino did not erroneously set paytables or make an error designing the rules of the game. The machine had a bug that required a very specific set of button presses to generate payouts 10x of what they should have been.

    So in the "high paytable" example, the player thinks, "Wow, they are paying me way more than I would expect, but that's the way they set up this game, so who am I to argue?"

    In this situation, the player thought to himself, "I only won $100, but I found a way to manipulate the machine to pay me $1000!"

    Huuuuuuuuuge difference.
    IMO there's not as large of a difference.

    If the paytable for $1 video poker is fine, but the one for $25 is way off...isn't that the same?
    No, because it's never the player's job to validate the odds being set by the casino. The casino puts the game, rules, and payout together, and the player's responsibility is simply to play within those rules. It should never be a crime to notice that certain games can favor the player, and then go to jail for playing a winning strategy or machine.

    However, this wasn't about strategy or playing +EV games. This guy was playing a -EV game and found a way to trick the machine into paying him 10x. This is no different than me taking a $100 chip home and counterfeiting it into a $1000 chip.

  19. #19
    Owner Dan Druff's Avatar
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    I will say that I don't hate these two guys and I don't really give a crap that they got off for this. They noticed a flaw in a video poker machine, and took advantage of it. That's a lot different than scamming people, superusing against other poker players, or embezzling money from your company.

    However, at the same time, these guys are NOT advantage players, and they should not be treated as sympathetic characters.

    They took a chance breaking the law in order to stiff a casino, got caught, and had to face the music.

    I am the last one to ever feel sorry for the casinos, but I have to admit they were right here.

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by Dan Druff View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by simpdog View Post

    IMO there's not as large of a difference.

    If the paytable for $1 video poker is fine, but the one for $25 is way off...isn't that the same?
    No, because it's never the player's job to validate the odds being set by the casino. The casino puts the game, rules, and payout together, and the player's responsibility is simply to play within those rules. It should never be a crime to notice that certain games can favor the player, and then go to jail for playing a winning strategy or machine.

    However, this wasn't about strategy or playing +EV games. This guy was playing a -EV game and found a way to trick the machine into paying him 10x. This is no different than me taking a $100 chip home and counterfeiting it into a $1000 chip.
    Why is it the player's job to report bugs in the slot machine, but not with paytables?

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