Believe it or not, some casino cheats try to manipulate video poker and slot machines. Cheating at casino table games is one thing; there are aspects of most table games that give cheaters an opportunity to manipulate the game in their favor, like the dice roll in craps or marking cards in blackjack and other card games. But modern video poker machines, like modern slot machines, are built around random number generators that are designed to be cheat proof.

How do cheaters attempt to rip off casino video poker machines? Using mechanical devices, ranging from wires and other implements shoved into the machine to lights designed to affect the outcome of the game. Physical devices used over the years by slot machine and video poker cheats are designed to try to trick the machine into handing out larger payouts than the player earned, or to drain their hoppers without any play at all.

Devices designed to literally hold open the coin dispenser or tiny lights that supposedly blind the video poker machine’s computer brain are still being used, even with today’s high-tech casino security and video poker machines. Shaved coins and coins on strings are also sometimes still used, even though these methods are as old as casino cheating in general.

Here’s a look at the most common ways of cheating at video poker.

Monkey Wire Video Poker Cheating

A device called a monkey wire is little more than a plain wire stuck into the video poker machine through the coin hopper. Video poker cheats try to stick the monkey wire into the machine so that it blocks the video poker’s counting mechanism and the machine just keeps spitting out winnings. This cheat is designed not to make the player win more often but to make the video poker machine pay out more than it should.

Unfortunately for video poker cheaters, monkey wires and other devices shoved into machines are easy for casino security to spot, and the eyes in the sky (not to mention floor employees constantly walking around the video poker machine floor) will most likely catch you shoving a wire into one of their machines. Monkey wires and other devices are also not guaranteed to work, so you could get in legal trouble for trying to cheat a casino without even earning more video poker winnings.

Light Wand Video Poker Cheating

According to casino cheating lore, Tommy Glenn Carmichael invented the light wand slot machine and video poker cheat. A light wand is similar to a monkey wire, except that the light wand supposedly worked on machines that were designed to beat the monkey wire cheat.

Light wands are small wires with a light bulb at one end, powered by a battery. Since video poker and slot machines now use optical devices to make sure they pay out the proper amount, a light wand stuck into the machine through the coin hopper is supposed to blind the coin reader and cause the machine to pay more coins than it should.

Ideally for a video poker cheater, a small prize will turn into a huge jackpot thanks to the interference of the light bulb. The first reason to avoid using a device like a light wand is that there’s no guarantee that it will work. Video poker machine builders know that cheaters use things like monkey wires and light wands, and they’re constantly upgrading their devices to be cheat-proof.

And even if the light wand does work, the likelihood of getting caught sticking something into a video poker machine is high. The risk of getting caught with a light wand is the same as getting caught with a wire or any other device.

Coin Hopper or Cashbox Theft Video Poker Cheating

Since today’s video poker and slot machines are designed to prevent tools like wires and light wands from cheating the machine out of money, cheaters are more likely to get away with a profit they didn’t earn by simply stealing money directly out of the video poker machine’s coin hopper or cashbox. Stealing from a hopper or cash box may not be as sneaky or romantic as using a device like a Monkey Wire, but because of changes to video poker machine technology, straight up theft is the cheat most likely to work.

Like vending machines or any other device that holds money, slot machines and video poker machines have locks that prevent people from just reaching in and stealing money. The tubular locks favored by video poker machine designers are vulnerable to lock picking. Criminals who know how to pick locks can easily apply their skills to casino machines.

A common way of stealing from video poker machines is to either just pick the lock in full view of the casino floor (hoping you don’t get busted by casino security), or with a little premeditation, a casino cheat could build a master key that opens the video poker machine you want to cheat without the need for lock picking.

These master keys usually open more than one machine at a time, hence the name master key. If a casino thief were able to build a master key, it’s possible that he could move from one video poker machine to the next, opening the machine and draining it of its money.

Cheating at video poker, whether you use a wire, a light wand, or a lock picking set, is going to make you stick out to casino employees. You’ll probably get caught and face criminal prosecution. Stealing from a casino is the same as stealing from any business, and since casinos go out of their way to prevent cheating (with security cameras high in the air watching the entire floor as well as employees walking around watching for cheats) the potential payoff of picking a video poker machine lock is not worth the likelihood of getting busted.