Just about anyone who’s ever been to Las Vegas or dreamed of going there has thought of it in some way or other. How would you go about beating the odds in Vegas when those odds are fixed so solidly in the house’s favor? Counting cards? A new series from Destination America focuses on the elaborate lengths to which Vegas’ casinos have gone to prevent those dream scenarios from unfolding. Cheating Vegas, premiering Sunday, Aug. 19 at 10pm ET/PT (note that the series moves to Mondays as of Sept. 3), interviews former cheaters — in the jailhouse, apparently — as well as accomplices and casino owners to uncover true stories of those who have tried to beat the system and failed, showing that the only riskier game in Vegas than gambling properly is trying to cheat the house.
Each episode of Cheating Vegas focuses on a different method that people have attempted to cheat, from crooked card dealing and chip counterfeiting to inside jobs leading to massive heists. In almost every case, security cameras are in place to capture every scam while it’s taking place, from simple rigging of slot machines to out-and-out robbery, providing ample footage of the bold methods people employ in attempting to tilt the odds in their favor.
The premiere episode looks at the advanced security at The Aria, with its thousands of cameras and other high-tech systems. It also examines a number of gaming crimes, including those of the Tran Organization, who employed corrupt card dealers to bilk $7 million out of the casinos in a “false shuffle” scheme, and even the corruption of college basketball star Stevin Smith, whose acceptance of a cash payout in lieu of an opportunity for NBA consideration blew up into a notorious point-shaving scandal.
Future episodes will look at how cheaters develop their own technology to stay ahead of the casinos’ latest security measures, the daring of the Biker Bandit, who knocked over two casinos and got away with $1.5 million in chips, and even a clever duo who managed to successfully “mint” $1 casino chips into any denomination of their choosing.
It’s a riveting look at the world of high-stakes deception and the cat-and-mouse game between the casinos and those who would fleece them. It’s also a series that provides cautionary tale after cautionary tale for anyone out there who might be thinking of taking those fantasies of beating Vegas at its own game out for a spin in the real world.
Photo: LMNO/Discovery Communications