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The Courts Bug The Almighty Buck

Video Poker Firmware Bug Yields Big Money, Federal Charges 312

Posted by Soulskill
from the sounds-like-a-feature-to-me dept.
JoeyRox writes "Over the course of playing $12 million worth of video poker, Las Vegas resident John Kane stumbled onto a firmware bug in IGT's 'Game King' machines that allowed him to cash out for 10x the amount of his winnings. John and his friends took advantage of the vulnerability to the tune of $429,945. John's friend was arrested by U.S. marshals and charged with violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, but a federal magistrate ruled that the law doesn't apply and recommended dismissal. The case is currently being argued in a U.S. District Court."
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Video Poker Firmware Bug Yields Big Money, Federal Charges

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  • Fraud is fraud (Score:3, Insightful)

    by i kan reed (749298) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:36PM (#43603863) Homepage Journal

    If you knowingly trick a computer into giving you money that's not yours, it's not any different than tricking a person into the same. Open door fallacies are the worst.

    • Re:Fraud is fraud (Score:5, Insightful)

      by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:41PM (#43603917)
      The machine is programmed to behave in a certain way. If you handle it in some way, it will give you more money. I'd blame the vendor. Do you blame the customer who goes to the shop where they often overpay him in change for fraud?
      • Re:Fraud is fraud (Score:5, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:50PM (#43603999)
        There was a case like this in the UK a few years ago. A family discovered that a particular cash machine was systematically giving out double the amount you had withdrawn. They repeatedly withdrew money using this machine. They were reported, and convicted of fraud. I doubt it would have happened with one-off visitors. If you ONCE visit a cash machine that gives you £200 and deducts from your account the £100 you intended to withdraw, then you've got lucky: you can't have known it would do that. But repeatedly visiting a machine that is misprogrammed to act in your favour, when you know that that is not how it is intended to function, is something quite different. That clearly amounts to fraud.
        • He got lucky. Gaming should reward luck.

          • Instead of calling it a bug, I'd just call it an easter egg.

        • Re:Fraud is fraud (Score:5, Insightful)

          by gfxguy (98788) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:53PM (#43604037)
          How is it fraud? If you tell a machine you want $20 and it gives you $40 (even if you do it repeatedly), you haven't committed an act of deception. I'm not saying it's right or ethical, I'm saying it's not fraud, and it certainly shouldn't be prosecuted that way. Theft by taking, maybe.
          • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:02PM (#43604121)

            Yeah, which happens to be a real problem in the baking industry. I asked for a dozen rolls and got 13. I sensed the baker was trying to make me inadvertently steal, so I threw the last one back at him and called him names. Learn to count.

          • If you tell a machine you want $20 and it gives you $40, you haven't committed an act of deception.

            True.

            (even if you do it repeatedly)

            Theres "technically possible", and theres "fraud". Sometimes the two overlap.

            Intentionally abusing a process in bad faith can be a crime, and should be a crime; society doesnt make rules based on whether something is "possible", just based on whether it should be allowed.

            • Re:Fraud is fraud (Score:5, Interesting)

              by geekoid (135745) <dadinportland&yahoo,com> on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @07:53PM (#43605403) Homepage Journal

              "Intentionally abusing a process in bad faith can be a crime,"
              no.

              "and should be a crime"
              never. If this is the case the consumer becomes responsible for every possible mistake. That is a path I don't want to travel.

              Do you want a bill for a product you got charged the wrong price for? Do you want to be responsible for any possible mistake a store/corporation might do?

          • by AmiMoJo (196126) *

            Under UK law it is fraud if you are aware of the mistake but take no action to alert the bank to it and instead enrich yourself.

            In a similar vein sometimes people make mistakes doing bank to bank transfers. They mistype the account number and it ends up in the wrong person's account. If the recipient can be shown to have known that it was a mistake (an unexpected $1,000,000 appears on their balance) but decides to spend it then they can be convicted of fraud.

          • Maybe the guy who programmed the firmware did it intentionally. Just a thought. But it's a valid one. How the hell would this guy know?

            Seriously. Maybe the programmer put in a "back door" so he could get a few dollars in winnings when he went to Vegas. How do we know otherwise? In which case this player was not committing fraud at all... the machine would have been doing exactly as it was intended to do by the programmer.

            And there is probably no way to prove it either way. So let the guy go.
            • Other than it being a crime for the programmer to play on the games.

        • Re:Fraud is fraud (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:22PM (#43604331)

          This happens all of the time with ATM's in the US. It never makes it to court.

          When the bank loads an ATM cassette, they know exactly how much money is in it and what denomination of bills it contains. The serial number of the cassette is recorded by the person loading the ATM as well as by the ATM itself, by way of an RFID chip in the cassette. This links back to a database of ATM cassettes and their current load status and contents. The bank knows exactly, down to the serial numbers on the bills, what is in that cassette. Modern ATM's even automate the configuration from that database. The problem is that older ATM's don't.

          When you go to an ATM and ask it for $40 (common "fast cash" amount these days), and the ATM has been configured for $20 bills, it dispenses two bills. If it's configured for $10 bills, it dispenses 4 bills. In older ATM's, the configuration is done manually. If a $20 cassette is loaded but the ATM is configured for a $10 cassette, it dispenses the wrong number of bills. That $40 you ask for is 4 bills, but the bills are $20 now, and you get $80.

          When this happens, the bank will discover it as soon as they change the ATM cassette. Then they will find EVERY transaction that ATM performed on the previous cassette and contact the account-holders, notifying them that due to an incorrect ATM configuration, they were given more than they requested, and that the account has been rectified to reflect the correct ATM payout. For this transaction, any overdraft fees are waived (by law), and the transaction is applied to the day that the correct is made, not to the day the ATM paid out incorrectly (again, by law).

          That's when most people drag their sorry butts back to the bank to make an emergency deposit of some no-longer ill-gotten gains to shore up their account balance.

        • by AK Marc (707885)
          The laws are also different. In the US, if someone mistakenly "gives" you something (they intended to give you something, but made an error), the international standard of "finders keepers" applies. Outside the US, the act of giving can be "withdrawn" if the gifter finds they made an error and works in good faith to correct it, and if you take something offered outside reasonability, you should have know it was an error and not done it.

          In the US, the "free" items at a checkout usually say "take one" beca
        • But that is a cash machine. This story is about a gambling machine, where you put money in and hope to win money back. If there is a trick that helps him win money back isn't that part of the game? It's not cheating, he didn't change the code, he was just using the code the way it was written. Seems to me someone could argue that anytime the machine loses the person could risk being accused of "cheating" and be arrested.
          • by xswl0931 (562013)

            Let's say this is a snack dispensing machine. You accidentally discover that if you bump the machine in a particular location, food drops without you putting any money in. You do this repeatedly. Has a crime occurred?

            • by Kittenman (971447)

              Let's say this is a snack dispensing machine. You accidentally discover that if you bump the machine in a particular location, food drops without you putting any money in. You do this repeatedly. Has a crime occurred?

              Conversely - I have put money into snack machines and had nothing come out. Has the machine defrauded me?

        • There is a major difference in the two situations...
          The UK scenario is people accessing a machine designed to give them their own money from their own bank accounts. Doubling the money as you remove it in no way resembles any intended purpose for the machine.

          The video poker machine is a situation where the machine is intended to supply an opportunity for the users to extract as much money from the machine as possible. While they are doing this they are supposed to try to accomplish this by spending the l
      • by BitZtream (692029)

        You blame the customer who throws a skeleton key (concrete brick) through the window and takes shit without paying ... and you're arguing that you don't do anything to the customer because he should have known the customer could throw a brick so its the vendor's fault.

        The rules of the game are clear. Malfunction voids all games. That works BOTH directions. That means neither side whens in the case of an error in the machine. You agreed to that by playing.

        Its not like these are rules for posted are not w

      • by Sancho (17056)

        Do you blame the hacker who constructs the packet which causes the machine to operate in a way that it wasn't designed (deleting the database, giving higher level access than desired, etc?)

    • Re:Fraud is fraud (Score:5, Insightful)

      by AuMatar (183847) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:42PM (#43603923)

      But that's not the right law to charge him under. Charge him under fraud or stealing, no problem. This is the anti-hacking law- they're charging him with hacking. I don't think this qualifies. It also is the difference between being tried in the federal court system (hacking is a federal crime) vs the state (which owns the laws for theft and fraud).

      Either way he should be prosecuted, the question is why and where.

      • Re:Fraud is fraud (Score:5, Insightful)

        by cayenne8 (626475) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:47PM (#43603971) Homepage Journal
        I don't think he should be prosecuted.

        They have a machine...he didn't sigh any EULA or agreements about how to use it.

        The main use of this machine is you put money into it, you hit buttons, it sometimes pays out.

        He found a combination of buttons that causes it to pay out a LOT.

        I see no problem with what he did. He simply put money in and pushed buttons on machine set out in public for the purpose of people pushing buttons and sometimes getting money out of it.

        Show where he violated the signed terms of use or NDA or other type contract on exactly HOW he was to use the machine, and maybe you have a case.

        • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

          by AmiMoJo (196126) *

          I think the crux of it is that he knew the payout was a mistake. The machine said "you win $10" but spat out $100. He made it do that many, many times. It's not like discovering a way to win, it's like discovering a way to cheat.

          I have a feeling I will be modded down because this runs contrary to Slashdot / Sheldon Cooper logic, but at least from a legal point of view there is a difference between winning a game of chance and enriching yourself as the result of a mistake you were aware of. And yes, in theor

      • by ewieling (90662)
        Card Counting is legal in the USA. I imagine other forms of "brain only" ways to "cheat" the casino are also legal. http://voices.yahoo.com/is-card-counting-really-illegal-las-vegas-3566727.html
        • Technically you're probably right, however I know that Casinos in Vegas do actually keep photographs and blacklists - if someone is in their books as being a "cheater" (to include card counting), the Casino is well within it's right to escort them from the premises. I have no idea how other places handle it (Atlantic City or Native Casinos), but in Vegas you generally don't get away with cheating for very long (both card counting and this exploit would be considered cheating by the casinos)
          • Technically you're probably right, however I know that Casinos in Vegas do actually keep photographs and blacklists - if someone is in their books as being a "cheater" (to include card counting), the Casino is well within it's right to escort them from the premises.

            Well, that alone makes me side with the guy - if you advertise a game with some rules and then enforce a "but we'll only admit losers to the game" policy, you're already rigging it. Even if it were immoral per se for the guy to walk away with the money, I think that in the grand scheme of things, it would be only a tiny upwards adjustment of bad karma for the gaming industry.

            • If you don't like the rules, don't play the game. He was under no obligation to steal from anyone, but by playing the game he accepted their rules. Unfortunately (perhaps) we don't get to redefine other people's rules by what we judge to be "fair".
          • by jittles (1613415)
            I spent some time in the security room of an Indian casino and I've seen the book with my own eyes. The Indian casinos and Vegas casinos all share this information willingly. You end up in the book in Vegas and you can bet that every legal casino in the country is going to get your information in no time.
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      I thought having buggy game machine fw's was a federal offence?
      now, do you think he should have been able to keep the money from the first time he pressed the buttons? perhaps the second too, how could he know wtf is really going inside the machine?

      at the very least the computer fraud act shouldn't apply to a device that's supposed to just be a device and from his viewpoint it had no difference if it was a mechanical gambling machine or a computer.

      bear in mind that in order to get ANY money out of a video p

      • by unrtst (777550)

        Every time I've ever played those damn machines, they take all my money. I've managed a win here or there, but never came out on top, and whatever budget I set for myself was exhausted in short order. We're told that's how they're supposed to work; that the odds are in the houses favor; that walking away with more money than you start with is supposed to be a rare thing. These two guys pull that off, and they walk away with around $500k or so (each?), and they're the ones getting arrested? WTF?!? The casino

      • By admitting they let people play a machine that contained buggy software, the casino admits they committed a federal offense. The guy that's being charged now was just playing the machine by the rules the machine gave him. Nothing more, nothing less. The truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. They might want to make you believe a small part of their explanation of the truth, but they are leaving large bits of it out that is incriminating them, not the guy that has pulled the money out.
    • by gfxguy (98788)
      Fraud is committing an act of deception; how did they deceive the computer? Did they use false credentials or something? No - he just re-pressed the cash-out button. That's not fraud, that's a firmware programmer found dead in a ditch. And to address anonymous's concerns - that doesn't make it ethical, it simply makes it not fraud.
      • If you go up to a an elderly customer who's suffering from Alzheimer's and ask them to pay their bill several times, that's fraud. The user knew their actions weren't acceptable. I knew when I posted I'd get a million people giving me the damn open door fallacy. I even tried to head it off in my comment.

        • by gfxguy (98788)
          I'm not justifying the actions of the guy, just saying it's not fraud - he didn't deceive anybody; your analogy doesn't work because there was nothing wrong with the computer the way there is something wrong with someone with Alzheimer's - the analogy would be like asking a perfectly "normal" person to pay their bills several times. I'm not justifying it, I've got nothing against gaming companies or casinos, and I'm not saying it wasn't illegal (I would consider it theft by taking); I'm just saying it's no
          • by unrtst (777550)

            I would consider it theft by taking

            How is it theft to take what the machine is handing you**, but it's not theft when the machine gladly takes your money?

            I realize there's the whole "intent" thing, and knowing it's more than you're supposed to get, but you're dealing with a machine that, conversely, lacks that ability to understand in the other direction. If I accidentally push the $10 button instead of the $1 button, it'll gladly take my $10 and there's not shit that can be done about it. If it accidentally gives me 10x's the money it's sup

            • by gfxguy (98788)
              It's theft by taking because you're taking something you know is not rightfully yours.
      • If you go shopping and the cashier messes up and fails to properly scan one of your products and you notice but stay silent is that theft? You are walking out of the store with products that you know you haven't paid for so IMO yes. And I don't see this as significantly different just because it is a machine that is being taken advantage of rather than a person. Computer fraud and hacking? Don't be ridiculous. But I feel he could and should be charged with plain and simple theft. Incidentally, growing

        • by gfxguy (98788)
          Why is this a response to my post? I didn't say it was ethical (or even legal), I said it wasn't "fraud." Even the article mentions the case calling it fraud was thrown out, but there are other laws that may have been violated. It's just not fraud.
    • Re:Fraud is fraud (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Minwee (522556) <dcr@neverwhen.org> on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:52PM (#43604029) Homepage

      Exactly. For example if I am playing poker and have a lousy hand, but bid high to trick the other players into folding, then that's fraud too. If I use that trick to make money then I'm stealing from the house.

      Right?

      • by gfxguy (98788)
        No, because in poker you don't play against the house. In fact, by making the bluff with a huge bet, you're padding the house's take (they take a percentage of the pot - the house NEVER loses in poker).
        • Re:Fraud is fraud (Score:5, Insightful)

          by BitZtream (692029) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @06:14PM (#43604795)

          Read the article.

          He's exploiting the interaction between two different software modules to his advantage. While from a technical perspective he didn't write any assembly to exploit a buffer overflow, he instead used his fingers and eyes to write a mental program which moved his fingers in order to exploit an initialization bug in the software. The software was not clearing out memory it reused for like purposes between two different games, by exploiting this, he was able to increase his winnings by 10x.

          He really is using a software exploit and 'hacking' the software. He just isn't using your typical UI to enter and run the hack but he really is exploiting a software bug like metasploit would, or any other attack vector.

          This isn't your typical hacking applied to some object that just happens to have a processor. He is hacking the software, and more so, a specific version of the software with specific features enabled. This is no different than an attack targeted at Chrome or Safari, it just seems that way because the UI isn't a terminal window.

          • by Hatta (162192)

            he instead used his fingers and eyes to write a mental program which moved his fingers in order to exploit an initialization bug in the software

            And if I use my fingers and eyes to write a mental program that allows me to beat the house at blackjack(e.g. card counting), is that hacking too? No, it's strategy.

            He really is using a software exploit and 'hacking' the software.

            Bullshit. He's playing the game as it is implemented. He found a strategy that allowed him to win more than the casino intended. The

      • Your example of bluffing is NOT fraud because you are fooling humans. It's alright to fool humans, but you had better not fool a machine! This guy fooled a machine to get more money than he deserved and the fault lies solely with him - not with the negligent developers of the firmware, not with the negligent testers of the machines, and not with the casinos who put them out on their floor. We can't expect people to do their jobs or to pay for the consequences of their own mistakes.
      • by Coren22 (1625475)

        If I use that trick to make money then I'm stealing from the house.

        Generally poker is played against other players, you could try bluffing in video poker if you wanted, I just doubt it will have an effect.

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        No.

        Bluffing is a known aspect of the game of poker. Its actually part of the game. Everyone playing poker in a casino is fully aware of 'the bluff'.

        What this guy did was took advantage of a software bug that caused UNINTENDED AND UNEXPECTED interactions between two DIFFERENT games that ran on the same machine. Its like if you played WoW for hours to get a loot box to drop ... then switched over to GTA V, and placed a super high bet in a gambling game in GTA V ... knowing that by doing so, you could switc

    • by AK Marc (707885)

      If you knowingly trick a computer into giving you money that's not yours,

      ...It's called gambling.

      He put money in a machine that was put there to pay out money at times. He got a payout at times. That the payout was not what was intended, he didn't "hack" the machine by changing it.

      If you charge him with hacking, then you have to charge me with hacking the one time my chips were stuck in a vending machine and I shook it and out popped my chips (and a candy bar). And if I hadn't taken the candy for my trouble, the next person would have committed theft of my fraud, right?

    • Everything about Casinos and Video Poker is fraud. Yet it's completely legal for them to operate facilities that pump oxygen into the air to keep you awake longer, provide you with free drinks so you'll make poor decisions, design slot machines to be as loud as possible when dropping coins/tokens to give the false impression of larger winnings. They are in the very business of defrauding people. Gambling IS fraud. Good for these guys to be on the winning side for once.

    • If you knowingly trick a computer into giving you money that's not yours, it's not any different than tricking a person into the same. Open door fallacies are the worst.

      That would depend on what the law actually says. And I mean the exact wording. In the case of a gambling machine, you throw in money, you press buttons, and the machine may or may not spit out money, which you then keep. That's how it works. If the machine spits it out, it is yours.

  • by briancox2 (2417470) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:40PM (#43603901) Homepage Journal
    This looks to me like a civil matter. That is, if there had never been the DMCA. There is a recent trend by big corporations to abuse the criminal court systems to resolve their disputes with the heavy hand of govnernment. I don't think it will stop until we stand up and demand government that is FOR the people.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward
      well, I stood up and said it.. but then everyone in the cube farm turned around and looked at me funny so I sat back down
    • by gl4ss (559668)

      yeah..

      when you're doing anything involves a computer, then every dispute suddenly becomes a federal offence. not really that well thought out.

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        When it involves $400k ... it tends to become something that the feds get involved in, even if its just to ask the local cops what help they might need as its big enough to warrants the experience of higher level investigators.

    • by gfxguy (98788)
      How does this violate DMCA? This has zero to do with copyright, and even if you wanted to push it, has nothing to do with circumventing ANYTHING. All they had to do was repeatedly push the cash-out button.
  • After RTFA (Score:5, Insightful)

    by John Napkintosh (140126) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:51PM (#43604009) Homepage

    I don't see this as being a criminal act, but given the way that it was carried out, I think the casino has every right to demand 9/10 of his winnings back.

    You win a game at the $1 level, exploit a bug to change your cash level to $10 before accepting the payout, and then accept your payout. Well, you didn't actually make the bet at the $10 level, so you shouldn't expect your winnings to be multiplied by 10, but that's what's happening here. I'd argue that he's still entitled to the original 1x amount and let the casino ban him if they want to.

    • I don't see this as being a criminal act, but given the way that it was carried out, I think the casino has every right to demand 9/10 of his winnings back.

      As far as I understand it, he already gave them more money than he ever won (a megabuck?).

    • You're right. As a result of a civil case, I would expect him to have to pay back the money. But claiming he is a criminal is not necessary. We used to have the view in this country that anything which could be handled properly as a civil matter, SHOULD be handled as a civil matter.

      Our legal system and law enforcement system has enough to deal with without imprisoning people over financial disputes.
    • The casino will probably dispute that.

      Most machines around here are tagged "Malfunction voids all pays and plays" - if they can demonstrate that this is, in fact, a malfunction, then they may reasonably claim the payout value (but not any deposited credit in the machine).

      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by tgeek (941867)
        Except the machine did not malfunction. It did as it was programmed to do. The fact that it didn't do what the casino expected it to do does not make it a malfunction. The casino should be addressing this with the vendor if they want their money back.
        • by mythosaz (572040)

          So, by your definition, all software is functioning perfectly at all times, since whatever instructions they have are de facto right?

          Uh oh. Bluescreen and all of my credits are gone. Sorry, not a malfunction. The software did as it was programmed to do, and sometimes that includes crashes.

          It would sometimes give him 10x more money than it should, because the software "wasn't malfunctioning."

          Absurd.

        • by neminem (561346)

          We have a phrase for that, "works as coded", and it is a sarcastic phrase that we make fun of mercilessly. The fact that the rules were clearly printed on the machine as to how it was supposed to behave, and it was clearly behaving differently than that (and in a way that was obviously not intended behavior) makes it a malfunction. It was a software malfunction rather than hardware, but clearly still a malfunction.

          Going to jail for it? That'd be a bit of an overreaction. But he should definitely have to giv

      • As much as I believe that they would argue this it seems like that was not a malfunction but instead the machine did exactly as it was told. There wasn't a part the broke inside or some random short that cropped up so one would think that it becomes quite difficult to claim that it was a malfunction. That won't stop the casino from trying and probably succeeding in doing so though.
    • by Jawnn (445279)

      I don't see this as being a criminal act, but given the way that it was carried out, I think the casino has every right to demand 9/10 of his winnings back.

      Under the law, the have no such right. Players are not responsible for malfunctioning gaming machines. Indeed, the casino can not even force you away from such a machine if it is accepting wagers and paying according to the published schedule. Walk away from it though, even if only for a moment, and it's game over, literally. This actually happened to a friend of mine years ago, during a visit to Reno. He'd stumbled onto a slot that was "stuck on win". They wanted very badly to have him get up so that they

      • by BitZtream (692029)

        Under the law, the have no such right. Players are not responsible for malfunctioning gaming machines.

        Oh yes they are. Both parties are responsible for reporting and appropriately dealing with KNOWN issues. Both sides are granted legal immunity for UNKNOWN issues, but they BOTH require ALL plays AND pays to become void. Everyone goes back to their 'pre-play' state financially. What you're claiming is legal is exactly when it becomes fraud, when they continue taking advantage of the game they KNOW is not working properly.

        Indeed, the casino can not even force you away from such a machine if it is accepting wagers and paying according to the published schedule.

        Because by definition, that would not be malfunctioning. If it followed the publish

  • by egcagrac0 (1410377) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:54PM (#43604053)

    The point of the machines (from the player perspective) is to stick in money, push buttons, and make it dispense more money (vouchers) than you put in.

    The house edge comes from the fact that pushing the buttons correctly in all situations is difficult.

    This guy did it right. If the house wants to fix the "bug" that allowed him to take out more money than they thought he should, that's their right.

    Prosecution on this one... very grey area.

    But I'll forward the how-to on to my video poker friends, just in case they find a machine with those firmware revisions, so that they'll be sure not to expose themselves to prosecution in this manner.

    • by houghi (78078)

      So one the one way we have an individual. On the other we have a company.
      Who will they decide for? Grey area? Not so much.

      When talking about the law, I bet it is in favor of the house here as well.

    • by Sancho (17056)

      With video poker, the house edge is built in to the device. The edge is that the payout schedule beats the odds of getting the hand.

      In this case, the machine was defective, which generally voids all plays (this is usually written on the machines.)

      The defect was that a player could trick the machine into thinking more money had been wagered than actually had been. This means that the payout schedule could be higher than the odds of getting the hand.

      The guy shouldn't be charged with a crime, but the casino a

  • by TheNastyInThePasty (2382648) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @04:58PM (#43604091)
    From TFA: Kane began by selecting a game, like Triple Double Bonus Poker, and playing it at the lowest denomination the machine allows, like the $1.00 level. He kept playing, until he won a high payout, like the $820 at the Silverton.

    Then he’d immediately switch to a different game variation, like straight “Draw Poker.” He’d play Draw Poker until he scored a win of any amount at all. The point of this play was to get the machine to offer a “double-up”, which lets the player put his winnings up to simple high-card-wins draw. Through whatever twist of code caused the bug, the appearance of the double-up invitation was critical. Machines that didn’t have the option enabled were immune.

    At that point Kane would put more cash, or a voucher, into the machine, then exit the Draw Poker game and switch the denomination to the game maximum — $10 in the Silverton game.

    Now when Kane returned to Triple Double Bonus Poker, he’d find his previous $820 win was still showing. He could press the cash-out button from this screen, and the machine would re-award the jackpot. Better yet, it would re-calculate the win at the new denomination level, giving him a hand-payout of $8,200.

    • It's not unusual for a software bug to require multiple steps to manifest, and many times those steps are arrived at through chance.
    • by Sancho (17056)

      I always wonder how people run across crazy sequences of button presses that trigger bugs while on live hardware. This reminds me of the various iPhone lock-screen bypasses.

  • by Chirs (87576) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:18PM (#43604267)

    As long as he didn't do anything but push the standard control buttons, I think he's entitled to whatever he can get.

    If the casino thinks they're paying out too much, they can sue the maker of the video poker machine.

  • If it had been a human dealer that repeatedly made mistakes, would it have been fraud?

    The odds are generally "rigged" in the house's favor. Casinos that that anything that threatens their "entitlement" to be cheating.

    • by turp182 (1020263)

      The odds aren't "rigged" in any game where a human is in control. The house is always going to win due to statistics. A dealer would quickly be caught if he/she "rigged" the game in a persons favor.

      The guy in question just figured out a method of pushing existing buttons that "rigged" the game in his favor.

      The game maker is at fault, not the person who figured out how to take advantage of it. They let the bug into the system. No hacking was involved, just pressing the buttons that were available.

      A count

  • by organgtool (966989) on Wednesday May 01, 2013 @05:23PM (#43604337)
    "Casino error in your favor. Go directly to jail"

1 + 1 = 3, for large values of 1.

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