How to Trick a Slot Machine to Win: Is it Possible?

Slot machines

Thinking about trying to trick a slot machine? Think again because it can’t be done with the online version.

While it was possible to do in a traditional brick-and-mortar casino, those days are gone with the advent of online gambling. Unless, of course, you are in cahoots with a software developer who designs the slot games or a programmer who can access the exact game you’re playing.

See? It’s pretty much impossible to trick a slot machine to win. But that doesn’t mean it wasn’t done in the past, and in some inventive ways—we do not condone cheating, but you have to give it up for the slick methods used. That’s why we are taking a look back at the ways and lengths some have gone to in order to trick slot machines. Ready for a little gambling history lesson?


Shaved Coins & Coins on a String

One of the most common ways to cheat was using the “shaved and stringed coin trick.” To make a coin fit through the machine, someone would take it and file it down. The player would then insert the coin into the slot machine, pull the lever, and the spinning reels would roll. Since the coin was attached to a string, a player was able to pull the coin out and use it over and over because it was thinner than it should have been–and it was attached to a string.


The Yo-Yo Trick

Before inserting a coin into a slot machine, players would tie a string around it as part of the Yo-Yo slot trick, also known as the stringed coins as we talked about. After inserting the coin, they would just yank it out of the machine by pulling the string, like you would with a yo-yo.

Although this tricky hack was effective for slot machines that took coins in brick-and-mortar casinos, it is impossible to do with modern machines or online slots! Sorry, yo-yo’ers–your luck has run out.


Magnet Trick

When slot machines were mechanical, players might have used the magnet hack. This entailed pulling the lever and using a big magnet to stop the reels from spinning so they could land on a winning combo–in essence, cheating the machine. Another strategy was waiting for a winning combination to pop up, then placing the magnet on the surface of the glass placed in front of the reels, inserting coins, and pulling the lever. The magnet would lock the spinning reels in place, securing more wins.


Trick of the Light

Using light to trick the slot machines’ sensors was one innovative way to dupe the machines. The light was aimed at the machine’s light sensor, which controlled the machine’s operation. The sensor, responsible for tracking payouts, could be manipulated by players to boost the number of times the machine paid out.

monkey paw

The Monkey’s Paw

The “monkey’s paw,” a bendable piece of steel shaped like a paw, was created by Tommy Glenn Carmichael. A slot machine awarded him more money than it should have because of the way it manipulated the device. How did it work? The person would insert the monkey’s paw into the payout opening and raise it toward the payout outflow until they heard a clang. As soon as the reels of the machine hit a winning combination, coins began to pour out in a continuous flow.  In this case, the player got a significantly bigger payout than they’d actually won.

cheat code

Can You Cheat the Modern Codes?

As we said from the start, it is almost impossible to trick modern online slot games. Developers of slot machines make sure they can be audited and monitored without compromising gameplay quality. 

In order to ensure that the games are fair and free of cheats, regulatory bodies license the software vendors, and independent testing firms such as Gaming Labs International and eCORGA test the games.

But there have been cases where programmers have tampered with the game code. Take Ronald Dale Harris, an engineer for the Nevada Gaming Commission, who rigged slot machines to increase his own winnings–he’d been cheating slot machines for years by knowing their source codes, and his scam was finally exposed in 1995 after winning $100,000 on a keno game. 

Tsk, tsk, Ronald!

slot machine

Can Slot Machines Cheat Gamers?

No! Slot machines are not designed to trick players–every slot game, whether played online or at a physical casino, has a predetermined payout rate. Once the rate is determined, the slot machine will provide payouts at the chosen rate, as long as it operates as intended. 

Casinos stand to lose a lot more money if they cheat you–it would be disastrous for any gaming establishment to lose players and a great deal of money if its slot machines were found to be rigged.

Any gambling establishment would be foolish to allow such an enormous risk for the sake of a small increase in their bottom line!

Online slots are a lucrative industry and casinos prioritize maintaining their profitability by ensuring fair play for all players. If you aren’t sure about the legitimacy of an online gambling site, you can check its reputation by reading reviews and looking at its license to make sure it’s on the up and up.

Final Thoughts

Cheaters never prosper–unless you were Ronald Dale Harris, who won a hundred grand–but then he went to jail for seven years and had to pay back all his ill-gotten winnings, so the point remains. Plus, tricking slot machines in this day and age simply cannot be done. And even if it could be, it’s not worth the risk!

And although theoretically, a casino could be rigged, doing so would be financially foolish–fair games generate enormous revenue for gambling establishments.

Alyssa Waller Avatar
Alyssa Waller

Alyssa contributes sportsbook/online casino reviews, but she also stays on top of any industry news, precisely that of the sports betting market. She’s been an avid sports bettor for many years and has experienced success in growing her bankroll by striking when the iron was hot. In particular, she loves betting on football and basketball at the professional and college levels.