Wired.com always presents some excellent pieces and this weekend is no different.
Late last autumn, a Russian mathematician and programmer named Alex decided he’d had enough of running his eight-year-old business. He pined for the days when he could devote himself solely to tinkering with code, his primary passion. The time had come for an exit strategy.
What Alex did was reverse engineering the algorithms or number generators that govern how slot machine games behave. And with this knowledge, Alex was able to predict when certain games are most likely to spit out money.
He would later share this knowledge with a legion of agents who would roam casinos from Poland to Macau to Peru in search of slots whose PRNGs have been deciphered by Alex.
They (the agents) use phones to record video of a vulnerable machine in action, then transmit the footage to an office in St. Petersburg. There, Alex and his assistants analyze the video to determine when the games’ odds will briefly tilt against the house. They then send timing data to a custom app on an agent’s phone; this data causes the phones to vibrate a split second before the agent should press the “Spin” button. By using these cues to beat slots in multiple casinos, a four-person team can earn more than $250,000 a week.