How A Video Poker Software Bug Landed 2 Men Hundreds Of Thousands Of Dollars

Casinos and gambling both seem like they've been around for just about forever. As long as there's someone willing to risk their own money for a little bit of wealth, gambling will survive (at least for as long as the legal system allows it). And if there's a casino, there will undoubtedly be cheaters. Casinos work very hard at preventing cheating from happening, as the results could be quite disastrous otherwise, though that hasn't stopped people from attempting and succeeding at it. With the advent of computerized gambling, as Wired notes, some cheaters have been able to craft reportedly exploited unfixable flaws in coding and run off with millions. 

One of the more famous casino exploits involved two men, John Krane and Andre Nestor. It all began back in 2009, when both Nestor and Krane set out exploiting glitches in video poker machines. Their crimes eventually helped set a legal precedent for how courts handle similar cases of cheating (via Case Text). 

John Kane was a frequent gambling loser before his big break

For a gambling cheat, John Kane sure had rotten luck. His big break actually took him a while to achieve, as a couple years prior to his exploitation, he was losing hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. His gambling addiction got him into some serious trouble, putting his finances into the red by a pretty significant margin, as Wired explains. It seemed like the odds were working entirely against him and all of his endeavors — until one fateful day, when he discovered a way to exploit a flaw in the coding of video poker machines. 

The Game King machine worked like any standard video poker machine. What makes them interesting is that players can choose how much to wager in varying denominations. This seemingly small feature would end up being the machine's downfall to Kane's benefit. As CNBC says, cheats employ a wide range of tactics in order to try to scam casinos. However, in Kane's case, he wouldn't be using traditional means, but exploiting a bug in the machine's software. 

John Kane and Andre Nestor exploited a bug in video poker machines

Casinos work hard at preventing any one player from gaining enormous advantages, but software glitches are sometimes hard to catch. And though casinos can't stop every vulnerability, some are far more successful than others. Kane's method was painfully simple in how it worked, though difficult to execute. The Game King machines can pay out in varying denominations, based on how much a player has waged. However, when the glitch is performed properly, a player could retroactively change the payout. As Wired explains, that means that if someone bet the lowest wager and then won a hand, they could change their bet to the maximum amount and receive the highest payout.

As Newsweek reports, casino machine glitches do happen, though not with regularity. In Kane's case, this was one of the more extreme examples. Kane worked together with Andre Nestor and exploited the glitch in numerous casinos, racking up tens of thousands of dollars in profit. Eventually, however, their luck ran out, and they were caught and arrested, as Wired points out. The cash that both of them had acquired was confiscated. 

Their exploits eventually became a legal matter, culminating in the case United States v. Kane (via Case Text). The courts ruled in their favor, arguing that they did not breach authorized access, which set up a huge legal precedent for how similar cases would be handled. Kane and Nestor's exploits may go down in the gambling history books as one of the stranger incidents to occur.