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Inflated Jackpot Glitch on IGT Video Poker Machine Exploited for $429,000

22 January 2011 by Devon Chappell

Video Poker Glitch Allows Players to Increase Wager on Double Up Feature

Video Poker Glitch Allows Players to Increase Wager on Double Up Feature

Video poker can be one of the most profitable casino games there is – more so when you play with inflated jackpot payouts. What’s that you say? Inflated video poker jackpots? Well, yes….but no. In other words, don’t let it go to your head, ’cause inflated jackpots aren’t the norm at video poker, especially when you play video poker online.

But brick ‘n mortar video poker…that’s another matter. Or at least it was in the case of John Kane, 52, and Andre Nestor, 39, who were charged in federal court last week with “conspiracy to commit wire fraud”. More specifically, the two men were charged for intentionally exposing a “glitch” in a video poker machine manufactured by IGT.

If you’re familiar with video poker, then you surely know about the Gamble Feature, also called  Double Up. Basically, it’s a double-or-nothing wager that can be made on a winning hand. Needless to say, any good video poker strategy manual will tell you to avoid making the Gamble Feature, as it produces more swings in one’s bankroll. Although it does not change the House Edge, per say, and will actually allow bettors to play longer sessions (losing less per hour, but not overall),the Double Up feature is not best suited to smaller bankrolls.

However, when you throw in other factors, like the ability to increase the amount of the Double Up gamble wager, well then, you’re looking at a different ballgame.

That’s precisely what Kane found out when he discovered that one of IGT’s video poker games allowed him to increase his wager on the Gamble Feature. The only thing is that the machine wasn’t supposed to. In fact, this particular machine’s Gamble Feature wasn’t even turned on. It has to be manually engaged by a machine attendant. In truth, it’s no big deal to have it enabled. Most player’s don’t want it; And casinos certainly don’t want players losing less money per hour spent on the machines. If you know to ask, most casino attendants will turn it on.

Needless to say, Kane was able to get a video poker machine attendant at the Meadows Racetrack and Casino in Pennsylvania to turn the Gamble Feature on. From that point on, Kane and his accomplice, Nestor, managed to net $429,000 in winnings. Now, granted, this wasn’t just because of the gamble feature. It was in combination with a glitch that Kane and Nestor knew about and exploited. Kane would make the minimum wager at the machine, thus putting the least amount of money at risk for the majority of wagers. However, when a jackpot was hit and the double up feature offered, Kane would increase his wager to the maximum amount. That’s not supposed to happen, and thus the glitch that Kane was exploiting. Wager for wager, Kane was saving the big bucks for the best wager – the gamble feature.

If you ask me, I think these guys need to be let off the hook. First of all, whose to say this was premeditated? Even if it was, IGT is the one that should be held responsible for allowing the glitch to take place in the first place. These guys were lucky enough to find the glitch, so why not make the most of it, right? I mean, they were still putting their money at risk. Whose to say they shouldn’t be entitled to an inflated jackpot?

I suppose that’s why they are being charged with “conspiracy to commit wire fraud”, whatever that means. The case – it appears the prosecutors are pushing – are that Kane and Nestor were intentionally and knowingly exploiting the machine, and that they were looking to exploit a glitch even before finding it. Now, it will be for a judge and jury to decide.

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