Instead of cheating slot machines, these scammers sell suckers on systems that “can’t lose”

You and I look at modern slot machines and see them as technological marvels. But the old-time hustlers didn’t see it quite like that. To them, slots were the casino cage with the cash drawers open and the security guards in the back room on a pizza break. Pure profit.

It used to be a personal thing with these guys. They couldn’t wait to show the machine who was boss. Risk? They never thought about it. The main thing was to get the door open, grab the money and run. It’s tougher now, but the wise guys are smarter, too.

Wiseguys go high-tech

Now these people have gone high-tech. They rent mailing lists, churn out brochures and sell their systems through the mail. They figured out the percentages are better trying to hit 5,000 people for a few bucks each instead of nailing one machine for a few thousand. I am not kidding about this.

So I wasn’t too surprised when an offer from somebody named “Jack Westland” showed up in my mailbox.  “Westland” urged me to “Read this amazing story of the ‘flaw’ in slot machines that enable (sic) you to manipulate them.”

Now, I know you won’t believe this, but the letter was postmarked from Brooklyn - probably somewhere near the bridge.

I loved “Bill Overton’s” breathless testimonial. “I played one machine after another, in complete control. In one hour I collected over $2,000 in winnings...we grabbed our winnings and left the casino...we passed a jewelry store and Laura was staring at a beautiful gold ring. Within minutes she had the ring on her finger. Back to the casino, Laura urged. You can win all you want, anytime...guess what we did the next day? We put a down payment on a private Lear jet.”

Well, I’ve always wanted a Lear jet so you can imagine how happy I was to learn I’d been chosen as “one of 5,000 people” to get Jack’s secret. All I had to do was sign a paper promising to send him my first $250 in slot winnings. That, and a $25 “deposit.”

I just hope I can pile up enough money before the news gets to all the big slot makers.

Eddie's tales

“Westland’s” brochure reminds me of the stories I used to hear from Eddie Warren, the Sahara Las Vegas security chief in the ’60s. Was Eddie a tough guy? Well, he made 25 daylight bombing raids over Germany during World War II as the tail gunner in a Flying Fortress - and he liked it.

“Hey, I love cheaters,” Eddie used to say. “I like to talk to them, find out how they work their scams.” That always sounded reasonable to me. Of course, those were the days when the security guys would drag the scofflaws up to the second floor, and you’d hear all these thuds and whacks and the guy would never come around again.

So like I said, Eddie was studious. If he didn’t know a cheater’s system he’d follow the guy until he found out. One day a tall, skinny guy in cowboy boots was scamming a dime machine. As soon as Eddie figured out how he was doing it, he moved in. The guy took off like a bullet, right through the casino and out the door.

I wouldn’t say Eddie was slow, but he was always the kind of cop I wanted to chase me if I did anything wrong. So crazy as it sounds, Eddie kept gaining on the guy. He nailed him on the sidewalk just outside the front door.

“Take off those boots!” Eddie screamed. The guy pulled off his Tony Lamas and out poured about 5,000 dimes. His feet must have weighed 25 pounds each. No wonder Eddie caught him.

Not long after that Eddie grabbed another guy “pinning a reel” on a nickel machine - one of the old mechanicals. The guy had a palm drill hidden in his left hand. When the left side reel turned up a cherry, the guy casually drilled through the side of the machine and pinned the reel in place. Then he’d keep playing as if nothing had happened.

So Eddie cordially invited the guy upstairs to his office for a little business discussion. Later Eddie said, “I don’t think we’ll be seeing him around here again.” Sure enough, we didn’t.

Then there was the day the Metro Police raided a local motel and picked up two dozen guys attending a class called “How to Cheat the Newest Machines on the Market,” or some such. I think Eddie was on the raid as an observer. All I know is, he gave the class to his security guards a couple of days later. I always wondered how he learned so fast.

Well, I know he’d be disappointed to hear about “Jack Westland” selling his system through the mail. How could you ever find a guy whose address is a Brooklyn Post Office Box? But this I know for sure: Eddie could learn the system in five minutes and teach his guys to spot it by mid-afternoon.

Now I’m sorry I brought this up. All my pals in the slot business will hate me if “Westland’s” system really works. But what do I care? I’ll be off flying my Lear.