The story goes like this
Tommy from Tulsa USA was a TV repairman with a shop. The skills in repairing TV’s it’s 1980. His friend Ray Ming from Las Vegas came in one day with something to show Tommy.
Ming had brought a Bally’s slot machine in and a device called a top-bottom joint. A top bottom joint is a device that would trick the slot machine into paying out. A small piece of guitar wire is fed up through the bottom hopper and must reach part of the circuit affecting the hopper control. This is step 1. Then whilst the bottom part is in place, Step 2; the top part a thicker gauge 9 shaped piece of wire is placed in the coin slot. A circuit is completed enough to trigger the hopper to dispense coins.
Ming was doing well and Tommy reeling from his third divorce and his shop was struggling decided to close the shop and start cheating for himself. This he did.
There was no video surveillance in the 1980’s. Still you had to have a good sleight of hand and be well practiced to not arouse suspicion. He was good at it. For 20 years he stole from Casinos across the USA and the Caribbean. But the first time he cheated is more interesting. He chose a nickel slot in a casino off the strip, and walked out with bulging pockets full of nickels- 35 dollars worth. Carmichael thought pockets bulging "You are thinking you are going to have yachts and cars. You know, the American Dream." You might say the house advantage was 0.
Casinos monitor patterns and the losses on slots which would be way out of their predictable payouts noted. They started to learn about such tools as the top bottom joint. In retaliation the machines got better and so Tommy had to move to the lesser establishments who still ran old machines. This was a risk as they were smaller and you were more obvious. It led to his first being spotted cheating. He was slammed with the joint in his possession. He got 5 years (aged 35) for his offence.
The top bottom joint was now old news. He realised this game was about innovation. In the prison he met Mike Balsamo who was also in this line of ‘work’ they agreed to meet on the outside and work together. It didn’t take the full term and Tommy released in 1987 set to renewing his knowledge. Slots had moved on. Microprocessors and less reliance on mechanicals changed the game. But TGC was at his best learning from the machine and adapting. Also he left prison broke and again (but final time) divorced. He took minimum wage jobs and saved up over 3 years for a new machine. The International Game Technology (IGT) Video Poker Machine. It was 1990. It took a year of tinkering to come up with a new device nicknamed the monkey paw. Again a device that went up the money chute could be bent once in place tripping a microswitch.
It allowed Carmichael to bank $1000 in an hour. IGT of course was trying to stay a step ahead. It made some changes to new machines that stopped the monkey paw from working.
A cheeky move saw Tommy visit an IGT showroom where the sales rep was only too happy to open up one of the newer machines. Carmichael was posing as a customer. It was a risky move, it paid off as he knew he could beat it. Still needing the machine he bought one and got to work. The Light Wand was the new tool to beat this latest machine. It tricked the light sensors into not knowing how much was being paid out. It essentially shone so bright inside the machine was blinded.
It was now 1992 and Carmicheal was not only cheating he was also selling light wands to others. The criminal word of mouth got around.
IGT countered with an actuator arm but within an hour Tommy knew how to beat it with a device called the hangar. It was reported Tommy was now making around $10,000 per day if he chose to. He was nondescript, average and had good technique. You couldn’t see he was cheating. You could just see he was winning.
Carmichael bought 2 houses and invested in a pawn shop. He had a top Jaguar for a ride and was living a very good lifestyle.
Tommy went on a 6 month tour of Caribbean casinos and also visited Atlantic city where he was ‘making’ a lot of money.
On Carmichaels return to the strip he teamed up with Mike Balsamo and a certain Ramon David Pereira. Casinos were now operating with cameras and it was too tricky to operate alone. You needed people to block cameras and divert attention.
Tommy met a topless dancer at the very height of his cheating escapades, her name was Lisa Luxem. After his 4th divorce Carmicheal always had a girl by his side.
It was on the night of October 4th 1996 that a security camera spotted and dispatched security to the machine where Carmichael was playing. He attempted to run and dropped a light wand. Proving he was cheating was hard and the charges were dropped- surprisingly.
It was the first of a couple of lapses for Tommy, again in 1998 and 1999 he was caught cheating. The 1999 time was in Atlantic city. "I've been looking for you," a certain detective Pflaumer said- "Me and you have a lot to talk about."
It led to the group being arrested federally, via wire taps and informants. All 7 members pleaded guilty to running an illegal gambling enterprise. Incredibly the sentence passed was extremely light on Sept 7, 2001, was 326 days prison and given three years' probation. He lost his two homes. He was ordered to stay away from Casinos.
Tommy now looks after his elderly mother back home in Tulsa. He is trying to right a wrong by developing an anti cheating device called “The Protector”. His record however has not been forgotten and the industry is not about to allow him to profit from his skills and knowledge. He has been committed to a Black Book of known people in the Nevada state and banned from ever entering a casino again.