Feds Prosecute Gamblers Who Exploited a Software Bug to Win at Video Poker

Kevin Poulsen, reporting for Wired Threat Level:

Kane began by selecting a game, like Triple Double Bonus Poker, and playing it at the lowest denomination the machine allows, like the $1.00 level. He kept playing, until he won a high payout, like the $820 at the Silverton.

Then he’d immediately switch to a different game variation, like straight “Draw Poker.” He’d play Draw Poker until he scored a win of any amount at all. The point of this play was to get the machine to offer a “double-up”, which lets the player put his winnings up to simple high-card-wins draw. Through whatever twist of code caused the bug, the appearance of the double-up invitation was critical. Machines that didn’t have the option enabled were immune.

Now when Kane returned to Triple Double Bonus Poker, he’d find his previous $820 win was still showing. He could press the cash-out button from this screen, and the machine would re-award the jackpot. Better yet, it would re-calculate the win at the new denomination level, giving him a hand-payout of $8,200.

Obviously a bug, but I can’t see how it’s a crime to take advantage of it.

Update 8 May 2013: The feds have dropped the hacking charges, but are still pursuing a count of wire fraud. Not sure how that makes sense either.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013