Untold Stories: Legendary Casino Heists That Shook the Industry

Hollywood may feature extravagant casino heists as staples of action film-making, but their true-life counterparts can often prove even more stunning. Read on to witness some of history’s wildest casino heists!

Stories Untold can be divided into four distinct episodes, each offering its own setting and aesthetic. Although you can use a controller for each story, I strongly advise using mouse and keyboard instead.

Reindeer Games (1998)

Rudy (Ben Affleck), after taking on his deceased cellmate’s identity to win over his love interest, finds himself embroiled in a casino heist led by the brother of one of his pen pals – but things don’t quite go according to plan!

David Mamet wrote the dialogue for this film and it bears his signature hardboiled humor; however, most of it remains disjointed due to lackluster editing, routine action scenes and laughably inept plot devices.

Reindeer Games’ greatest strength lies with its cast, led by Charlize Theron and Gary Sinise, both of whom deliver strong performances that keep audiences interested throughout. Elia Cmiral also contributes an excellent score which gives Reindeer Games its distinctive melancholy atmosphere; unfortunately however director John Frankenheimer couldn’t save this film from its lackluster premise; Reindeer Games failed at box office by opening against Wonder Boys, earning only a C+ cinemascore.

The Ritz Heist (2001)

As guests enjoyed cocktails in the elegant Hemingway bar of one of the world’s most luxurious palace hotels, a group of axe-wielding thieves wreaked havoc by smashing cases at Reza jewelry shop and making off with millions worth of bling – frightening both guests and staff alike.

Joe Moore leads a crew consisting of Bobby Blane and Donnie “Pinky” Pincus that specialize in jewel heisting. When approached by Bergman, an intermediary with connections to criminal networks, who wants them to steal an airplane carrying gold they agree.

Joe needs a team of four for this job, including a getaway driver. But after several betrayals by Bergman (he planned on selling Joe his share for cash), his plan falls apart. Luckily, Genre Savvy Joe and Fran are ready with another plan; they wait for a truck and load it with black-painted rods before leaving together.

The MIT Blackjack Team (1995-1998)

If you have ever visited a casino or seen movies about them, the MIT Blackjack Team may be familiar. This infamous team of card counters successfully used card counting techniques to cheat casinos out of millions in betting losses; their exploits have been recounted in numerous books (Bringing Down the House, Busting Las Vegas and Million Dollar Blackjack among them), movies (21 with Kevin Spacey as one example) and magazine stories.

The MIT Team began in 1977 when Bill Kaplan, James Massar and John Chang established Strategic Investments as a limited partnership to fund card counting strategies used by MIT Team players in casinos to extract money.

Casinos were so taken with the MIT Team’s success that casinos quickly noticed something was amiss and began banning players. When investigators hired by casinos realized Cambridge-based players had been banned, investigators hired by those casinos conducted investigations that revealed many had Cambridge addresses as baneful players were banned by casinos as investigators found many had addresses there after disbandment of the team – many even went on to other careers such as Semyon Dukach who led one of several independent teams and is still active today as a coach and trainer!

The Bellagio Heist (2012)

An unfortunate bandit lost both his wig and sunglasses as well as $115,000 worth of casino chips in an attempted heist at an esteemed Las Vegas Strip resort on Sunday. He attempted to gain entry by spraying employees with eye-burning chemicals before trying to reach for high-denomination chips; however, security restrained them quickly enough and captured him.

Michael Belton, 24, told police he learned about the Bellagio heist from another individual who recruited him to help. Belton responded to an ad for car repossession on Craigslist where he met Carlos Rodriguez – the mastermind of this plot.

These cases serve as a stark warning to would-be casino thieves and robbers: most end up behind bars. Anthony Carleo earned himself the moniker “biker bandit” after pulling off an incredible $1.5 million heist at Bellagio casino in 2010. His story reads like something from Hollywood; after parking his motorcycle outside the casino and walking up to a craps table with guns drawn demanding chips as payment for parking it outside.

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