We recently started a new series of articles on GamblingSitesOnline, where we will be writing about some of the most famous casino cheats throughout history. In this latest article, we cover one of the most unusual – Ida Summers. Ms. Summers is unusual primarily because she's a woman. Indeed, she was the only known female professional casino cheat when she was caught.
Summers is by no means the only female casino cheat in history, but the majority of known cheaters are indisputably male. Women have been part of many cheating scams over the years, but their role is usually to create a diversion so that a male accomplice can do the actual cheating. Summers, however, was both the mastermind behind her scams and the one who carried them out.
You can read more about Ida Summers and her cheating activity below.
Ida Summers operated in Las Vegas casino during the 1960s and 1970s. A strikingly attractive woman, she earned herself the nickname "The Vegas Vixen". At only just over five feet tall, and weighing less than 100 pounds, she used her physical appearance to her advantage. It was very unlikely that the pit bosses and dealers of the time were ever going to suspect this beautiful, petite lady was cheating them.
As well as her good looks, Summers possessed a great deal of charm too. She was flirtatious and very good at making others feel comfortable in her company. While her attractiveness and sociable nature were obvious to those who met her, her real talents were far less noticeable. She was actually very skilled at sleight of hand, and it was these skills she used to cheat casinos out of thousands of dollars.
Summers started out using hand mucking techniques at the blackjack tables. This is a relatively simple form of cheating, but not at all easy to do. The basic idea is that the cheat, Summers in this case, will take certain cards off the table during play without being noticed. At the right time, a card is then returned to the table to help the cheat make a winning hand. Doing this without attracting attention is no easy feat, but Summers managed to pull it off.
She didn't stop there either, and moved on to using an even harder technique – deck switching. This involves swapping out an entire deck of cards for a replacement. The cards in this replacement deck, which is known as a cold deck or a cooler, would have been pre-arranged to ensure that Summers would win. She may have also had accomplices playing at the table, to maximize this benefit. The deck wouldn't have been set for her and her accomplices to win every hand, as this would have been too suspicious, but they would win enough hands to walk away with a profit.
Switching a cooler in to play and removing the original deck, without being noticed by anyone, would have taken incredible skill. It would simply not be possible in modern casinos, and even back then it was something that very few people would have considered. Summers was bold enough, and talented enough, to do it though.
It's not known for sure exactly how Summers managed to successfully complete the switches unnoticed, or how much she made from her cheating exploits. It is believed that she made substantial sums of money though, over a prolonged period of time.
Very little is known about the exact circumstances which led to Summers eventually being caught. All we can say for sure is that it was a combined operation between gaming officials and the FBI which resulted in her arrest. She was duly charged for her cheating, but her looks and her charm may well have helped her out one last time. She avoided a prison sentence and was instead placed on probation.