- A group of friends found a flaw in the Ocean Magic slot
- They exploited the flaw to win over $900,000 in the space of a week
- While most of the money has been withdrawn, a couple of operators still have not processed the withdrawals
Background to this story
Casino games usually favor the house, which is a business that has to make a profit.
But sometimes there are ways for players to tilt the odds toward themselves, usually by exploiting some special rules or a loophole in a given game.
A game called Ocean Magic has proven to be very popular with players. For some time, it has been seen as an exploitable game by those who knew in what way they could benefit.
The exploitable aspect of this game involves the wild bubbles. If you can start a round when these wilds are in certain positions, you can gain an edge on the operator.
Many savvy gamblers have been exploiting this at physical casinos, but offline venues usually have strict limits on stakes.
However, Ocean Magic became an online casino offering in New Jersey. In Las Vegas casinos, the max stake per spin is usually $500. At New Jersey’s online casinos, the max stake on this game was often around $3,000.
The online offering also had another unique loophole that could be exploited. A group of friends became aware of this and exploited this loophole at online casinos beginning on January 29.
It only took a week for most New Jersey online casinos to get rid of the game. However, this was not before the groups of friends had won nearly $1m (£752,000).
What happened next?
Many full-time gamblers focus on looking for games where they can eke out advantages. This is known as advantage playing. These people look for any casino game that provides an edge to the player. Sometimes these are slots games that have a position in which the expected value is in the positive.
The Ocean Magic slot is a dependent trial game. This means that with each spin the wild bubbles move a single place until they move above the top edge.
An advantage player might walk around a casino looking for a machine where the previous player left the wild bubble in a particular place. They know that the expected value is higher than usual, creating an edge.
Certain table game variations over the years have attracted gamblers through special offers that create an edge for the player. For example, some casinos will offer a triple down option in blackjack. Better odds may be offered during certain times of the day to attract more payers at off-peak periods.
With online gambling becoming more popular in the United States, taking advantage of signup bonuses is another way of getting an edge. Most casinos will have attractive bonus offers for new players. These could be free bets, free spins, cash back, etc.
Concerns over withdrawals
The group of friends did plenty of research and even got the services of an actuary to run the math for them. They found that in certain situations, they could get an edge of 126% on a single spin.
One of the first accounts they used to exploit this mechanism in the game won $220,000 (£165,000). However, it does not take long for online casinos to notice irregular trends. The players knew this and were trying to make the most of it in the short space of time they had before the game was taken away.
While there were some risks, the group of friends won over $900,000 (£676,000) through 13 different online casinos in New Jersey. They were able to withdraw an initial $400,000 (£300,000) with minimal issues. However, on February 2, the first casino removed Ocean Magic.
In the following days, the rest of the online casinos did the same. The friends are facing difficulties in withdrawing the rest of their winnings. They believe everything they did was legal, but a couple of the sites are still not paying out their winnings.