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InRussian criminals turned the tables on American casinos when they worked out how to beat the poker machines — thanks to Vladimir Putin and mathematics. Australians are big players of the pokies — and like all dedicated players, we're big losers.

And that's not bad luck — all poker machines are designed to only pay out a certain amount of the money put in. In Australia, that payout is set at 87 per cent or higher. That means that averaged over a long time, the pokies will pay out 87 per cent of the money put in.

It also means that while you may have a win here or there, the longer you play, the more likely you are to lose. The Russian cheats who won millions on US poker machines weren't riding a lucky streak — they used the maths behind the seemingly random play of poker machines to really shorten the odds in their favour.

When you hit play on a pokie, the symbols start spinning and depending on the pattern that forms when they stop, you might get a payout.

An unbroken row of say, five cherries, and you could get the maximum payout. Now it's important for the 'house' that the gambler cannot predict when a winning sequence like this will appear. Ideally, the symbols should appear in a totally random order.

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But there are two problems with that. A smartphone app and some serious maths let Russian criminals beat one kind of pokie. Dr Karl tells the full story over two podcasts. Second, truly random things are really hard to find.

Some events are truly random — like which particular radioactive atoms will decay, or the appearance of a quantum fluctuation in a vacuum. But these happen much too slowly for modern high-speed pokies.

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So in general, today's poker machines rely on pseudo-random number generators. These typically use complex mathematical formulas based on a single number, Pokies Win Disneyland Gift the seed. For example, the seed might be a number with 20 digits. You could square that number to get a 40 digit number. Then you might take the first 20 digits, and multiply them by the last 20 digits, to give you another 40 digit number.

You might repeat this times, and only then, pick the middle five digits. These five digits then determine the display on the screen that the gambler sees — and if they're a continuous bunch of sevens, the player wins. When Mr Putin banned practically all gambling in Russia inthousands of casinos sold their poker machines very cheaply to whoever would take them. Some of them went to a team in St Petersburg, who started trying to reverse engineer these pokies to see if they could scam them.

And inthey were doing just that. Small teams of Russians began getting unusual payouts on American poker machines. It was suspicious because the poker machines were paying out a lot more money than they took in, even though they Pokies Aus Sports Football not award any large or major payouts.

Another odd thing was that the Russian player would always keep one hand in their pocket, or in a small satchel. After each one cent play, the gamblers would enter the pokie screen display into an app on an iPhone hidden in their pocket. They would do this a few dozen times — and all that information would go back in real time to the criminal mothership in St Petersburg.

There, the mathematical criminals would work out exactly where in its pseudo-random number sequence the poker machine was. The gambler would keep putting in cent Pokies Big Pharma Corruption cent, until they got word from St Petersburg to play big.

They were careful to avoid the really large and major pay outs, hoping not to attract too much attention to themselves. A team of four gamblers would typically win a quarter of a million dollars in a single week.

Not a bad return! But it turns out that American casinos don't like to lose money. At first, the cops couldn't work out how the Russians had done it.

And because it's not a crime to win in a casino and be a Russian, the Pokies Win Disneyland Gift had to let them go.

But soon they worked out that the Russians had used mathematics to win at the pokies — and started jailing them. If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC. ABC teams share the story behind the story and insights into the making of digital, TV and radio content.

Read about our editorial guiding principles and the enforceable standard our journalists follow. Space Nature Humans Technology Programs. The weak spot in every poker machine When you hit play on a pokie, the symbols start spinning and depending on the pattern that forms when they stop, you might get a payout.

First, if they were truly random, then the house would not get its cut of the gambler's money. Listen to the podcast. Dirty Harry actually said: Well do you, punk? Like us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter. How maths can help you snare a car park amid the Christmas rush Heading to the beach? Along with the sunscreen, pack this safety guide Vandals use hammer to damage million-year-old dinosaur footprint There's a science to cooking the best BBQ meat 'Relentlessly average': Evolutionary biology suggests The Beatles 'weren't musically important'.

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