Ida Summers, also referred to as the “Vegas Vixen,” was one of the most
successful casino cheats Las Vegas has ever seen. She was able to use her bold
cheating techniques and devastating good looks to steal tens of thousands of
dollars from casinos all over the Las Vegas Strip.
To learn more about Ida Summers, her background, her cheating adventures, and
how she finally got caught, please continue reading this thorough biography.
Here you’ll learn everything you need to know about Summers and more.
Where Did She Come From?
There are several theories as to where Ida Summers came from, but the truth
is that no one knows for sure. Many of these theories are based on stories
Summers told to the various dealers she encountered in Las Vegas. There’s a good
chance many of these theories could be entirely made up, but we like to believe
they all contain a tidbit of truth and can give us insight into her real
The first theory is that Ida Summers was born and raised in a small town in
southern Florida by her grandparents. Her grandparents were very strict, making
her work on the family farm and not allowing her to hang out with her friends on
the weekends. When she finally turned 18, she fled from their home and never
turned back. She headed to Las Vegas in hopes of becoming a cocktail waitress.
When she couldn’t find any job openings in that career, she decided to cheat at
the casinos to make ends meet instead.
Another popular theory is that Ida Summers was born and raised in Las Vegas,
Nevada. She grew up just a 10-minute drive from the Strip and would spend her
weekends walking the Strip with her friends. They would often flirt with
security guards to get let into the casinos, despite being underage. She saw how
much money there was to be made there and would try her luck out at the tables
often. Realizing she could cheat her way to victory without getting caught, she
resorted to doing that as her primary source of revenue.
The last well-known theory we’ll share with you is that Ida Summers was born
in Kansas but would travel to Las Vegas often, as her father had to go there for
business. Her father supposedly taught her the skill of hand mucking and
encouraged her to cheat at the casinos once she was old enough to do so. Not
wanting to let her father down and after discovering how much money she could
make, Summers happily made scamming the casinos her life’s work.
How Did She Do It?
We could argue for hours about which one of Summer’s possible backstories is
most plausible, but for now, let’s move onto some of the solid facts about her
“career” as a con artist. Summers started showing up at various casinos in Las
Vegas during the early 1960s, with her stunning beauty captivating the attention
of most men she encountered. She was petite in stature, had wavy brown hair, and
was blessed with a flawless complexion.
Her game of choice was usually
blackjack, but she would occasionally
play poker as well. It wasn’t uncommon for her to rake in thousands of dollars on a
daily basis. So, how did she do it? Summers would use a cheating technique
called “hand mucking.” She would remove a card from play, usually hiding it in
her sleeve, and then bring that card back into play when it would most benefit
She was able to this without being caught by striking up a conversation with
the dealer so that his attention would be focused on what she was saying instead
of what she was doing. Once she got a little braver, she started bringing her
own cards that she would swap out when she was dealt a bad hand at poker. She
could only do this at casinos that used the same brand of cards that she had;
otherwise, casino officials would have noticed that she switched the cards out
for her own.
She eventually moved on to switching out entire decks of cards for “coolers”
or decks that were pre-arranged to guarantee a win for her. It wasn’t long
before pit bosses started to get suspicious of this woman whose luck never
seemed to run out. In order to avoid heat from the casinos, Summers would lose
on purpose. Every time she lost, she would make a big scene about it, so that
the memory of her loss would stick in their minds.
Summers recruited some men she could trust to help her bring in more revenue
without having to spend as much time in the casinos herself. She trained them on
the process of hand mucking and gave them tips on how to swap cards out without
getting caught. They would be able to keep the majority of money that they won,
as she would only take a small percentage of their winnings as a payment for
their training. Her team of casino cheaters nicknamed her the “Vegas Vixen,”
which is what she is still known as today.
How Did She Spend Her Money?
At her peak, Summers was overseeing 10 individuals who were successfully
winning at the blackjack and poker tables thanks to her lucrative cheating
techniques. Taking a percentage of each one of their winnings quickly
accumulated to quite the fortune, probably on the upwards of $100,000 a year.
So, what did Summers do with all her money? She used it to feed her shopping
addiction. When she wasn’t at a casino, she would often be found at a mall. She
would buy luxury shoes, purses, jewelry, and anything else that was in style.
Staying up to date with all the latest trends was very important to her.
Surprisingly enough, what wasn’t important to her was the condition of her
home. She lived in a rundown apartment in a bad neighborhood. Despite having
enough money to afford a better living situation, she never looked into getting
an upgrade. It’s possible this is because she was a private person who had no
desire to invite anyone over anyways.
How Did She Finally Get Caught?
Gaming officials in Las Vegas would meet on a regular basis to discuss
potential threats to their business. During one meeting in particular, several
officials from several different casinos mentioned a beautiful woman they met
who had won a significant amount of money at the tables. When they described to
each other what the woman looked like, they quickly realized they were all
talking about the same person. Realizing she must be cheating in some way, they
started developing a plan to take her down.
They contacted the FBI and asked for their help. Summers was so clever that
although they knew she had to be cheating, they didn’t have any evidence to back
up their claims. They put up surveillance cameras and started setting traps to
take her down. Summers was completely unaware that the casinos were on to her,
so she continued cheating like normal.
Summers eventually slipped up and was caught on film swapping out a casino’s
deck for her own. The footage was very clear, and there would be no way for her
to deny her actions. Now that the gaming commission and the FBI had the evidence
they needed, they arrested Summers and took her into custody.
Despite being charged for cheating, Summers never had to serve any jail time
for her actions. Instead, she was just charged with one-year probation. People
speculate that she was able to use her charming personality and beautiful
outward appearance to entice the judge to be easy on her.
Once Summer’s year of probation was over, casino officials started to be on
the lookout for her. They thought for sure that she would once again enter the
casinos and try to cheat her way into thousands of dollars. This is not what
happened, though. Instead, Summers disappeared, never to be seen in Las Vegas
again. Some people claim she moved to Canada in hope of a fresh start, while
others say she actually was murdered by several members of the mafia who were
furious at her because of all the money she stole. Both scenarios are possible.
Ida Summers made ListVerse’s Top 10 List of Casino Cheats, and they had this
to say about her: “With striking good looks, Ida Summers was not a woman who
would seem to be the epitome of a casino cheater, but in the 60s and 70s she
reeled in tens of thousands of dollars in the casinos using guile and
shiftiness.” What we find most impressive is that Summers was the only female to
make that list.
Summers will always be known as the Vegas Vixen: the only woman of the time
period who was brave enough to cheat the casinos. Her story was told in 2005 on
an episode of Breaking Vegas. This episode aired on The History Channel, and
established actress Natalie Nardone portrayed her character flawlessly.
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