By Bill Zender
October 2, 2017
Dear Friends and Business Associates,
I will be attending this year’s G2E tomorrow, October 3rd, and Wednesday October 4th. Since I am on the Board of Directors, I will be “hanging out” primarily at the Galaxy Gaming booth 4208. The convention area is like a small city so be sure to grab a map and look for the booth’s location. Come by and see Galaxy’s sales “guru” Dean Barnett, or the company’s new CEO, Todd Cravens. A longtime associate of mine, Gary Saul, will also be working the booth. While you are there, ask Gary to show you a card trick or two.
Part of the time I plan to visit the Techart booth 3535. Techart is the maker of the MAXTime hole card reader. I will be there visiting two of my good friends, Bob Del Rossi and Artie Miller. Artie is one of the winners of the World Game Protection Conference’s “Lifetime Achievement” awards for his contribution to the gaming industry and game protection. Not a bad place to spend time.
If you catch me around 2PM on Wednesday, maybe you can join me while I walk the exhibition floor. I like to tour some of the booths and look at new and improved products that involve table game productivity and protection. It’s usually a fun table game “walk-about”, and you never know what you might find. Hope to see you there.
How can a casino executive be sure a person is actually counting?
This is the third portion of the Card Counting Protection series I have detailed in my monthly eBlasts.
Before backing anyone off a game, changing deck penetration, or limiting the player’s bet spread, one needs some reasonable tools to determine that the suspected person is a professional level card counter. The executive or surveillance professional who is conducting the evaluation needs to use some type of analytical tool that will accurately determine the possibility that the suspected player is in fact a card counter, and also provide the evaluator with a printout, or hard copy of these results. This hard copy can be used to back up the evaluation, and to later serve as proof that the suspect was in fact counting cards. How many times have your department taken action against a player for counting cards, only to have the legitimacy of the “back off” questioned by a host or casino marketing afterwards? In addition, this evaluation tool can serve as evidence as to why a player wasn’t backed off even though the customer was a big winner.
There are two tools that I recommend casino executives can utilize. The first tool is a blackjack software package that analyzes a blackjack player’s skill and betting level. There are two very effective software packages available to the casino executive.
Information regarding the person’s actual play is entered into the program either manually or through a voice recognition program. After enough hands are entered into the program, it is queried by the analyst. The program will indicate to what degree the information of the betting and hand decision patterns indicate the suspected player is counting cards. It’s important when using any type of card counter verification method that several decks or shoes are analyzed in order to calculate the best possible decision outcome. The primary drawbacks to the software are in its inability to take into consideration other influences in the game, and the hefty price tag that comes with the software.
The second card counting analytical tool is a much lower tech, less expensive system that accomplishes the same goal just as accurately. This is known as “charting”. A number of surveillance departments already use some form of charting a customer’s plays as a means to better understand the person’s play characteristics. Charting is most effective as a card counter catch tool when the evaluator uses it to determine the breadth of the suspect’s betting spread, and the suspect’s betting correlation with the true count of the cards. In order to win money counting cards, the counter must wager significantly more money when he has the advantage, and as little as possible when the casino has the advantage. If the charted observations of a suspected player indicate that he is utilizing a large enough bet spread, and increasing his wagers to the larger bet level when he has a mathematical advantage of 90% or greater, then the evaluator has enough information to safely rule that the suspected player is counting cards. As noted when using a software package to evaluate a suspected card counting play, it is prudent to watch no less than 4 decks or shoes before making the final decision about the player.
Following are points that need to be followed to ensure the casino executive or surveillance professional is making the correct analysis regarding a suspected blackjack player’s long-term ability to be a card counting threat to the casino’s bankroll.
- Don’t automatically assume that a winning blackjack player is counting cards. There’s a greater chance he’s a desirable player who is running luck. Assuming a winning person is a card counter will also cloud one’s ability to look for other more costly problems such as advantage play techniques and cheating.
- It’s a must for a successful card counter to have an effective bet spread, especially in the six deck and eight deck games (don’t forget the 6:5 single decks). Without the necessary bet spread range, the player cannot gain an advantage counting cards.
- Never cut the shoe in half on a player to look for a reaction. You need to analyze the play before taking any action. If you cut the shoe in half on a desirable blackjack customer, he could get upset and never play at your property again.
- Don’t rely on a decision that is made by one of your floor executives or surveillance operator who is not at least on a semi-professional card counting level. I’ve known a number of executives who claim to know card counting inside and out, but when asked, can’t answer simple questions such as the mechanics of true count conversion and hand strategy deviations. Take the Ouija board out of the equation.
- Whether your organization uses a counter catcher software package or elects to chart the play, always look at several shoes or decks before making a decision about a player. I prefer looking at several examples where the count is mostly minus throughout the shoe, as well as several examples where the count is mostly plus. Taking your time to compare the extremes will help eliminate the chance of getting “false positives”.
- Do not take action against a suspected player until you are 100% sure the player is counting cards. If you wish to error on the side of the casino, take your time and make sure you correctly identify a customer as a long-term card counting threat before disrupting his play.
For more information on charting, please feel free in contacting me [email protected].
Seminars and Workshop
CGA Conference – Protecting Cardroom Table Game Integrity – Monday, October 16th, 2017 – Hard Rock Lake Tahoe Nevada
I just finalized the material in my presentation at this year’s California Gaming Associations meeting at Lake Tahoe which will be held October 14th through 16th. I will be presenting a 60 minute session on Protecting Cardroom Table Game Integrity. The presentation will include different methods that are being used to cheat table games in the California card rooms. This not only concerns poker games, but also the rotating bank games such as baccarat, blackjack, and pai gow poker. The following topics are:
Capturing playing card sequencing
It has become a common attack for cheaters to attempt to capture shuffled card sequencing on high limit games. The captured sequences are used to learn winning hands occurrence before making wagers on the game. The primary game of attack is baccarat, but this techniques have also been used in higher limit blackjack.
Switching hands in Pai Gow Poker
The game of Pai Gow Poker is played with seven cards placed into two separate combinations. What if a player was able to place a large wager on one hand, but have the ability to choose from two separate seven-card hands? In this segment the participants learn how a husband and wife team were able to switch hands without the dealer, floor supervisor, or the designated player questioning their actions.
Protecting Bad Beat and High Hand Jackpots in Poker
Ever have an unusual cluster of “Bad Beat” jackpots occur over a short period of time? Was it a statistical anomaly or was it created by cheaters working with the dealer. Learn how a group of cheaters would set up a “Bad Beat” cooler deck, and what your surveillance personnel need to look for specifically.
Player collusion in Pai Gow tiles
What would happen if a group of Pai Gow players shared their tile information with each other? Do you know what to look for? Learn the primary indicators of a player collusion scam in Pai Gow tiles, and learn what you can do to prevent them from taking advantage of your Pai Gow customers.
At this time I’m not sure whether the presentation will be held in the morning or afternoon session. I will inform everyone of that schedule in next month’s eBlast. I believe you have to be a member of the CGA in order to attend. For more information please contact California Gaming Association, Joe Patterson, Executive Director, (916) 297-4822, www.californiagamingassociation.org/.
Cutting Edge Table Game Seminar – Tuesday, November 14th, 2017 – Paris Resort – Las Vegas Nevada
I will be presenting once again on the first day of the Cutting Edge Table Games Conference. This is another conference in which I like to present. This year’s session covers a lot of the information presented last year, however I have included the much talked about topic of “Rolling Chip/Dead Chip Programs”. I always like to update my information and slip in topics that I feel need to be covered regarding the operation of table games. Following is an outline of this year’s session:
I. Table Games Mathematics – 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM
- House advantage of major casino games
- Mechanics that drive hold percentages up (and down).
- Table game procedures that waste time and money
- Understanding how to optimize side bets
- Managing table game minimums to yield the best returns
- Calculating risk range for table games and table limits
- Determine the best metrics to use in player tracking systems.
- Understanding Rolling Chip/Dead Chip Programs – 12:00 PM to 12:30 PM & 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM
- What is a Rolling Chip Program?
- Understanding Multi-play Chip mathematics
- Percent of the Rolling Chip Buy-in that you can use for Player Reinvestment
- Points needed before initiating a Rolling Chip Program
III. The Cost of Table Game Promotions – 3:00 PM to 5:30 PM
- Effect of changing table game rules
- Cost of “value added” promotions
- Cost and effect of using Match Play
- Cost of using Single Play Promo Chips
- The pitfalls of using play-till-you-lose Promo Chips
- Problems with discounting player losses
- Using an Adjusted T-win model
The conference will be held at the Paris Resort in Las Vegas, November 14th through 16th. For more information please go to their website www.tablegamesconf.com/ . I hope to see you in Las Vegas in November.
On the Move
It appears I will have at least one week open each month to the end of the year. I always have time open to conduct winning player reviews. If you have any questions, let me know [email protected].
California Gaming Association Presentation
Table Game Cutting Edge Las Vegas
BOD Meeting Arizona
Please let me know if I can provide one of my services for your organization.
I’m always available to answer your questions. If you have any questions on gaming; don’t hesitate in contacting me through email. I answer close to a half dozen email on gaming every day [email protected].
Cheers and good luck.
Bill Zender and Associates