Category Archives: Blackjack

Understanding Blackjack Bet Spread Requirements

From Bill Zender’s email discussing his upcoming activities and events which include some interesting comments on the state of advantage play.

August 2, 2017

Dear Friends and Business Associates,

I want everyone to know that I will have some openings to conduct on property training sessions, or table game evaluations at your property September through November.  If you are interested, please contact me and we can set up a date and time.  Also, don’t ever hesitate to contact me regarding information on training and evaluations.  I am more than happy to answer your questions, and it is also a good time to start a business relationship.  You do know I don’t mind answering table game questions?

I have also been conducting a lot of high limit player evaluations this year (about a dozen so far).  I always have time to conduct evaluations on winning players.  A second opinion on a customer who is winning a large amount of money from your casino will put your doubts to rest while helping satisfy the questions from owners, board and council members, and other stakeholders in the casino.  If you have any questions about this process, please feel free to contact me.

I also want to take some time to talk a little about the casino gaming program at the University of Nevada Reno.  UNR’s Extended Studies Program, the university’s department that offers advanced instruction in casino management is, in my mind, one of the best in the country (if not the best).  Please take a moment, go to their website, and look over the courses offered in a variety of casino gaming subjects Gaming Management SeriesIf your organization is considering college level classes for your executive level personnel, I highly recommend UNR’s program.

Understanding bet spread requirements for a card counter in blackjack

When I ask table game executives what signs they use to detect that a person is on their tables counting cards, I get the following list of “tells”;

  • Guys winning a lot of money
  • Young guy with a baseball cap
  • Guy sitting on third base
  • A Guy who watches all the cards

If you agree with this list, you probably are in a position to make a lot of wrong calls to surveillance, or you could be allowing actual professional level card counters to slip through the cracks.  Also notice that the previous list is gender specific indicting that it is “guys” who get your attention even though a number of good card counters are women.  However, the number one “tell” that I hear from the table game’s executive is “winning a lot of money”.  This is not a valid “tell”, although it is a good reason to monitor a person’s table play.  When someone is winning, the number one default of table game’s executives is, “he must be counting cards!”   I would suggest that 99% of all players winning a large sum of money on your table are due to two factors; (1) their average wager is considered to be “high limits”, and (2) they are running lucky (known as negative statistic fluctuation for the house).  Under standard statistical deviation, out of 100 higher limit players, 2 to 3 of them will be beating the casino for a scary amount of money.  That’s just the law of normal distribution.

Detection from the casino floor can be accomplished quite easily even with today’s floor supervisory situation (too many player ratings, and too many games to watch).  Even under these conditions you can teach your floor supervisors (and surveillance operators) three key tools to use that will increase your card counting detection rate by 200%, and  decrease your false positives (think a person is counting when they are not).

The first tool the supervisor needs to learn and be able to recall correctly is basic strategy.  In July, I linked a basic strategy examination to my eBlast.  The purpose was to allow all my eBlast readers to evaluate the level of basic strategy knowledge among their staff.  As I have said before, basic strategy is the foundation of the game of blackjack, and without knowing how each hand should be played, you can’t protect the game of blackjack effectively.  You need to be able to watch a person wagering a significant amount of money, and determine if they are a good strategy player, an average strategy player, or are deviating from basic strategy because they are using card or deck composition knowledge to make their hand decision.

The second tool your floor supervisors (and surveillance operators) need to grasp is the required bet spread that the professional level card counter needs to employ to gain an advantage over that specific blackjack game type.  Approximately 80% of a card counter’s advantage is gained through wagering more money when he or she has a mathematical advantage over the house based on the remaining cards in the deck or shoe.  For example, using a six deck shoe game using standard rules and hitting soft 17 with a deck penetration of 4 ½ decks before shuffling.  Approximately 80% of the hands played will be in the house’s favor or neutral (no one’s favor), and 20% of the hands will be in the player’s favor (between slight to 3 ½% player advantage).  If the counter does not increase his or her bets, or does increase their bet limitedly during those 20% favorable deck occurrences, they cannot win money in the long-term.  In addition, using this same blackjack game and penetration, the professional card count will need to maintain a bet spread ratio of 12 units (example, $25 to $300) to gain a marginal overall win rate (less than 1%).  In most cases, that counter will strive to achieve a win rate equal to or in excess of 1%, and opt for a bet spread ratio of at least 16 units (example, $25 to $400) or greater.  If the card counter cannot achieve at least a mathematical overall return of 0.8%, counting that game is considered a waste of time and resources.
Following is a table that illustrates approximate bet spread ratios against numbers of decks and deck penetrations;

Blackjack Spread Requirement Ratios

For blackjack games where 6:5 is offered, multiple the maximum level units by 5 (example, 1 deck blackjack 6:5 would require a bet spread ratio of 1 to 20 and 1 to 25 Units).

Next month we will look at the most important of the three tools for detecting card counting, and that is the correlation of bet size to the suspected blackjack player’s hand decisions (deviations from basic strategy).

Simple game protection tips for baccarat

I recently received this email from a casino executive regarding his introduction of the non-commission EZ Baccarat game into his Las Vegas based casino.  Even though the casino offers standard 5% commission baccarat, management felt that they could attract more Californian based Asian business if they offered the baccarat format most common in the Golden State.  This executive’s question and my reply are as follows:

Question:
Hi Bill, can you email me any new information on EZ Baccarat, and also the Dragon 7 side bet.   Also do you have any material on the use of Promos Chips in baccarat?  When you come to town next, let’s have diner.

My answer:
Good to hear from you.  I heard you are putting in EZ Baccarat.  Be sure the dealers understand the three-card 7 banker rule.  I’ve seen casinos where the dealers were pushing both the banker and player bets.  Be sure they take the players bets with a three-card 7 banker winner.

This is a great game, but just so you know, the Dragon 7 and Panda 8 can be counted successfully using a modified count system.   Please read through the attached material, and if you have any questions, let me know.  [Note: If any readers want information on detecting counting of the Dragon 7 side bet, email me and I’ll send the information to you.]

BTW, I know most of the scams that have hit California baccarat games.  Here’s what you need to do to protect yourself (in any baccarat game for that matter);

  • Do not use the ribbon spread for inserting the shuffle point indicator card.  Have the dealers insert the shuffle point cards approximately 20 cards from the back.  Prevents back card location play.
  • When presenting the decks to be cut, always have the dealer present the cards with his right hand regardless where the customer cutting the cards is sitting.  This prevents camera-up-the-sleeve scam.
  • If possible, use an MD shuffling machine on the game.  There are a number of card sequencing cheating moves that can be done by the dealer.  Lately, it’s been the camera in the dealer’s shirt or vest.
  • If you use a squeeze baccarat game, be sure to use an Intelligent shoe.  There are a couple of good switch teams working in California (and North America).
  • Don’t let any of the customers dictate changes in procedure.  Think the Ivey edge sort play.
  • Be careful of California junket reps who insist on giving their players promotional chips.  Know the cost before agreeing to any promotions of this nature.
  • If it looks like marketing wants to start a “rolling chip/dead chip” program, let me know because I just put out some information on the mathematics and short comings of that program.

 
Rolling chip programs are, in actuality, a different form of player rating system; however a number of junket reps in California are insisting on a rolling chip program, so they can put money into their own pockets.  Imagine that!  Many of the junket reps out of the LA area are bandits.  Count on it.

Seminars and Workshop

Please watch for future eBlast to find out what seminars, dates, and locations will be offered.

University of Nevada Reno Extended Studies: Table Game Management – September 18th thru 21st, 2017 – Reno Nevada

I always enjoy presenting at the UNR Extended Studies Gaming program regarding table games management.  I will be covering the topics of Casino Mathematics and Table Game Management on September 20th and 21st.  These are the days I will be presenting; however, to attend you need to sign up for the entire week’s program.  I truly believe that money and time spent in this University of Nevada Extended Studies program is well worth it.  See the Gaming Management Series overview for a full schedule of upcoming courses.  Email gaming@unr.edu, call 1-800-233-8928 or visit the website for information about gaming management education from the University of Nevada, Reno.
 
CGA Game Protection Presentation – Monday, October 16th, 2017 – Hard Rock Lake Tahoe Nevada

Although I have not yet finalized the time and length of this seminar, I do plan to present a session on game protection at this fall’s California Gaming Associations meeting at Lake Tahoe which will be held October 14th through 16th.  My intention is to conduct an hour long presentation on different methods that are being used to cheat table games in the California card rooms.  This is not only regarding poker games, but also the rotating bank games such as baccarat, blackjack, and pai gow poker.  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 drives hold percentage 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 game and table limits
  • Determine the best metrics to use in player tracking systems.

II.     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 affect from 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
Anyone looking for a game protection or table game management seminar, or need your table games evaluated?  This is the perfect time to contact me.  Right now my schedule is wide open for September through the end of the year.  If you have any questions, let me know wzender@aol.com
 
August
Las Vegas BOD Meeting
Alberta Canada
Open
 
September
Open
Open
University of Nevada Reno
Open
 
October
Open
BOD Meeting Club One
California Gaming Association Presentation
Open
 
Please let me know if I can provide one of my services for your organization.
 
Questions???
 
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 wzender@aol.com
 
Cheers and good luck.
 
Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates
702-423-5734

Blackjack Basic Strategy – Is It Important?

From Bill Zender’s email discussing his upcoming activities and events.

July 5, 2017

Dear Friends and Business Associates,

I hope everyone is doing well.  First off, I want to give the University of Nevada Reno’s Extended Studies course in Casino Management a recommendation, especially the Table Game Management course that is scheduled to be held in Reno Nevada September 18th thru 21st.   Earlier this spring the course was pushed back to September because it lacked participants.  I’ve been involved with this University of Nevada program for the past fourteen years, and I feel that it is the best casino management program in the country, if not the world.  The week session in which I will be participating, features two other individuals involved in that week’s presentation whom I believe do an outstanding job. 

On Monday, September 18th, Bob Ellsworth presents a session regarding the overview of casino table games.  Bob Ellsworth shows the students all aspects of table games and procedures that the gaming professional needs to understand in order to operate an efficient table game operation.  On day 2, September 19th, Bob Del Rossi presents an outstanding session on table game protection.  He covers all the common methods used to attack table games, and drills down into the different “indicators” that table game and surveillance personal need to identify in order to catch and stop both legal and illegal intrusions.  On September 20th and 21st, I conduct my presentations on table game mathematics and methods for better managing table games (see descriptions of those session below).  As you can see, the four days of table game training are quite invaluable to the novice table games and surveillance executives, as well as the more experienced individuals looking for ways to improve their operations.

Second, I want everyone to know that you have a rare opportunity in August and September in which I have plenty of weeks open to conduct work.  If you are considering in-house training sessions on game protection, or areas table game management, please contact me.  Right now I have about six weeks open this late summer.  It’s also a golden opportunity to have me come to your property to conduct a table game operation evaluation.  I have conducted a number of these evaluations over the past several years for several casinos throughout North America.  If you want to know how to better position your table games to be safer, and at the same time create opportunities for greater revenue potential, please let me know.

Remember, I always have time to conduct “winning” player evaluations.  Just recently I conducted an evaluation on some high limit Pai Gow tiles play that indicated that the players involved were passing along hand information in order to determine the dealer’s hand.  Sometimes it a good thing to get a second opinion.


Blackjack Basic Strategy: Is it Important? 

During a casual discussion with a table games manager in a Northwestern casino, he asked me how important it is for the floor supervisor to know basic strategy.  His contention was that since most ratings systems in blackjack don’t require a player skill evaluation, he didn’t understand why the floor supervisors should learn basic strategy and be tested on that knowledge.  He also related that his casino had recently given all floor supervisors and pit executives a basic strategy test, and the result was dismal at best.  He also experienced a lot of negative feedback from his staff regarding being tested in the first place.  Is knowledge of the “exact” plays regarding basic strategy really that important?

Based on my 40 years of experience in blackjack as dealer, floor supervisor, casino executive, professional level advantage player, and a game protection expert, the answer is YES!  The foundation of the game of blackjack is anchored around the customer’s ability to make hand decisions accurately.  Without knowing how the customer should play each and every hand decision, the floor supervisor, casino executive, and surveillance operator will not be able to determine a customer’s level of blackjack skill.  Subsequently, they will be unable to detect most situations of advantage play and cheating. 

Experienced blackjack customers use two different types of strategy to play their hands; (1) basic strategy, the computer calculated best hand strategy based on the player’s two-cards (or sometimes more) and the dealer’s up-card, and (2) common strategy, the more popular strategy derived from some understanding of basic strategy and table observation of other players.  I will go out on a limb and suggest that approximately 90-95% of all blackjack players use common strategy when deciding how to play their hands, and only a small percentage of players (1-2%) use perfect basic strategy.  What the floor supervisor, casino executive, and surveillance professional need to be able to do is identify which strategy style each blackjack player uses.  Customers who use a common strategy are normally no threat to the casino while basic strategy players know more about the game than the casual blackjack player, and may extend their knowledge further into areas of advantage play, and possibly cheating.

Following is a link to a blackjack strategy examination I have created.  The purpose of this examination is to determine whether your table game or surveillance employees can spot the difference between a non-threating blackjack customer who uses a common strategy, or that of a potential threating customer who follows basic strategy.  The link to the blackjack strategy examination and answer sheet are as follows:  Blackjack Strategy Examination.  Please feel free to download and use this blackjack strategy examination at your property.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Note: A professional level card counter will use basic strategy 4 out of 5 hands while deviating that one hand out of five based on the count.  Advantage players will also use perfect basic strategy, however APs obtaining the dealer’s hole-card may use neither basic nor common, but exhibit hand strategies based on advanced knowledge of the hole-card.  Cheaters will use basic strategy up until the point where their cheating technique require them to do otherwise.  The cheater uses basic strategy to give back the minimum amount of money to the casino until they can apply their illicit trade.


Why can’t we beat this guy!!!

Here is an email correspondence that needs to be passed along to everyone on my email list.  I received this email from a casino executive regarding a winning higher limit player in blackjack.  For a consultant like myself, this type of email is very common.  A higher limit customer is winning a large amount of money, and upper management does not understand why anyone could be beating the house, especially if the house losing streak has continued through several of the customer’s visits.  The executive’s question and my answer to his situation are as follows.

Question:
I believe I know the answer to this but it would be great to hear it from the expert.  Assuming we can rule out collusion, card marking, card counting, and shuffle tracking.  Can a player with a large bankroll overcome the HA by only attempting to win a small amount.  
 
We are under new ownership and I would like to give the new ownership some piece of mind other than “it’ll come around”.  We have a handful of regular, well known, lifetime losers with that play style.  They will win 20K several days in a row and historically will blow 200-300K when they lose.  We are playing unlucky in 2016 with our top 3 players and the questions are coming in.  There hasn’t been any rule or procedural change.   I look forward to hearing from you.
 
My answer:
Don’t think for a moment you are the only Table Games Director with this problem.  I guess the basic answer is that some players win for periods of time, and that’s why it’s called “gambling”.  There will always be an “element of uncertainty” in the business.  Statistically, within 10,000 hand decisions in a game like blackjack, 16% of all players will be below -1 standard deviation.  This usually means those players are beating the casino, and doing so while still playing against the casino’s natural mathematical edge.  Taking the normal distribution curve further, 2-3% of your players will be winning below even the -2 standard deviation point.  If you have 100 higher limit players, based on statistics, two or three of those players will be big winners.
 
What I usually suggest in this situation is that you use two primary strategies; first, conduct an evaluation of all possible and logical ways of gaining a player’s edge over the game in question.  In blackjack that would be card counting, hole-carding, location play, marked cards, collusion, etc.
Put together a concise report to present to upper management with your findings that nothing can be detected.
 
Second, go back historically and build a profile of the player or similar past players to show that the games will “turn around” eventually.  Be sure to point out periods when a player has lost back a lot of his winnings.  Players who gamble with an advantage or down right cheat, do not gamble back a large percentage of their past wins.  I would use periods of loss-back of 50% of previous winnings or better as strong evidence the player is a desirable gambler and not playing with an advantage.
 
Another course of action could be the need to “educate” non-table games executive in the games and the slime mathematical edge of the games.  Right now with your region’s BJ rules the average high limit BJ player is subject to a mathematical house advantage of 0.3% to 1.0% depending on how good or poorly he makes hand strategy decisions (baccarat is around 1.2%).  In comparison with slot machines, the average slot machine “floor PAR” in your region is about 10-12%.
 
Statistically speaking, the average 1% H/A% player could be winning at maximum risk after about 8,000 hands while the guaranteed win point is around 40,000 hand decisions.  If the BJ player was a good hand strategy player and drove the expected H/A% down to 0.5%, the maximum risk and guaranteed win point could be as much as 16,000 hands and 80,000 hands respectively.
 
There’s my two cents on the topic.  If you want me to conduct a player evaluation, let me know, and if you need me to conduct a table game evaluation at your casino, feel free to contact me so we can set something up.  Take care and good luck with your situation.
 
Seminars and Workshop

I am still considering conducting a seminars on the cost of casino promotions along with a section on Dead Chip/Rolling Chip programs somewhere in the USA, preferably in Las Vegas.  I’m also looking to conduct another Optimal Baccarat Seminar somewhere in the East or Midwest.  Please watch for future eBlast to find out what seminars, dates, and locations will be offered.

University of Nevada Reno Extended Studies: Table Game Management – September 18th thru 21st, 2017 – Reno Nevada

I always enjoy presenting at the UNR Extended Studies Gaming program regarding table games management.  The students are from different gaming regions throughout North American, and occasionally, from around the world. I will be covering the topics of Casino Mathematics and Table Game Management on September 20th and 21st.  Following are the topics covered during my portion of the four-day program:
 

  • Hold-percentage analysis as a management tool
  • Game probability and profitability factors
  • Game selection, location, mix and pricing
  • Marketing strategies and customer development
  • Customer service strategies and applications
  • Maximizing department profitability and efficiency
  • Casino database management for table games

As I mentioned previously, these are the days I will be presenting; however, to attend you need to sign up for the entire week’s program.  I truly believe that price and time spent in this University of Nevada Extended Studies program is well worth it.
See the Gaming Management Series overview for a full schedule of upcoming courses.  Email gaming@unr.edu, call 1-800-233-8928 or visit the website for information about gaming management education from the University of Nevada, Reno.

On the Move
Summer is a slower time for me so if you are looking for a game protection or table game management seminar, or need your table games evaluated, this is the perfect time to contact me.  Right now all my available time slots in July are filled, but my schedule is wide open for August and September.  If you have any questions, let me know wzender@aol.com
 
July
South Dakota
Las Vegas BOD Meeting
Northern California
 
August
Open
Las Vegas BOD Meeting
Open
Open
 
September
Open
Open
University of Nevada Reno
Open
 
Please let me know if I can provide one of my services for your organization.
 
Questions???
 
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 wzender@aol.com

Cheers and good luck.
 
Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates
702-423-5734

 

The Art of Blackjack Betting

The Art of Blackjack Betting

by Manu

Becoming a successful blackjack player isn’t just about coming to grips with strategy, or committing to a card counting system. It’s also about having a good understanding of the art of betting. There are many ways a player can place a bet (or wager) during the game, so the best way to avoid suffering losses at the casino is to know your betting options inside out. 

Note:  This article assumes that you are not a card counter.   But you should at least have memorized basic strategy which will help minimize your losses and give you a better chance to get lucky at the tables.

Blackjack Layout

Always remember to check the minimum bet at the table before you play, in order to avoid any embarrassment once the game has started. Place your wager in the betting area before the cards are dealt. Once the cards have been played and you are still in the game, you have several options. It is possible to double down on your wager by placing the same amount next to the original bet. If you are holding two of a kind, there is the option of matching the original wager, splitting the cards and playing two separate hands.

Rules:  For complete rules to the game of blackjack check out the section in The Encyclopedia of Casino Twenty-One.

Although dealers and casinos will encourage you to take out “insurance”, this is almost always a bad idea as the house edge is upwards of 7%. This is because you need to bet half of your original wager to take out the insurance. When you choose this game option, you are waging that the second card will be a ten or face card. The chances that the dealer has a ten in the hole is four times out of 13, or roughly 31% of the time. This makes it an unviable financial move for the player.

If you are relatively new to the game, you may want to consider placing flat bets, which means betting the same amount each time you play. This is not a hugely popular way of betting, however, as it lacks the thrill of placing larger bets and reduces the chances of winning big.

Varying bets from one hand to the next is known as progressive betting*. This method can be used in several different ways, but the common theme is that you increase or decrease the next bet depending on whether you won or lost your most recent hand. For example, a win progression bet would mean that you increase the size of the bet after a winning hand. The most common type of win progression is increasing bet size in multiples of 1-2-3-5, a progression that has been known to lead to larger wins if the player wins consecutive hands. However, it is worth remembering that there is no correlation between the outcome of the most recently played hand and the chances of winning the next one, so betting progressions won’t improve your chances of winning over the long term. The good thing about progression betting is that it increases your chances of winning bigger money when compared with the flat betting method.

*Warning: It is impossible to gain an advantage in this game with progressive betting and it can be very dangerous to attempt progressive betting after a loss. An example of a betting progression is the Martingale.

Skilled and experienced card counters will know when they have an edge and bet accordingly.  Card counting allows a player to know when it’s the right time to bet higher sums, because it takes into account cards played in previous hands rather than whether the last hands were won or lost. When cards of less value (low cards) have already been played, it increases the chance that cards with higher values (high cards) remain in the pack. 

Players should also keep in mind the types of bets to avoid. Casinos have been known to try and sway the odds in their favor by introducing certain moves that give them a higher edge. Keep your eyes peeled for tables that pay 6:5 for a blackjack as opposed to the standard 3:2. This reduction of the pay-out adds 1.39% to the casino’s advantage. Casinos may also allow a dealer to hit a soft 17 (“soft” hands being those that include an ace, valued as an 11 or a one) rather than standing. This gives the dealer the advantage in the long run and increases the casino’s edge by 0.2%.  It is always better to play in games where the dealer stands on soft 17. 

There is also the matter of proposition bets to consider. Proposition bets are side bets made on outcomes incidental to the game. They tend to be personal wagers made between players and are generally best avoided. Famous examples of these types of wagers are casino exile bets, each of which results in one of the players being required to live somewhere else for a specified period of time.

 

 

New Blackjack History Database Tool

Just completed a new Blackjack History Database Tool on the BJRNET site.

Did a blackjack, card counting or related gambling event happen in 1948, or in the month of January, or during April 1977?  Check the Blackjack History Database Tool. You can search by any combination of month, day and year.  Or view all of the historical events we’ve managed to find on our History of Blackjack and Card Counting page.

Also, you can search by event type.  For example, there is a listing for Blackjack Ball.  This brings up only events about Max Rubin’s annual Blackjack Ball.

I hope you will find this useful.  If you like it, please contribute an event not already listed.

Use of Rolling Chips in North America

From Bill Zender’s email discussing his upcoming activities and events.
 

June 6, 2017

Dear Friends and Business Associates,

I am sorry that I haven’t kept in touch with everyone.  Between closing out my house in Las Vegas and working abroad, I didn’t have much time in which to pen my usual monthly eBlasts.  Now things have settled down, and I have some much needed breathing space.  I can start catching up with my normal routine which involves keeping everyone informed of my availability (for my benefit), and to discuss some of the issues and problems I have seen in the gaming industry over the last several months (hopefully, your benefit).

The Use of Rolling Chips in North America

Attached to June’s eBlast is a link to a report I just finished.  Over the past spring, it has come to my attention that a number of North American casino operators are searching for information on the use of non-negotiable chips in conjunction with a marketing program known in other parts of the world as “rolling chip” or “dead chip” programs.  The rolling chip/dead chip program is used extensively overseas to market and track high limit VIP baccarat customers.  A number of casinos have started similar programs domestically here in the USA and Canada.  I have also realized that the motivation to enter into a rolling chip program is stemming from requests by junket representatives, and marketers who work outside the casino operations.  In some instances, this could turn out to be a costly situation for the casinos.

These junket reps have informed the different casino marketing departments that they can provide a number of high limit baccarat players if the casino offers this non-negotiable chip form of player tracking. Unfortunately, many executives in casino operations who have either started the rolling chip programs or are strongly considering starting one, are misinformed as to the mathematics behind rolling chip “theoretical win” (T-win) projections, and are relying on the outside promoters and marketers for this information.  As one can imagine, this presents a seriously dangerous situation for the casino operators.

Because of this disturbing trend, I have compiled a report, or “white paper” if you may, that discusses several issues everyone considering entering the rolling chip/dead chip program needs to know.  The link is as follows: Rolling Chip Program in North AmericaFor some reason, a very inflated T-win percentage has been “floating” around that I’m having difficulty in pinning down the mathematics.  The higher percentage might be related to the mathematical win difference between the standard 5% Banker commission game, and the 1 to 2 Banker payoff on the “Punto Banco 6” version that is used extensively in Asia.  Regardless of the way it is calculated, the higher T-win percentage projects a higher than expected game revenue potential that subsequently helps to falsely support higher commission paybacks to either the customer or the junket rep (or both).  In many cases, domestic casinos are giving back a “lions share” of the win potential to outside interests while maintaining 100% of the gaming “risk”.  It is in the best interest of anyone entering into or considering a rolling chip program to read this report.

Marking Cards in Face-up Blackjack

A week ago I received an email from a casino executive who inquired about possible marked playing cards he had recently found on a face-up game of blackjack.  This is the second time I’ve heard about this possible scam in the last several months.  I think his question and my reply needs to be read by everyone on my eBlast list.  The question he sent me will be followed by my reply to him.

Question:
I have something that came up that has me really stumped.  While sorting cards from a six deck game at the end of the shift, one of the dealers found that a number of cards had a dimple or dent in the middle of the backs of the cards.  The cards were a number of 10s through Aces but not all.  When we went back over the play on that table, we only had one player betting black chips, but he won several thousand dollars.  Surveillance ran the player down for counting but found nothing.   My question is how would only a certain group of cards get dented like that in a face up game, and do you think we might have been hit by cheaters?  I haven’t seen anything like this before.

Reply:
There is a strong possibility you experienced a card marking team.  If the tens and aces were dented, the cheater were probably using a “top card” marking system.  If a card sitting on top of the shoe is marked (dented) the player sitting in first seat (before the shoe) will wager up to maximum bet, and if the card is not marked, the player will wager around their minimum bet.  Not all the cards are marked because it takes a long time to make sure all the “target” cards are marked.

Usually with this scam, the cheaters send in a team of players who “dent” the faces of the cards hours before the play actually goes down when the table has minimum action.  They dent the cards by hitting the faces of the cards with a chip or the tip of their fingers.  By denting the face of the playing card, one also creates a dent on the back of the card as well.  Cards marked in this manner must be read while in the window of the shoe when glare from overhead lighting reflects off the dent or bend.  After several shoes (and hours of play), the card marking team leaves the game.

As I mentioned previously, hours later the cheaters return with their “big player”.  They approach management and request a higher limit (sometimes).  Then they either get a private game for the big player, or have him sit in the first seat position in order to always receive the first card (top card) of the shoe.  A second cheater either stands or sits at the table around 5th/6th position to read the top card of the shoe.  When the top card is dented (marked), he signals the big player to place a maximum bet.  This gives the cheaters an approximate 20% edge on that wager.  If the team marking the cards is able to mark 70% of the tens and aces, a marked card will appear as the top card prior to the next hand about 25% of the time.

If you still have the video of the black chip customer’s play, see if there is a correlation between his increase in wager size, and the appearance of a ten or ace as his first card.  If so, then you need to go back over the entire day to see if you can spot the cheaters who marked the game.  You may be able to get enough video evidence to take it to the authorities.  If you have any other questions, please let me know.  Good luck with your review.

Unfortunately, I never heard back from this individual so I don’t know whether or not his surveillance personnel found anything suspicious.   Some executives believe that marking cards in a face-up game is impossible.  This is not true.  Although the act of hitting the face-up card in plain sight is obvious, these teams train to make the move look like a show of excitement, or pointing out a “lucky” card to their friend.  Here is more information on the scam setup:

First, the cheaters must find a table where the overhead light shines down and reflects off the top card of the shoe.

Second, the cheaters have to mark up the cards using a highly overt action of touching the face of the cards as they lay on the table.  This motion is usually done at the moment the dealer starts his/her bet settlement process.  The card markers will sit in the last two positions on the table and will usually control two to three hands.  The cheaters have to mark the cards without drawing suspicion to their intentions so they may use several different players over a several hour period.

Third, hours later they will confirm the marked cards are still on the game, and if so, have their “big player” buy-in and play the first hand positon.

I hope the information in this email, reply, and follow up comments gives you better insight into protecting your blackjack games.

Seminars and Workshop
As of today, I have no public seminars or workshops planned.  Since I do have some open time this summer and early fall, I may look to holding a Game Protection or Table Games Management class in different areas of the country outside of Las Vegas.  Please watch for future eBlast to find out what seminars, dates, and locations will be available.

On the Move
The dog days of summer are upon me.  Right now I’m almost filled for June, but have a couple of weeks in July, and the most part of August open.  If you have any questions, let me know wzender@aol.com.

June
Maryland
Washington DC
Northern California

July
Las Vegas BOD Meeting
Northern California

August
Northern California
Las Vegas BOD Meeting

Usually, I’m pretty much booked two months in advance.  As you see I have a bit of time open throughout the summer.  Please let me know if I can provide one of my services for your organization.

Questions???

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 wzender@aol.com

Cheers and good luck.

Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates
702-423-5734

 
Copyright © 2017 Bill Zender and Associates, All rights reserved.

Sydney Australia’s Star City Casino

Spent an afternoon at Sydney Australia’s Star City Casino this week. 

This is a huge casino with lots of blackjack tables.  However, they are not worth playing as they all use automatic shufflers.  Minimum bets that I saw started at $20 Australian which is about $15 US.  I did not check the high-pit areas which may or may not have regularly dealt blackjack. 

They also have a large poker room which I played a few hours in.  Unfortunately, their rake is awful.  I played in a small  2/3 No Limit Holdem game where there is a time rake AND and regular pot rake.  Charge is $5 / hour plus 10% up to $10 rake.  What was interesting is the dealer uses a single deck plastic box to deal the cards from.  I was told the dealer can deal faster and have both hands free at all times.  I left with a win for the session.

I also played for 30 minutes at the craps table and had another small session win.  Interesting to note that the don’t pass/come bars deuces.  In the USA, the don’t pass/come  bars 12.  No difference in the odds.

My Wife and I spent 6 days in Sydney and we also took a 10 day Celebrity Solstice cruise around New Zealand.    Ironically, the blackjack games on the cruise ship were better then the games in Sydney.  Of course, the cruise ship has their token single deck game with 6:5 rules, but their shoe games were decent: $10/$25 min tables, 8DK, double any, H17, with 1.5 – 2 decks cut off.  Occasionally, a dealer would cut off only 1 deck.

Michael Dalton

PS – Here is a photo of the single-deck shoe that poker dealers use in the Sydney, Australia poker room:

Single Deck Shoe