Category Archives: Blackjack

Blackjack: The Best Casino Game to Play Online?

What Makes Blackjack the Best Casino Game to Play Online?

by Nick White

Blackjack is one of the most well-known casino games enjoyed in land-based casinos across the globe. Most every casino offers the game because players want to enjoy the thrill of beating the dealer with 21. When it comes to online casino game play, blackjack is one of the best gaming options you can choose from. Offering great odds, big payouts and 24/7 action, there are many reasons why players choose blackjack when visiting their favorite online casino.

Blackjack: The Best Casino Game to Play Online?

Play Anytime from Anywhere

One of the main advantages to playing blackjack online is that you can play anytime from anywhere. Games run 24/7, meaning you can wake up and play in the morning or enjoy a quick game before bed, as long as you have an internet connection. With mobile gaming options available, players can access blackjack games on the go, so the game can be enjoyed while on vacation or even commuting to work. The ease of access makes the game so appealing when logging on to your favorite online casino.

Tons of Variations to Try Out

When visiting a land-based casino, you are limited to the number of blackjack games available. There will be limited variations of the game as well as betting limits. With online blackjack, the options are virtually endless! You will find online casinos that offer live dealer blackjack, traditional formats, odd variations and more. Betting limits will run the gamut, from small wagers like $1 to $500, $2500 and more. 

Simply log on to your favorite online casino and see what blackjack options they offer. You should find a search bar where you can look for blackjack variations or you can search under Table Games or the Other categories.

Odds to Win Long-Term Much Better with Proper Strategy

By using the right blackjack strategy for online game play, you can increase the odds of winning and making a profit in the long term. First, consider the house edge of games offered. The blackjack games provided will vary based on the online casino you choose. Take for example Blackjack Switch. This variant offers a 0.17% house edge. Blackjack Surrender has a higher house edge of 0.38%. Choosing the lower house edge variant will help you to have better odds of winning.

You should also know the game you are playing. Most blackjack variants will have different rules so applying a strategy will vary. You will need to know how much the game pays, how many decks are used, can you split the hand, etc. Knowing the game will help you to choose a quality strategy to help you win.

Blackjack strategy calculators can be found online that are also helpful during online game play. Use a calculator to find out what move you should make based on the cards you are dealt. The calculator can help you to determine if you should fold, hit, stand or split.

Counting Cards

Many blackjack players like to count cards when visiting a local casino. Counting cards provides the player with an advantage that will hopefully result in wagers won.

Counting cards is NOT POSSIBLE with online blackjack.

However, if you choose to play an online live casino version it may be possible. Live dealer blackjack games are offered at online casinos, with the games taking place in real time. Streamed footage is provided to the player in their home, as the game takes place. With the live stream, players can use their card counting skills to gain an advantage and hopefully earn a few big payouts.

Should You Play Blackjack Online?

These are just a few reasons why blackjack is a great game to choose when it comes to playing online. You can play on your own time, where ever there is an internet connection; even from your mobile device! The odds of making a profit are much better in blackjack than most other casino games offered. It is a great game to play if you want to have fun, or if you are looking for a challenge.

Blackjack truly is the game of games when it comes to playing at online casinos. Go ahead and give it a try, and you will be hooked on how entertaining it is.

Live Dealer Blackjack

Live Dealer Blackjack: A Great Game for Casino Enthusiasts

By Nick White

Live Dealer Blackjack


If you enjoy online casino games, live dealer blackjack is a great game you should consider trying. Live dealer games are one of the most popular genres available today in online casino gaming, offering players the experience of a land-based casino from the comfort of home. There are many advantages to playing live dealer blackjack, when compared to the traditional online version of the game. If you are a fan of standard online casino blackjack or are looking to try something new, give live dealer blackjack a try.

Why Live Dealer Gaming Might Be Best For You

With traditional online blackjack, the game takes place via software and animations. There are top quality blackjack variants on offer in today’s top-rated casinos, but the games are still missing the action and excitement of live game play. With live dealer gaming, players can experience the game as it is meant to be played, in live form!

Make DecisionThere is a familiarity there with live dealer blackjack as the game takes place on a real table with a real dealer. If you are familiar with land-based play, then you will be comfortable playing the live dealer tables. A dealer studio provides the streaming of a live blackjack game as it happens, and you bet on the hand in real time, interacting with the dealer as you like. The dealers are attractive and friendly, as well as knowledgeable of the game. A bonus to live dealer gaming is you get to choose your blackjack dealer, so pick a lady or guy who you want to see deal the cards!

Advantages to Playing Blackjack with a Real Dealer

There are plenty of advantages that you will find when playing live dealer blackjack.

Real Casino Experience from Home: To begin, players can trust the realism and dealing of the game. Seeing as the blackjack game is taking place in real time, you are watching as the deal takes place. You are not relying on software for the experience or for the outcome of the game. You watch as the cards are shuffled in real time and are dealt, hoping for that winning hand. You know there is no issue with the game, as you watched it progress from the deal to the end result.

The realism of the game is something you can expect and look forward to. Live casino games have become popular over the past few years due to the overall experience. Players enjoy taking part in a live game but without the need to travel to a casino to achieve it.

Totally Interactive (Can Even Chat with the Dealer!): Another advantage to live dealer blackjack is the interactive features. Players can chat with the dealer at all times and sometimes, depending on the online casino, with other online players. This provides a social element, something that would be seen in land-based play.

Why You Should Give Live Dealer Blackjack a Shot

Live dealer blackjack is a game that every casino enthusiast should try. Whether you are a regular visitor to a local land-based gaming venue or enjoy online casino options, this is a game you don’t want to miss. The thrill of playing with other players, trying to beat the house is something only brick-and-mortar casinos offered, until the live dealer experience appeared.

Blackjack offers the players higher odds of winning, when using the right strategy, than any other casino game. You also get the chance of playing as a beautiful person deals the cards.

EDITOR NOTE:  Whether you play with a live online blackjack dealer or play with online blackjack software you will find it hard, if not impossible, to play with an advantage using a card counting strategy.  Basic strategy is the usually the best you can hope for in these games.

 

Words to Die By!

Words and phrases to avoid at the blackjack table

by Michael Dalton
Copyright 1996 – 2018
Originally published in the Summer 1996 issue of Blackjack Review

AAARGH!Words can indeed be our own worst enemy!  What we say and how we react to others can often mirror our intelligence, and reflect on our experience and knowledge.  At the blackjack table, card counters1)Of course, this discussion also applies to any advantage play technique for any game! don’t want to appear too bright or they run the risk of arising suspicion in the dealer and/or floor person’s eye. What’s the result of this intelligent behavior?  As a minimum, you may receive heat and gross intellectual prowess may call for unwanted counter-measures.   The heat you receive may include being closely monitored or even harassed.  Counter-measures can include everything from the dealer giving you a hard time,  moving the cut-card to provide worse penetration,  shuffling up on you when you increase your bet, to backing off your play and asking you to leave.

“…blackjack is a cat
and
mouse game…
and you are the mouse!”

Imagine a player asking a dealer, “Is double-after-splitting allowed here?” Although the question is innocent enough it announces to the pit that you are a reasonably intelligent player who is aware of the value of this rule.  Even before this player has sat down, he has given the pit reason to be suspicious.  Casinos don’t like card counters and if you are suspected of being one you will have a tough time gaining any advantage over them.  Just remember, dealers can easily communicate information about you to their superiors.  And once you are tagged it is often a long time before you can show your face without similar results.

Unlike poker where expert players are often revered by the casino and other players alike,  blackjack is a cat and mouse game… and you are the mouse!  To survive,  you have to conceal your true identity and blend in (as much as possible) with the rest of the losers casinos see every day.

The following table lists many commonly known words and phrases that experienced and knowledgeable blackjack players use.  Although some novices may also know these words, it should be your goal to avoid as many of them as possible when you are in a casino.   Rather, use the words listed on the right column… or make up your own!  If a novice term is not listed I highly recommend that you don’t even think about saying it in a casino.

 PROPER TERMINOLOGY NOVICE TERMINOLOGY
Ace-Card  (e.g., Ace-Five)Treat as hard hand (e.g., 6 or 16)
Basic strategyBlackjack strategy
Blackjacks only pay 6 to 5?Damn… this casino sucks!
Blackjack Review or the name of any blackjack publicationThem experts…
BustDamn… I went over 21
Card countingMemorizing them cards
ChecksPoker chips
Counter-measure —
Cut cardJoker
Cutoffs —
Discard trayUsed cards
Double after split —
Double ExposureFace up blackjack
Ed Thorp or the name of any blackjack expert or authorityThem experts…
Face cardTen valued card
First, second or third baseFirst, middle or last seat
Floorman (floor person)Employee (or dealer’s boss)
Hard handHand
Heat —
Hole-cardUnder the dealer’s card
Indices —
InsuranceExcuse me?
Las VegasVegas… Vegas Baby!
Location (i.e., of aces) —
LayoutGreen felt
Natural or Twenty-OneBlackjack
PackDeck
Penetration (e.g., 75% pen) —
PitBlackjack area
Pit bossDealer’s boss (or manager)
Preferential shuffleDamn… this casino sucks!
Re-split aces —
ShoeBox
Shuffle (any type)Shuffle
Shuffle upTime to take a break
Soft handHand with an Ace
SurrenderI give up!
TokeTip
True or running count —
Up-cardDealer’s card
Zone —

Any suggestions?  Leave a comment below.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1.Of course, this discussion also applies to any advantage play technique for any game!

Blackjack History Database Project

In 2016, Michael Dalton and the Blackjack Review Network began a Blackjack History Database Project. There were two aspects to the project:

  • Collect exact (or approximate) dates for any and all historical events that are blackjack related.
  • Create a database user interface tool so users can search and view these events.

You can check out the current development at:

Blackjack History Database ToolCurrent categories (event types) in the database are:

As of February 2018, I have managed to record over 400 events in the database.  My goal is to double this number by the end of the year… but I need your help.  If you know of a blackjack historical event that is not already listed, I want to hear from you. 

Please submit your event using our contact form,  leave a comment below or email me at mdalton@bjrnet.com.  If possible, please provide as much detail and/or proof of the event.

If you want to speak to me in person,  just email me your phone number or request that I send you my phone number.

Thank you,
Michael Dalton
mdalton@bjrnet.com
Editor / Publisher
Blackjack Review Network
https://www.BlackjackReview.com


Legal Blackjack Games in the USA – Circa 1998Legal Blackjack Games in the USA – Circa 1998
Originally published in the last issue of Blackjack Review magazine Vol 7 Issue 1

Bill Zender Newsletter – January 2018

Bill Zender and Associates Newsletter

January 9, 2017

Dear Friends and Business Associates,

I hope everyone had an enjoyable holiday season, and is looking forward to a prosperous year in 2018.  I have planned to kick off the first quart of this year with a seminar on “Optimal Defensive Card Counting”, February 6th and 7th at the Tuscany Suites Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada.  I usually get really “pumped” about a new seminar topic, but I’m especially charged up about this program.  Participants in this two-day session will come away with enough information and understanding to successfully defend any size casino property from attacks by the professional level card counter.

I feel the four most important points in this seminar are; (1) the myths, history, and mathematics portion which will provide the participant with an understanding of how card counting works, and why this threat is both limited to a specific educated player (successful attacks anyway), and in most cases, “revenue loss” not from the card counters, but from unnecessary prevention procedures every casino still employs.

Information gleaned during this seminar will also, (2) greatly improve your floor and surveillance staff’s ability to detect a situation of card counting, and the information on “charting” will allow any casino, regardless of its size and technical ability, to (3) confirm a suspect is counting cards (or not) with a high degree of accuracy.  Finally, the session will examine (4) different casino strategies for mitigating the effect of the card counter once that person has been confirmed as a long-term threat (notice I did not say “feel” they are counting).  For more information, please scroll down to the third section of this eBlast titled, “Scheduled Seminars and Workshops”.

Cheers to you all, and I hope everyone has a wonderful and “lucky” New Year.

laptopEmails I have received

Following are several email questions I have received over the past month that I felt were important enough to pass along to friends/associates. 

Question:

Note: I received a text message from a casino executive who had not used a continual shuffling machine (CSM) previously.  Although I answered his text message regarding game effect of using a CSM, I felt he needed to know some more important information regarding using a CSM for the first time.  Following is my reply through email.  My thumbs are too fat for texting any quantity of information.

Answer:

It appears that you haven’t used One2Six shuffling machines (CSMs) before.  Following are some things you need to know when using an One2Six shufflers:

  • Be sure the dealers are “trained” to pick up the cards and place the cards face up in the machine.  If the dealers aren’t trained correctly, the game will slow to nothing while the floor supervisor has to remove the “upside-down” cards from the interior wheel of the machine.  I learned about this the hard way.
  • You need to stay on the dealers about maintaining an adequate game pace.  For some unknown reason, the dealers will slow their game pace on CSMs.  I think it has something to do with the removal of the deck manual shuffle or transfer time when using batch shuffling machines.
  • Don’t allow the dealers to keep several previous hands in the discard holder before placing them into the machine.  CSM machines can’t be traditionally counted; however holding out groups of cards can make it a countable game.  I would remove all discard holders from the CSM table, and force the dealer to insert each round that has been dealt immediately into the CSM.
  • This is really important: The lip of the One2Six shuffling machine is quite high as compared to most dealing shoes.  Some dealers will have a tendency to stick their thumb of their left hand (dealing hand) under the drawn hole-card.  If the dealer does this, the hole-card can be lifted and exposed accidentally to a customer sitting at third base.  Make sure all dealers remove their hole-card while the thumb of their left hand is away from the edge of the card.

 
I would imagine you know most of this, but since you haven’t used CSMs machines before (to my knowledge), I would feel bad if something happened and I hadn’t mentioned it.  Have a great holiday season my friend.
 
Question:

My question is for a player’s average bet on Ultimate Texas Holdem. Should the “play wager” be counted in a player’s average bet?

Answer:

With UTH, the average bet is the amount of the ante plus the blind, i.e., the amount of money on the layout when the first hand is dealt.  Any additional wagering is optional, and is not included.  In addition, the H/A% for UTH in most player tracking systems is usually wrong.  The game has a 2.2% H/A [applied using the ante/blind wager] if the player uses optimal computer strategy.  No one uses optimal strategy, so the true H/A% is probably around 3.5%.  Note that I didn’t include any UTH side bets.  They differ, are optional, and the average bet wagered in the side bets varys.  It’s better to leave their existence out of the player “average bet” rating equation.  BTW, the 3.5% suggested also includes a gain in H/A% from any side bet/jackpot bet H/A% influence.
 
Question:

Good afternoon Bill, what is the more effective/profitable to have a table of 6 players compared to 2 tables with 3 players in terms of hands per hour?

Answer:

Good question.  It would be better for gaining more bet decisions if more tables were open and less players were on each game.  This is a problem for brick and mortar casinos, though.  You have limited space, and the increased cost of personnel and equipment need to be considered as well.
There is some table game yield management information out there on the Internet that recommends 3 to 4 player hands per table (check Tangam Gaming http://tangamgaming.com/).  You would need to do your own cost analysis before making an educated decision whether this is better for you at your casino or not.  Personally, I would open enough games to allow for a couple of unoccupied betting circles per table average.
Once it starts to get really busy, the 3 to 4 player hands per table advantage goes out the window, and then the strategy is to open games to accommodate players.  At this point you may also consider raising minimum limits in order to maximize revenue potential.  I guess that is table game yield management in a nut shell.
 
Counting Cards Isn't Illegal - It's frowned upon!Scheduled Seminars and Workshop

Optimal Defensive Card Counting Seminar – February 6th and 7th, Las Vegas – Tuscany Suite Hotel

I will be offering a two-day seminar Optimal “Defensive” Card Counting in Blackjack.  This will be a seminar on blackjack card counting that “drills down” into all aspects of counting including the history and development of card counting techniques over the past 50 plus years.  In addition, I will spend a large portion of the time on detection and confirmation.  The one tried and true method for confirming any person is counting cards is through the process of “charting”.  Charting identifies whether or not the suspected player shows a sign of correlation between his/her wagering and the “true” count of the cards.  Unless a card counter strictly wagers into positive true counts, that counter will not be able to gain a long-term advantage over the casino. [Note: Anyone can learn how to chart].  Any participant in this seminar will definitely come away with the ability to detect if a player is counting cards, and learn the process needed to confirm a suspected player is counting on a level that places your bankroll at a long-term risk.  Some of the areas covered in this two-day seminar are:

  • Myths and history of card counting
  • Different count systems (including computers) and why these systems work.
  • Counting strategies against single and multiple deck games
  • Counting strategies for attacking side bets and variations of standard blackjack.
  • Simple methods for better detection of card counters
  • Methods for better confirmation that a person is counting.  Learn how to “chart” card counter play.
  • Mitigation of confirmed card counters: Back-off or discourage through procedural changes; what’s good, what’s bad.

Important: Requirements to attend:

  1. Presently work in the casino industry (not open to the general public).
  2. Have knowledge of multiple deck basic strategy.
  3. Have a working knowledge of the “Hi/Lo” count system (also known as “basic plus-minus”).
  4. A laptop computer (PC or MAC) compatible with Excel (used on second day to “chart”).

Because of room restrictions, I have to limit the number of participants to 40.  If you are interested, please contact me at wzender@aol.com, and I will send you a registration form.  BTW, I am now in a position to take Credit Cards. 

If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me, wzender@aol.com.
 
Knowledge SharingCertificate in Gaming Leadership – University of Nevada, Reno Extended Studies and Oklahoma State University Spears School of Business – January 22-25, 2018 –  Hard Rock Casino, Tulsa, OK

I will be working with the University of Nevada Reno and Oklahoma State University to help put on the programs “Track C: Table Games Operations”.  I will be joining several other great instructors including San Manuel Surveillance Director Jessie Beaudoin and slot expert Jeff Jordan, CEO of GameCo Inc.  My schedule and Track C topics are as follows:

  • Introduction to Table Games Operations; How Casinos Make Money; Probability, Odds, Payouts – Monday, January 22nd from 10:15AM to 12:15PM.
  • Table Games Operations: Using Earning Potential as a Management Tool – Tuesday January 23rd from 8:00AM to 10:00AM.
  • Table Games Operations: Maximizing Table Games; Math & Statistics of Casino Gaming – Tuesday, January 23rd from 1:00PM to 3:00PM.
  • Optimizing Table Games Mix – Tuesday, January 23rd from 3:15PM to 5:15PM.
  • Table Games Operations: Live Game Promotion – Wednesday, January 24th from 8:00AM to 10:00AM.
  • Table Games Operations: Player Development and Database Management – Wednesday, January 24th from 10:15AM to 12:15PM.
  • Table Games Operations: The Principles of Leading Your Table Games Operation – Wednesday, January 24th from 1:00PM to 3:00PM.

For additional information, please visit the following website: https://business.okstate.edu/cepd/open-enrollment/pds/gaming-leadership.html.
 
World Game Protection ConferenceWorld Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas – Bally’s – March 12th – 15th

It appears I will be presenting again this year at the WGPC.  This year I plan to speak about the problems and protection strategies with Electronic Table Games (ETGs).  Is it a slot machine or table game?  Does it take a different mindset to safely protect ETGs, or do we need to look at these games from different directions in order to block the various known and unknown avenues of attack.

ELECTRONIC TABLE GAMES: A GAME PROTECTION CHANGER – 50 minutes

Electronic Table Games (ETGs) are becoming a crowd favorite with players and are taking up an increasing amount of space on casino floors. But are they slot machines or a table games? More importantly, how do they work and how do you protect them from cheats, thieves and advantage players. If this is the ‘evolution of gaming’, it seems no one consulted with game protection professionals. In this session Bill examines the popular e-table games on the market and the relatively new concept of stadium gaming. You will hear about vulnerabilities that have been exploited in recent times and Bill’s thoughts on the best ways to protect these new-age games
For more information on the World Game Protection Conference please go to; http://www.worldgameprotection.com/
 
On the moveOn the Move
I understand you can’t hit a moving target, but I still have some time available through the end of the year.  I always have time open to conduct winning player reviews.  If you have any questions, please let me know at wzender@aol.com
 
January
Northern California
Southern California
UNR/OSU Tulsa Gaming Leadership
 
February
Optimal Card Counting Seminar LV
Northern California
New Mexico
Open
 
March
Open
World Game Protection Conference
Central California
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 to contact me through email.  I answer close to a half dozen emails on gaming every day wzender@aol.com
 
Cheers and good luck.
 
Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates
702-423-5734

How Casinos can be Sure a Person is Counting?

October 2, 2017

Dear Friends and Business Associates,

Galaxy GamingI 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?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 wzender@aol.com.
 
Seminars and workshopSeminars 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.
  1. 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 moveOn 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 wzender@aol.com
 
October
G2E
Open
California Gaming Association Presentation
Northern California
 
November
Albuquerque NM
Open
Table Game Cutting Edge Las Vegas
BOD Meeting Arizona
 
December
Open
Central California
Holidays
 
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

Game Protection and Card Counter Detection

From Bill Zender and Associates
Bill Zender Newsletter
September 6, 2017

Bill Zender NewsletterI cannot believe the number of “winning” player evaluations I have conducted this summer.  Most of them concerned higher limit blackjack players, but I still had a couple higher limit baccarat players, and one Pai Gow tiles evaluation.  Usually the evaluations only confirm what the surveillance department had already concluded; the player in question was experiencing an unusual run of luck, and was no long-term threat to the casino.  However, every once and a while I do come upon winning player or players who are winning because they were able to use advantage play techniques (legal but undesirable), or illegal techniques against the house to win that money.  I found just that sort of problem while conducting my Pai Gow tiles evaluation.  After reviewing all information provided along with several hours of video imaging, I was able to establish that a group of players were actually passing around hand tile information so the group could determine the value of the four tiles in the hand controlled by the dealer.  Because of this evaluation, the casino could take the proper steps to neutralize this attack when the group returned to the casino.

Of course winning player evaluations is not the only service I provide.  My list of services are as follows;

Table Game Evaluations – The evaluation of your table game operation to determine game protection weaknesses, and opportunities to change specific procedures in order to increase table game revenue potential.  I’m surprised more casino executives do not take advantage of this service.  The return on investment is outstanding if the customer accepts and implements my suggested procedural changes.

Game Protection SeminarsGame Protection Seminars – These seminars are presented to individuals who are responsible for the supervision and protection of table games; i.e., floor supervisors, dual-rates, pit and shift managers, table game managers, surveillance operators and supervisors, gaming investigators, and upper level casino management.  The approximate 6+ hours of material covers card counting blackjack and side bets, baccarat side bets, hole-card play in blackjack and alternative games, key-card location play, advantage play and cheating in roulette, cheating in craps, and cheating in blackjack, baccarat, and alternative games.  I try to tailor the material specifically for your table game operation, but will show you situations that could result in future problems.

Table Game Management Seminars – I offer a list of topics that I can mix-and-match for your operational need.  The most asked for (and important) areas are, the cost of table game promotions, the mechanics that move hold percentage, managing effective side bets in blackjack, understanding game win-loss volatility and loss risk ranges, understanding the effect of time and motion on table game revenue, and the effective strategies for managing table game limits (both minimum and maximum).  This is a great session if your organization has some up and coming table game management talent that need to learn the finer points of managing table games.

Remember, I do conduct a lot of individual winning player reviews.  All I need is for the casino management/surveillance to send me documentation of the suspected person’s game play, and a video sample of their play.  Some casinos are not allowed by regulations to send anyone video segments.  In these cases, I can conduct reviews and evaluations from detailed player tracking sheets.  If you have any questions about winning player reviews, please feel free to pick up the phone and call me (702-423-5734).  I’m more than happy to answer questions about conducting these evaluations for casinos, regulators, or prosecutors looking to build a case against someone violating gaming laws. 

If you have a question regarding any of the above services (or anything about table game management or protection), please feel free to contact me at wzender@aol.com, or by phone at 702-423-5734.  I look forward to speaking with you.

Your Card Counter Detection Arsenal: The “Third” (and most important) Tool

Card Counter DedectionIn this eBlast I will be examining what I believe is the most important of the three tools for detecting card counting.  The first two tools were learning and recalling basic strategy perfectly, and understanding the minimum bet spread the professional card counter needs to gain a long-term profit from counting.  The third tool involves identifying a correlation between the suspected counter’s bet sizes with that of the person’s hand playing decisions (deviations from basic strategy).  The professional level counter will use basic strategy on 4 out of every 5 hands he plays.  However, approximately 1 out of 5 hands, the counter will deviate from basic strategy in order to use the remaining card composition in the deck to the counter’s advantage.  Note: The counter gains approximately 75% of his advantage from betting more money (a lot more) when the composition of the cards in the deck/shoe are in his favor; however approximately 25% of that gain comes from altering his hand strategy play to the count.  Following is how you can use a wager-hand strategy correlation to increase card counter detection from the casino floor significantly.

Situation: You notice that a blackjack player is wagering with a bet spread that will provide him or her with a long-term advantage.  For example, the player in question is spreading from one hand of $25 to two hands of $200 ($400 total) for a 16 unit spread.  If the player is wagering near the top of his require bet spread, $200 to $400, it could be assumed that the larger wagers indicate the count is “plus” or the deck composition is rich in ten value cards and aces.  If the player is wagering near the bottom of his bet spread, it can be assumed that the count is either “minus” or neutral, and is rich in small value cards.  Based on these two assumptions, if the suspected player is counting cards he will be seen adhering to the following bet-wager correlation:

– Key hand decisions with a “LARGER” wager placed

Aggressive doubles and splits: 11 v. A, 9 v. 2, 10 v. T, 10 v. A, TT v. 5 & 6 (split).

Passive standing/Aggressive surrendering during some “bust” situations: 16 v. T, 15 v. T, 16 v. 9, and
12 v. 2 & 3.

– Key hand decisions with a “SMALLER” wager placed

Passive double downs (hitting instead): 11 v. A, 11 v. 10, 9 v. 3, and 10 vs. 9.

Aggressive hitting during “bust” or surrender situations: 16 v. T, 15 v. T, 16 v. 9, and 12 v. 4 & 6

Note: These above hand strategy deviations from basic strategy are based on Donald Schlesinger’s “illustrious 18”, the eighteen most important hand deviation decisions a professional card counter can make when counting cards.  Several of the above hand decisions noted DO follow basic strategy; they are noted only to illustrate the difference between the two situations, i.e., “larger” bet versus “smaller” bet situations.

As important as these above deviations are to the professional level card counter, the most important…what I call the “million dollar” indicator is…INSURANCE!

Question: What hand totals does the average blackjack player insure?  Are the hands 20?  Even money? Possibly 19?  What about hand totals of 12 through 16?  Does the average player ever insure those?  Never!  But the professional level card counter will.  He does not care what his hand total is.  He is not trying to protect a good hand like the average player, he is wagering on a side bet (insurance), and bets this side bet when (and only when) there is a high count (Hi/Lo count of +3 or greater).  The third tool for detecting card counters can be reduced to this following Game Protection procedure:

If your floor supervisor observes a blackjack player wager a significant amount of money, and this player is seen wagering on insurance when holding a 12 through 16, there is a better than average chance the player is counting cards (or spying the dealer’s hole card).

An “insurance bet” placed while holding a hand of 12 through 16 by a player wagering a significant amount of money is the MOST IMPORTANT indicator that a player might be a card counting threat.  If you teach your floor supervisors to look for this one situation, you will greatly increase you professional card counter (and hole-card advantage player) detection.

A review of the final three tools a floor supervisor needs to know to adequately protect the game of blackjack;

Have the supervisors (and surveillance operators) know basic strategy well enough so that they can instantly tell whether or not a BJ player is following basic strategy.
Be sure all floor supervisors know the minimum required bet spread needed by a professional level card counter in which to gain a long-term advantage over the chosen blackjack game (based on game rules and deck penetration).

Have the floor supervisors look for situations where blackjack players wagering a significant amount of money take insurance with a hand of 12 through 16.

Based on these three tools, be sure the floor supervisor is given directions as to who to notify when a “positive” card counting situation occurs.  One of the biggest problems in casino gaming is the failure to communicate situations to the right person who can help solve the problem.  Remember, you detect problems from the floor, but confirm the problem from surveillance.

In next month’s eBlast, we will look at methods surveillance can use to confirm a person is a professional level card counter.
 
Seminars and Workshop

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

In a couple of weeks I will be 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.  The mathematics portion of this course will dive into the understanding of gambling probabilities, along with converting probabilities into gambling odds.  Once odds have been established, we can convert the difference between true odds and payoff odds into a wager’s mathematical house advantage.  As far as I’m concerned, house advantage is the money tool for operating table games; however we do examine hold percentage and the factors that contribute to hold percentages move up and (Yuk) down.  On the second day, I use the mechanics provided the first day to support theories that will result in increased table game revenue.
 
I know the staff at UNR’s Extended Studies program will accommodate any last minute requests.  Please contact them at gaming@unr.edu, or call 1-800-233-8928.  You can also visit the website for more information about gaming management education.
 
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 has 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.

I’m not sure whether the presentation will be held in the morning or afternoon session, but I will be sure to inform everyone 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 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 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
On the moveIf someone needs me to conduct a Table Games Evaluation or a Game Protection Seminar the second week of this month (September), let me know ASAP and I can still fit you in.  Right now my schedule is open for the last week of September, a week in October, and two weeks in November.  If you have any questions, let me know wzender@aol.com
 
September
Open
University of Nevada Reno
Open
 
October
G2E
Open
California Gaming Association Presentation
Northern California
 
November
Open
Open
Table Game Cutting Edge Las Vegas
BOD Meeting Arizona
 
 
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

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
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 we can't beat this guy
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

chips

 

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.