Category Archives: Events

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 [email protected], 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 [email protected]
 
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 [email protected]

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

 

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 [email protected].

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 [email protected]

Cheers and good luck.

Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates
702-423-5734

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

Bill Zender’s Southwest Table Game Seminar

September 13, 2016

Dear Friends and Business Associates,

The Southwest Table Game Seminar is coming to Albuquerque New Mexico!!
 
I will be holding two-day Table Game seminar on October 18th and 19th, 2016 at the Crown Plaza Hotel and Resort near downtown Albuquerque, New Mexico
 
The Southwest Table Game Seminar is a “hybrid” two-day seminar:
 
Day 1 session concerns different methods and procedures that will increase revenue in table games
 
Day 2 session deals with areas of game protection and reveal different techniques used by today’s advantage players and cheaters, and provide the table game executive and surveillance professional tips and hints how to detect and prevent unnecessary losses in revenue. 

FOR MORE INFORMATION VISIT THE URL BELOW:
http://us11.campaign-archive1.com/?u=1a57e68a82b308dad579ff3af&id=dde66c4d6f&e=dffc884c7f

If you have any questions, please feel free in contacting me at [email protected] or 702-423-5734.  Take care, good luck and I hope to see you in Albuquerque the end of middle of October!

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

Bill Zender’s Optimal Baccarat Seminar 2016

I have only six seats remaining for my August 9th Optimal Baccarat Seminar in Las Vegas Nevada, at the Tuscany Hotel/Resort.  If you are interested, please contact me as soon as possible so you don’t get shut out.  This 7 hour session covers topics such as:

  • Mathematics for establishing house advantage in baccarat
  • Value of offering side bets in baccarat.
  • How to establish table betting limits both per spot minimums and table limits.
  • The effect of using match play coupons and promotional chips.
  • Advantage play in baccarat: card counting side bets
  • Advantage play in baccarat: Attacking the ribbon spread
  • Advantage play in baccarat: Manipulating card positioning (sorts)
  • Cheating: Marking cards in baccarat
  • Cheating: Switch cards in baccarat
  • Attacking card sequence: Recording sequence during the cut and card spread
  • Attacking card sequence: Recording sequence by penetrating card security
  • Future attacks on baccarat
  • The best procedures for your baccarat games

For more information and registration forms, please email me at [email protected].
The cost of attending this one-day seminar is $500 per person. The seminar includes snacks and drinks, handouts, and a certificate of completion.  The Tuscany Suites is located a short distance from the Las Vegas Strip on Flamingo Road.  If you have any questions email me [email protected] or call me 702-423-5734.