Tag Archives: Baccarat

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:

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 [email protected], 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 [email protected]
Las Vegas BOD Meeting
Alberta Canada
University of Nevada Reno
BOD Meeting Club One
California Gaming Association Presentation
Please let me know if I can provide one of my services for your organization.
I’m always available to answer your questions. If you have any questions on gaming; don’t hesitate in contacting me through email.  I answer close to a half dozen email on gaming every day [email protected]
Cheers and good luck.
Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates

Bill Zender Newsletter 01/17

Some interesting comments from Bill Zender on the state of advantage play:

January 10, 2017

Dear Friends and Business Associates,
I hope everyone had a great Holiday Season and are looking forward to a prosperous New Year.  It seems that I am always asked about what I see as the biggest Table Game problems, cheating and otherwise, for the year to come.  Following are my answers.  I’ll start with the “core” table games first, and then comment on other factors not specific to table games.

2017 Table Game Advantage Play and Cheating Scams to Watch Out For

Blackjack – Still the dominate table game on the casino floor, I believe the primary avenue of attack will come from advantage players finding weak dealers in order to spy the dealer’s hole-card.  Please don’t rule out shoe dealt games!  Finding dealers that give up the hole-card (unintentionally) in shoe games is more common than you think.  Also, don’t rule out card marking (both daub and punch) and card switching in hand pitched games.  The biggest cost to the gaming industry will come from card counting; however it’s NOT the players at the table creating the cost.  It’s the FEAR of counters that hurts our industry.  For example; do you cut off more than one deck from the back of the 6 or 8 deck shoe games?  If the answer is “yes”, there’s the cost!  Cutting off more cards than necessary decreases hand decisions per hour which costs blackjack revenue.

Baccarat – Baccarat is internationally popularity, simplicity, and offers “sky-high” wagering limits, and it will remain the primary game to beat in 2017.  My biggest concerns lie with cheaters gaining access to playing cards, and either recording pre-shuffled card sequences, or using invisible paints to mark the card (primarily the sides, surprised!)  If you question my thoughts on using invisible paints to mark the sides of cards, please go on YouTube and watch videos (there are several) regarding the “Holdem Analyzer”, and consider how that principle would work in regards to baccarat and card sequence knowledge.  Also, beware of the high limit customer who requests changes to the games dealing procedure (dealer turning up the cards, as well as determining the method for inserting the shuffle point card).  Procedure manipulation through social engineering has been a big problem over the past several years, and probably won’t diminish in 2017.

Craps – One of the hardest games to cheat or gain an advantage by the customers.  Be on the lookout for dice sliding (not controlled throws).  Dice sliding appears to be on the rise in smaller, less game protection educated casinos, or in high limit games with “demanding” VIP players.  Make sure the dice hit the back wall and be done with it.

Roulette – The color scam, buying in for a minimum denomination chip, and getting another person to cash those chips out at a higher denomination, is still being accomplished.  Educate your staff on the technique.  The cheating scam of past posting is becoming a dying “art” with the advent of HD cameras, however don’t rule it out.  Also, be careful with computer “clocking” and “number bias” regarding the roulette wheel head…but not necessarily on the “cloth” table games; on the physical roulette wheel heads used in conjunction with electronic roulette games (you know….the games the slot department think they own).

Alternative Games and Side Bets– Some of the smartest people in the world are advantage players, and they closely examine every new table game and side bet released each year for advantages.  Be sure you understand the procedures and mathematics of any new game or side bet before offering it to the public.  If in doubt; keep the maximum limits low.  Also, be on the constant lookout for dealers unintentionally exposing dealer controlled cards, either a hole-card or a community card (or both).  Educate your dealers and floor staff, and then hold you managers responsible for guaranteeing proper dealer hand/community card protection.  One other point; watch out for possibilities of card switching between two players, especially in Three Card Poker.  Other alternative games are susceptible as well.

And the biggest area of concern moving forward into 2017… Marketing Promotions. – More money is lost every year from bad promotions and programs.  Be sure that someone in your organization runs the numbers!  In addition, don’t copy someone else’s promotion, and then deem it OK just because someone else is doing it (especially from big gaming companies).  If you think your organization’s marketing strategy is OK, ask yourself this question; “Do we use Match Play Coupons and/or Promo Chips as a strategy to attract table play?”  If the answer is “yes”, then you have a problem!

At this point in time in the gaming industry’s history, we operate the safe table games ever.  The recent developments in equipment technology, time tested game procedures, quality floor and table camera coverage, and the availability of game protection education, have made are jobs a lot simpler and easier.

With that said, every organization still needs to stay up to date with the new advantage plays and cheating scams.  One of the best ways to stay up to date is to send at least one person from your organization to the World Game Protection Conference (WGPC) each year in Las Vegas.  This year the WGPC will be held from February 21st through the 23rdat the M Resort.  Anything threating to the casino bottom-line which has arisen in the past year is discussed at length by some of the top game protection experts in the world.  One topic of interest, although not about table games, will be an exclusive look into how computers and devices are being used to attack slot and video machines!!

I hope these prognostications help enlighten everyone about the possible pitfalls of this upcoming year.  I wish everyone a prosperous and safe 2017.

Seminars and Workshop

World Game Protection Conference in Las Vegas – M Resort – February 21st – 23rd

Speaking of the WGPC, I will be presenting on the first day of the Conference during three morning sessions.  The topic of my presentations will be:  Bill Zender’s Lessons Learned as an Expert Witness

The title speaks for itself.  Primarily, I will discuss my experience in putting together cheating cases for the police or regulators, and how I proceed with criminal or civil cases as an expert witness.  During the three 50 minute presentations, I will refer to many of the cases I have worked over my career as a casino executive, gaming control agent, and gaming expert witness.  The titles for the three sessions are as follows:

  • Putting the case together for Law Enforcement
  • Conducting my own investigation as an expert witness
  • Testifying in court as an expert witness

For more information on the World Game Protection Conference please go to; http://www.worldgameprotection.com/

Potential Future Seminars

It appears I will have some spare time this early spring so I’m strongly considering holding a March seminar in Las Vegas at the Tuscany Suites Resort.  At will either be a two-day seminar on Table Game Management, or a one-day seminar on the Cost of Table Game Promotions.  I’m also considering conducting a two-day Table Game Protection seminar and/or a one-day Optimal Baccarat Seminar 2017 somewhere outside of Las Vegas this summer.  My last two seminars outside of Las Vegas, in the Seattle Washington, and the Albuquerque New Mexico areas were a big success.
Please watch for future eBlast to find out what seminars, dates, and locations will be available.

On the Move

I’m looking to fill up several weeks in February with March and April wide open.  If you have any questions, let me know [email protected].
Las Vegas
Indiana Gaming Agent training
Northern California
Northern California
World Game Protection Conference Las Vegas
Las Vegas seminar
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 best wishes on a new year.
Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates

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.