Tag Archives: Game Protection

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.

Emails 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. 


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.


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.

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?


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.

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?


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 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 (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 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
Northern California
Southern California
UNR/OSU Tulsa Gaming Leadership
Optimal Card Counting Seminar LV
Northern California
New Mexico
World Game Protection Conference
Central California
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 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

Game Protection and Card Counter Detection

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

I 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 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

In 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

University 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
If 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
University of Nevada Reno
California Gaming Association Presentation
Northern California
Table Game Cutting Edge Las Vegas
BOD Meeting Arizona
Please let me know if I can provide one of my services for your organization.
I’m always available to answer your questions. If you have any questions on gaming; don’t hesitate in contacting me through email.  I answer close to a half dozen email on gaming every day wzender@aol.com
Cheers and good luck.
Bill Zender
Bill Zender and Associates