Mar 24

Live dealer casinos feeling the crunch of COVID-19 closures.

Live Dealer Casinos Now Feeling the Crunch of COVID-19 Closures

When news of the Corona virus first erupted, none could conceive of the disruption it would soon cause to everyday existence; not just in our home towns, but on a global scale. When the phrase “social distancing” became a household term, everyone began looking for ways to conduct their daily activities online. That included entertainment verticals, of course.

Online gambling was thought to be a perfect solution for those who already enjoy the occasional casino rendezvous. However, most online casino games are RNG-based. They are computer generated, offering no source of social interaction. Live casinos, on the other hand, are virtual mirrors of the table games played at land-based casinos, where real people gather virtually, and communicate digitally, as they play.

This particular iGaming vertical has harvesting more players than ever before in the last week. Now, it looks like this form of virtual gambling entertainment may not be around much longer.

Live Dealer Casinos Feel the Crunch of COVID-19 Closures

On Monday, March 23, news came down the pipeline that Evolution Gaming, the world’s premier producer of live casino games, had been ordered by the Georgian government to cease operations at its live casino studio in Tbilisi, Georgia. This marked the first – and at present, only – known mandatory closure of a live gambling studio.

A statement from Evolution Gaming confirmed the situation:

The Tbilisi studio adheres to current guidelines regarding social distancing and the company has taken an extensive number of infection prevention measures in the studio. Evolution Gaming is in close contact with local authorities in order to verify the taken measures and to be able to reopen the studio. The situation is developing, and Evolution will adapt continuously.”

Evolution stated that the vast majority of its operation would continue, as the Tbilisi studio represented just one of its 8 live studios around the world. It was a message meant to reassure audiences, but one that was surely given with a foreboding grain of salt as it predicated a similar future for its remaining properties.

Latvian Gov. Considers Suspension of Gambling Licenses

Today, evidence of that impending future is coming to light, slowly but surely. Word has it that the Latvian government is considering suspending the licenses of all its gambling operators. No official announcement has yet been made. It’s only a consideration at this time, but one I’ve no doubt will come to fruition in the coming days.

Evolution Gaming has been headquartered in Riga, Latvia since the company’s founding in 2006. Its oldest and largest studio is located in Riga Old Town. If the Latvian government goes through with this proposed plan, it could spell a quick domino effect of closures for all of Evolution’s live dealer casinos.

Don’t mistake the meaning in this. It’s not just Evolution Gaming that would be effected by the COVID-19 related suspensions. Playtech, NetEnt, Microgaming, every live casino operator licensed from here to Malta could soon feel the crunch of Coronavirus closures.

If and when it does come to it, we here at RealMoneyGambling.ca support the effort to protect the health of live dealers and all other staff members at these operations who’ve worked so hard to give us this unique entertainment vertical. To you, we say thank you. Go home, stay inside, stay safe, and we look forward to your return when the strange days of this global pandemic come to an end.

written by Grameister777 \\ tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Mar 17

Lowest house edge casino games and where to play them.

Different types of casino goers are attracted to different types of games. Some like fast paced games, while others like to take their time. Some enjoy single-player amusements, while others enjoy the communal atmosphere of multi-player games. Sometimes it’s not about the game play or atmosphere, but the odds of winning that draws a player to the action.

I don’t necessarily recommend choosing your games based solely on the house edge you face. Doing so implies disregard for the entertainment factor. If you’re not enjoying the games, you’re violating the most important rule of responsible gambling – to have fun, since the odds are never really in your favor. Then again, finding a game you enjoy that’s among the lowest edge games – that could be something worth looking into.

Lowest House Edge Casino Games

The following is a top-10 list of the casino games with the lowest edge. Having a low house edge means, in contrast, that the game has a high return to player (RTP). Please understand that the RTP is theoretical. It is based on mathematical probabilities, and as such, only applies in the long term.

Note: The RTP is, quite literally, the opposite of the house edge. If the house edge is 5%, the RTP is 95%. Together they make 100%.

Top 10 List of the Lowest House Edge Casino Games Online & On Land
  1. All Aces Video Poker – 0.08%
    All Aces is a video poker variant found at online casinos powered by Microgaming software. It’s house edge of 0.08% is so low that, over the years, many Microgaming casinos have decided to remove it from their menus. In order to achieve that fantastic 99.92% RTP, you’ll need to make every decision strategically. Learn more…
  2. Blackjack – 0.18% to 0.35%
    Blackjack is known for its low house edge, but there are dozens of rule sets offered at land-based and online casinos. The trick is to find the best games, where the edge does not exceed 0.35%. 1x2Gaming’s Bonus Blackjack and Red Queen Blackjack offer a super low edge of 0.18%, but isn’t the easiest to find. Microgaming’s Vegas Single Deck Blackjack comes in at 0.31%, and is available at hundreds of online casinos.
    Note: I’m not listing any other blackjack games here, although there are plenty with ~99% RTPs that could have occupied the list. Those above are the best – I’ll leave it at that.
  3. Spanish 21 / Pontoon – 0.40%
    Spanish 21 (a.k.a. Pontoon) is a game characterized by the removal of all 10s from each deck. In exchange, a host of player-friendly rules are applied. So long as the dealer is required to Stand on Soft 17, you’ll play against an edge of just 0.40%. (Note that Dealer Hitting Soft 17 increase edge to 0.76%).
  4. Jacks or Better with 9/6 Full Pay – 0.46%
    Another good video poker variant that’s widely available is Jacks or Better. Check the pay table. If it features a 9/6 Full Pay, you can achieve the optimal 99.54% RTP.
  5. Baccarat, Banker Bet – 1.06%
    Betting on the Banker hand in baccarat is as easy as dropping a chip on the table. It begets a decently low house edge of 1.06%.
  6. Baccarat, Player Bet – 1.24%
    Don’t want to bet on the Banker hand? Place your chip on the Player hand instead for a 1.24% house edge.
  7. Craps, Don’t Pass/Come – 1.36%
    They said it’s wrong to bet against the shooter, but who are “They” anyway? A bet on Don’t Pass or Don’t Come offers with a higher RTP of 98.76%.
  8. Craps, Pass Line/Come – 1.41%
    If you prefer to bet with the crowd, for an added 0.5% to the edge you bet the Pass Line or Come wager in craps.
  9. Pai Gow Poker – 1.46%
    This is one of those games you’ll either love or hate. If you find the 1.46% edge appealing, give it a try.
  10. Pai Gow Tiles – 1.50%
    Please know that this is not the same as Pai Gow Poker. Played with 32 dominoes, it is one of the world’s oldest casino games, reserved for casinos in the Eastern hemisphere prior to the online gambling revolution. It’s 1.50% house edge makes it a unique choice among the industry’s lowest house edge casino games.

written by Grameister777 \\ tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Jan 31

The best casino game for beginners (Hint: It’s not slot machines!)

The Best Casino Game for Beginners

Preparing for your very first foray into a casino can be very intimidating. Casinos are often massive properties, lined with opulent décor, glimmering chandeliers, fancy carpets and elaborately dressed employees. For so many of today’s first-timers, walking into a resort-style casino can feel like entering a fine dining establishment in a Hawaiian shirt and flip-flops.

Of course, the casinos don’t really care what you’re wearing, so long as you’ve got cash in your pocket, and a willingness to spend it. But the anxiety for a newcomer is real. Even playing your first casino game at an online gambling destination can set your hairs on end. If you aren’t familiar with the rules of any games, all of these fears become magnified tenfold.

The logical answer might be not to go to the casino. Common sense might tell you to hold off, learn some games first, better prepare yourself for the experience. But what if that’s not an option? I remember my first visit to a casino all too well. It was an impromptu choice, spurred by a group of friends who all decided we should go. Two of them had been before. Three of us had not. As a newbie myself, it was overwhelming, to say the least!

I did what so many first-time casino goers do. I stared in horror at the massive gaming floor, then went straight to the slot machines, where I stayed until almost all my money was gone. It was fun, yes, but I had no idea what I was doing. Within 20 minutes, I’d blown through $80. I spent the next half hour walking around, pinching my last $20 as I watched other people play games I had no clue about. So, if you want to avoid mimicking this tale of majority boredom, might I recommend…

The Best Casino Game for Beginners

Baccarat is the Best Bet for First-Time Casino Goers

If you ask most people the easiest game to play in the casino, they will say it’s a slot machine. Yes, push a button and cross your fingers does seem easy, but there’s so much more to those games. Did you ever try reading a video slot’s pay table? Page after page of symbols, line info, features, payouts, etc. They really aren’t so simple. The easiest game of all – one that features a far better return to player (RTP) than slots – is baccarat.

Baccarat is a card game that you don’t really have to play. All you have to do is choose where to place your bet – kind of like roulette, but again, with a higher RTP. The dealer will take care of everything else. Let’s take a quick look at how the dealer plays out hands.

The Rules of Baccarat

The object of baccarat is for one hand – the Player hand or Banker hand – to be closer to a total of 9. The closest to 9 wins. Each hand starts with two cars. If the total value of those two cards exceeds 9, 10 is subtracted.

For example, a hand of 3+8=11. You can’t exceed 9, so you subtract; 11-10=1. The new hand total is 1. If the cards are 4+5, the total is a perfect 9. Or, if the cards are 10+8, we subtract 10 for a total of 8.

There are certain situations where the dealer is required to give the Player and/or Banker hand a third card, depending on the totals of the first two cards. These are known as “house rules”, and give the Banker hand a slight advantage (51%) over the Player hand. But don’t worry, you can bet on the Banker Hand, too. Or, you can bet on the two hands resulting in a Tie.

Baccarat Odds, Payout and House Edge

Knowing the odds of winning each bet, the payout for winning it, and the house edge involved, will help you choose where to place your bets. The “odds” are the probability of winning each bet. The payout is the amount you’ll get back for winning, compared to what you’ve wagered on it. The house edge is a combination of odds and payouts that determines how likely the casino is to beat you on that bet. Hence, the lower the edge, the better the bet.

Note: You’ll notice that a winning Banker bet pays 1:1, -5%. The casino collects a 5% commission on all winning banker bets to offset the fact that the Banker hand will win more often. If it weren’t for the 5% commission, the casino would lose money on these bets in the long term.

Baccarat Bet Odds Pays Edge
Banker Hand 45.85% 1:1, -5% 1.06%
Player Hand 44.62% 1:1 1.24%
Tie 9.53% 8:1 14.36%

The low edge of 1.06% on Banker and 1.24% on Player bets makes this not just the easiest casino game, but the best casino game for beginners. It offers a communal table game experience, is easy to understand, and can sustain a modest bankroll far longer than slot machines.

written by Grameister777 \\ tags: , , , , , , ,

Jan 15

Land-Based vs. Online Casino Loyalty Programs Compared

Comp Comparison: Land-Based vs. Online Casino Loyalty Programs

Walk into any casino, and if you aren’t already brandishing a rewards card, you’ll be urged to sign up for whatever player’s club program they have on offer. Logging into an online casino comes with the same consideration. You’ll either be signed up for the rewards plan automatically, or strongly encouraged to join.

These programs are designed with several purposes in mind, benefiting both the players and the casinos. Players receive various types of rewards base don their game play, and casinos are able to collect all sorts of marketing data to better their game selection. They are also able to design targeted promotions for individual members based on their past gaming history. Realistically, it’s a win-win for everyone.

Land-based casinos tend to deliver very similar rewards packages as their fellow land-based rivals. Likewise, online casinos mimic their internet competitors in most ways. However, there are significant differences between the way walk-in and log-in casinos reward their loyal players.

Land-Based vs. Online Casino Loyalty Programs

To answer the most obvious question – Which is more rewarding? – I’ll start by saying the land-based variety are a lot more versatile. You may be offered anything from free credits, to free food, to free hotel rooms. Online casinos are more conservative, delivering bonus credits more than anything else. Then again, the amount of bonus credits from online casinos greatly outweighs the number of free credits any land-based establishment would be willing to offer.

So which is best? It honestly depends on what you want out of your experience. Check out the comp comparisons below and decide for yourself which would benefit you the most.

Free Bonus Credits

This is where online casinos shine. They have consistent bonus promotions to take advantage of. Whether you’re high-rolling VIP or not, you’ll get regular deposit bonus offers. On top of that, you’ll earn comp points for every dollar you wager. Those comps convert back to cash at a rate of $1 per 1,000 points. Higher VIP levels usually get an accelerated points rate of up to +25%.

Land-based casinos will offer small bonuses every once in a while, but unless you’re an upper echelon VIP member, don’t expect too much. Land-based casinos prefer to deliver their comps in the form of goods and services, as opposed to free bets or cash.

Comped Goods & Services

At a land-based casino, comps are most often provided as free goods and services, such as free beverages and meal vouchers, or tickets to a live show. If you’re spending enough money, the casino might put you up in their hotel. Their biggest spenders may be offered everything from limo rides to shuttle service via the casino’s private jet.

It’s rare for an online casino to supply physical goods or services. They do not host restaurants, hotel chains or concerts. However, some have been known to promote real-life experiences, such as Caribbean cruises, Vegas getaways, etc. Some have been known to allow players to trade comps for physical merchandise, like electronics or apparel. Again, these are rare perks, but it has been done before.

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Walk-in casino guests have more leverage here. You can approach the concierge desk and request pretty much anything. The more you play – and more importantly, the higher your wagers – the more likely you are to receive exceptional requests. But in general, casino hosts are paid to keep guests happy. Asking for a free meal might only get you a free drink, but that’s still a free drink. Or, you may get that meal. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Online casino loyalty programs offer their highest level VIPs a dedicated account manager. You can ask this person for anything you want, just like in a land-based casino. Again, your request may or may not be fulfilled, but it doesn’t hurt to ask. You won’t likely be given anything substantial, like plane tickets or hotel stays. More realistic requests would be a refined bonus offer or faster withdrawal times.

written by Grameister777 \\ tags: , , , , , , ,

Jan 03

Going South: The Best Blackjack Odds in Vegas

Going South: The Best Blackjack Odds in Vegas (99.86% RTP)

If you’re planning your first trip to Vegas, don’t bother reading this. You’ll want to spend your time on taking in the glorious sites along The Strip and Downtown’s Freemont Street. On your first visit, it’s not about the games, but the experience. If you’ve already had that experience, and are looking for something a bit more, then by all means, continue reading.

I’m going to tell you about the best blackjack games in the city. You won’t find them on The Strip or in Downtown, despite the rampant finger-pointing towards El Cortez. That casino does have some nice games, clocking a 99.82% RTP with the cheapest table limits of $5 and up. If you’re willing to spend $25 per hand, you can do better.

Best Blackjack Odds in Vegas

Head south along Las Vegas Boulevard approximately 10 miles from the central Strip area (Bellagio / Caesars Palace); past McCarran International Airport; beyond South Point and The Grandview. Just as you cross the St Rose Parkway, you’ll come to the luxurious M Resort Spa & Casino, sticking up from the vast stretch of desert floor like a hitchhiker’s thumb.

Beating Vegas with M Resort Blackjack Odds

Its opulence may seem a bit out of place this far south of The Strip. Technically, you’re not even in Las Vegas anymore. You’re in the city of Henderson, but once you enter the property, you’ll never know the difference.

I suggest taking advantage of valet parking, unless you don’t mind long walks. Once you get to the doors, head inside and take the nearest elevator to the upper level. Follow the signs to the casino, and once you’re there, stop the first employee you see and ask them to point you to the blackjack tables. The pit boss should be easy to find, standing at his/her central kiosk with a birds-eye view of the dealers.

Tell this person that you heard the M Resort blackjack odds are the best in the city, and ask for directions to one of those tables. There should be three of them It wouldn’t hurt to do this with a tip sticking up between your fingers, ensuring you get preferential seating if there’s a line. Once you’re seated…

M Resort Blackjack Odds and Rules

At the right tables, you’ll find rules that dish up a delicious 99.86% RTP. That’s a mere 0.14% house edge. It isn’t some odd-ball game with wacky rules and side bets. It’s a standard game of classic blackjack, with just enough player-friendly rules to deliver the best blackjack game in Vegas.

These games are played with a double-deck shoe, requiring the dealer to stand on all 17s. Players can double after a split and are allowed to re-split Aces. By these rules, a basic strategy will deliver that beautiful 99.86% return. Making these tables even more appealing, the games have a 0.8 cut card with 60% deck penetration. Deeper would be great, but in a 2-deck shoe, that’s a nice mark for precision card counters.

To recap…

  • Shoe: Double-Deck
  • Soft 17: Stand
  • Double: Any 2
  • Double After Split: Yes
  • Re-Split Aces: Yes
  • Blackjack Pays: 3 to 2
  • Cut Card: 0.8
  • Deck Penetration: 60%
  • Min / Max: $25 / $5,000
  • House Edge: 0.14%
  • RTP: 99.86%

If you’re interested in testing your skills against the best blackjack odds in Vegas, set your destination for the M Resort Spa Casino, located at 12300 S Las Vegas Blvd South, Henderson, NV 89044.

written by Grameister777 \\ tags: , , , , , ,

Oct 23

Learn how Canadians are going green with real mobile online casinos.

5 Ways Canadians can Go Green with Real Mobile Online Casinos

The human race spent so many years ignoring the effects of our carbon footprints on the Earth, it’s devastated our landscape. Forests are shrinking far more rapidly than we can plant new ones. Oceans, lakes and rivers run rampant with refuse. The situation has become so critical that today, environmental groups are among the most worthy charitable organizations in the world.

The movement towards environmental friendliness has become universally known as “going green”. Those aware of the situation are encouraged to use less electricity, take the train, bus, or car pool to work, and take full advantage of the Triple R’s – Reduce, Reuse and Recycle. The last thing that might cross your mind when considering these things is gambling, but it’s true – even today’s gamblers are doing their part – wittingly or not – to save the planet.

Canadian Go Green with Real Mobile Online Casinos

There are several ways in which a gambler can help preserve the environment, mostly just by being a bit more choosy about where they do their gaming. Shifting from land-based to online is the easiest and most obvious way, worthy of a number-one spot on our list, but there’s more to it than that.

#1 Online casinos use far less electricity.

This section really shouldn’t need any elaboration. Picture any Vegas Strip casino. Imagine how much electricity it takes to power just one of them. All those lights, sounds, illuminated fountains. Land-based casinos are all about the glitz and glamour, and they pay atrocious utility bills to provide it. The MGM Casino, with its signature beam of light, averages more than $200,000 per month, increasing to around $350,000 in the summer months. That’s enough to power a small town for more than a year!

#2 No need to travel to a mobile casino.

Driving to a land-based casino is just another reason to pollute the air with toxic exhaust fumes. Yes, I know the argument, “Most of us drive cars everyday – one trip to the casino isn’t going to change the amount of pollution in the air.” But here’s the same old boring retort – if everyone did it, the reduction in pollution wold be far more significant. Mobile casinos can be played from anywhere you already happen to be, whether it’s on your living room sofa or away from home, doing all those things you really do have to use transportation to get to. And besides, think of all the money you’ll save in gas and tips.

#3 EFT payments don’t deplete trees.

online gambling banking going green

What happens every time you cash out on a slot machine? You push a button, and the machine prints a voucher. You withdrawal cash from an ATM, and it prints a receipt. You give the valet your car, and he prints you a slip. All that printing requires paper, and paper requires trees. It’s a renewable resource, yes, but it takes years to grow a new tree in replacement of the old one that was chopped down to print all those vouchers and tickets that most people won’t bother to recycle. After all, it’s just one little piece of paper, right? An electronic fund transfer (EFT) requires no paper at all. At online gambling sites, you can make deposits and cash out your winnings directly from/to your bank account. Need a receipt? They’ll email it to you!

#4 Microgaming BREAM rating of “Excellent”.

BREEAM is the foremost rating system upon which environmental assessments are made for commercial businesses. To achieve a positive BREEAM rating is commendable. When Microgaming, the world’s oldest and foremost developer of digital gambling software, built its new headquarters in Douglas, Isle of Man in 2017, the company worked in tandem with BREEAM to ensure every possible method of sustainability was integrated into the workplace. Microgaming is one of the few offices on the planet that put so much “green” into its construction, they actually received a rating of “Excellent.

#5 Online gambling for the greater good.

For this last section, I turn once more to Microgaming, who instated the Play It Forward program several years back. Each year, the company pledges to donate thousands of dollars to multiple charities of their employees’ and players’ choices. They’ve contributed heavily to everything from water conservation, to childhood cancer, to saving the Rhinos of Africa.

Microgaming makes millions upon millions of dollars every quarter, and makes every effort to share that wealth in ways that will help to preserve the planet and all of its innocent creatures. So if reasons # 1, 2, and 3 are enough to convince you that you’re better off playing at real mobile online casinos, I hope reasons # 4 and 5 encourage you to do your iGaming with websites that employ Microgaming’s award-winning software.

written by Grameister777 \\ tags: , , , , , ,

Jul 23

Dealing with obnoxious blackjack players and dealers.

Blackjack is widely regarded as the most entertaining game in a land-based casino. Socialites who enjoy the communal atmosphere of a multi-player game gather at the tables, alongside those who prefer blackjack for its supremely high, strategy-driven RTP. It’s a win-win for all but the most casual, solitary-minded casino goers.

Casino Casualties: Dealing with Obnoxious Blackjack Players and Dealers

But sometimes, the experience at a blackjack table isn’t quite up to par. Every once in a while, you may run across an obnoxious player who doesn’t know how to keep his opinion to himself. Sometimes, the dealer may forget his place, treating customers like second-class citizens instead of the bread and butter they are for their employers, the casino.

What do you do when this happens without losing your cool? Here’s some pro tips to help you out…

Dealing with Obnoxious Blackjack Players

The last thing we want to put up with at the blackjack table is another player who thinks he’s smarter than we are. If you’ve ever had your game play criticized by another, you know what I’m talking about.

Some do it because they’ve had a few too many drinks. Others do it because they’re under the impression that your decisions are effecting their game, and they’ve decided to take out their bad luck on you. Either way, it’s not appropriate.

You could just get up and leave, but you shouldn’t have to feel bullied in such a way. You could explain to him why you made the move you did, and that mathematical probabilities do not change based on the decisions of others. But I promise you that won’t go over well. And there’s always the chance that his argument is correct – not yours – and you come off looking like a total idiot.

The best thing you can do here is completely ignore him. Don’t leave. Don’t argue. Just remain calm, play your game to the best of your ability, and don’t show any emotion whatsoever towards this player. So long as you don’t appear perturbed by him, odds are he’ll become so frustrated he gets up and leaves first.

How to Handle a Rude Blackjack Dealer

The job description for any professional blackjack dealer will include supporting the players in their endeavor to beat the house. No dealer is ever told to root for his employer. They are trained to be polite, helpful, and give the best advice whenever a player asks for it. His boss doesn’t care, because he already knows the rules of the game give the house an edge.

If you happen across a dealer who’s blatantly hoping you lose, something is terribly wrong. This dealer is obviously in a very bad mood. Maybe he’s running a double shift and/or has had too many run-ins with obnoxious players of his own. Maybe he’s a disgruntled employee hoping to get himself canned so he can collect unemployment. Whatever the case, he’s out of line, and you’re left to deal with it.

There are three ways you can deal with this blackjack dealer, depending on the severity of their attitude. If they’re just being annoying, don’t tip them. If they’re beyond annoying, you may want to get up switch to another table. As an absolute last resort, you can report them to the floor manager, but only in extreme situations. Again, it could just be they’re having a really bad day, and we’ve all had those before.

The best advice I can give you is to think before you act. Consider all angles – all reasons why a fellow blackjack player or dealer might be acting the way they are. Then approach the situation with a cool, calm and collected demeanor. The high road is always the best road!

written by Grameister777 \\ tags: , , , , , ,

Jun 29

Terrible beginner blackjack strategies could will cost you everything.

Terrible Beginner Blackjack Strategies that will Cost You Everything

I’ve spent plenty of time writing everything from tips to detailed strategies for the game of blackjack. I’ve described at length many of the pros most famous and effective card counting techniques. Today, I thought we’d try something a bit different – a reversal, if you will. Today we’ll be discussing the three worst blackjack game strategies that only beginners are known to erroneously invoke.

The problem is that, to a brand new blackjack player with no experience or foreknowledge of how effective tactics work, these concepts can actually sound like the perfect way to win the game. That’s absolutely not the case. So if you are new to the game, be careful you don’t fall for these all-too-common fallacies.

Three Terrible Beginner Blackjack Strategies to Avoid

I was passing through Edmonton a few weeks ago with a friend and we stopped in the River Cree Casino. While dining at the Kitchen Buffet (pricey, but ask for a 2-for-1 coupon when you join the players club, it’s excellent!) I overheard a conversation that made my gut wrench. This was obviously a kid who had never been to a casino before, and probably had one too many drinks before he got to the blackjack table… his “perfect blackjack strategy”, as he called, was this…

Follow the Dealer’s Rules

This poor kid thought that if he followed the same rules that the dealer is forced to abide by, he would have to have an above 50% win rate. It works for the dealer, why not the player? He was so excited by this idea of his that I felt guilty for correcting him, but I couldn’t let him go on believing that horrible distortion.

At first, he seemed to prepared to argue his point to the death, until he finally stopped long enough to ask me why mimicking the dealer’s moves doesn’t work. My response was simple – because you can bust before the dealer ever plays.

Think about it, I explained to him. If you have 16 and always hit it, you’re going to bust a lot (62% of the time, to be exact). The dealer must also hit 16, but only if the player has already completed their hand. The average player using basic strategy will bust about 16% of the time, thereby losing some of those hands before the dealer ever has to take that scary hit on 16.

Because the player goes first, and can bust before the dealer ever plays, following the dealer’s rules is a terrible way to play blackjack! It results in a house edge of about 6%; far worse than the ~1% edge in most games.

The kid finally caught on and realized the error of his ways. He then proceeded to question my knowledge, asking if this strategy would work instead…

Never Let Your Hand Bust

Oh, no, I told him, that won’t do either. Sure, it will save you from facing immediate disaster when the dealer drops a face card on your 12+, but it’s not going to increase your odds of winning – quite the opposite, in fact.

A more prosperous strategy requires hitting some hand values of 12 or more. When basic strategy instructs players to do so, it’s because your odds of busting are lower than your odds of losing against the dealer’s up card.

For example, if you’re dealt 12, and the dealer is showing a 10, odds are higher that you will lose with the 12 than the odds of busting if you hit it. There are 9 cards that won’t hurt you, and only 4 that will. That’s a 69.2% chance you’ll survive the hit. Thus it is the right move to hit.

Like our error-ridden ‘mimic the dealer’ concept above, never busting also proposes about a 6% house edge.

At this point, I told our young friend that he should take some time to study basic blackjack strategy, and warned him to stay away from this third and final bad tactic that’s cost some beginner blackjack players far more than they could ever afford to lose. I’m talking about the potentially expensive error of using a…

Blackjack Betting System

These systems are advertises as sure-fire ways to win at all sorts of casino games that pay even money. Blackjack doesn’t really qualify, since you can split and double down, but a lot of players make the mistake of using betting systems here anyway.

The idea behind a betting system is to bet progressively in such a way so that even if you lose many hands in a row, once you do win, you’ll make it all back, plus a small profit. These systems do not work. It doesn’t matter if it’s a straight double-or-nothing, a positive progression, or a negative progression system. They don’t work for one simple reason. Casinos have table limits.

You can only place wagers so high before you hit the limit, and all that takes is 8 consecutive losses. The odds of losing 8 hands in a row aren’t great, but if it happens, you won’t be able to continue. You’ll have lost hundreds upon hundreds of dollars, with no way to win it back. Learn more about the inherent flaws of betting systems here.

written by Grameister777 \\ tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Jun 18

Cheaters never win! Unless you happen to be one of these guys who won a fortune by cheating at different casino games.

Cheaters Never Win? These Guys Won a Fortune Cheating at Different Casino Games

Cheating the casino isn’t exactly the best way to make your fortune. It’s not so easy, either, especially considering the last few decades or so worth of advancements in technology. Security surveillance is far superior to what was available half a century ago. But it does still happen.

We don’t hear about casino cheats too much these days for two simple reasons; mostly because there aren’t many willing to try it anymore, but also because those who succeed aren’t blasting the news across social media.

Cheating at Different Casino Games

Although not intentional, some casino games are designed in such a way as to be more vulnerable than others. An entirely computer based game can be hacked and its software re-engineered to perform differently. A deck of cards offers no such mechanized manipulation.

Similar rules apply to the number of people involved in the deception. Any single-player game – a slot machine for instance – is going to be easier to manipulate with special tools or hacking software. The fewer eyes upon you, the better. In the same token, a multi-player game like blackjack is easier to exploit via distraction, wherein the deceiver gives prying eyes something else – something less suspicious – to train their scrutiny upon.

Famous Casino Cheats of Past and Present

I certainly don’t recommend cheating casinos – or trying to, as the case so often turns out to be. I for one would never have the gumption to attempt it, and I hope you would make the same smart decision to keep your gaming on the up-and-up. But there are a lot of people out there who did and do take the renegade plunge. Most of them failed miserably, paying a high price for their crimes. But not everyone…

The following is a list of famous fraudsters who pulled off some of the biggest gaming heists in casino history. Between the most successful tricksters of old and the biggest failures of all time, we’ve got a lot of ground to cover, so for now, you can consider this an ever-growing compilation of casino game cheats.

Richard Marcus – The Drunken Master

I’m starting here because his story is my personal favorite. Richard Marcus, a former card dealer, was a supremely cunning individual who used the commonality of social vices against the very casinos that promoted them. In this case, slovenly drunken behavior.

Marcus’s skulduggery relied upon excellent acting skills, and a great deal of courage, of which he had both. He was so adept at this method, he gave it a name – “Savannah”. It’s awfully similar to the comparably lame technique of past-posting, in which a player uses slight of hand to inconspicuously add chips to a winning bet. But Richard’s method was so much more convincing, if not a bit backwards.

In one of his more vividly detailed exploits, Marcus would play roulette with all the vigor of a drunken master. Upon entering the game, he would place two chips on a bet. The top chip would be small; maybe $5. The chip beneath would be of much greater value.

If he lost the bet, he would irately grab his chips from the table – going against every casino rule in the book – and fling them straight at the croupier! In the process, of course, he would cleverly replace the higher value chip with a second $5 chip, which is exactly what the croupier would expect to find.

If Marcus won the bet, however, he would make a valiant show of the fact that the chip beneath the $5 was of greater value, ensuring he got paid for his acceptable, albeit unorthodox manner of chip stacking. If security were to go back and observe the surveillance video, nothing out of place would be seen. Such was the wisdom of Richard Marcus, who managed to dupe the casinos out of an untold fortune by doing the exact opposite of what was expected – cheating on a loss, rather than a win.

“Savannah” was Marcus’s lucky lady, and she walked him across the fiery coals of many gambling adventures without ever getting caught. We only know of his insurmountable success because he wrote of his duplicitous exploits in his best-selling books. Of course, by the time he told the world what he’d done, he was already beyond wealthy and retired from that swindling lifestyle.

Unfortunately, I’ve lost all respect for the man in recent years. Now, he makes all of his money by bragging and pitting his own kind against the enemy. He runs a blog that supposedly teaches others how to cheat at poker and casino games, and at the same time, offers services to the very casinos he once cheated, teaching them how to catch the people he is supposedly training to bilk them. Not cool, Richard!

Dennis Nikrasch – 2-Step Teaming & Scheming

Dennis Nikrasch World's Best Slot Machine Cheat

Dennis Nikrasch (aka Dennis McAndrews) was a very talented man, particularly skilled in lock smithing mechanics. He used those talents to his lucrative advantage, taking the casinos for an estimated $15 million before the FBI got hold of him.

Nikrasch’s story begins as a teenager, when learned the trade of a locksmith. His unscrupulous ways began there, stealing cars and burglarizing luxury homes in his community. His reputation grew quickly, earning him a respected position with the Genesse Crime Family. The police caught up with him in 1961, and by the time he was released, he began eyeing new locks – the ones on casino slot machines.

By simply observing the keyhole on a slot, he found he was able to fashion a key that would open it. Once in, he used a series of strong magnets to manipulate the machines into releasing their jackpots. His actions went unnoticed for eight long and lavish years before one casino’s security time finally caught on. He was arrested shortly after.

Following a 5 year prison sentence, Dennis eventually returned to Vegas in 1991, thinking he’d get right back to his old ways. Slot machines had changed a lot since then, and Dennis had to come up with a new way to cheat them. So he did. Nikrasch teamed up with tech wizard Eugene Bulgarino, a former associate from the Genesse Crime Family.

Together, the two got their hands on some of the newer slot machine models and dissected them from the inside out. It didn’t take long to discover that the computerized machines ran on a microchip, as opposed to the old mechanical reels, and that the microchip was responsible for triggering jackpot payouts. After months of hard work, he was able to replicate the chip, except that his version would command the game to pay out its top prize the very next time the reels were spun.

Nikrasch’s biggest problem now was finding a way to switch out the microchips in a busy casinos without drawing suspicion or setting off a machine’s tamper alarm. The solution was easy enough – recruit a large team of helpers to disguise his actions.

While Dennis was sitting at a slot machine, appearing to play the game, an entire crew of helpers were moving about the casino, ensuring that his view was blocked from the casino’s security cameras at all times. Once he had finished replacing the chip, he would leave the machine and one of the team members would come along to play instead. One spin later, that inconspicuous member struck the jackpot.

There’s nothing uncommon about one player walking away and the next one striking paydirt, thus the casinos didn’t catch on to what Nikrasch’s team was doing for several years. Odds are they never would have figured it out if Dennis hadn’t been betrayed by one of his own partners.

Exactly who turned on him and why is a matter of speculation, but it’s believed it was a woman from the team who wanted more than Dennis was willing to give. When she tried to turn him in to the police, the FBI was eager to get involved, but try as they might, they could not find a single scrap of evidence that he had tampered with any slot machine. The security cameras showed nothing, and he left no trace of manipulation on any machine. Even IGT, the company that manufactured some of the games he cheated, could find no hint of tampering.

Slot Machine Cheat Dennis Nikrasch Arrested

The FBI resorted to tapping his phone, but of course Nikrasch and his colleagues were too smart for that. What they didn’t prepare for was the bugging of Dennis’s home. The FBI overhead a conversation in which Nikrasch invited Bulgarino to his home. Just hours before, agents snuck in and planted listening devices throughout the house. During the meeting, the two discussed every aspect of their previous crimes in an effort to find areas of improvement. They spoke of upcoming hits, and ways to spend their ill-gotten gains.

That was more than the FBI needed to storm the home and arrest them both. Dennis Nikrasch plead guilty to all charges and agreed to reveal all of his slot machine cheating secrets to help casinos catch other people like himself. For his cooperation, his sentence was reduced to 8 years.

Tommy Glenn Carmichael – Monkey Paw, Monkey Do

Tommy Glenn Carmichael was a product of the mid 1950s, a time when technology was all the rage. Electronic wonders were coming out of the woodwork, and they fascinated Tommy. He was that kid that ignored his friends pleading to visit the soda shop, and instead stayed in his room, dismantling a ham radio just to see how it worked.

Infamous slot machine cheater Tommy Glenn Carmichael

When he grew up, Tommy’s love of small machinery led him to open Ace TV Sales & Services in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The business was going great, but then everything began to fall apart. Prior drug convictions had him on probation and doing community service. He was in the midst of divorce proceedings from his third wife. Similar shops were opening all over town, driving his revenue into the basement.

Tommy Glenn Carmichael was in shambles.

That’s when Ray Ming, an old high school buddy, walked back into his life and change everything. Ray led Tommy outside to his car and told him that the object inside his trunk would change his life forever. He was right.

Within the confines of Ming’s trunk was a small-scale slot machine and a cheater’s tool known as a “top-bottom joint”. Neither Ray or Tommy knew how the gadget worked, but they were determined to find out. Carmichael took the slot machine home and disassembled it, learning the inner workings of the game and how to exploit it with the mechanism. Finally, after fiddling with the tool for many hours, he felt he was ready to use it in a real casino.

His first trip to Vegas started with a nickel machine, which he was to strike a $35 win on. He then moved up to quarter slots, and by the time the weekend was over, he had taken the casino for nearly $10,000.

His cheating ways continued with great success for the next few years before casinos updated their machines to RNG technology, forcing him to rethink his strategy. Unable to use the top-bottom joint on the newer models, Tommy limited his gaming habits to smaller casino joints beyond the strip, where the older machines were still in use.

Smaller crowds made for easier detection though, and it didn’t take long for police to catch up to him. They followed him for a week gathering evidence before he was arrested, charged and convicted of running an illegal gambling enterprise. Since he was already on probation, he was sentenced to five years in prison.

Years later, in an interview with USA Today, Carmichael said about this time in his life:

You think about what you did, and the mistakes, and how to correct them. You either get straight or get better.”

Carmichael got better.

In the years he was away, machines continued to evolve, so Tommy decided to go back to school, so to speak. He worked multiple minimum wage jobs until he’d saved enough money to purchase one of the newer machines. Not a slot machine this time, but a video poker machine. He spent more than a year learning the how the RNG and micro-processing units worked before he was ready to head back out into the casinos with his new invention – The Monkey Paw.

It’s engineering was genius, yet its operation simple. Built with guitar string and steel springs, it did resemble a monkey’s paw. And when it was inserted up the payout chute of a gambling machine, it triggered a mirco-switch that released a payout.

Tommy was “winning” thousands of dollars every outing, but just as before, times were changing, technology was evolving, and casinos were updating to newer machines. Carmichael decided to save some time and play it cool, disguising himself as an affluent with interest in purchasing one of the new slot machines.

Under this presumption, he convinced a casino employee to open up one of their new machines and explain how everything worked. In that limited space of time, he conceived his next big invention – The Light Wand.

The Light Wand Slot Machine Cheating Device devised by Tommy Glenn Carmichael

As is turned out, the new games were just as easy to cheat as the old ones, but instead of making contact with the trigger, he needed only light to pass over it. Like before, the light wand was inserted into the payout chute. When the light shown on the sensor, coins were released.

Tommy Glenn Carmichael became extremely wealthy at this point, not only because his new slot cheating device worked so well, but because he was making loads of money on the side selling them to fellow casino cheats. He was so rich at this point, he took a 6 month vacation from Las Vegas, pilfering the machines on casino cruises in the Caribbean.

Upon his return, Carmichael decided to set up a team. He partnered with Ramon David Pereira and his old prison buddy, Michael Balsamo, among others. Each member had an important role, scoping out the machines, keeping a watch for security, blocking the line of vision from security cameras at just the right moments.

If the stories are true, these guys were so successful that at their peak, they were raking in upwards of $5 million a day, virtually raiding the vaults of every casino on the Las Vegas Strip. Then one day in 1996, it all came crashing down.

The group was running their scheme at the Circus Circus Casino when authorities closed it. Tommy had no idea the casino had updated its security cameras. His blockers were no longer effective. Security saw everything. The moment Carmichael inserted his light wand into a machine, a team of guards pounced.

He was charged with cheating, manufacturing of a cheating device, and possession of a cheating device. However, authorities didn’t have enough evidence to make all the charges stick. They had to release him the next day.

Tommy Glenn Carmichael was arrested again in 1998, to no avail, and one last time in 1999. That time it stuck. He was sentenced to 1 year in prison and 3 years probation. After his release, he turned his life around, sort of. Carmichael began working with the casinos instead of against them, and made his new fortune developing tools to help stop cheaters. Might as well, since he’s engraved in Nevada’s Black Book of life-time banned players.

Ronald Harris & Reid McNeal – The Ruinous Nature of Greed

In the mid 1990s, a pair of seemingly unlikely comrades were getting rich quick off Nevada casinos. One was Ronald Dale Harris, a respected engineer with a strong background in computer programming and a convenient source of employment. The other was Reid Errol McNeal, an old school yard friend of Ron’s who just happened to be in the wrong situation at the right time.

Ronald Harris and Reid McNeal arrested in 1995 for cheating slot machines in Las Vegas and Atlantic City

The story begins in the early 1990s, when Ron Harris applied for a job with the Nevada Gaming Control Board (NGCB). He had all the right skills and his record was squeaky clean, thus he was a perfect candidate for computer programmer. His responsibilities included analyzing the state’s slot machine software for glitches and flaws.

In Ron’s defense, he had no intention of going rogue when he was hired. However, his job granted him access to very sensitive information, and it wasn’t long before he realized how easy it would be the manipulate the system from his position. All he had to do was alter the erasable programmable read only memory (EPROM) within a slot machine to govern its payout release. And so he did…

Harris knew the inherent dangers of his actions. He knew that if he went to the casino and won a jackpot himself, it would look awfully suspicious. That’s when he decided to contact his old childhood friend, Reid McNeal. The two had stayed in touch over the years, enough that Ron knew Reid had recently lost his job and was hard up for cash. Needles to say, it didn’t take much convincing to bring McNeal aboard.

Ron would program the EPROM chips of certain slot machines to line up a big win when a certain sequence of coins was entered. Then Reid would play the slot machines his friend told him to play, in the exact manner he was told to play them. For instance, one of Ronald’s favorite sequences – one no other player was likely to insert by accident – was 3 coins, 2 coins, 2 coins, 1 coin, 3 coins, then 5 coins. If that precise number of coins was inserted per play for six plays in a row, the sixth spin would result in the big win.

At first, they were the perfect duo, splitting the profits down the middle. They won relatively lucrative amounts of money, but never more than a few thousand per strike. It kept the prying eyes of the NGCB off their backs, and put far more in Harris’s pocket than his day job allotted. But then, as criminals so often do, the two got greedy.

In 1995, Ron wanted to try his illicit programming skills on keno machines, but he didn’t feel comfortable doing it in his home state. They left Nevada for the east coast, bringing with them all the equipment required to manipulate a gambling machine on site. They booked a room at an Atlantic City hotel and set their sites on a keno machine at Bally’s Park Place Casino.

In the beginning, everything worked just as planned. Harris gave instructions to Reid, who inserted $100 into the appropriate machine and – as expected – won the $100,000 jackpot. It was the largest keno prize ever paid by the casino. But instead of uncorking the champagne bottles and taking pictures with oversized cardboard checks, casino staff became instantly suspicious of Reid McNEal.

His first mistake was his lack of reaction. He did not seem surprised or even excited by the 6-figure win. He remained perfectly calm and asked for his winnings to be paid in cash. No payout would be forthcoming however; not just because the casino suspected something was up, but because any win of $35,000 or more required an investigation to confirm the win.

As protocol called for, security protected their latest big-money winner back to his hotel room, where they just so happened to find Ron, along with all of the equipment the two brought with them to manipulate the machines and cheat the casino. That was all police needed to place the two under arrest.

Ronald Harris plead guilty to more than twenty counts, including abusing his position with the NGCB, using confidential information for personal gain, and rigging gambling machines from Las Vegas to Atlantic City. He was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was released on good behavior after serving just two. Reid McNeal cut a deal with authorities, testifying against his friend in exchange for exclusion. Subsequently, all charges against him were dropped.

Ida Summers – The Vegas Vixen

Ida Summers Vegas Vixen

People often jump to conclusions when it comes to the roles women play in large-scale casino cheating scandals. It is assumed that any woman is merely a distraction – a decoy – directed by a man or group of men to swing their hips and bat their lashes while the real geniuses get the job done. That stereotype had nothing to do with the success of the fraudulent femme fatale, Ida Summers.

Ms. Summers was, for the most part, a one-woman show, and one of the most successful Vegas fraudsters of all time. And while she most certainly distracted the dealers and pit bosses from what was really going on at the table, it was for her own benefit.

Aside from her deviant charms, Ida’s claim to notorious fame was her indubitable skill at sleight of hand. From the late 1960s to the early 1970s, she pocketed thousands of dollars a day at Las Vegas casinos, mostly by adding or removing cards – sometimes entire decks or shoes of card! She was so adept at it, she eventually earned the nickname Vegas Vixen.

We must attribute a great deal of her success to her beauty, and ability to flaunt it. With a petite frame and slender physique, 5’2” and under one hundred pounds, every head in the room turned when she walked in. As competent as she was at sleight of hand, her flirtations were her most dexterous skill, allowing her to easily move cards around without notice.

Ida was especially fond of technique known as hand-mucking. It involves exchanging one or two cards in your hand with outside cards. In order for this to work, of course, you need the additional cards to flawlessly match the current cards. She had no trouble solving that potential problem, either.

Ms. Summers would either steal a deck cards right off the table when the dealer was distracted, or she would use her charms to convince a dealer to give it to her, even though it is thoroughly illegal to do so. The Vegas Vixen was known to draw a dealer so deep into her flirtations that when she asked for a deck of cards, just so she could “practice at home”, they were more than willing to risk their job just to make her smile and flash those beautiful eyes once more before she left.

Having an entire casino deck to work with, Ida would slide cards up her sleeve and discreetly pull them out as needed. She used them most often at the blackjack table to give herself a hand of 21. She was also known to cheat at Texas Hold’em poker and Caribbean Stud.

In her most daring adventures, she would stack an entire shoe with “cold decks”, prearranged to guarantee beating the house. Of course, replacing an entire shoe was much more difficult, and far riskier, than replacing a few cards. This was one area in which Ida Summers required help, recruiting a number of people to assist her in the job. She would remove one shoe from the table and slip the stacked shoe back in its place, then rest the original shoe in her lap, just out of sight under the table, until an accomplice could discreetly take it from her.

It’s crazy how successful she was in these duplicitous endeavors, despite the seeming blatancy of her crimes. One could say it goes to show how gullible men can be when it comes to the charms of a beautiful woman. However, once the casino managers became suspicious and brought the FBI in to investigate, it still took them several months to gather sufficient evidence to prove she was, in fact, cheating the casinos. This attests to her immense skill at sleight of hand.

Eventually, she and several of her accomplices were caught. The charges against her so well stacked that she should have spent several years behind bars. But her days of charming weren’t over yet. We can only assume that she was able to flirt her way out of the courtroom, handed nothing more than probation, even though several accomplices served time in jail.

Louis “The Coin” Colavecchio – The Counterfeit Con

Louis The Coin Colavecchio The Counterfeit Con

Louis Colavecchio was not a casino cheater in the traditional sense. He did not manipulate the games to increase his advantage over the house. There were no Aces or mechanical devices up his sleeves. Mr. Colavecchio’s crime was more subtle, and far less detectable by casino security. He was a superbly skilled counterfeiter of slot machine coins.

For many years – no one knows for certain how long – Louis was using special equipment to mint counterfeit coins that perfectly mimicked the tokens accepted and emitted by casino slot machines. His coins were so on point, it wasn’t just the cashiers that were fooled by them. He is believed to be the first counterfeiter that was able to successfully recreate coins even a slot machine’s sophisticated software was unable to identify as being fake.

Louis wasn’t always a con artist though. He was the son of a poor immigrant-turned-businessman who rose up to open his own machine manufacturing company. In hopes of following in his father’s footsteps, Louis, who was very intelligent, went to college and opened a business of his own – a jewelry store in his hometown of Providence, Rhode Island. It was years later, after a brutal burglary destroyed his business and almost took his life, that Louis got involved in counterfeiting.

Using the insurance money from the robbery, he opened a new jewelry store and began taking “business trips” to Atlantic City. Those trips were actually a front for a new addiction – playing slot machines. The store, in turn, became a front for counterfeiting coins. He started out minting fake chips for the blackjack and poker tables. This was far easier than slot machine coins, but yielded a minimal profit. Eventually, he decided the reward outweighed the risk associated with counterfeiting slots tokens.

Louis would make his way to Atlantic City, bringing a stash of coins he’d minted on a machine originally built to engrave jewelry. He would then use these coins to play the slot machines, appeasing his addiction with no risk to his financial welfare. A bad run lost him nothing, but when he had a good day, he was able to cash out for pure profit.

Mr. Colavecchio is said to have made over one million dollars counterfeiting slot machine coins before the law finally caught onto his deceptive ways. It started with a phone call to the New Jersey Department of Gaming Enforcement from Caesars Palace after the staff discovered a massive surplus of $10 slots tokens during an annual inventory check. All other casinos in the area were informed, and when they ran their own counts, they found equally sophisticated counterfeit coins in their network.

The casinos were put on high alert, and when Louis Colavecchio and his then-girlfriend, Donna Ulrich, entered Caesars Palace the following weekend, it didn’t take long for security to catch on to their suspicious habits. They spent hours watching the two, making note of their game choices. When they left, security opened those machines to find counterfeit coins in the hoppers of each and every game they had played.

In 1998, Louis and Donna were arrested. Authorities found them in possession of 750 pounds worth of counterfeit coins from various casinos in New Jersey and Connecticut. In exchange for a reduced sentence, Colavecchio agreed to tell the casinos how he had counterfeited the coins so perfectly. He spent the next 7 years behind bars.

Upon his release in 2006, he went right back to his old ways. Within a few months, Louis was arrested for the exact same activity. Years later, after statute of limitations had been exceeded, it was revealed that rumors of Louis Colavecchio’s involvement with the mafia were true. He admitted that the brutal robbery of his first jewelry store was really a premeditated scam to claim insurance money. He is also said to have been involved in other mafia-related robberies, arson fires and shootings. Louis was arrested again in 2013 for drug trafficking.

Phil Ivey & Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun

Baccarat Cheats Phil Ivey and Cheung Yin Kelly Sun

The name Cheung Yin Sun may not ring a bell, but surely you’ve heard of the highly decorated, world-class poker pro, Phil Ivey. He’s got 10 WSOP bracelets under a multi-million dollar belt. But poker isn’t the only game he excels at. Paired with Cheung Yin Sun – better known as “Kelly” Sun – this duplicitous duo was caught cheating more than one casino out of massive amounts of cash.

Ivey and Sun seemed to be the world’s most successful baccarat players, right up until the casinos figured out how they were getting so lucky. The two were using a special technique known as edge sorting. This system only works if 1) the players are extremely observant, and 2) the deck of cards in use has some sort of discernible flaw in the pattern printed on the back of each card.

Some say these two actually manipulated the cards in some way to achieve their edge-sorting advantage. Whether that’s true or not, we don’t know. What we do know is that Ivey’s immense bankroll and intelligence, combined with Sun’s expert edge-sorting capabilities, made one heck of a time – for a while.

Ivey and Sun famously cheated the Crockfords Club casino in Mayfair, London in 2012. While playing Punto Banco for high stakes, they utilized an erroneously printed pattern on the cards that helped them predict whether the next card would be high or low. In this way, the two were able to wrangle up a massive £7.7 million in winnings at Crockfords alone.

Unfortunately for them, that kind of cash isn’t handled directly. When Ivey requested the winnings be transferred to his bank, the casino instead froze his account and launched an investigation. Soon enough, they filed charges against the two for outright cheating.

Ivey of course claimed that they had merely found a fair edge and used it to strategically win. After a 5-year court battle, the London Supreme Court sided with Crockfords, declaring Phil Ivey and his accomplice were “undoubtedly cheating”. Thus, the casino did not have to pay Ivey or Sun the millions of pounds they had illegitimately won.

Crockfords wasn’t their only high-rolling haunt. When the pair weren’t edge-sorting the Punto Banco tables in London, they were doing the exact same thing at the Borgata Casino in Atlantic City. It wasnt’t until the Borgata caught wind of what was happening across the ocean that they took greater notice of Ivey’s baccarat play at their own establishment. Low and behold, Ivey always played alongside Kelly Sun, and together they had taken the Borgata for more than US $12 million in April 2012.

The Borgata, having already paid out their winnings, filed charges against the duo – more severe charges than they faced in the UK. Ivey and Sun were accused of cheating, and were also brought up on charges of fraud and racketeering (via the RICO Act). If convicted on all counts, they would have faced at least $30 million in fines, not to mention jail time. As it was, the extra charges were dropped, leaving Ivey and Sun to pay back the more than $10 million.

While Phil Ivey was attempting to file an appeal against that judgment, he was also learning that the UK courts had ruled against him. He would not be receiving any money from Crockfords Club. Without that cash, he told the courts he could not afford to repay the Borgata – that the “enormity of that amount would clearly be of devastating impact”, resulting in “irreparable harm” to both Phil Ivey and Cheung Yin Sun.

Borgata wasn’t falling for it, and neither were the courts. Ivey did not have enough liquid assets in New Jersey to cover the cost, but he had no trouble spending money in Nevada – including the $10k buy-in for the 2018 World Series of Poker Championship. The NJ courts ruled that the Borgata could pursue Ivey’s assets in Nevada, including any futures winnings from poker, until the casino had been paid in full.

Phil has yet to give up on the court battle. In March 2019, he filed an 800-page appeal in hopes of practically rearguing the entire original case. He maintains to this day that neither he nor Sun interfered with the deck of cards in any way. However, it was proven that the two requested the same deck be used for an extended period of time. During that time, they were placing $150,000 bets, and won $12.6 million. When a pit boss intervened and demanded that a new deck be introduced, Ivey and Sun immediately cashed out and left.

Phil Ivey finished in the money in several events at the 2019 WSOP, where he won a combined $133,395. He never saw a penny of it, though. WSOP host Caesars Entertainment instead sent the money to The Borgata, which had obtained a court order to seize his poker winning in Nevada. To date, still owes millions of dollars to The Borgata.

written by Grameister777 \\ tags: , , , , , ,

May 14

A fond farewell to mechanical horse racing games.

A Fond Farewell to the Nostalgia of Mechanical Horse Racing Games

I often talk about the variety of casino games found in today’s major gambling establishments. Everything from slots and video poker machines, to blackjack, baccarat, roulette, craps and other table games, not to mention keno, bingo, and today’s big-ticket skill-based games slowly invading Atlantic City. One game I don’t believe I’ve ever mentioned before is the Sigma Derby.

We’re not talking about genuine horse race betting. The Sigma Derby is a mechanical race simulator. It takes place at a massive table that seats up to 10 players, with 5 figurine horses racing around a miniature track. The results are random, the payouts are real, and that one minute of excitement is more than enough to draw beads of sweat as the mechanical ponies jerk their way ever-closer to the finish.

How Mechanical Horse Racing Games Work

Sigma Games Inc., based out of Japan, introduced the first electro-mechancial horse racing game in 1985. Named after their own company, the Sigma Derby was a big hit out of the gate. The set-up features 5 horses on an oval track. Each is pulled along from beneath by individual gear chains. To make the games fair and unpredictable, each gear runs at a random speed each time it’s initiated.

The only available wagers on Sigma Derby games are “quinellas”, meaning that the player must select two of the five horses to win and place (finish 1st and 2nd). It doesn’t matter which order they win and place in, so long as the two horses selected are the first two to finish. As such, there are only 10 betting options. Eligible quinellas and their respective payouts are as follows:

Much like a slot machine, the probability of the speed being high or low is predefined, but is determined at the moment the game starts by the algorithmic density of a random number generator (RNG). Suffice it to say (and this is only an example), horse #4 may only win or place in 8 out of 100 races, but no one – not even the manufacturer – can predict which of those races he will finish.

Horses Pays Horses Pays
#1 + #2 5 to 1 #2 + #4 20 to 1
#1 + #3 39 to 1 #2 + #5 2 to 1
#1 + #4 200 to 1 #3 + #4 160 to 1
#1 + #5 19 to 1 #3 + #5 15 to 1
#2 + #3 4 to 1 #4 + #5 79 to 1


Mechanical Racing Simulator a Dying Breed

The Sigma Derby fell from the grace of casino management many years ago when it was decided that the games just weren’t profitable enough to keep them around. It certainly wasn’t a popularity issue. Everywhere these games existed, the seats were occupied, and almost always at capacity.

Why the Sigma Derby is a Dying Breed

So why weren’t they making money? They can’t blame the house edge. Those horses were providing anywhere from 10-20% edge for the casino. Players didn’t even care, though. Even knowing how bad the odds were, the game provided plenty of excitement, at a low enough cost, to keep the seats filled. And with 10 players participating, wins occurred often enough to attract more bettors whenever one left the table.

The real problem was that Sigma designed the game to take quarters only. Players would bring a cup of quarters with them to the derby game, and could bet anywhere from 1 to 20 coins per race ($0.25 to $5), but most stuck to one quarter. With 10 players betting 1 coin per minute, even with a 20% edge, the casinos were only generating about $2.00 per minute. Removing a game of such considerable size and replacing it with a bank of slot machines, or a single $5-minimum blackjack table, could earn them so much more in the same span of time. So that’s what they did.

At the time of writing, it’s believed that just one Sigma Derby game remains in North America, occupying a small piece of property on the second floor of The D Las Vegas. More recent remakes are being introduced, but they lack the tinny nostalgia – as well as the cheap betting options and 5-horse build – of the original, mechanical horse racing games.

written by Grameister777 \\ tags: , , , ,