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Computer-Based System To Crack Down On Casino Card Counters

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the de-niro-system-more-effective dept.

Math 597

An anonymous reader writes with this excerpt from Yahoo Tech outlining a system currently being researched: "Card counting is perfectly legal — all a counter does is attempt to keep track of whether the cards remaining in a deck are favorable to his winning a hand (mainly if there are lots of tens and aces remaining in the deck) — but it's deeply frowned upon by Vegas casinos. Those caught counting cards are regularly expelled from casinos on the spot and are often permanently banned from returning. But given the slim house odds on Blackjack, it's often said that a good card counter can actually tip the odds in his favor by carefully controlling the way he bets his hands. And Vegas really doesn't care for that. The anti-card-counter system uses cameras to watch players and keep track of the actual 'count' of the cards, the same way a player would. It also measures how much each player is betting on each hand, and it syncs up the two data points to look for patterns in the action. If a player is betting big when the count is indeed favorable, and keeping his chips to himself when it's not, he's fingered by the computer... and, in the real world, he'd probably receive a visit from a burly dude in a bad suit, too. The system reportedly works even if the gambler intentionally attempts to mislead it with high bets at unfavorable times." It's not developed in Vegas, though, according to the brief description (the other projects are also interesting) from the University of Dundee's release, but rather in conjunction with the Dundee Casino.

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597 comments

And things like this are why... (5, Interesting)

TheSpoom (715771) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766111)

I will never play Blackjack in a casino environment, unless it's for negligible amounts of money.

"How dare you attempt to win one of our games!"

Re:And things like this are why... (5, Insightful)

42forty-two42 (532340) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766121)

Look at it from their point of view - all they want to do is win their games, too. The only difference is, instead of bet/no bet, their choice is bar/don't bar from the premises.

Re:And things like this are why... (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766205)

And when a higher proportion of blacks get caught card counting than whites, the system will be called racist. Jesse Jackson will find a camera somewhere, Al Sharpton will talk about how racially biased it is, and the ACLU will sue the casino for slavery reparations.

Re:And things like this are why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766277)

And when a higher proportion of blacks get caught card counting than whites

LOL

Re:And things like this are why... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766481)

Black people can't count, you retard

Re:And things like this are why... (0, Troll)

Imsdal (930595) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766603)

Not a problem in real life. As someone pointed out, you have to be able to count in order to count cards. So the card counters are all asians.
(This was obviously a joke, but it's worth noting that the main character in Ben Mezrich's "Bringing Down the House" was asian.)

Re: their choice is... (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766233)

Ummm ... if they have this computer thing then why don't they count the cards too?

Besides, I thought Casinos only played half the cards in the deck these days (ever since the MIT card-counting club) to avoid the counters from getting any real edge.

Re: their choice is... (2, Informative)

SigNuZX728 (635311) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766341)

No what they do is put 6 decks in the shoe but then play 4+ (they will reshuffle somewhere in the middle of the 5th deck). I had heard before that for the most part they don't care about people trying to count cards because it's hard to do correctly, and if you don't do it correctly then you're going to lose in the long run anyway. I suppose this system is one way to weed out the people who are doing it correctly.

If you play enough, you will ALWAYS lose. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766419)

Casinos are evil. If you play enough, you will ALWAYS lose. Casinos take advantage of people who are foolish enough about money that they think they can win.

Re:If you play enough, you will ALWAYS lose. (1)

Mr. Freeman (933986) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766505)

If you're counting cards on blackjack then you can tip the odds in your favor and win in the long run. The percentages actually turn in your favor.

Re:If you play enough, you will ALWAYS lose. (2, Interesting)

Imsdal (930595) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766615)

Only if the casinos don't reshuffle often enough. I can't for the life of me understand why they don't use eight decks and reshuffle after four or five. Then the card counting edge will almost never be big enough to give the counters an edge. And for the non-counters it obviously makes little difference.

Does anyone know why the casinos don't do this? It seems so fantastically obvious to me, and the casino operators are not stupid.

Re:And things like this are why... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766135)

Fuck them.

Re:And things like this are why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766267)

are they hot?

Why don't they just get it over with? (2, Insightful)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766299)

Why don't they just get it over with, and just take your money?

It's not like making a game, with rules and all, really makes that much difference if they just decide that because you are playing the game by the rules, that you are somehow bad because you succeed? So, you can play the game by their rules, so long as you lose?!?!?

This is retarded. I've given the casinos less than $10 of my money for gambling. I'll never give them more than $20. Fuck them and their stupid "you can play by our rules so long as you lose!" mentality. Nevermind their billion dollar profit margins...

Re:Why don't they just get it over with? (2, Insightful)

captainpanic (1173915) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766589)

They basically only want stupid people to play.

The game has been carefully designed to statistically create a profit for the casino, assuming that the deck of cards is too complex for players to memorize.

For really smart people who can count really well, assumption is false, so the system fails.
But for stupid people, the assumption is true and the system works.

So, they want only stupid people.

~I prefer to spend my money in the bar: enter being smart, and become stupid as a result of spending money.

Re:And things like this are why... (1)

garethw (584688) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766155)

Agreed - I've never understood why "counting cards" is this awful, evil thing that people do and it's despicable and immoral and bad and we'll kick you out. If someone's able to use their ability to their advantage, why the hell wouldn't they?

Re:And things like this are why... (3, Insightful)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766229)

If someone's able to use their ability to their advantage, why the hell wouldn't they?

You mean like using the fact that you own the casino to your advantage by kicking people out who are counting cards?

Personally, I think the present situation is eminently fair. You are free to choose to go to Vegas and play blackjack or not, and the casino is free to provide service to you. You are free to count cards, and the casino is free to kick you out.

Put it this way: many swimming pools would probably kick you out if you were running around the deck of the pool. Because it's their ground, so they get to set the rules.

Re:And things like this are why... (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766287)

The real question is; will casino's allow you to cash in your winnings to do they kick you out AND keep the money?

Re:And things like this are why... (5, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766319)

The real question is; will casino's allow you to cash in your winnings to do they kick you out AND keep the money?

Card counting isn't illegal. You get you keep what you have won so far. They can legally kick you out and ban you any time they like but they can't deprive you of property you legally own.

Casino's love a few winners. They give the losers hope and keep them playing and the house always wins in the end.

Re:And things like this are why... (1, Insightful)

moniker127 (1290002) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766291)

The "our house our rules" mentality is bullshit. They are taking peoples money, not offering a fair game. Whenever someone starts to win- they kick them out. That just simply isn't fair to whoever was winning.

Re:And things like this are why... (3, Insightful)

1s44c (552956) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766345)

The "our house our rules" mentality is bullshit. They are taking peoples money, not offering a fair game. Whenever someone starts to win- they kick them out. That just simply isn't fair to whoever was winning.

It's fair. As a gambler you also have the right to walk away from the game whenever you like to take your winnings or cut your losses.

However if they didn't have a house edge they would not stay in business so gamblers always lose in the long term.

Re:And things like this are why... (2, Interesting)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766413)

The "our house our rules" mentality is bullshit. They are taking peoples money, not offering a fair game. Whenever someone starts to win- they kick them out. That just simply isn't fair to whoever was winning.

"People who come to win but cut short their stay if they start to lose is bullshit. They are taking the casino's money, not playing a fair game. Whenever the house starts to win, they just leave. That just simply isn't fair to whoever was winning."

Not that I think that the tables should be necessarily even between the gambler and house, which is why things like minimum payout laws and such are probably a good idea.

But I don't think that applies here. I agree with the sibling post: If the gambler can, at will, get up and leave, I think the casino should be able to as well.

Re:And things like this are why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766181)

How is it even legal for a casino to kick you out for playing their games? The casino always has the option to not offer blackjack if they're worried about counters.

Re:And things like this are why... (2, Informative)

Garridan (597129) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766199)

Private companies have the right to refuse service to anybody. And if you're asked to leave, you're trespassing on private property if you don't vacate immediately.

Re:And things like this are why... (2, Insightful)

Ost99 (101831) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766623)

This would not be legal everywhere.
Discriminating based on mental abilities would be just as illegal as discrimination based on ethnicity, religion or sex in many European countries.

Re:And things like this are why... (2, Insightful)

wizardforce (1005805) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766187)

Casinos have an obligation to follow the outlined rules. They do not however, have any obligation to lose money.

Re:And things like this are why... (2, Insightful)

lxs (131946) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766471)

They also don't have an obligation to offer blackjack. If they can't make money on a game without throwing good players out, maybe they shouldn't offer the game in the first place.

White trash Re:And things like this are why... (5, Insightful)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766189)

They use 8 damed decks for blackjack. Poker is a joke. The perpetually spinning roulette wheel is an abomination. Video slots are stupid. It does not pay to play at all.

There are two reasons to go. For the whores...oh wait Vegas can't stand the competition so you have to drive an hour north for that. So the only reason to go there is so you can say you've been there and paid 8 bucks for a V8.

A friends wife sums it up nicely:

"Vegas is like Monte Carlo as re-imagined by white trash." --blkkitty mzmadmike's wife
http://mzmadmike.livejournal.com/ [livejournal.com]

Judging by all the roulette "systems" on the web.. (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766253)

The main reason people go to Vegas is because they're stupid.

Well, ok, they do have some good shows there. If you avoid the casinos and just see the shows I might let you off the hook.

Re:Judging by all the roulette "systems" on the we (3, Funny)

Thanshin (1188877) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766595)

Great shows.

I watched the various games rules explanation in the hotel tv and laughed at the atrocious stupidity one must suffer to even consider playing with the objective of winning money.

During the small part of my honeymoon I was there, I spent the considerable quantity of 0$ in games. However I did spend several hundreds of your cheap (at that point) bucks in fantastic shows.

I plan on going back soon (EUR-USD parity willing). I know I won't play a single chip and I know I'll still have a wonderful time with the shows.

About the whores. They are, by a large margin, better this side of the pond. Not that I'd even consider one, taking into account they give even worse odds than a casino.

Re:White trash Re:And things like this are why... (4, Funny)

Phurge (1112105) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766313)

Monte Carlo is like Vegas as re-imagined by Euro-trash

Re:White trash Re:And things like this are why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766393)

tard. :/

Re:White trash Re:And things like this are why... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766405)

Monte Carlo is like Vegas as re-imagined by Germans - all the tacky people have been moved to a nice death camp.

look, I fixed it for you.

Re:White trash Re:And things like this are why... (5, Interesting)

dargaud (518470) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766437)

There's actually one very good reason to go to Vegas: to climb the excellent sandstone of Red Rocks [gdargaud.net], just a couple miles off the city. But for all I care you could nuke the city; it would certainly lower the amount of car break-ins while we are out climbing.

Re:White trash Re:And things like this are why... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766523)

And don't miss the Valley of Fire about a hour north of the city.

Re:White trash Re:And things like this are why... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766467)

I have been to Monte Carlo. And it's the same. Just more compact, more expensive, and wayyy more arrogant!

Like the central for the trash and crooks of the rich people. Those for inherited it, instead of working for it, for example. All decorated with expensive and partially old design. But that's just the facade.

P.S.: He must have had a hard time saying his name to others, or in school, with a name like "blkkitty mzmadmike". ^^

Well of course (4, Insightful)

Sycraft-fu (314770) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766231)

Casino's would go broke if the odds weren't in their favour. The whole way they stay profitable is because the odds are for the house. Not a whole lot in most games, and what the odds are is tightly regulated (at least in Nevada), but they are ALWAYS in favour of the house. Even if they were slightly in favour of the players, even 1%, the casino would lose money in the long run.

If you gamble in a casino with the belief you can win in the long run, you are an idiot. Winning is an anomaly, it has to be for the business to work.

Re:And things like this are why... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766247)

Although I'm not a gambler myself, I find the ban on "skilled" gamblers repulsive.
The casinos themselves try to have croupiers that are skilled at tipping the odds in the casinos favor, so the fact that they go to such lengths to stop gamblers from doing exactly what they themselves do is quite off putting.

Re:And things like this are why... (1)

Imsdal (930595) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766629)

The casinos themselves try to have croupiers that are skilled at tipping the odds in the casinos favor

Huh? Care to elaborate?

Re:And things like this are why... (1)

Hurricane78 (562437) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766423)

Or even "How dare you trying to scam you while we are scamming you?!?"

But you must never forget, that the idea is to take money from the dumb people. It's one of the last methods of natural selection that we got, in this world of supporting the worst parts of our society.

Let's be happy that by it not being us who fall for things like these, we will have an advantage in evolution.
Now the only problem is, that those people who own the casinos or work there, will have an advantage over us.
But that is easily changeable: Work in the "natural selection" business too! ^^

Because even if you're a Boll "casino owner "Gotes, you still will be a better human, than the original casino owners and Bill Gates'.

If they don't want people to play the game... (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766123)

Then they shouldn't have the game on the casino floor. Don't get all pissy when people figure out how to put the odds in their favor.

Re:If they don't want people to play the game... (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766137)

Ever played Blackjack in California? It's crazy. The "bank" is some guy who works for a mob called "The Corporation" and you pay tribute to the "house" every hand.. working out the odds is a waste of time as basically they're under 50%.. it's a horrid game.

You're too good, stop playing (3, Interesting)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766125)

In a much fairer way, this is what I think they should do with FPS games.. there should be a ladder, at the top are the absolute best players, they get there by starting at the bottom and scoring more than a standard deviation of points over all the other players. That way the rest of us average (or, in my case, terrible noob high ping bastard) players don't have to put up with being continually schooled. In the case of blackjack, they should just cap your bets. You wanna count cards? Sure, but you don't go off the $10 table ok?

Re:You're too good, stop playing (1)

EvanED (569694) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766251)

I've never been to a casino, but isn't Blackjack merely between you and the house?

Re:You're too good, stop playing (1)

QuantumG (50515) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766265)

Yep, but FPS = First Person Shooter, which is what the policy of "you're too good, go away" reminded me of.

Re:You're too good, stop playing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766475)

Not really. If you want to try and do a little better you play as many boxes as possible, and the whole table should play against the dealer. You sometimes take a hit for the table, and get rewarded when somebody else takes the hit.

Re:You're too good, stop playing (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766271)

(got modpoints I've used elsewhere in this topic, hence the AC post)

One of the usenet groups I frequent (yes, there are a couple that are still worthwhile and no, I'm not telling you what they are - although I could name a few slashdotters who hang out there) had an interesting duscussion on this very topic about a year ago. It seems that a number of smaller casinos will comp your meals and drinks, provided you bring in more dollars from the gullible who think they're joining you on a table that pays out than you take home with you. Card counters and casinos can exist for each others benefit.

Continuous Shufling Machine (3, Insightful)

tangent3 (449222) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766141)

The few casinos I have visited (around East Asia) use continuous shuffle machines with multiple decks. Seems like a far cheaper method of defeating card counters without having to confront them with big burly dudes and earning bad PR.

Re:Continuous Shufling Machine (4, Insightful)

moogsynth (1264404) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766283)

That seems just as snide as catching the counters with machines, possibly worse. People like to play Blackjack because they know it can be beaten. Whether they actually will beat the house is another matter entirely (and most probably won't). Having enormous, permanently shuffling decks completely blows that illusion away. I can see it turning more people away than bringing them in.

Re:Continuous Shufling Machine (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766431)

I for my part would not play then, as it then is not "playing" cards but simply gambling.

angel'o'sphere

Re:Continuous Shufling Machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766499)

People like to play Blackjack because they know it can be beaten. Whether they actually will beat the house is another matter entirely (and most probably won't).

This is absolutely correct. Casinos make very good money off of people who think they can count cards but can't—after all, unlike a casual gambler, an inept card counter will bet more than they can afford since they plan to beat the system anyway.

That the casinos don't use continuous shuffling suggests that it's better to have people think they can break the system than to make the system truly unbreakable. Of course, that won't stop the casinos from wanting to stop the successful card-counters anyway; it still improves their profits to do so.

The article (3, Funny)

CoolGopher (142933) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766145)

If you're new to slashdot, don't bother reading the article. Especially in this case, where the article is already contained in the summary here.

Pointless in Vegas (5, Insightful)

evel aka matt (123728) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766149)

Las Vegas has made card-counting a non-factor. Between high deck-count shoes, variant games with unfavorable rules ("Super Fun 21"), and early shuffle thresholds, even a player keeping a perfect count cannot create a significant edge. And the million people who show up to try their hand at it and fail far make up for the cost of the few who can eek something out anyway.

Re:Pointless in Vegas (5, Insightful)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766169)

I've also heard Vegas bigwigs say that they love card-counters because very few of them do it well enough to actually make money. A lot of money is made off of gamblers who think they have a winning system.

Discipline (2, Insightful)

br00tus (528477) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766361)

From a technical standpoint, they probably DO have a winning system. In a real world implementation, they don't.

I know someone who did this seriously, and I looked into it for a while. If you really dedicate yourself to it, and can follow the system, you can succeed. One thing to remember is it is all mathematical. Theoretically (although not in reality), you can place bets only when odds are in your favor! When the first hand is put out of a new deck, the odds are against you. Let's say for the first few hands of that new deck, most of the 4s, 5s and 6s from the deck have been dealt out, and none of the 10s or Aces. The odds swing into your favor, and get better and better as that pattern continues. Theoretically, you can watch the game, and only sit down and start betting when the odds turn in your favor. In reality, this will mark you as a counter, especially if you place large bets when you sit down.

The initial problem with counting is, you dedicate many, many hours to getting good at counting, but as soon as you start making money, you go in the "face book" and are banned from casinos (or at least banned from playing blackjack).

So you have to get a team together. Most teams have a lot of low level counters who bet small and when a decks odds turn in the player's favor (or when a deck turns significantly in the player's favor) they signal a "big player" on their counting team, who sits down and starts making big bets. If your team is betting big money and is successful, eventually they'll figure this out as well, but if you keep trading players out and are clever, you can keep it going, and make some money.

The problem is it takes a lot of discipline. With a team, you need good discipline from a lot of people. You need to trust everyone with large amounts of money. One person screwing up can blow your whole team's security. It is not an easy thing to do. On top of it all, even if you succeed in getting a disciplined team, once you get rolling, Griffin will begin figuring out who you are. Remember, you have dealers, pit bosses, floor managers there not to mention the cameras which have film saved for quite a while and then Griffin investigating. If you can get a competent, disciplined team like that together, why not start a company or something, without having the pain of all that security breathing down your neck once you get good? Ultimately, you have to do it for enjoyment as much as the money. Because it takes a lot of work, discipline, and relations with regards to the team.

Re:Discipline (4, Insightful)

silentace (992647) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766417)

You just got done watching "21" didn't you... it's alright, you don't have to lie.

Re:Discipline (2, Insightful)

garompeta (1068578) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766563)

He probably read "Bringing Down the House", which is a real story, he knows more than what it is shown in the movie.

Re:Discipline (3, Interesting)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766601)

I read that book, but I have a very difficult time believing it is true. The numbers just do not make sense. You will burn an awful lot of money betting the minimum over and over again waiting for that rare opportunity when your odds improve to about 50.5% or so. And then for a couple of hands you can make a .5% return after waiting around and burning money all night. So for a couple of hands a night you bet thousands of dollars a hand, risk a huge amount of money, for an expected rate of a few tens of dollars per hand. And this is after all your teammates burned their money betting the minimum for hours on end. Oh, and you have to somehow win enough to pay for all the overhead of a vacation to Vegas. It is all garbage. The casino does not spend gobs of money employing elite security teams to track down card counters. (and lets not even think about how ridiculous the idea of a multi-billion dollar organization exposing itself to lawsuits by roughing up a customer who scammed them out of a few bucks is)

I can believe a story about guys who went to Vegas, played basic strategy and managed to get some nice comps. But there is no way they were bringing down millions in net profit. At least not until they started doing book/tv/movie deals. That I can believe is profitable.

Re:Discipline (0)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766463)


Let's say for the first few hands of that new deck, most of the 4s, 5s and 6s from the deck have been dealt out, and none of the 10s or Aces. The odds swing into your favor, and get better and better as that pattern continues.

That is complete bullshit.

If 3 of the 4 "10"s are already dealt out and you have a 10 and a 2 kings, then you know the opponent can not have a "10". So if he has 3 cards like you it can only be a 9 + 2 kings or an 9 + 8 + knight etc.

It has absolutely nothing to do with "odds" and of course nothing with the fact that 4s, 5,s 6s are played out ... it is a matter of judging what cards you hold on hand and what cards the opponent my have based on which cards are still available.

angel'o'sphere

Re:Discipline (2, Insightful)

jimmyharris (605111) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766493)

Can you explain what version of Blackjack you are playing when you can possibly have 3 x 10 value cards and not be bust?

Re:Discipline (1)

garompeta (1068578) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766587)

Actually there are people dedicating professionally to make those splinter groups. Yup, professional card counting careers, what about that? One of the characters of "Bringing down the house", Jason Fisher founded the "Blackjack Institute".

They do exist, though... (1)

bradley13 (1118935) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766385)

My favorite teacher in school, a physics guy, loved to play poker in Vegas. He lost, of course. But he played blackjack and won - after every Vegas vacation, he came home happy: he had funded his poker losses from the blackjack table, and came home neither richer nor poorer. He never did tell us how he did it, but it involved some pattern in his betting and he must have counted cards. He probably never ran afoul of the burly guys simply because he never got greedy.

Re:Pointless in Vegas (1)

jorghis (1000092) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766503)

You hit the nail on the head, I swear this myth that card counting is in any way shape or form a profitable endeavor is perpetuated by the casinos. They do not hate it, they love it. And there are so many clueless people who have convinced themselves that they can do it. Duping players into thinking if they are smart they can win is a far better sales pitch than the games that everyone agrees are guaranteed money losers over long periods of time

If you sit down and actually do the math you will realize that even with perfect play you are playing a game where the player comes out ahead about 49% of the time. If you count cards then on very rare occasions you will be able to notice those scarce moments when the odds shift to 50.5% in favor of the player. (and believe me, they are scarce, especially with all the shuffling and multiple decks) So in order to make a profit you have to sit there for huge amounts of time betting low amounts and then suddenly turn around and start betting thousands of dollars a hand when your odds of winning are barely over 50%. Even if we assume that you can get away with that (or if we assume that this business of having a team is practical) you are still left with a scenario where you are risking a huge amount of capitol and investing phenomenal time for a relatively low expected rate of return. And that is if everything goes perfectly.

It is a nice fantasy to think about math nerds walking away with the casino's money, but at the end of the day you will make more money working at McDonalds with no risk even assuming perfect execution.

Re:Pointless in Vegas (1)

AstrumPreliator (708436) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766331)

Last time I was at the Luxor in Las Vegas I played a few hands of Blackjack. They were using continuous auto-shufflers and the cards were shuffled after every single hand. I believe they only used a couple of decks, though it's been about a year since I saw this. I haven't seen it in any other casino after that, although I rarely gamble.

Re:Pointless in Vegas (1)

misnohmer (1636461) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766395)

Exactly. Vegas and other Nevada casinos deal with it mathematically by adjusting the rules - single deck blackjack has both early shuffle AND only 2X (some 2.2X) payout on blackjack (vs. 2.5 on 6 or 8 deck) - this basically makes sure that if you count cards well, you're back to your average loss of 1% to the casino. Of course if you make a mistake counting, the house actually enjoys higher odds than regular blackjack - so they love it (and provide you drinks to help you count). Last time I visited South Lake Tahoe (Nevada) every casino had a couple of single deck blackjack tables and books on card counting on news stands.

False positives (4, Insightful)

razvan784 (1389375) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766163)

Do they say something about the reliability of the method? Percentage of false positives? Those can mean angry customers and lost business.

Re:False positives (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766309)

I'm pretty sure banning winning customers (no matter whether they count, cheat or are just damn lucky) isn't losing business. And since when do companies care about angry customers that don't affect their bottom line?

Re:False positives (1)

Odinlake (1057938) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766533)

Not so sure - if enough monkeys play for enough time then statistically a couple of them are bound to be momentarily lucky. Banning them at that point would just be forcing them to quit while they are ahead. At the extreme, suppose you were to ban any player that was $5 ahead - you'd ban most people and loose $5 each time.

Of course there is a threshold were you ban enough real cheaters to pay for the "false positives". I'm just pointing out that it is not black and white - you have to assess the situation more carefully to say what the result will be.

The key observation is that a player who has been "just lucky" for a while is as likely to loose money in the future as any other sucker there.

This is not what gaming should be (5, Insightful)

QuoteMstr (55051) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766173)

The very premise of a casino is that it's a business that plays games for money. These games are conducted fairly and have public rules set out in advance. The profit comes from structuring these games such that the casino has a slight edge. Everyone knows that.

The problem comes when the casino breaks its own rules. It's a fundamentally deceptive business practice in any field to tell public that one set of rules applies, then to actually enforce another. If Blackjack is not profitable, the game should be modified or dropped. "You are not permitted to win" is not a fair rule, especially when it's a hidden rule. It's no different from rigging the odds of slot machines, and there are laws against that [wikipedia.org].

Re:This is not what gaming should be (1)

TheMCP (121589) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766261)

Moreover, doesn't this constitute unlawful card counting on the part of the casino?

Re:This is not what gaming should be (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766295)

No, because it isn't unlawful in the first place.

Re:This is not what gaming should be (1)

SmlFreshwaterBuffalo (608664) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766627)

No, because it isn't unlawful in the first place.

Card counting in your head is legal. Card counting devices, which is what this is, are illegal. Of course, this will probably be allowed without question since the gaming laws exist to benefit the casinos, not the players.

Re:This is not what gaming should be (5, Insightful)

ztransform (929641) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766307)

"You are not permitted to win" is not a fair rule, especially when it's a hidden rule.

After all, if the computer is keeping a count of when conditions are favourable, the casino could quickly expel any winners even if they are not counting cards.

Thus there is no more element of chance in the game. The casino will accept all bets that lose, and eject any winners.

Sounds like the insurance industry to me (who never deny an insurance application, but always investigate the application when you make a claim).

Re:This is not what gaming should be (4, Insightful)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766365)

This.

The point of a casino is that they make money by running games of chance where the odds are in favor of the house. Card counters are just a scapegoat used by casinos to get rid of anyone they want with an accusation that can't be disproven.

All this system does it automate the already extremely easy process of detecting someone that doesn't fail miserably at blackjack and give them an even better "computers don't lie" excuse to get rid of that person.

Re:This is not what gaming should be (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766515)

After all, if the computer is keeping a count of when conditions are favourable, the casino could quickly expel any winners even if they are not counting cards.

Or, just shut down the table - send the dealer on a coffee break.

Sounds like the insurance industry to me (who never deny an insurance application, but always investigate the application when you make a claim).

Well, the insurance industry does have its own abuses, but insurance companies do often turn down applications. The fat kid [kdvr.com] in Denver was turned down until the media made a fuss.

Re:This is not what gaming should be (2, Insightful)

Jay L (74152) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766451)

"You are not permitted to win" is not a fair rule, especially when it's a hidden rule

True, but why worry about small-time scams like casino gambling? There are larger issues at stake; this is a matter of principle.

I say we take on the thermodynamics lobby. Who's with me?

Re:This is not what gaming should be (1)

dargaud (518470) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766461)

The very premise of a casino is that it's a business that plays games for money.

If that was the case, then you'd pay a few $ to enter the premise, receive a handful of chips (same for all), play, then leave, leaving all the chips in (no conversion to cash). Of course that'd never work as people would figure out that the games are stupid if they don't have their power rush "I'm sure I'm gonna win this time".

Re:This is not what gaming should be (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766557)

Just like most other businesses, they have the right to refuse service to anyone as long as its a legal reason. End of story. Each hand is a separate transaction, hence they can cut you off at anytime.

Re:This is not what gaming should be (1)

phision (836909) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766617)

And, someone told me recently, blackjack IS dropped in many of the casinos. The ones that still offer the game do it as a favor to their clients. The casino managers know they may lose in blackjack, so there is a limit on the bets. Thus the loss is miserable compared to the win of the other games.

Burly Dude (5, Informative)

_newwave_ (265061) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766243)

Um, casinos don't send burly dudes anymore. This isn't the 70's. In fact, if they suspect you of counting they simply politely ask you to stop playing. If you are caught playing again, then they may ask you to cash out your chips and walk you out.

Re:Burly Dude (2, Insightful)

hab136 (30884) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766297)

In fact, if they suspect you of counting they simply politely ask you to stop playing.

The person politely asking is usually burly. Or at least well-muscled.

I would not take on any of the security folks I saw in Vegas.

Re:Burly Dude (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766323)

And what if you refuse to go? Do they just keep asking politely whilst you just sit there and ignore them? Because as far as I know, you can play blackjack with earplugs in.

I'm calling "Bull" on the whole thing... (2, Insightful)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766257)

FTA: "By comparing the cards and gambling patterns, the computer can identify a card counter inside 20 hands - even if the gambler starts off with a run of high bets to confuse the system."

Yeah, right...

Re:I'm calling "Bull" on the whole thing... (4, Insightful)

mwvdlee (775178) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766329)

I thought blackjack cart counting schemes only worked when you already had a significant number of cards pass by? How could a computer identify a card counter inside 20 hands when a card counter hasn't even started using their count by then?

Re:I'm calling "Bull" on the whole thing... (1)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766479)

Each hand has 2 - 4 cards, as minimum 2 players play, this is 4 - 8 cards, lets say on average it is 5.

A deck has 52 cards ... so with 20 hands already 2 decks are played.

angel'o'sphere

Luck (2, Interesting)

Mr.P1ckl3s (1531833) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766327)

I made 300 dollars playing blackjack the first time i ever played anything in a casino and i will never play again.

The myths about card counting... (4, Informative)

dgun (1056422) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766373)

make casinos plenty of money. Every time I hear about bullshit like what is reported in this article, I always suspect that the casinos are behind it. I wasted years playing blackjack, counting cards, and losing money (great recreation, losing money), and I never once witnessed anyone being banned at the blackjack tables. The idea that this is common is a lie. So, get good at counting cards, go to the casino, count your way to a measly fraction of a percent advantage over the house and still watch your money burn. Too bad you didn't consider risk of ruin. Give me a 100x more bankroll and I'll give anyone a fraction of a mathematical edge.

crooks tag obviously applies to the casinos (1, Troll)

dltaylor (7510) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766377)

Since card counting not cheating, by simply intelligent play, I think there should be a national law (so the bought-and-paid for Nevada Legislature isn't a factor) that anyone asked not to play a game or escorted from a casino, no matter how politely, gets a $10,000,000 payment from the casino, and the casino is fined an additional $10,000,000 to defray enforcement costs.

Anyone who attempts to block card counting is a cheating thief and deserves serious financial pain.

Re:crooks tag obviously applies to the casinos (1)

Necroloth (1512791) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766621)

why is this modded as flaimbait? Do people with mod points actually know how to use them and what the different options mean? I'm fed up of people totally ruining your karma for a disagreement.

as for your post, I'm just surprised why it is frowned upon... it's not as if everyone is capable of doing it and especially as it's human ability rather than using a machine, I can't see it as cheating either. Just goes to show how much the house always wins.

An even better system... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#29766383)

I've got an even better system; It uses a complex algorithm based on bet amount won and bet amount lost. If the value returned is greater than or equal to 1, the player is identified as a "winner" and promptly taken care of. The great thing about it is that it can be applied to any game of chance! Vegas will love it.

Everyone "counts" cards, or not? (1, Interesting)

angel'o'sphere (80593) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766387)

I saw once a report about that in TV, as it was english I was not sure if I understood it correctly.

So: if you "track" the hands played out in your mind and are "counting" the remaining cards, you are cheating? I can't believe/understand that. Every child plying with cards is taught to keep the remaining stock in mind. Most german card games like "Skat" and similar games require you to have a good idea which cards already got played and which are still on hands or in the stock.

How is a person supposed to play black jack if he is not "allowed" to track the cards in his mind?

angel'o'sphere

Re:Everyone "counts" cards, or not? (0)

spire3661 (1038968) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766567)

Its not cheating, but they can and will refuse you service if you are swinging odds to your favor. You cant force a casino to take your business and they have the right to refuse anyone at anytime as long as that reason isnt becasue of race, color, religion etc.

Re:Everyone "counts" cards, or not? (1)

tachyonflow (539926) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766637)

I agree.

I'm actually offended by the notion that a mental process could be considered cheating in a game that is supposed to have at least some element of skill. It seems that most of the engineer-centric Slashdot crowd agrees. However, I have had people try to tell me that counting cards in your head is indeed cheating. I suspect that to much of the world outside of Slashdot, such mental exercises seem like mystical voodoo.

really? (1)

Hidalgo1990 (1561431) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766483)

Card counting is illegal? That's totally stupid. If someone's going to get thrown out of a casino for doing well and winning money and knowing how to play the game well, what's the point of even playing the game in the first place?

Re:really? (2, Informative)

Roland Deschene (985837) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766513)

> Card counting is illegal?

From the, second sentence of the summary: "Card counting is perfectly legal."

This place is getting more and more like the comment boards on the newspapers. Noise to signal ratio rising by the minute.

Re:really? (1)

will_die (586523) | more than 4 years ago | (#29766517)

It is illegal only if you use an outside device or group.
Casinos in Nevada can kick you out if they think you are card counting, in other states and countries they cannot kick you out but they can make it harder for you and harass you.
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