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Optical Recognition System To Foil Card Counting?

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the house-always-wins dept.

Privacy 427

Adair writes "Wired is running this article about a new Optical Recognition System by MindPlay being evaluated by some casinos to keep constant track of table game play in order to identify card counters by their patterns of play. The software, using 14 digital cameras around the table, can keep track of every card played, amounts bet, and even tell the difference between your drink, napkin, cards, chips, and ashtrays."

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427 comments

i like lollies (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6731043)

wha

heh (3, Funny)

K. (10774) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731048)

They're going to use a card counting system to defeat card counters. Oh the irony.

What's wrong with counting anyway...?!?! (5, Insightful)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731064)

Why should I make stupid bets at the table when I know better?!?!

Re:What's wrong with counting anyway...?!?! (4, Informative)

javiercero (518708) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731082)

Well casinos get to make the rules, as long as there are suckers who actually beleive that they have a chance in hell to make a buck off the house...

Counting is a way of turning the odds in your favor, hence it defeats the whole purpose of the house. Almost every game in Vegas is designed to have favorable odds for the house, maybe all except poker in which the house just takes fee. Couting levels the playing field somewhat, and well.... did you expect the casinos to leave it like that?

Re:What's wrong with counting anyway...?!?! (1, Interesting)

Conspir8or (458285) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731125)

If the casinos can get me so drunk on free booze that I can't recall whether I've bought in for $200 or $2,000, I can use my powers of observation to eke out a tiny advantage.

Besides this, many casual gamblers (and a few serious ones) don't recognize the need to walk when they achieve a small gain. They read a book on counting, and think they're going to double their buy-in each time they hit the casino. Frankly, when you get a 20%, 10%, or even 5% gain, you should GET UP AND WALK. Get your troops off the field and fight another day for another few yards of ground. (And as a counter, you'll look a little less suspicious, assuming you haven't been hiking your bets from 1 chip to 20 each time the count gets positive.) Walk with small gains, and adhere to your loss limit, and you'll have a greater chance (YMMV) of keeping that bankroll in the green over time.

Re:What's wrong with counting anyway...?!?! (5, Insightful)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731187)

even 5% gain, you should GET UP AND WALK

Bullshit. Why are so many people who think they know something about gambling so bad at math? If you're going to play, for example, 100 hands of blackjack, it doesn't improve your odds one damn bit to spread those 100 hands over several days or weeks rather than play them at the same sitting. And if you are in any way keeping track of cards that have been played (even some of them) and you know the remaining deck is in your favor, then the GET UP AND WALK logic is extremely flawed, since when you do come back you will not have important knowledge that you have now and it will cost you some number of bets that favor the house before you can get that information again.

Walking with small gains might keep you from playing as much as someone who does not, and in that sense it would lower your losses over time based on a favorable house percentage, but walking away from a favorable player percentage when you have determined that it is there is extremely bad play, particularly if your intention is as you expressed to come back and fight another day.

Re:What's wrong with counting anyway...?!?! (5, Insightful)

The Lord of Chaos (231000) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731260)

Get a grip, man. He's not talking about improving his mathematical odds when he says "get up and walk". He's talking about not getting noticed by the casino manager. If you double their buy-in in the first half-hour you walk in the casino you're going to get noticed and they will ask you to leave. If you keep winning big they'll send your mug around Las Vegas and no one in town will let you gamble.

Every game is always watched at a casino. Looking out for big winners helps them identify the counters that are really costing them. You want to be somewhere below the casino's alert threshold.

Get down from your Ivory Tower for a minute and see how the real world works.

Re:What's wrong with counting anyway...?!?! (1)

Nogami_Saeko (466595) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731184)

Having never played roulette in my life, I was amazed that there was any game at a casino that would give me more than a straight 50% chance of winning.

I made a fairly decent chunk of change by just playing the 1st, 2nd, 3rd "12" groups - betting the same amount on two groups at once. Was certainly slower than people who won by playing single digits or groups on the main board, but I didn't lose my bet too often.

Certainly did better than at the slots (ie: no skill or strategy involved).

Re:What's wrong with counting anyway...?!?! (1)

RockBob (590434) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731216)

The house doesn't even give you that. Don't forget that European roulette has a zero and american roulette has a zero and double zero skewing the odds on all the even bets.

Re:What's wrong with counting anyway...?!?! (3, Insightful)

Zan Zu from Eridu (165657) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731202)

If you want to earn money by housing a gambling game you should accept the odds, not make up rules to change the odds even more to your favor. (This is even illegal in some countries, and I argue rightly so.)

Simply put, if a casino or gambling house changes the rules of blackjack so card counting is no longer allowed, they shouldn't be allowed to still call the game "blackjack", because its got different rules. Also, if you want to cheat on your customers by changing the odds, you should be bound by law to inform those customers of your intent before you invite them to play your game.

Re:heh (4, Informative)

maharg (182366) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731104)

No, they're going to identify regular players (i.e. players who lose), so that they can then encourage them to keep on losing by giving them free drinks and so on. From the article:

Instead, they say the true value of the system is giving casinos an accurate way to rate and comp regular players, who get free rooms, meals, show tickets and the like in return for routinely dropping small fortunes at the casino. That's extremely important, the casinos say, because these days, loyal players demand to get something back.

Re:heh (5, Insightful)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731228)

They're going to use a card counting system to defeat card counters. Oh the irony.

From the article:

"We've been telling the casinos not to use the computer to count the cards," says Nevada Gaming Control Board member Scott Scherer. "If players aren't allowed to use a computer to count, then the casino shouldn't be allowed to."

I think the key word there is shouldn't. I don't doubt the casino will use every advantage they can get.

Why track the players? (4, Interesting)

91degrees (207121) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731052)

Why not track the cards? Simply shuffle when the odds favour the player too much.

Re:Why track the players? (1)

EpsCylonB (307640) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731153)

I don't know the rules of blackjack but I think the idea is to count the number of high cards that have been dealt and whats left in the pack. Then you can make a bet based on the likelyhood that the next card will be high.

Re:Why track the players? (3, Insightful)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731240)

So the question is why they don't use a single deck and shuffle every hand?

The answer is that play is then too slow and they don't make as much money. Also, it's easier to card count - yes, you can apply it to a single hand if there are enough players at the table and you can see their face up cards, or if you are seated so as to go last you can see all the cards played.

So they use mulitple decks and only shuffle when they are getting low.

But card counting in your head shouldn't be illegal, it's part of the game. Even if you're bad at it, you should be able to think to yourself "gee, a lot of face cards have been played already, it's doubtful I'll get another one", or "gee, hardly any face cards have been played, maybe I should split my nines because the dealer's only got an 8 showing".

The only difference between "casual" play like that and counting is how sure you are of how many and which cards have played.

It shouldn't be illegal if you can do it in your head - that's like thought police or something. They shouldn't be able to kick you out, either, but I guess it's a privately owned business. Still, when news gets out that a casino is regularly kicking out winners (who haven't been cheating - just winning) then it can be a huge loss for the casino.

Re:Why track the players? (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731206)

Because if the players can not do it the the house can not do it either. The game already favors the house, to count the cards and keep playing if the odds further swing to favor the house, but to reshuffel if the house's odds ever go down, is in effect rigging the game and cheats the honest players who are not card counting (not that I think card counting is wrong, but even by the casino's standards you shouldn't rig the game to cheat the non counters by letting the odds against the get worse but never better).

Re:Why track the players? (1)

Mostly a lurker (634878) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731230)

Why not track the cards? Simply shuffle when the odds favour the player too much.

I think you were joking, but the fact is that some casinos do just that. Gambling can be fun, but we should not lose sight of the fact that casinos tend to be unprincipled businesses. Some casinos will use tools like MindPlay to determine when to shuffle up.

They already do this (4, Informative)

Surak (18578) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731053)

They already do this to an extent with the video cameras. Video cameras are placed to watch every card that is dealt. They can see it on the monitors if they suspect someone of card counting. An experienced pit boss knows the difference between someone who is card counting and someone who isn't.

The problem with automating this system is what about false positives? There's a difference between patterns being identified by humans and patterns being identified by computers.

Re:They already do this (1)

Seahawk (70898) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731070)

Did you RTFA? :)

The article specificly says that pit bosses gives too much false information... :)

Re:They already do this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6731098)

You must be new here. Hi, welcome to Slashdot! Can I show you around?

Re:They already do this (1)

gd23ka (324741) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731100)

"An experienced pit boss knows the difference between someone who is card counting and someone who isn't." He does this by noting how much the player looses or wins. Personally, I find it sickening that the casinos are even permitted to remove a player from the table just because they're not making/loosing money. If they don't like the way people play then they should resort to casino games where a player can't tell the odds which means they have to get rid of all the traditional card games...

Re:They already do this (4, Insightful)

MoobY (207480) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731137)

What about the false positives? I don't think casinos care about a winning visitor who is mistakenly seen as a card counter. They should be worried more about the false negatives, those who can trick the computer system into thinking he's not card counting.

Re:They already do this (1)

flakac (307921) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731181)

The problem with automating this system is what about false positives? There's a difference between patterns being identified by humans and patterns being identified by computers.

Sorry, Charlie, but humans are just as capable of being wrong as computers. A pit boss can guess that somebody's counting cards with a pretty high probability of being right, just like a well-programmed pattern recognition system. Case in point -- remember the "MIT Blackjack Team" (Wired article [wired.com] ). A single pit boss simply will not catch the more sophisticated attacks.

Card Counters (5, Insightful)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731058)

are, if I recall, and I may not, people who pay a whole lot ofattention to the game rihgt? I mean,. it's not like they are using loaded dice or subistuting in the ace thats hidden int he their sock. They are jsut palying intelegent. Damn them!!!! We mustn't allow that!!

Re:Card Counters (4, Interesting)

Surak (18578) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731088)

Casinos don't like to lose. Casinos are setup on the premise that you are basically stupid, that you basically are going to spend wayy more money than you win. The odds in every game except for one favor the house: blackjack. That's where you get the most card counters because that's where counting cards makes the most sense. And card counters tip the odds further in favor of the player. If casinos can't eliminate card counters they will simply eliminate blackjack.

Re:Card Counters (1)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731117)

You have fallen into the trap! You have responded logicaly to a comment made sarcasticaly. This 1) further makes my point and 2) Makes us all wonder if you realized my sarcasm or are just that unaware :)

further example:
Eskimo one: Wow! it sure is hot in here!
Eskimo two: No it isn't you duffus! Its FREEZING!

Re:Card Counters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6731232)

PLONK...

Re:Card Counters (1)

Sheetrock (152993) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731090)

They are attempting to foil the natural odds of a game of blackjack (well, 'natural' as interpreted by the casino they play in) by keeping track of what's in play, sometimes not only in their own hand but also the dealer's and those of other players, and sometimes with the help of other people.

It's just more convenient to cheat the blackjack system than the others because you don't need an electronic device to help you out. But it doesn't make it very fair to the casino or the other players.

Re:Card Counters (4, Insightful)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731106)

It's just more convenient to cheat the blackjack system than the others because you don't need an electronic device to help you out. But it doesn't make it very fair to the casino or the other players.


So PAYING attention to the game and being creafull is CHEATING. I hope this idea never makes its way into Chess!!

And since I am playing to win. how am I cheating other players when I do my best to win. If they aren't doing their damn best to beat me then they are morons.

Re:Card Counters (1)

iworm (132527) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731192)

Good idea! Banning the ability to think ahead more than 2 moves is probably the only way I'm ever going to win a game of chess against most people...!

Re:Card Counters (1)

frovingslosh (582462) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731231)

how am I cheating other players when I do my best to win. If they aren't doing their damn best to beat me then they are morons

You apparently have no idea what you are talking about. The other players are not playing against you. Like you, they play against the house. The idea of the other players doing their best to beat you makes no sense at all.

The only one who wants to beat you is the house. Now they want the ability to count cards with the aid of a computer to do it, and reshuffel whenever they don't like the odds, but at the same time say that you can't even try to count cards in your head from the multiple pack decks they are playing with. They want to do a much more elaborate version of what they call cheating when you do it.

Re:Card Counters (1)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731253)

Read my post in context, dimwit. I was responding to the fellow who said that If I win I am cheatying the other players. That was the full extent of my comment.

Re:Card Counters (2, Insightful)

R.Caley (126968) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731233)

So PAYING attention to the game and being creafull is CHEATING.

Of course it is.

They could essentially make card counting not be an advantage just by playing with a really huge deck (say take 1000 packs and shuffle them together, then start dealing from the top, stop after dealing 52 cards and reshuffle. They don't do this because they are trying to pretend you are playing a card game, and hence there is some skill involved, when you are actually playing a game of chance.

However, they can't actually allow it to degenerate into a game of skill. The only way they can prevent this, while keeping up the pretense, is to throw out anyone who shows any signs of life from the neck up.

Casinos are in the business of selling 10[currency] bills for 100[currency]s, everything else is smoke and mirrors to distract you from this. Think of them as a public service which keeps the terminally stupid off the streets. Obviously anyone not terminally stupid is in the wrong place, and so it is perfectly reasonable that they be kicked out.

Re:Card Counters (1)

BenjyD (316700) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731208)

How does card counting at Blackjack affect other players? You're playing against the bank, not each other.

Re:Card Counters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6731119)

... ofattention rihgt subistuting he sockjsut palying intelegent

! ! ! Me Too!

Re:Card Counters (1)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731167)

Wooohoo! It's utdpenguin abridged! Could you do me a favour and do that for all of my posts? I've been meaning to create an anthology of all my worst typping errors, and you could realy make it easy for me . . .

Re:Card Counters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6731215)

even your .sig is spelt wrong ...

Re:Card Counters (1)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731239)

You aint too quick on de old picker-me-up are you? I take a perverse delgiht in mistypes and mispellings.

Re:Card Counters (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731158)

ok, in finland the gambling is regulated and blackjack tables are available in (practically)every disco that is open into the night.

the point is that in the long run the house (all profits are supposed to go into charity, mostly sports sponsoring of small teams, pensioners & etc) will always rack in more profits(wins on even) than the players will.

now, i'm not actually sure if counting cards is illeagal/non-permitted or not, but the average blackjack table operator sure can't tell if you're doing it and i doubt they can throw you out for that even, because basically it is withing the rules(however, i don't know if there's really advantage of counting with multiple packs mixed into one and stopping usually before half of the cards has been played) and as it's a regulated business, run by besically one gov corp, they don't even have any choice on what they do basically. there's some places with roulettes too.

we also have electronic gaming machines in practically every grocery store but it's hard to 'hit big' with them because the maximum wins are so limited, and if you play long enough you will always lose(you might get the machine at a good time and get 50-200 out of it with 5). it's also (practically) impossible to cheat with them (usual cheats include forged money, or money from some other country that just happens to fit..).

Re:Card Counters (1)

EpsCylonB (307640) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731175)

but the average blackjack table operator sure can't tell if you're doing it and i doubt they can throw you out for that even,

I don't know about finland but most casino's reserve the right to throw you out for any reason at all. Most casino's will throw you out if you win too much.

Re:Card Counters (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6731178)

every disco

The proper term is "nightclub". Not a disco. Goddammit. You're making us look like we're stuck in the 70s.

Re:Card Counters (1)

gl4ss (559668) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731224)

**every disco

The proper term is "nightclub". Not a disco. Goddammit. You're making us look like we're stuck in the 70s.**

no, do you know what a nightclub is in for example spain? a whorehouse. if you go into a taxi and tell him to drive to a nightclub, he'll drive you one of the many, many brothels instead of what 'nightclub' means in finland (which is a disco over there)..

Ob. quote (4, Funny)

sonicattack (554038) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731061)

Charlie: Now casinos have house rules: they don't like to lose. So you never show that you're counting cards. That is *the* cardinal sin, Ray.

Raymond: Counting cards is bad.

Charlie: Yes.

Raymond: I like to drive slow on the driveway.

Charlie: If you get this right, Ray, you can drive anywhere you want as slow as you want.

Re:Ob. quote (0)

winkydink (650484) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731096)

5 minutes til Wapner

Playing well = cheating (1)

danormsby (529805) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731063)

So a good player is automatically a cheater? Doesn't sound fair too me.

Re:Playing well = cheating (3, Insightful)

archeopterix (594938) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731144)

So a good player is automatically a cheater? Doesn't sound fair too me.
Mixing "fair" and "business" is so 19-th century... Casino is a factory producing money by extracting it from rich morons. In terms of technology you can think of this system as a filter that ensures good input material quality (filter out smartasses, leave morons).

Re:Playing well = cheating (1)

spinozaq (409589) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731221)

Here's where we say "life's not fair" if you gamble for anything more then entertainment with a small amount of money... 1.) you are a moron. 2.) you need to take more classes on number theory.... If you go to a casino and start winning (at any game) they will just throw you out and you will never be allowed back. Black Jack is probably the only game you could ever tip the odds and win at, granted, but if you happen to get really, really, really lucky at roulette and say, win 4 times in a row for the tune of over 10k or so. I can guarentee they be escorting you out quickly. It doesn't matter if they have "proof" you cheated, all that matters is that you won. Casino's are private organzations and will continue not allowing anyone who can win in the door any way they see fit. So stop gambling you god damn morons.

-Spinoza

Cards and drinks (4, Funny)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731066)

The software ... can keep track of every card played, amounts bet, and even tell the difference between your drink, napkin, cards, chips, and ashtrays

Well if its supposed to be counting cards, I would hope it could tell the difference between a jack of spades and a jack of daniels. [jackdaniels.com]

Eye in the Sky (5, Interesting)

AtariAmarok (451306) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731068)

Reminds me of the Alan Parsons-based musical "The Gambler" that reveals that the "Eye in the Sky" is merely one of those monitors over casino tables.

The lyrics in the original become more ominous:

"i am the maker of rules
dealing with fools
i can cheat you blind "

This development is sure to turn Ocean's 11 into Ocean's 0.

Re:Eye in the Sky (1)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731204)

They've always had a thing for the turn of a friendly card.....

Marked Deck! (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6731078)

The optical equipment registers every card in play by reading special invisible ink printed on them.

So the house is allowed to use a marked deck!! Surely that can't be allowed, and even if it is how long before someone else works out how to read the cards.

Re:Marked Deck! (1)

EpsCylonB (307640) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731182)

So the house is allowed to use a marked deck!! Surely that can't be allowed, and even if it is how long before someone else works out how to read the cards.

You mean like with their eyes ?

Re:Marked Deck! (1)

RockBob (590434) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731235)

He's right. The only face down cards are in the shoe.

Pit bosses are remarkably accurate... (4, Interesting)

winkydink (650484) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731084)

For years, casinos have relied on pit bosses to personally watch the tables and do their best to manually figure out who was playing how much. But that process is extraordinarily imprecise, El Dorado's Mouchou said.

As one who has played blackjack as both a nickel-dimer ($5-$10 bets) and as a high roller, I have noticed that pit bosses have an uncanny ability to tell how much you are up or down. I often ask pit bosses to guess how much I am up or down. They can usually tell within about $100.

So, I have a hard time swallowing that this is a device to figure out how to comp players.

What's the need? (1)

while(true) (626738) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731085)

Don't casinos have continious shuffling machines that keeps the decks shuffled between plays today? They make card counting impossible.

Re:What's the need? (1)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731093)

No it doesnt. Counting can involve simply knowing what cards have already been played and are ergo out of circulation. Have mostly high cards or mostly low cards been played, for example.

Re:What's the need? (1)

while(true) (626738) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731142)

No, I'm talking about continiuos shufflers like the King [shufflemaster.com] . No cards go out of circulation. All cards are reshuffled at the end of each play. Makes card counting worthless.

Re:What's the need? (2, Informative)

the.pornlord (303838) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731159)

Actually, yes we do. There are continous shuffles installed on most of the BJ tables in the casino I work in. I work as a supervisor, and believe me, these things completely eliminate any worry of patrons counting cards. After every hand, the cards that were used are loaded back into the machine and reshuffled. The machine uses five decks of cards, and although the cards just loaded will not be in the next hand dealt, they may be used in the one after. Therefore, it is basically an endless shoe, and makes it impossible to get and accurate count!

Re:What's the need? (1)

RockBob (590434) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731261)

In blackjack, as the cards are dealt randomly, the odds fluctuate +/- 0.5 between the dealer's favour and the players favour. When you use basic card counting techniques you can tell when the odds are in your favour and bet accordingly. If the cards are continuously kept in circulation, the odds stay slightly in the houses favour.

At the end of the day, for the majority of us here, the house is not going to notice, nor care that we are counting cards because we haven't got the bankroll to do any damage. I can't play and count at the same time so I've had a friend stand behind me and tell me the count after every hand. It pissed them off a bit but nobody really cared that I finished up 100ish.

This might catch the egregious/greedy... (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6731087)

If MindPlay -- which knows the cards that have been played -- detects a player continually adjusting his betting pattern coincident with a preponderance of undealt high cards, it can trigger an alert.
In other words, the smart card-counter will cut out the "powerbetting" and relax his strategy a bit. They practically admit as much:
"The chances of you actually playing in a way, by luck only, that matches one of those (counting) strategies is almost nil," Soltys said. "It may match up after 20 hands, but after 100, there's no chance that it's just luck."
So the card-counter will back off a bit so that he's not playing every hand using the technique. It's the same with any cheater detection: lose a few every now and then, and you'll probably slip under the radar. Get greedy and you get caught.

Re:This might catch the egregious/greedy... (1)

tchueh (305012) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731170)

True, but to actually have the odds on your side by counting cards, you have no margin to change your betting strategies to avoid detection by a computer.

IIRC, even with perfect card counting with some of the best counting methods, and adjusting your bets accordingly, your odds are still only something like 50.5 to 49.5.

Amazing enough that you have better odds than the house, but it doesn't give you much room to "back off a bit".

Typical casinos (1)

asifyoucare (302582) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731089)

God forbid that the players actually have any chance of winning!

If they don't like it, why don't they just use more decks and keep half aside, making it very unlikely that the cards in the deck are non-random enough to favour the player?

A lot of bull... (4, Informative)

krystal_blade (188089) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731094)

I can't possibly see why casinos would want to attempt to put the few "scorers" out of commission. After all, a "lucky" guy at blackjack (who counts cards) probably brings more people in to play the game. More people= more money.

On top of all that, most professional card counters use the greatest weapon of all to count cards. Their heads. So, all this will do is to put out the small time amateurs.

A friend of mine is a tech at a Casino in Detroit, and beleive me, any appropriately sized/layed out Casino is certainly not losing money, regardless of the people who play the game to earn a wage.

krystal_blade

Re:A lot of bull... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6731185)

The Margins are so slim, just one mistake, then the wannabe counter is out of pocket. Casinos bet on this happening, and scorers overlook this, so the turkey can be plucked. Focussing on drowsy eyes would be more profitable .Bad card counters are welcome in many Casino's , hence the technology not needed

Now say a 'looser' sues the Casino because they knew his performance was dropping, yet they allowed play to recklessly continue. Bad. A computer can't lie, but a human scorer does not have computerised logs that can be tabled. Reason enough to bury this concept.

Great! (5, Funny)

rylin (688457) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731095)

"The software .. even tell the difference between your drink, napkin, cards, chips, and ashtrays."

Great!
Hopefully it'll warn me the next time I try drinking from an ashtray

What good is a Casino is you can only lose ? (1)

rainer_d (115765) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731097)

Yeah, I know, it's all about the atmosphere et.al. - but what drives "high-rollers" into casinos to lose 50K and up ?
If you've got so much money to burn and know no other way to draw satisfaction, you've got a serious problem, IMHO.

Re:No. (0)

botzi (673768) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731126)

If you've got so much money to burn and know no other way to draw satisfaction, you've got a serious problem, IMHO.

No. You're rich. Or do you know another way to draw satisfaction with 50k for 2 hours?

Choice Quote (1, Funny)

spRed (28066) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731103)

"Our supervisors were spending 42 percent of their time giving us inaccurate information,"
As reported by the supervisors?

Lone Wolf vs a Pack? (5, Informative)

CGP314 (672613) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731109)

This is interesting, but it sounds as though it is only useful against individual card counters. What could it do against a team of counters like in this older story by wired? [wired.com]

Re:Lone Wolf vs a Pack? (1)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731130)

The reply is obvious!! Fight fire with fire!
A team of card counters? No problem! We respond with a beowulf cluster of MindPlay systems!

Has anyone else ever tried card counting? (5, Insightful)

ODD97 (645414) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731110)

Even the *simplest* system (assigning -1, 0 and +1 to certain cards) is hard enough to keep track of when you practice. Doing so at the casino is incredibly difficult. I can't imagine that the casino would frown upon one guy that can do it walking out with $1,000, when watching his winning streak will inspire 50 people to lose $100 each at the table.
It just doesn't make sense to kick an individual out. Any pit boss will see a table running up using card counting, and can (by casino rules) ask them to leave.

Re:Has anyone else ever tried card counting? (2, Interesting)

simong_oz (321118) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731211)

I think card counting is one of those things that some people just have a knack of. Of course you can practise, but some people have a fantastic memory for this sort of thing.

I used to know a guy who was one of those people who could do numerical calculations to 10 significant figures faster than a calculator (couldn't do algebra/calculus, but he could sure count!). He was able to count cards with 8 decks, and I'm not talking about the simple system described by the parent - he counted the entire deck, including suits.

This isn't your average person though, just someone with a knack for this sort of thing. As far as I'm aware he never actually went to a casino, but I can imagine others would.

Re:Has anyone else ever tried card counting? (4, Interesting)

dagoalieman (198402) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731256)

Actually, yes. For some people, card counting isn't that hard. For others, it's damn near impossible. They're kinda like a miniature idiot savant (no, not mini-me you fools...)

The problems with your analogy is that the GOOD cardcounters walk out with much more than $1k if they're not caught. Think in the schemes of $100k minimum. I've actually counted 5 decks shuffled together before. It sucked major bungs for sure, but I did it fairly accurately, and not at a slow pace either. And I'm what would be considered an amateur by the casinos. Consider this, and think what a good person could do.

The loss adds up for the casinos. They're not worried about losing $5k or even $25k to a rookie. It's the big fish who pooches them for lots. That's what this system is out for (note that they seem to indicate that 100 hands are needed for a super-positive match...) The $25k cardcounters inspire. The $100k cardcounters though are a loss.

See the post above you for a GREAT thought... Group cardcounting. Just rotate the team positions, and you'll take the house, based on the current system. I'd actually never thought of it before, and now I'm fascinated.

At the risk of being modded down -1, Redundant.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6731114)

What on earth is card counting?!

(I'm not a card player at all.)

Re:At the risk of being modded down -1, Redundant. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6731227)

And what on earth is blackjack?

(I'm not a card player either).

Re:At the risk of being modded down -1, Redundant. (2, Informative)

admbws (600017) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731259)

After a little bit of googling...

What is Blackjack? [1blackjack...casino.com]

What is card counting? [casino-hangout.com]

recursive thinking (1)

ykiwi (211385) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731118)

so they are going to stop card counting by developing technology to.... ...count cards.

all based on technology that will only get smaller and smaller over time.

Beat the dealer (4, Interesting)

fruey (563914) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731120)

A good dealer should be the only thing the Casino has, the counters cry.

Face it, just because there's a computer there now, doesn't mean they're not screwing you every time anyway. The house always wins.

What is interesting about this is that they are adding a cold precision to the perks they offer to big gamblers, in order to further increase their margins. What they appear to really be doing is tracking who's betting what and when. Forget the card counting part, anyone who gets a system that works will be tracked sooner or later and booted out. This may seem kind of unfair - you can't profit from genius in Casinos - but then the house can't afford to make a big loss consistently. Still, they can't take your winnings away before detection, so this system is tipping the scales back to the house's favour.

Think more about the fact that Joe Gambler who drops a bit less each time he comes and demands more perks will get away with it for a while, but now he'll be tracked. I can't believe the opposite is true, where quiet but big losers will suddenly be allocated perks... but maybe they will, because it could be good for the casino business.

To conclude : gambling is one of those things where you know the odds beforehand, and if you bet more than you can afford more than once against the odds, you're a sucker. What does need to be clear, with all this technology, is just what those odds are. Rigged odds are fine if they stay rigged the same, but I don't like the thought that a croupier could suddenly tell you, as the odds swing ever so slightly in your favour and you are ready to cut your losses, that your bets are no longer welcome. You want to know the solution? Don't bet at all, and invest your money in a guaranteed return scheme. That's the only way you can be sure to win. Then go get your thrills for much less money doing something like freefall parachuting.

Stacked decks (2, Informative)

Savant (85811) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731123)

Not terribly surprising, but still disappointing. It will be interesting to see how gambling evolves, as casinos take ever more stringent steps to avoid giving out more money to someone than they paid in. Here's an interesting little exhibit from the UK dealing with the rigging of fruit machines. [fairplay-campaign.co.uk]

Re:Stacked decks (1)

admbws (600017) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731223)

Interesting site, but I'm afraid the "experiments" really aren't enough. Ideally one would need to disassemble the code in the fruit machine's ROM for undisputable proof of foul play going on. Until that happens, I would take this site with a pinch of salt since the manner of wording gives me the impression that the author is a bit of a crackpot.

Cameras (1)

mattite (526549) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731127)

"The software, using 14 digital cameras around the table, can keep track of every card played, amounts bet, and even tell the difference between your drink, napkin, cards, chips, and ashtrays."

Fourteen cameras, eh? Seems like Big Brother is looking for more than card counting.

Of course... (2, Interesting)

echucker (570962) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731136)

.... there's nothing really wrong about counting cards. Not like it's some kind of morally sickening activity. It simply gives the player a better chance to win.

Re:Of course... (1)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731145)

there is nothing wrong with casinos stacking the deck or rigging the slot machines. Not like it's some kind of morally sickening activity. It simply gives the casino a better chance to win.

Re:Of course... (1)

MrFredBloggs (529276) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731177)

So you`re equating a gambler counting cards (that is, paying attention to what has been dealt) with fraudulent activity (rigging machines)? How do you come to that conclusion?

Re:Of course... (1)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731193)

oh??
is that what I did?
Dear God
CAN NO ONE RECOGNIZE SARCASM!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Reason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLING
Reason: Don't uReason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLINReason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLINGGsReason: Don't use so many caps. It's like YELLINGe so many caps. It's like YELLING

Strange bedfellows... (-1, Offtopic)

bryane (614590) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731141)

The article also mentions that China rejected MPEG to move away from "the dominance of Western companies and the fees levied by such firms.".

Perhaps open-source has an unexpected supported here.

- B

Re:Strange bedfellows... (1)

utdpenguin (413984) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731152)

It does? Either I reqad the wrong article or you are smoking some serious dope. Please share.

Re:Strange bedfellows... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6731168)

I think you meant to post in this story [slashdot.org] .

Fools rush in ... (0)

patch-rustem (641321) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731154)

Welcome to our vision of your future...
MP Twenty-One.

Are you dumb enough to play here?

Card-counting is legal... (1)

ThogScully (589935) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731166)

Didn't the courts rule that card counting is legal since the eighties? I'm pretty sure they did, even though I find it surprising that no one's mentioned it. Besides, this article doesn't mention that they'll be using the information to kick people off the table - they really can't do that. They perhaps won't encourage counters with free drinks/rooms/etc, but they won't kick them out.

Just like any industry like this, it's all about marketing strategy which is all about reports and data. This is one more way they can gather data and learn about their customers and try to make the best of them for better business.
-N

So... (2, Insightful)

Cackmobile (182667) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731172)

what we need is some glasses that can read the special ink and then we can win everytime.

Well, that's easy... (1)

morganjharvey (638479) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731174)

The software, using 14 digital cameras around the table, can keep track of every card played, amounts bet, and even tell the difference between your drink, napkin, cards, chips, and ashtrays.

Of course! It keeps track of how many drinks you consume. Obviously if you've had less than two drinks and you're winning, you must be a card counter.

But wait -- what's wrong with counting cards? I could see how it would be bad if you were just sitting on the sides and all of a sudden jumped in when you figured that you had about a fifty percent chance of getting blackjack or whatever, but when you sit there all night and are able to keep track of when to play what based on what's gone by? How is this bad?

Maybe I'm missing something here... (eg. I'm not a croupier)

Can they do this, and what if they do? (3, Interesting)

philipsblows (180703) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731176)

On the one hand, the article points out,

Counters allege, however, that Mindplay effectively alters the odds, something they say goes against regulations prohibiting anyone -- even casinos -- from using devices for such purposes.

which is interesting, because casinos could always use the human-operated PTZ cameras that watch everything (even the players) on the gaming floor, and of course dealers and pit bosses are always on the lookout as well, but this does raise the bar into questionable territory if only because, like a red light camera, it is operating against you on its own and you really have nobody to "fight" if it decides you are nailed. Perhaps they might review the video of your 100 allegedly-counted hands?

However, if a system like this does roll out into real use, it should be presumed that every MIT kid on their counting team read this,

"The current state of technology in gaming had fallen way behind other industries," said MindPlay president and CEO Richard Soltys. "They're very slow to move forward. (Now) there's nothing players can do that MindPlay can't detect."

and is already scheming. I would be to, and I don't even count cards. It's as though Mr. Soltys is looking right at the reader while he says, "Bring it on!"

I knew a guy who counted cards and used chip-palming techniques to keep his chip count reasonable. Switch tables and even casinos frequently, be patient, and if possible play with a team. The camera system doesn't seem to have that stuff covered. I predict the primary way of catching rule-breakers will remain the old fashioned way... half instinct, half suspicious and watchful eye.

In other news (2, Insightful)

Avian visitor (257765) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731194)

"The chances of you actually playing in a way, by luck only, that matches one of those (counting) strategies is almost nil," Soltys said. "It may match up after 20 hands, but after 100, there's no chance that it's just luck."

"The chances of a gambler actually winning the jackpot on our slot machines is almost nil. They may get some minor wins, but when they strike a jackpot, there's no chance that it's just luck"

Seriously, why do casinos allow games (like blackjack) that can be cheated by counting the cards and knowing some laws of probability? It's like running software that has a known exploit and just hunting down crackers that know how use it instead of fixing the software.

Re:In other news (1)

ninthwave (150430) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731241)

I never understood how counting is cheating though. That is an actual skill and the advantage does not require knowing more about the game currently being played i.e. seeing the deck. Maybe BlackJack payouts need to be adjusted to match the problem that can happen with counting. Now getting two players to cover a table and use counting to spill over cards is cheating. But alas this mindset that counting is cheating is already in the casinos what can you do.

Whats wrong with card counting (1)

cpuffer_hammer (31542) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731196)

Placeing to the side the matter of profit.

What is wrong with card counting. The only thing I can see is that it turns Black Jack for a game of chance to a game of skill. Does something bad happen when all the players are counters. Maybe the casinos should get out of the betting side and just charge a table and dealer fee or hire the best counters as dealers.

Blackjack (1)

Zog The Undeniable (632031) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731214)

Card counting merely exposes the fact that blackjack is a weak game. Other games, such as poker, positively encourage players to remember what has been played.

Maybe blackjack is only still played in casinos because it's simple enough for J. Random Gambler to understand. Although not Homer Simpson..."Hit me; hit me; hit me; (makes 21); hit me; D'oh!"

Farcical (1)

Rogerborg (306625) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731236)

Smoke and mirrors. I'll bet you ten bucks that this is an empty box and a manual, that it doesn't detect card counting, it just lets the casino say that it's detected card counting, which is a banned activity.

What they detect is people winning small and often. That's what they're really banning. How you achieve it is irrelevant. If you achieve it through blind luck, you'd still be thrown out. This magic system just lets them pretend that they've got a reason for doing so.

Casinos have rules that say you must lose. Only an idiot would accept those terms. Fortunately, that's exactly the people the casinos want to attract. Everybody (by which I mean the casinos) wins!

Re:Farcical (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#6731262)

Straight up. As long as you take advantage of the cheap food and drink and lose a couple of bucks here and there, you're up on the game. If you follow the fool's path of thinking you've got a real chance at making money, well, the more fool you.

Continuous shufflers (1)

McWilde (643703) | more than 10 years ago | (#6731249)

Holland Casinos has installed continuous shufflers on all its blackjack tables to eliminate card counting. I don't think card counting is cheating, but I guess neither is continuously shuffling your decks. This certainly seems a simple, cheaper and more honest way of foiling card counters.
I think they moved to this system a few years ago after they were sued by professional blackjack players because they weren't dealing the required three decks from the six before reshuffling. I don't remember if it ever went to trial and who won.
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