How can a player legally beat a casino? When this question is asked of the typical gambler-in-the-street, the answer is almost universally “card counting blackjack.” When asked about card counting, this gambler talks about how smart you have to be and mentions the MIT team, but has no idea of what is actually involved in being a card counter. This myopic view of beating casinos is not unique to the player side. Austere policies are put in place in many casinos to protect themselves against the army of card counters. Advanced advantage play is about all the other ways players are beating the house. It begins with the axiom that every game can be legally beat, the puzzle is to find out how to do it. This blog gives solutions to some of these puzzles. Continue reading
It took about 11 months for 100k page views. The second 100k took just over 6 months. Thank you to everyone who visits this site, whether casino professional, high-level AP, recreational gambler or whoever else stops by. It’s nice to have you here. You make this blog worthwhile for me. Please come back often.
The image below shows the stats for the last 30 days and overall: Continue reading
When a player decides he wants to beat a casino fair and square, the first attempt is almost always ordinary blackjack card counting. There are many reasons for this obsessive misdirection, not least of which is the sheer bulk of movies, books and websites devoted to the topic. Conversely, there is very little information available to show the would-be AP that he is completely misguided. Blackjack card counting is tough. The profit potential is small. The bankroll needed for even a modest win-rate is enormous. The swings can be brutal. If the card counter manages to get over these hurdles, then he must get away with it against casino staff who are very well-trained at spotting guys just like him. Continue reading
There is no doubt that Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker (THB) has a big hole-card issue. In this post I covered the situation when the AP sees one dealer hole-card, which gives the AP a 7.61% edge over the house with perfect play. Like its first cousin Ultimate Texas Hold’em, when the dealer’s procedure breaks down in THB, two separate hole-cards are usually exposed. Typically, the AP will see a dealer hole-card together with either a Flop card or a River card. This post considers these two lucrative opportunities. Continue reading
One of the most massive games to analyze is Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker (THB). The game has a huge cycle, consisting of 55,627,620,048,000 (more than 55 trillion) different possible final hands. The cycle for hole-card play, knowing one of the dealer’s two cards, is even larger at 111,255,240,096,000 (more than 111 trillion) different possible final hands. Without making excuses, I’ve gone for too long without analyzing hole-carding for this game. This article begins to fill the analytical gap: hole-carding THB when one dealer hole-card is known. Continue reading
At the table games conference last week, there was an ironic incident that I would like to share with you. It occurred during one of the premier panel discussions: “What You Can Learn from Table Game Players Who Are Smarter than All of Us,” on Tuesday, 11/19/13. Here is the description from the agenda on the conference website. Continue reading
All that glitters is gold
Led Zeppelin, “Stairway to Heaven”
I was secret shopping at a casino last week, and I had to spend five hours on the floor just observing. Out of boredom I decided to back count the Dragon 7 side bet at an EZ Baccarat table (see this article). After the first few rounds, the Dragon count got quite high. Not surprisingly, there were also a lot of natural 8′s and 9′s during the first few rounds. I left the table and wandered the floor for a few minutes. When I returned I saw the scoreboard filled with naturals. It then struck me that those naturals probably involved 8s and 9s being dealt, so the count was probably still quite high. This realization lead to an intriguing possibility: if there is an abundance of naturals posted on the scoreboard, does that mean the player might have the edge? Continue reading
The mystery of beating Pai Gow Poker is solved!
In this post, I asked for input on how Pai Gow Poker (PGP) could be legitimately beat by advantage players. An AP who posted under the name “jet” left a comment to that blog post, writing: “Actually people have beaten Pai Gow in the past. But don’t worry, that method isn’t applicable anymore, plus you aren’t going to figure it out any time soon…” He is right, I didn’t figure it out. But someone else did and he told me about it. As I will show, the AP’s method for beating PGP isn’t rocket science, but it is highly opportunistic and hugely profitable. Continue reading
One of the largest leaps a young advantage player makes early in his career is the realization that ordinary blackjack card counting is an essentially worthless pursuit. Seeing his first hole-card opens a panorama of potential income never before considered. The first question is if it’s legal; few advantage players want to cross the thin blue line into cheating. At the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas on November 22, 1983, Steven Einbinder and Tonly Dalben were caught hole-carding, with Dalben signaling the hole card to Einbinder. The Supreme Court of the State of Nevada found that: Continue reading
The Natural 9 (NAT9) side bet is the wager that the Player hand or Banker hand will be a natural 9. NAT9 is actually two different side bets, as the wager can separately be made that the Banker hand will be a natural 9 and that the Player hand will be a natural 9. Similarly, the Natural 8 (NAT8) side bet is the wager that the Player hand or Banker hand will be a natural 8. Both NAT9 and NAT8 are as old as the hills; Edward Thorp analyzed advantage play against them nearly 50 years ago (see this post) and determined that they can both be soundly defeated. In the early 1960s, in the midst of the industry-wide panic over the new army of blackjack card counters, Thorp unleashed a fresh line of attack. Nevertheless, NAT9 and NAT8 are still finding their ways into casinos worldwide. Beware! Continue reading