Card Counting the Shortie Blackjack Side Bet

Shortie (SBJ) is a blackjack side bet that is an extreme version of the “Under 13” bet (see this post). Quite simply, SBJ wins if the player’s first two cards total 9 or less (where Aces always count as 1). Note that if the player is dealt a Nine or a ten-valued card, then obviously his SBJ wager immediately loses. For this reason, it should come as little surprise that SBJ is highly countable. Continue reading

Mississippi Stud Collusion

Mississippi Stud (MS) certainly has its share of game protection issues. For the savvy advantage player, just about everything works. There is one more method to beat MS that I have yet to discuss in this blog: player collusion. It’s not a big play, but the fact that collusion is even possible comes as a surprise to many who operate the game. Indeed, some casinos deal MS face-up. Continue reading

Card Counting the 18 Bet Blackjack Side Bet

The winner of the “Best New Table Game” prize at this year’s Raving’s Cutting Edge Table Games Conference was Pick ‘Em Blackjack. This side bet consists of three wagers the player can make in addition to his ordinary blackjack wager. These wagers are:

  • The “17 Bet.” This wager wins if the dealer busts, is a push if the dealer gets a total of 17, otherwise the player loses. A winning wager is paid 3-to-2.
  • The “18 Bet.” This wager wins if the dealer busts or has a final total of 17, is a push if the dealer gets a total of 18, otherwise the player loses. A winning wager is paid 1-to-1.
  • The “19 Bet.” This wager wins if the dealer busts or has a final total of 17 or 18, is a push if the dealer gets a total of 19, otherwise the player loses. A winning wager is paid 1-to-2.

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Card Counting the 19 Bet Blackjack Side Bet

Last week I attended and presented at Raving’s Cutting Edge Table Games Conference at Paris Casino in Las Vegas. The turnout this year was strong and the number of vendors who showed off their games spiked up significantly. Along with SHFL and Galaxy Gaming, there were more than 20 other independent table game inventors showing their games. As part of the conference, there was a contest for “Best New Table Game.” In the past, this award has been won by outstanding games such as High Card Flush, War Blackjack, EZ Baccarat and others. Each of these winners has demonstrated market success. Continue reading

Is Edge Sorting Cheating? (Poll)

I am specifically addressing the form of edge sorting used by Phil Ivey. The following is the exact wording of one of three questions I was asked to address in my expert report:

Is edge sorting considered by the casino industry to be contrary to the rules of Baccarat and/or to be cheating or is it considered a legitimate gambling technique?

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An Introduction to Blackjack Side Bets

[For some reason that’s not quite clear to me, I have not yet written a general introduction to blackjack side bets. This post corrects my omission.]

Low-limit blackjack is a tough game for the casino. A blackjack table with two or three reasonably knowledgeable players each betting $5 to $10 per hand may be operating at a net loss for the casino. If the table has shallow cut card placement and a lengthy shuffle procedure then it is a sure loser. To save the day, enter blackjack side bets. A good blackjack side bet can make all the difference, turning net-losers into net-winners. Many players are enticed by the high payouts side bets offer. Others enjoy the thrill of a second chance at winning each hand. Others will play just because everyone else at the table is playing it. Continue reading

Guest Appearance on House of Cards Radio, 10/14/14

House of Cards Radio is an interview program hosted by poker and gambling expert Ashley Adams. In the podcast below, I discuss the recent Phil Ivey -v- Crockfords lawsuit, along with several other topics in advantage play.

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Approved Final Judgment: Ivey vs. Crockfords

The final approved written judgment by Mr. Justice Mitting in the case Phillip Ivey vs. Genting Casinos UK Limited has been released.

For your convenience: Ivey_-v- Crockfords_Final_Judgment

A Few Historical References to Edge Sorting

As part of my duties as expert witness for Phil Ivey, I had to write an “expert report.” This report was centered around answering three questions, one of which was, “Is edge sorting well-known to the casino industry?” In order to answer this, I scoured books, magazines, websites, newsletters, message boards, training manuals, card manufacturer sites and every other source I could find that mentioned edge sorting or asymmetric cards, no matter how minor the mention. I also searched out evidence that implied indirectly that edge sorting, or more generally first-card knowledge, is commonly addressed in game protection. For example, smart shoes, the Harrigan brush and plastic face plates. I wanted to build an overwhelming body of evidence to establish that edge sorting is well-known. I believe I succeeded.

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Phil Ivey -v- Crockfords

To bring you up to date, I was Ivey’s expert witness in this case: that has been the primary cause of my reluctance to post over the last few months, and in particular my complete absence of posts over the last month. In case you live under a rock and haven’t heard the news, Ivey lost the case. Continue reading

Card Counting the Dragon/Fortune 7 Baccarat Side Bet

[Note. The content of this post first appeared in September, 2011, at the WizardOfOdds website in this post.]

I first considered if the Dragon 7 baccarat side bet was susceptible to a card counting methodology in mid-2011 when it was exclusively a proprietary side bet owned by DEQ that was associated with the commission free baccarat variant EZ Baccarat. Since that time, the patent for both EZ Baccarat and the Dragon 7 bet have expired (see this post). Naturally, Shuffle Master (SHFL, Bally, whatever) pounced on the opportunity to grab the intellectual property. They re-branded the Dragon 7 as the “Fortune 7″ bet and are now actively marketing it as their own product. Ah, capitalism! Continue reading

Criss Cross Poker Hole-Card Play

Criss Cross Poker (CCP) is yet another stud poker clone. Like all poker clones, CCP faces a very tough road towards success. In recent months I’ve been contacted by a few people who have asked me to take a look at hole-carding CCP. Now that CCP is getting a few placements, I decided to do the analysis. Because CCP plays a lot like Mississippi Stud (MS), I thought that CCP might have very significant hole-card issues. As I will show, the player can get up to a 49.37% edge over the house seeing just one hole-card. I think that qualifies as significant. Continue reading

Survey of Uni-Directional Cards

A uni-directional card is a card that has an intentional rotational asymmetry.  Some aspect of the pattern on the back of the card was designed so that when the card is rotated 180 degrees, the pattern after the rotation doesn’t match the pattern of a card that has not been rotated. It should be intuitively obvious to the casual observer that uni-directional cards have extraordinary game protection issues. Continue reading

The Future of Baccarat Advantage Play

Question: Why are there no banjos on Star Trek?
Answer: It’s the future.

I wonder what the future will hold for game protection when devices like Google Glass become part of the mainstream of technological gadgets. In this recent post, I discussed the possibility of baccarat being vulnerable to “perfect play” using an Android app. I showed that if the technologically adept player gets a significant rolling chip rebate, 9-to-1 odds on the Tie bet and deep cut card placement, then he may be able to get enough of an edge to pose a threat. I warned the game protection community to start thinking about this possibility. Continue reading

Double Draw Poker Collusion

Double Draw Poker (DDP) is a relatively new game that appears to be gaining ground in some markets, both in the US and internationally. The first time I saw DDP was at the Global Gaming Expo in 2013. After learning how DDP was played, I immediately commented to the game developer that DDP appeared to be extraordinarily vulnerable to collusion (information sharing among players). Over this last week, I finally did the work to quantify this vulnerability. The edge the advantage player can gain over DDP rivals hole-carding Mississippi Stud (see this post and this post). DDP collusion is in the stratosphere of advantage play opportunities against proprietary games. For the AP who is looking for the greatest new thing out there in proprietary games, DDP collusion must surely be near the top of his list. Continue reading

A Survey of Casino Cards by Manufacturer

Back in 2012, I was very fortunate to be able to speak at the annual convention of the Casino Chip and Gaming Token Collectors Club. There was an expo associated with the convention, where people were selling casino collectibles of all sorts. My interest was in obtaining a collection that had a single card representing each distinct design used by each U.S. casino, as well as casinos worldwide. There was one vendor who was selling exactly what I was looking for (and much more): a collection of 750 distinct playing cards along with six books that cataloged these cards. These are a must-have for the card collector. Though it took me a while to buy the full set of cards and books (until last week), I am completely satisfied with the purchase. One glance will tell you that putting together this collection was an act of love.

Here is a picture of the collection (click for larger image): Continue reading