Sometimes I feel like I walk around with blinders on. Such is the case with the advantage play method known as collusion. This method simply means that players share information about their hands with each other. The needle always moves towards the player’s side when information can be used to improve a strategic decision. This has long been known to be the case in blackjack. For example, assume there are three players seated at a single-deck game. Right after the shuffle, if the dealer shows an Ace, and no face cards are dealt to any of the three hands, then the insurance wager has a player edge of 6.67%. It turns out that many proprietary games have collusion issues as well. Continue reading
Back in 1997, during one of my early outings as a blackjack card counter, I saw my first automatic shuffling machine. This one had metal arms that attempted to duplicate the physical act of shuffling like a human might do. As you may expect, the thing was awful at its job. Clumps of cards fell through the process virtually untouched. It was clumsy, sloppy and noisy. If I had any sense at the time, I would have pummeled the thing. Instead, as a young card counter, I dutifully spread my bets with the count, while being completely oblivious to the outrageously high edge I could have obtained. Continue reading
It is easy to get the impression when writing articles for this blog that the average reader fully understands the mathematical ramblings I present. Then I am brought back to earth by E-mails and comments like this one I received a few weeks back:
Our dept has been tasked with reading your site on Hole-Carding Three Card Poker. What do your notes on the 3CP Hole-Card Combinatorics-Full Cycle stand for. (Win) (N), (Out), (p), (p*Win)?
In order to answer the question above, I created a power point presentation and then created a video where I explain the power point. Continue reading
Three Card Poker (3CP) is a tough game to beat for the hole-carding AP. As this post shows, a near perfect read of one hole-card is not enough to gain a reliable edge. Ten years ago, APs found opportunities to view multiple hole-cards. There were a lot of good times. Nowadays, the “hole-card” good times have shifted away from 3CP on to Mississippi Stud and other lucrative proprietary games. However, there is a more sophisticated method that some APs are using to beat 3CP: edge sorting (see this post or this post). Using asymmetric defects in the cut and design of the cards, the AP may be able to distinguish between two subsets of cards. Using the information gained from knowing which group each of the dealer’s cards belongs, the AP can gain an advantage. Continue reading
Hole-carding Three Card Poker has been one of the mainstays of APs for over a decade. I discuss the details in this post. However, most APs have struggled to show the profit that the 3.48% edge should yield for them. There have been a number of theories put forward to explain these struggles. Most notably, some APs argue that the shufflers are biased in how the cards in the packets of three cards are put together, with the lowest rank card biased towards the hole-card position. Others have lost bankrolls as large as 250 units, or have gone a year of full-time play showing no profit. What’s going on? Continue reading
In June of 2005, I was busy playing Three Card Poker in a downtown Las Vegas casino as a member of a “team.” By no means were we a serious group of APs. Our team consisted of a friend who traveled with two others from Florida for their semi-annual vacation to Las Vegas. Together, we had been hole-carding Three Card Poker for several years, making tens of dollars in profit. On this particular day, I learned that just down the street an important trial was coming to an end. James Grosjean’s trial against Griffin Investigations and Caesars Palace was in its closing arguments. And the courthouse was just a couple of blocks away. Continue reading
Many people on both sides of the table are aware that some sort of (alleged) incident may have happened to me in June, 2005 that precipitated a change in my hobby as an AP. I have never before shared the details of this incident (if it happened). Two different lawyer(s) stated that based on the terms of the settlement (if any), I am free to present this account (if it really happened), as long as it is given in a way that maintains full confidentiality of both the casino (if any) and the terms of the settlement (if any).
The Ace automatic shuffler has many game security problems, the most serious of which is its propensity to encourage hole-card exposure by even highly trained dealers. See my blog post “Little Ace of Horrors.” After many years of fighting that battle, Shuffle Master finally gave up the cause. In its place, Shuffle Master created the iDEAL automatic shuffler, pictured here correctly installed on a Three Card Poker table (picture from Shuffle Master web site): Continue reading
Of all the proprietary games out there, the most reliable money-maker for the AP by far is “Three Card Poker.” The reason is simple – poorly trained dealers, bad equipment and weak procedure lead to dealers exposing their hole-card. While there is no edge on the “Pair Plus” bet if the dealer exposes the hole-card, there certainly is an edge for the AP on the main Ante/Play part of the game. In fact, if the dealer consistently exposes the hole-card, then the house edge swings from 3.373% for the house to an edge of 3.483% for the player. Continue reading
(This article first appeared in Catwalk 2.0, 02/01/2012.)
Over the last few years I’ve analyzed, played, written and spoken about scores of proprietary games with vulnerabilities to card counting, hole-carding and other straightforward advantage play techniques. With years of blow back from what comes out of my big mouth, I have come to the conclusion that companies that create proprietary games often don’t know their games’ weaknesses, don’t want to know their games’ weaknesses, and don’t want anyone else talking about their games’ weaknesses. The reason for this is obvious: games with known advantage play weaknesses are a hard sell. Continue reading