Posted by Mission146
Oct 31, 2018

Play, No Play

The lady looked up from her machine and conspicuously then glanced down and to the left at the number of credits she had remaining. A hundred bucks can go pretty quickly when you’re betting $3.00/spin, especially on this game. She noticed that she had about $8.00 remaining on the machine, and tentatively gave it another spin. Nobody home, but she had created a decent little situation for herself on the following spin. If one symbol fell in the right place, she’d be fairly likely to get at least half of her $100 back, if not more.

As if she was scared the machine was going to bit her, she slowly reached over and depressed the spin button. Unfortunately for her, it was to no avail, she did not win anything on that play as no symbols matched on the first two reels, but she created an even better situation still for the next person to make a spin.

A tall husky man occupied a seat two banks away and watched with mild interest. Normally, this person wouldn’t take a seat anywhere near a, “Target,” machine, but there had been competition all over the place for the last several weeks. Besides that, someone betting $3 could theoretically create a situation with substantially more value than that. While not as likely on this particular machine as some others, it was even theoretically possible to leave a situation in which money could not be lost on the next spin.

The lady playing the machine hit the spin button again, then again, after tapping it six or seven more times apparently thinking that would automatically put more credits on there, or maybe let her take a $3.00 spin for $2.00-something, she counted the contents of her wallet.

Apparently deciding to live to fight another day, she switched the denomination to $2.00 and took a spin, nothing won, but another play created for our tall and slightly pudgy friend. At this point, she no longer had enough for the minimum bet on the game and cashed out her ticket.

Almost as if he were being hassled, the tall man slid out of his chair and straightened his gray hoodie. He closed the game he was playing on his phone and sauntered over to the machine as if he didn’t have a care in the world.

Perhaps he should have made longer strides.

The lady who had been playing the adjacent machine, which was actually the same game, slid a $20 bill into the machine that the first lady had been playing. She first tried the $2.00 situation and lost $10. After that, she made her way to the original play that had caught the tall man’s interest. She played a few spins, cashed out, added the ticket to her current machine and went back to playing the machine she’d started on furiously.

The tall man, a strange fellow, has a habit of talking to himself. “Jesus Christ,” he muttered, “It wouldn’t even be so bad if she wasn’t going to lose it all back.”

For anyone who vultures with any degree of seriousness or discipline, there is nothing more annoying that seeing someone take a good play, profit and then give it back on negative expectation gambling. This becomes even worse when they are giving it back on a negative expectation machine that can be vultured, and worse still when it is the same game they got the money from in the first place.

The tall guy looked around at the other, “Easy plays,” machines and didn’t see anyone playing them. Vulturing was increasingly becoming a waste of his time. He let out an exasperated sigh and checked a bank of machines in the non-smoking part of the casino. Finding that he was the last one who looked at those and nobody touched them since; (he could tell from the credits paid numbers) he made one more pass and the only lady playing any, “Target machines,” was the one who had jacked, ‘his,’ other play.

Deciding he could be doing better things, like anything else on Earth that he could be doing, he left.

Vultures v. Credit Hustlers

Quick distinction. Vultures look for positive plays on machines with a quick turnaround in the hopes of making money off of the plays, but are still gambling. They’ll all win in the long-run if they avoid negative expectation gambling, of course.

Credit hustlers are people who look for credits left on machines or dropped money/chips pretty exclusively. That’s not referring to people who just happen to find something in the ordinary course of events, this refers to people who either go out of their way to look or look pretty exclusively.

There can and often is some crossover between the two, but I’m a vulture. I don’t mind being called a vulture. I actually embrace the term, I pick the bones of positive plays left behind. If you call me a credit hustler, I’m afraid I’ll have no choice but to smack you in the face. (Kidding)

More Competition

This was hardly a new experience for our tall and portly friend. Over the last several months, he had encountered increasing competition, particularly at this one casino. The competition might be increasing everywhere and at all casinos the guy goes to, but there are such a small number of potential machines to have routine plays at this casino to begin with, and the fact that the casino itself is small, that it tends to stand out more.

Our friend thought back to just a few months ago when he met Brian (name changed to protect anonymity). Brian was an African-American gentleman, and our friend means gentleman, a mild-mannered and well-spoken guy in his early-fifties who looked kind of like George Jefferson. This fact was pointed out to our friend by another advantage player, as our friend had never seen All in the Family or The Jeffersons. “What was that, 1950?” our friend had sarcastically asked, “Why would I have seen that show?”

Brian had first been found checking, interestingly enough, the first machines that were mentioned in the above story. It had been pretty apparent to our friend what Brian was doing, so he went up to him and bluntly stated, “Man, you’ve been here awhile. Want to get breakfast? I have two free buffets.” The gentleman declined breakfast and acted like he had no idea what the tall man was talking about. “Okay, okay,” the tall man intoned, “Well, breakfast is over there and that’s where I’ll be. So, if you want to chat, feel free to come find me.”

The tall man went over to get his breakfast and Brian, maybe more out of curiosity than anything else, came over and sat down. Brian said, “I don’t want to interrupt you eating. I probably should have taken you up on breakfast, but I thought you were security or (state) gambling department, for some reason. I’m paranoid and haven’t slept for awhile. Anyway, I don’t want to disturb your breakfast, so just come find me when you’re done. I’ll be where I was the first time you found me.”

The tall man finished his breakfast and meandered over. Taking a seat next to the Brian, he basically interviewed him. They mostly sat there as Brian smoked cigarettes, but they did get up and walk around the casino floor a few times. Our tall friend pretty much felt like he had Brian’s life story, here’s the cliffnotes version:

For reasons we won’t discuss, it appears that Brian had lost his driver’s license, but did own an automobile. He was trying to gather up enough money to get back to where he was from and attend a court hearing during which he would be given his license back if he paid a fine. There was no family in the area to which he was returning, with exception to a sibling. Brian said he could probably ask the sibling for help, but he didn’t want to do that.

Brian had been vulturing this, and other, casinos for the last several months. He’d been hopping from place to place sleeping whenever and wherever he could, occasionally getting a room when he could afford one. Usually careful with his money (he claimed) he’d had a hunch about one machine a few nights previous (and had been drunk) and (claims) he dropped nearly $2,000 in about an, “Hour, maybe hour and a half.”

His stated goal was to get his money back, “From THIS casino,” and then try to move onto something better. Brian said that, even when the tall guy wasn’t around, the casino wasn’t, “Worth a lot.” Once he got his money back from THIS casino, he would move on down the road.

The tall and rotund man was very skeptical of the story, with exception to the bare bones aspects of Bran being a vulture, losing his driver’s license and being from where he claimed to be from. Even with that, Brian seemed like a pretty nice guy, so the tall man decided to offer what limited assistance he could.

The tall man was very familiar with this casino, looking at Brian he said, “I like to do a hit and run strategy here. I come in, try to find some stuff and then I leave unless someone is on something that looks good. If I’m free, I come back in 12 hours and do it again. I would say that you get about $50-$70 in average value, everything included, if you stop here twice a day that way. I also think that you don’t really increase your value all that much by camping out around the clock, because it’s dead too much of the time, and that your hourly rate really sucks. I guess weekends might be different.”

The tall man made a few suggestions as to casinos in which Brian might have better results, and Brian thanked him, but did not avail himself of the man’s advice right away.

The tall and somewhat heavy man, who despite his girth was still devilishly handsome, (poetic license!) made far fewer visits to this particular casino during the next several days because he knew that Brian wasn’t going anywhere anytime soon. It’s not that he didn’t like Brian, it’s just that there was no point in going to the casino (other than to pick up free play) if Brian was going to be there. It honestly wouldn’t be worth the tall man’s time even without Brian being there, but for the fact that he was within ten minutes of the place five or six days per week anyway.

The tall man stopped in to pick up free play and asked Brian how everything had been going. The response was not positive, “It’s bad, man. I’ve got to eat, so I have to pay for food. I’ve been sleeping in the stairwell because I fell asleep at one of the machines and they woke me up and told me that wasn’t allowed and not to do that again. I have $20 more than I did since you saw me three days ago.”

The tall man was sympathetic, but offered a shrug and said, “Yeah, it’s not going to go well here on weekdays, I’m surprised you hadn’t figured that. This place is dead. Sometimes there is a bus or two on Tuesdays, and that helps, but sometimes there’s not a bus.”

Brian looked despondent, “I was up $200 yesterday, which was the best day I had here in forever. But, I had a good play on (machine) and it cost me all of that. I’d be down compared to a few days ago right now, except I made $50 on (other machine) late last night.”

The tall guy bluntly asked how much Brian had. The response was about $400 total. The tall guy informed Brian that he shouldn’t be playing (machine) to begin with because of how volatile it was, even when there was an advantage to be had. “That’s just not enough of a bankroll to play that bet amount on that game.”

The tall guy then suggested that what Brian really needed was a game with virtually no risk whatsoever, long-run, for that kind of bankroll on which some decent money could still be made. As most vultures know, there is one game that really fits that description if you can get in a casino that doesn’t have too much competition. The tall guy made this suggestion to Brian and informed him that there were only two other guys who really worked that casino, that the tall man was persona non grata from that casino anyway, so Brian wouldn’t have too much competition to worry about.

Brian had finally been convinced and decided to accept a ride to that casino. Another advantage of that casino, to Brian, was that they had a bunch of armchairs splattered all over the place and all but openly encouraged people to take a nap if they felt like they needed one. The tall man also couldn’t recall how many times he had awoken people passed out at machines in this casino to make sure they were okay and knew they still had money on the machine, so he also knew that Brian wouldn’t get thrown out for that reason.

It was a win-win for both parties. For the tall guy, Brian was no longer literally at the casino he lazily visited once or twice a day, so it was back to just being himself and a friend of his working that place with any regularity. There was also an old guy who liked to bet the races, but he only knew a few machines and when his beginning of the month check was gone, so was he until the following month.

The tall man and Brian spoke by phone a few times and Brian had been performing better at the second casino. More than that, he was actually sounding somewhat refreshed and rested now that he could sleep whenever he wanted to. (And not in a stairwell) He had an opportunity, he said, during which someone hit a handpay on a high limit machine, but then left over $1,000 in credits behind because he switched to another machine after getting paid without cashing out what was left. He asked the tall man what to do.

“Normally I discourage outright theft and still do,” said the tall man, “However, I will say that I completely understand if you decide to jack that ticket.” Brian complained that the player had so much money that he’d been pulling out envelopes of hundreds and spilling them all over the floor. His position was that the money was trivial for that guy. “I’m not telling you not to do it,” the tall man said, “I’m not your dad. I’m just telling you I wouldn’t do it, especially since it is a flat out unambiguous crime in that jurisdiction, though I wouldn’t do that even if it weren’t.”

Ultimately, Brian decided to casually play a few spins on the machine to see if the guy noticed. Brian’s plan was to put in a $100, take a few spins totalling less than that, then cash out the ticket with whatever was left of the $1,000 that was already on the machine as well as his hundred. Almost instantly, the guy came charging across the room and said, “Sorry, I think I still had credits on that machine. I was going to come back and play that again.”

Brian tried a little subterfuge, “Wait, you did?” “Hold on. I thought I won this. I put $100 in here and I thought I must have hit something. I definitely put $100 in here, though.”

Apparently, the high-limit player was polite about the whole thing, but then asked if they should get security or the slots department involved to maybe figure it out. Obviously, that was the last thing that Brian needed to happen AND one of the principal concerns of the tall man, so Brian replied, “Listen, I don’t know. I’ve been drinking. I KNOW I put $100 in here, so just give me that back and we’ll call it good.”

The gentleman was agreeable to that, and according to Brian, he had legitimately put $100 in the machine, so he got that back.

When Brian called him, the tall man just laughed, “Listen, you can’t half-steal something. Let’s call that what it is, you were going to steal the guy’s money from the machine. I’m not holding it against you, but let’s call it what it is. Well, you’re either going to steal it or you’re not. I think that was a weird way to go about it. I could understand maybe putting in $100 and taking one spin for deniability reasons, but the key to stealing as I understand it is that you should do it as quickly as possible.”

Brian agreed that his approach was a little wrong and, after the fact, stated he felt a little ashamed of himself, though he was quite sure the guy didn’t need the money anyway. Brian reiterated his concern that he was going to get kicked out of the casino if he got caught flat-out trying to take it, so that’s why he wanted to do his roundabout method.

“Well,” the tall man said, “I still think taking one spin and putting $100 in would have given you deniability. Either way, there should be no question of getting kicked out, if you’re going to straight up jack a thousand bucks, you should want to get the hell out of there with no plans ever to return. Again, you either steal or you don’t, but you can’t only kind of steal something.”

A few more days went by with steady gains, but Brian wasn’t making the progress that he felt he should have been. He called the tall guy and asked whether or not the tall guy would be willing, as promised, to take him back to the casino where he started. The tall man said:

“Sure, you can go back. But, you shouldn’t be setting daily goals, or you’re going to put too much pressure on yourself. You’re also going to start chasing plays that aren’t good or that you can’t afford if you start getting obsessed with hitting daily goals. I didn’t say you were going to get rich overnight at that casino, I said you might get $100 a day in value if you camp out basically all day, but it would be more consistent.”

I still stand by that advice, by the way. If you think that setting daily goals and then worrying about whether or not you hit them is a great idea, then gambling is not a good way to make a living or even a partial living. Nothing is guaranteed in gambling. If you want to set daily goals, take your daily number, divide by eight and try to find a wage job that pays that much per hour. If you can’t, then your daily goal is clearly too high.

Brian spent a few days back at the original casino, but with quite the opposite of success. On another positive play, but at a high dollar amount bet, Brian managed to lose several hundred dollars on one play and then a few hundred on the same machine later that day. He called the tall man wanting to know what he should do.

“Clearly,” the tall man said, “The answer is to go back to where I took you in the first place. I told you that you don’t have the stack to go after plays on that machine. I don’t even play that one unless the situation is pretty amazing because it can punish you pretty severely if you don’t hit what you’re going for. Anyway, let’s go back.”

A few days later, Brian called the tall man and again complained that, while he was doing better than he had been at the place he started, he still wasn’t making enough money to get his fine paid and get his driver’s license back in time.

The tall man remembered a casino at which the vulturing on a two particular types of machines was even better than where he had taken Brian, so he told Brian about it, but gave him a warning.

Listen, this place is a legit resort. You CANNOT fall asleep in there, so you’re going to have to suck it up and pay for a hotel room somewhere if you want sleep. You’re also going to have to deal with taking a cab, unless you feel like going for a really long walk to your hotel. With that said, I can tell you that the vulturing there is really good on weekends if you’re observant and jump on the plays as you see them. Don’t be too aggressive about it because you won’t have any competition, at least, you shouldn’t. Just be laid back and remember DON’T fall asleep.

The tall man gave Brian a ride to the nearest big city from which he was supposed to catch a train to go to the state of this casino and he said he had transportation figured out from there.

The tall man got a call from Brian two or three days later to the effect that Brian had been banned from that casino for falling asleep. First, Brian fell asleep in the chair in which he was waiting out a machine. The security guard told him he couldn’t sleep there, so Brian went to a different public area near the hotel lobby and went to sleep in one of the chairs there. It didn’t take long for them to come along and tell him to leave the property and never return.

“Well, yeah,” the tall guy said, “It’s a resort in the middle of nowhere. They were probably wondering how the hell you even got there.”

Brian returned to the second casino in this story for a bit, but then left again. The tall guy offered a few other forms of assistance, in terms of rides to places, but Brian almost despondently said that the tall guy had done everything he could for him and that he shouldn’t have fallen asleep at the resort because it was a good opportunity there. The tall guy asked Brian about a bunch of casinos grouped together east of them, but said he didn’t know much about it other than they were close together and asked if Brian had ever checked out that situation. “I probably will,” Brian said.

It’s been about six months and the tall guy has tried to call Brian once or twice with no answer. He might even try again in a day or two now that Brian is fresh on the mind. If you’re reading this Brian, you know who you are, feel free to shoot me (Mission146) a PM and let me know you’re alive.

And...More Competition

As the six months since Brian’s visit to the area have passed, the competition has been ever-increasing at the casino nearest the tall man. In addition to the fact that the ploppies (negative expectation players) are increasingly learning these machines, only to go on and lose the money they win on some other machine, there have also been quite a few legitimate advantage players, “Scouting,” the casino.

On two out of three instances of legitimate advantage players, “Scouting,” the casino, they left never to be seen again by the tall man. They must have come in and quickly surmised that the place isn’t worth much. It shouldn’t take terribly long to figure that out, especially since two of the better machines that were there six months ago are now gone. The staff tells the tall man that they got insufficient coin-in to remain, but the tall man believes that the holds on the machine weren’t where they wanted them to be...vultures have a tendency of cashing out their wins.

In the third case, there is a vulture who has been and is probably camping out at the casino right now. His tendency is to go in and check the machines every two-three hours on weekdays and then to check them every one-two hours on weekends.

This gentleman, who we will call Bobby, (not that he gave the tall guy his real name to begin with, because he didn’t) initially irritated the tall man by being dodgy and acting like he had no idea what the tall man was talking about when approached. After that, an advantage player who is friends with the tall man walked into the casino and, Bobby not recognizing him for what he was, tried to scam him!

The scam was pretty simple, Bobby was sitting on a must-hit machine that was clearly in a positive state. He had a little bit of money on there, but not too much and probably didn’t have enough money to go after the jackpot himself. Either that, or he just didn’t want the risk.

The setup for the scam is that he would offer passerby the opportunity to go half on the must-hit with him, but the problem is that he can’t access the money in his checking account until 7:00 a.m. because he had hit his withdrawal limit until then. After that, it would be good and he could throw his half in, but (and this part was correct) they would probably have already hit it by then anyway.

The purpose of this scam, for Bobby, is that if the must-hit number runs way high, he can bail. The thing about must-hits is that if the number runs higher than expected, you’re losing money. If it were to hit early, then Bobby would get his, “Half,” of the profits and the 7:00a.m. thing would never come into play.

The tall man found this scam more amusing and ridiculous in its obviousness than anything, but supposed that there might be someone stupid enough to fall for that one.

Anyway, the tall man was annoyed by this scamming going on in the casino as well as the increased competition. As he got to know Bobby, though, he started to warm to him a little bit. Bobby is actually an okay guy, the tall man decided, he’s just shady as hell. There were also a few situations involving big must-hits that came up in which Bobby wanted paid way more than what was reasonable to, “Hold,” the machine for the tall man and his advantage player friend.

That was all about a month to a month-and-a-half ago, and since then, the tall man has learned to tolerate Bobby. Usually when they are both there and there is a quick vulture play, they both agree to, “Go half,” on the profits, though Bobby tends to pass up the more borderline ones completely.

There was also a situation in which the tall man walked in on Bobby playing a negative expectation game such that he had earned a few, “Players Club Points.” This negative expectation play also happened to be on a machine that would sometimes be positive. Bobby claimed that he was just playing off his free play, but he had earned too many points for that to be the case. The tall guy pretended to believe him, and it doesn’t matter anyway, because Bobby isn’t going anywhere anytime soon unless he finally decides there are better opportunities elsewhere.

Every game in there is negative expectation unless there’s an opportunity, so you have to play your free play on something, but this machine wouldn’t be in the Top 300 best things to play in the situation Bobby was playing it.

For Those Who Don’t Know

For those of you who don’t know, there is almost an unspoken code amongst vultures, at least the ones around here, that we’re really not supposed to be playing negative expectation games. Having another vulture walk in and see you playing a negative expectation game, unless you’ve got a good reason for doing so (and there are some, occasionally) is about the same as having your wife walk in on you while you’re mid-coitus with another woman. You want to deny what it is that you’re doing, but your hand is so far in the cookie jar as to be unextractable and you are caught dead to rights.

Anyway, there’s really no greater sin that sitting there and degening on some slot machine, especially when that slot machine is just in a putrid game state and the person playing should know that it is.

Anyway, it’s the first time the tall man caught Bobby, so he’ll just pretend it never happened. It does explain why Bobby never seems to have money for must-hits and why he is so conservative on what should be decent plays, though. It also explains why the tall man has had to deal with Bobby’s presence in this casino for the last three months, it’s hard to say if Bobby has ever really had enough money to move on to somewhere better.

Ploppies, Ploppies, Ploppies

The ploppies have gotten ridiculous when it comes to checking the target machines. Where there might have been one guy who would come in and check the machines prior to going and losing all of his money at the racetrack, there are now three such people. Where there was one lady who would vulture the machine next to her while furiously slamming the button and losing money, on the same exact game, there are now three or four such people.

The bottom line is that most of the games in this casino are just too simple to learn how to play in a positive state, so the people who would normally have no interest in positive-state machines, because they wouldn’t know one from their own (Editor’s Note: Censored), are there taking all the plays away from the people who would normally be working the casino for a decent little profit.

I also say, “Decent little profit,” because there is no way that this one casino constitutes job replacement income, at least, not any job that I would ever work. Like I said before, you could make $50-$70 per day in expectation doing the checking every twelve hours and spending a total of maybe two hours a day in the casino with no competition. I figure that you get most of the plays by doing this, so maybe your daily expectation improves to something like $100/day at this casino if you camp out around the clock and take every possible play.

Those are averages, by the way. Fridays-Sundays are better, Mondays-Wednesdays are worse, Thursdays are right about those numbers.

Anyway, I think I’d rather play guitar outside of the grocery store for whatever people are willing to throw into my guitar case than camp out inside that casino for eighteen hours per day for a daily expectation of $100. As if it’s not enough that only comes out to under $6.00/hour, it just seems like a thoroughly miserable experience. Leaving and coming back every two hours seems like a thoroughly miserable experience.

Imagine this: You spend the better part of eighteen hours a day in a smoky and dirty locals casinos. My throat starts to get scratchy in there after about an hour now that I don’t smoke anymore and the smell of smoke never seems to go away except in the non-smoking section. Most of this time you are in there, you’re either doing nothing or trying not to play some sort of negative expectation machine out of just sheer boredom. In my case, I’m usually staring at my phone playing some sort of phone app game.

That’s not to say that I don’t enjoy vulturing: I love it. But, I only love it on my terms. My terms are that I want to go in there, look around for plays, take whatever I make and get the hell out of there as quickly as possible unless there is some machine I deem worth waiting for.

There are some casinos I enjoy more than others and don’t mind hanging out. If I can turn a 98-99% video poker game into a breakeven proposition via points and free play while waiting out positive expectation plays, then I don’t mind spending a little longer there. I get just as stir-crazy in casinos as I do at home, though, so I really prefer not to even be at a casino of this nature for longer than two or three hours at one time. Certainly no more than six hours in a day, if avoidable and that’s only if the situation there is ideal.

My God. Eighteen hours a day of checking off an on to make maybe $100 in expectation in an entire day, though? Bobby seems to think it’s not even that much, hell, I guess he would know better than I would, at this point. He’s the one spending his entire life in that dump.

It just seems like such a miserable existence. If I had my choice between doing that for $100 a day and working in a gas station, “Thanks for choosing Sunoco, is there anything else you need today, or will it just be the gas? We have any size coffee for seventy-nine cents all week!

Anyway, I do it because it’s fun. If it ever stopped being fun, then I would stop doing it. If it ever felt like work, which it surely would if I based eighteen hours of my day around being in one casino, again, I would quit.

Running Around

You can still do okay around here if you move around a good bit. The main problem is how far apart the casinos are spread. When I say, “Do okay,” I don’t mean make full-time replacement level income, I think you absolutely CANNOT do that on a day-to-day basis, I just mean that there are a few places worth popping in and out of and seeing what’s going on. Interestingly, the slot parlors have an interesting little progressive play, if you can figure it out, that’s probably a better earner than are the casinos.

More power to you if you are reading this and can figure it out. The nice thing about this game in parlors as opposed to the machines in the nearest casino near me has very limited opportunities, but there are plenty of parlors with this game to go around...at least for now.

Giving it Back

These things wouldn’t bother me as much if I didn’t see so many people winning money off of these machines, sometimes EASY money and then just giving it right back to the casino. I’m sometimes have tempted just to say, “Look, just let me take the play if you’re going to do that. At the end of the day, you’re just going to lose whatever amount of money you brought with you, so what does taking this play get you? The ability to play for three minutes longer? I actually plan to take the money out of here, thank you.”

That’s why I was flabbergasted to see Bobby on a negative expectation game, giving it all back, which I suspect has been going on more than I know. He has a pretty good idea when I might be in there and he probably has a good idea when to expect my advantage player friend who, by the way, he actually tried to scam. I also consider it suspicious that I caught him with his hand in the -EV cookie jar on the one occasion that I got there earlier than I normally would have.

People are free to do what they want with their own money, of course, but damn if it’s not annoying to see them give the money right back to the very casino they took it from.

Returning to the Roots

Unless a new flood of vulturable machines comes into the casino, we might be winding it down and it will be time to get back to more, “Traditional,” forms of advantage play. There are some of those that I probably shouldn’t discuss here, so we’ll ignore those.

I wonder how much card counting has changed. If you can work in some other stuff with that against weak dealers, which might become easier to find as casino gambling expands nationwide, you might have a good little play for awhile. Besides that, there are those who seem to report that traditional card counting by itself is still going okay, other than the swings just because of how much you have to bet.

There are still some beatable promotions out there, but it’s usually nothing amazing or worth travelling for. The casinos seem to have smartened up when it comes to those sorts of things. We’ll see if that changes.

The online casinos are certainly becoming much tighter with promotions, even compared to just a few years ago. They usually get you through the Terms & Conditions of a promotion, rather than just the promotion being weak in and of itself.

Sports betting and legalized/regulated online gambling is going to spread to a few more states within the next year or two, and already has, in some cases. I think that might present some opportunities, especially if any sportsbooks are operated completely independently of a network. I’m not going to get into any specifics of what I have in mind here, but I think a few of my ideas have some potential.

Other than that, it is what it always was. Adapt or die. If there’s no way to adapt as a vulture due to the prevalence of the practice, then the only possible solution is to adapt out of being a vulture and just become something else. For anyone astute enough, and determined enough, where there is gambling there will almost always be some sort of opportunity.


Vulturing, as we know it, is dead.

At least, that’s true for this area. If you’re a vulture working a locals casino where the competition hasn’t increased yet, (because the competition is rough in places like Las Vegas and Atlantic City and always has been) my advice is to enjoy it and make as much as you can because competition is coming.

Most of the competition will probably come from within as the ploppies in your casino begin to learn some of the machines in there, often because they notice what YOU are doing, and then begin to win on those machines so they can take that money and lose on others. Even if that doesn’t happen, I tend to think you’re living on borrowed time before some guy sick of the competition at his current casino that he’s working decides to run around checking out others, instead. At this point, I’m actually starting to think that there are more vultures than there are vulturable machines.

Either way, if you’re facing light competition right now, get that money while you can because it’s not going to last long.


odiousgambit Oct 31, 2018

I detect a new style by our house gambling writer. It works just fine. Now members can spend time trying to figure out if they can "spot themselves" or who is actually Mission 146 in disguise. 

>I still stand by that advice, by the way

I got that one right, the tall guy, as you perhaps accidentally reveal with this comment. Or perhaps you assumed we would all know anyway. 

I think the tall man failed to give Brian the best advice of all: "give it up, dude, you aren't going to be able to be more than graduate from homeless to semi-homeless with your level of AP. Get a real job. "

>Having another vulture walk in and see you playing a negative expectation game, unless 
>you’ve got a good reason for doing so (and there are some, occasionally) is about the 
>same as having your wife walk in on you while you’re mid-coitus with another woman. 
>You want to deny what it is that you’re doing, but your hand is so far in the cookie 
>jar as to be unextractable

Enjoyed that! that is some good writing! keep it up.

Finally, one objection, the definition of ploppies is not "negative expectation players"

Mission146 Oct 31, 2018


Thanks for the advice and the compliment on my writing style! I don't think any of the people in the story except for my friend ever visit this site. Brian explicitly said he doesn't.

Oh yeah, that's why I made the, "Poetic license," joke when I called myself devilishly sexy. LOL Outright fabrications can be called, "Poetic license," right?

The thing about Brian is that he actually knew some stuff and he dropped a few big underground names in the AP world and talked about some specific plays that those guys did. To be really clear, I'm VERY small potatoes compared to a lot of people, just in general. I am curious why some of these bigger time guys wouldn't have any work for him, though, given some of the stuff he said.

My general take on AP claims, except for a few people I know really well, is just to divide everything I hear by about five and assume the result is something close to the truth.

Thanks again for the compliment at the end, too, I'm glad you liked that! Fair point about my overuse of ploppies.

Boz Oct 31, 2018

Good story Mission with a lot of details and a realistic look at the situation out there today. On a recent AC trip I saw first hand how competitive the situation is. Unfortunately it has also brought out some real POS’s including a run in with a “creator” trying to screw an older lady. I watched it happen and since I was drinking, I had the lack of common sense and courage to confront him. He was shocked a being called out on it and after denying it, crawled away like the scum he is.

Not lumping all vultures together by any means but I wonder if some are getting desperate based on the competition as you wrote about. And are willing to stoop to that level.

Mission146 Oct 31, 2018


Thanks for the compliment!

Creators are nothing new, but they are certainly not my favorite people, either. I usually tend to confront them regardless of my level of inebriation, or lack thereof. I’m more likely to target them when they’re working women or really old guys. If they’re trying some younger guy, I’ll usually ignore it.

It’s hard to say, but like I said, creators are certainly nothing new. Anybody that I’d be willing to work and pal around with in casinos wouldn’t think of it, or I’d tell them what to do with themselves.

tringlomane Oct 31, 2018

Good read. I still periodically do this when I bother to visit local casinos. Some days I don't find a lot of competition, and its great. Other days not so much. And it St. Louis it's always the same people when I do find the competition. They are clearly there hours a day, several days a week. I can't see myself doing that day in and day out.

And in STL, it's probably more balanced on days of the week in terms of value too because there are definitely more vultures on the weekend.

PokerGrinder Oct 31, 2018

Great read Mission!

FleaStiff Oct 31, 2018

I'm reminded of the 'picking up nickels in front of a steam roller' analogy. Once you've taken the risk you really can't give all those nickels back into the maw of what is being referred to as negative expectation.
The lifestyle vignettes here are depressing. All day to 'earn' a hundred bucks? Why not just gamble and either win or lose but end the vulturing. You've heard the expression 'get a life'.... well I hope you do but at least get out of vulturing and sleeping in casino stairwells or eating breakfasts that beggars won't eat.

rsactuary Nov 01, 2018

I don't consider myself a vulturer, but when I go to play, I always do a check of the machine I'm playing and any open ones next to me. But wen that's done, I stick my money in and away I go.. expectation be damned!

Mission146 Nov 01, 2018


Thanks for the compliment! It can definitely be lucrative when there's no competition, but that seems to happen with increasing rarity. I also agree that I don't think I could camp out several hours day in and day out. Too much doing nothing in the process.


Thanks for the compliment!


I like the analogy, get your nickels as quick as you can and get the hell out of the way of the steamroller! The last thing they should do is, "Just gamble," but who am I to judge what they do? Maybe being in the casino eighteen hours as day is for some people, it's just not for me, at least not for that sum of money and on a daily basis.


I like it! Might as well grab it if you're right there.

FleaStiff Nov 01, 2018

Its not just the 'pick up the nickels fast' and scram; its more once you've run the risk of the slightest loss of focus costing you so much, one should not go bet it on Big Red or on some massive house edge slot machine. Its like the horse bettor who is eating oats out of the feed bag, he should try a different occupation rather than betting on the now-hungry nag. Or the guy who didn't want to give up his job of administering enemas to elephants because it would mean ending his career in show business. Its a question of values. Anyone leading the lifestyle you describe, anyone associating with those vultures, anyone even frequenting the casinos you describe... Kipling said it best: 'Just roll to your rifle and blow out your brains and go to your God like a soldier".

odiousgambit Nov 02, 2018

>theguy who didn't want to give up his job of [...] because it would mean ending his career in [..] ........
fill in the blank with some differences and that is hitting a little close to home! ... at times in my life, anyway. But vulturing at least does not fit for me

hursedog Nov 02, 2018


I always admired you as an administer and thought about doing this is a PM, but decided against it, I am envious of your ability to express your thoughts in a intelligent manner. Then I read this :
" This has to be a personal insult of some kind when you're talking about the community. If you think it's a joke, take your shitty Blackjack variants, shove them up your ass, and **** off to somewhere else. "

And now this " “Normally I discourage outright theft and still do,” said the tall man, “However, I will say that I completely understand if you decide to jack that ticket.” Brian complained that the player had so much money that he’d been pulling out envelopes of hundreds and spilling them all over the floor. His position was that the money was trivial for that guy. “I’m not telling you not to do it,” the tall man said, “I’m not your dad. I’m just telling you I wouldn’t do it, especially since it is a flat out unambiguous crime in that jurisdiction, though I wouldn’t do that even if it weren’t.”

REALLY ? You never thought to tell the person he had left $1,000+ in a slot machine. Thereby removing the temptation and a possible felony conviction and prison time for Brian.

I lack your literary talent, So I will just have to paraphrase, HAVE YOU NO SENSE OF DECENCY< SIR

Mission146 Nov 02, 2018


Thanks for the initial compliments.

The first quote was in response to someone insulting the entire Forum and directly stating that a good many of the participants here wanted to see the country spiral into an economic recession just to make Trump look bad. I insulted his Blackjack variants and basically told him to beat it if he thinks the Forum sucks.

I couldn’t tell the person if I wanted to. Brian was on the phone with me. In addition to being some fifty miles away, I am also banned from the casino in question.

Indy70 Nov 03, 2018

Mission, i liked the article also. And congrats on quitting smoking!

I do not consider myself a full grown Vulture, a fledgling maybe? As if there are plays right in your face, why not grab them.
In my observation there seems to be some sort evolutionary experiment going on, especially at two of the three casinos mentioned in the article. Where the aggression of a few vultures is such that they are morphing into raptors.Maybe those that act in that manner will become extinct? Just my thoughts.

Anyway good article, keep-em coming.

Mission146 Nov 04, 2018


Thank you on both counts! Like I said, the only downside to the latter is that smoke bothers me now! I’ll never call for non-smoking casinos or vote for any such, though, that’d be totally hypocritical from a former smoker whose stand was, “It’s a casino, they know what they’re getting into.”

Thanks for the compliment on the article!

I wouldn’t call Bobby a raptor. He basically does it the way that I described myself as doing it, just he does it a lot more frequently. I also hope I didn’t come off as judgmental, if he likes just being in and out of one dingy casino all hours, who am I to say he shouldn’t? It’s just not for me.

UnicornRider44 Nov 08, 2018

A small ploppy here! Thank you so much for the engaging article. I was fascinated the idea. Keeping making money from slot machines - probably that's an idea that most of people who plays slot thought about it at one point of time. You are a vulture with a creed with an intention of helping less fortunate people.

If I was younger, knew vulturing and was able to do it, I would have considered doing it. However, as I get older and experience a life more, older me wouldn't do vulturing even if I could. Because
A. I have money now (I worked intensely in a decent paying job with very high stress)
B. and I can make enough money for me by working in a similar job

*But I know everyone has different personality and situation. Certainly Brian didn't have the option.

A reason I would consider vulturing is: If I believe casinos are bad and exploiting people, which leads me on a mission of being Robin Hood. But even then, I would consider different ways first before acting out my own justice.

So I'm curious if you can share your reasoning or justification of being a vulture.

Mission146 Nov 08, 2018

Thanks for the compliment on the article!

I would say it’s not really for someone who can make a ton of money doing whatever they do, as long as they enjoy what it is they’re doing.

I don’t have a Robin Hood thing going on, I can say that much. I don’t know that a, “Justification,” is really needed beyond the simple fact that I enjoy doing it. That’s the same as the reason that I wouldn’t camp one casino eighteen hours a day, I’d no longer be enjoying it.

vonnegut Dec 09, 2018

Really enjoyed the story, Mission146. As a vegas grinder, this rings authentic.

Mission146 Dec 09, 2018

Thanks for the compliment, Vonnegut!

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