goooner
goooner
Joined: Oct 16, 2012
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October 16th, 2012 at 2:49:03 AM permalink
A number of people have contacted me or my website about Playtech Live Dealer Blackjack. They report that playing basic strategy they are losing around 3% per hand in live dealer games which use the Playtech software, instead of the expected figure of about 0.6% which the game should produce playing Basic strategy. They take advantage of casino promotions and think they have a fair chance to make money at -0.6% (they are often offered $100 to deposit $100 with 80 times play through for example) but little chance at -3%.

I have looked at the different tables on various sites (livedealer.org indicates which casinos use Playtech software, so you can check), and the complete shoe is taken away from the table, and then brought back for a "once through the pack" single shuffle. This gives rise to a suspicion, possibly unjustified, that the shoe is "arranged" before returning to the table - and this is the reason it is taken out of view for a short time. On one occasion I saw cards face up on an empty table in view in the main lobby, and there were about 10-12 aces on the right, all face up. Perhaps the cards were being sorted and checked. That view was only there for a short time, as someone then collected the cards.

The interesting statistic from the people who contacted me was that the percentage of Blackjacks for the player overall was around 2.4%, almost exactly half the figure that it should be for 8 decks of 4.7451% (12/416*128/415*2). What could happen to cause this might, for example, be that at the shuffle table the casino takes out 16 of the aces and places them at the bottom. Then there is a single riffle in six sections followed by a cut, so that these 16 aces will not be in play in the new shoe. There will now be an average of 8 aces in the section that will be used in the new shoe, and not the average of 16 aces that would be expected for the (approximately) 208 cards that are used in an 8 deck game with the postilion inserted half way. I did a simulation for 8 decks with only 50% aces, and had a figure of -3.3% playing basic strategy - no doubt you would be better than me at checking that!

I manually recorded 10 shoes and saw 83 aces, about the number I would expect in 5 shoes, so statistically there does seem to be something suspect about the game. The result I had was around 7 standard deviations below expectancy. I was not playing, and selected a full table where I could record without having to play. When I asked the live dealer why the shoe was being taken away from the table, she seemed very annoyed and called the supervisor and said "look what is in my chat box". The supervisor came and said that I could see another shuffle taking place at the shuffle table, but that was not available on the site I was using. Online support and the support of my site clarified that the "shuffle" could not be seen on most software. Also there is no independent verification that the shuffle out of view is fair.

Since posting the above on another site, I checked the certificate of return on livedealer.org. Most of the certificate links are broken or missing, but one Evolution site, William Hill, gives a return on card games of 99.3% while one Playtech site, 21 Nova, gives a return on card games of 98.3%. The latter includes Baccarat, which is shuffled every hand in full view of the player, and is close to 99%, suggesting the return on Blackjack there is 97.6%. The penetration is about 50%, so one would expect some people to be doing better than -3% with bet variation of 1 to 10 usually allowed.
dwheatley
dwheatley
Joined: Nov 16, 2009
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October 16th, 2012 at 8:49:05 AM permalink
That does sound suspicious, and you have a legitimate hypothesis as to why it is happening. I would support further investigation if I had any say in the matter
Wisdom is the quality that keeps you out of situations where you would otherwise need it
Switch
Switch
Joined: Apr 29, 2010
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October 16th, 2012 at 11:05:53 AM permalink
The fact that the shuffle is not shown leads to suspicion and the results, along with the supervisor's attitude, are certainly adding more doubt to the fairness of the game.

Based on the country that you state the game is being played in then I would not rule out anything and would like to see more results from that game.
goooner
goooner
Joined: Oct 16, 2012
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October 18th, 2012 at 7:48:49 AM permalink
I recorded ten more shoes, and had 79 aces. Penetration was about 50%, so the expected number with eight decks was 160.
mixmanmatt
mixmanmatt
Joined: Sep 29, 2012
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October 18th, 2012 at 7:59:16 PM permalink
did you try calculating in the burn card

The wizard said burning a card is like moving the cut card foward
AcesAndEights
AcesAndEights
Joined: Jan 5, 2012
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October 19th, 2012 at 8:23:24 AM permalink
Quote: mixmanmatt

did you try calculating in the burn card

The wizard said burning a card is like moving the cut card foward


"So drink gamble eat f***, because one day you will be dust." -ontariodealer
Wizard
Administrator
Wizard
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October 30th, 2012 at 7:19:47 PM permalink
There has been a lot of discussion about this behind the scenes. With the help of a friend in Isreal I've been gathering my own data. Of the play recorded so far, 889 cards have been seen, 75 of which were aces. In 889 cards you would expect 889/13 = 68.4 aces, so actual results exceeded expectations. Recent play from a couple other sources have also been coming in close to expectations. Hopefully they will post the specifics.

So, without being able to reproduce goooner's results, there is no case to be made.

On aother topic, goooner, are you the gooner of goonersguide.com?
It's not whether you win or lose; it's whether or not you had a good bet.
thepogg
thepogg
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October 31st, 2012 at 4:50:20 AM permalink
Hey all - like the Wizard we also took a look at this issue and came to much the same conclusions - that being that while we can't say anything about gooner's experiences without seeing video footage, we're receiving normal results. You can find our full report at

I'd also like to say a public thank you to the Wizard for providing some input on our results.
goooner
goooner
Joined: Oct 16, 2012
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October 31st, 2012 at 7:17:47 AM permalink
Thanks for your research, Wizard and others. Like you I am now getting a normal number of aces over five shoes on the same site. I think I was wrong to complain to Betfred, who had replied:

Thank you for contacting Betfred Casino Support.
We have passed on all your recent comments and criticisms regarding the current "shuffling" process to playtech as it is a very valid point..
again we thank you for bringing this to our attention


The shortage of aces is certainly no more. Although the shoe is still taken away from the table when I last looked. Perhaps, like the player that splits 10s or doubles on A9, they are waiting for the heat to disappear ... And another cheating method, when the shuffle is not visible, is called "touching tens" where the casino takes out 80 tens and puts them back in as 20 sets of four. The single shuffle will still produce more "touching tens" than normal, which advantages the bank. And that will survive most statistical tests as the ratio of cards is normal. From a top player:

If you are in a low card clump, the dealer can't break. Players hit more in these situations. In the other areas where the 10s are clumped we find that we push a lot or simply get beat by pushing BJ and getting out drawn by 19 against 20s. In addition when the 10s are clumped we will also see the devastating break card clumps. This is the situation where everyhand on the table gets a stiff hand with the dealer has a 10 up. Everyone plays basic strategy and hits right into a 10 card clump and busts out. Of course the person who knows this is better off standing with a stiff hand and letting the dealer hit.

The main issue for me is that the reasons for taking all the cards away from the table are non-existent. The reply from someone who is a dealer in the Latvian casino:

"The shuffler comes with cards in a closed box which already have been shuffled according to our Casino shuffling procedure, who is complex, quite long, includes different shuffling technicks and absollutelly provides a random shuffled set of cards at the end. It's last usually about 3 minutes, sometimes less, if another shuffler assists. So they bring them to the BJ table, when there is need and shuffles another time in front of you, to double down the "randomness"."

When he was asked why this was not all done at the table in view of the player, he did not reply.

I am not sure I share pogg's confidence in Playtech, however. And he surely meant that he WAS getting normal results. Perhaps one should look at threads like:
or

And the founder, Teddy Sagi, has been in prison for stock market fraud. And no, the only link I share with goonersguide is being an Arsenal supporter. They are known as the gooners, although they were nearly the goners last night but won an amazing soccer match 7-5.
thepogg
thepogg
Joined: Apr 7, 2012
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October 31st, 2012 at 7:55:49 AM permalink
Quote: goooner


I am not sure I share pogg's confidence in Playtech, however. And he surely meant that he WAS getting normal results. Perhaps one should look at threads like:
or

And the founder, Teddy Sagi, has been in prison for stock market fraud. And no, the only link I share with goonersguide is being an Arsenal supporter. They are known as the gooners, although they were nearly the goners last night but won an amazing soccer match 7-5.



Thanks for the catch goooner - you're right, i obviously changed what i was intending to post mid-way through.

I think the lesson to be learned here is that claims of cheating within this sector - given the number of sore losers that end up throwing that claim about - requires proof otherwise it just gets dismissed. You're not alone in making that mistake - in another instance that's detailed on my site i found a VP double up feature (non-Playtech) to be non-random, but the game's now been adjusted and as i never took a video of that session it's now my word against there. Fortunately several of the posters over at CasinoMeister had tested this bias game previously, so i do have some independant verification.

My suggestion would be two fold - if you really don't trust Playtech, don't play with them from this point on, but if you're really determined to catch them i'd look to videoing random samples over the next year.

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