darkoz
darkoz
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March 21st, 2015 at 12:21:57 PM permalink
Casinos consider any advantage play to be a wrong play by a hustler. But as many Advantage Players will attest to, there are Advantage Plays and then there are the Grey areas. The following hustle definitely falls into that grey area.

A very darkly shaded grey.

Greyhound buses arrive nearly every half-hour throughout the day in Atlantic City. The cost of a bus ticket is currently $38 ($45 Friday and Saturday). To ease the pain to NYC patrons, the casinos all hand out a $25 free-play rebate. They used to hand out cash but we all know what happened with those. Many people simply left to enjoy a day at the beach without gambling.

So today, there are free-play rebates only that must be wagered in a slot machine.

Tropicana, Taj Mahal, and Resorts International all have pretty much the same setup. A greeter swipes your players card as you get off the bus and your free-play is directly loaded onto this card. You simply insert your players card into a slot machine and download the free-play using your pin number. The free-play is only valid until end of gaming business day which is usually 6 am the following morning.

The CET properties work somewhat differently. Caesars, Bally's and at the time of this hustle, Showboat used a free-play coupon or voucher system. (They still use this but with Showboat closed, its now Harrah's that takes customers from Greyhound.) When disembarking from the bus, the greeter leads the group into the bus lobby where she stands in front of a computer terminal. Customers line up there and hand over their bus rebate ticket section and casino players card. After swiping the card, the host will hand you a voucher from a stack she is holding for $25 free-play. If you do not have a players card, then you just show your ID and she will still hand you this same voucher with instructions to get your players card from the rewards desk. You need the card to use the vouchers when you insert them into a slot machine.

However, the vouchers themselves are anonymous. There is nothing that ties them to your personal account. For example, if you arrived with five friends and none of them wanted to gamble, they could hand you all of their vouchers and you could insert all of them into the slot machine with your own players card.

One reason this is possible is because the vouchers, unlike the free-play from other casinos which have daily time limits, are good for a quite generous and open period of play -- generally about 2-3 months. The dates seem to have no rhyme or reason, an example being from April 4th to June 15th. The longest period I have seen was valid for over one year and was handed out this past December.

Perhaps CET does this to save printing costs. A huge lot of vouchers are printed and from this lot, the hosts hand out the vouchers, the expiration date and range unchanging until either 1) they run out of that current set or 2) three days are left until expiration at which point they will begin handing out a newly printed set of vouchers.

This means the vouchers barcode has to be generic and not matched to any individual players account. It also means it is completely legit to save up your vouchers on a daily basis and just stick them all in on the last day of the valid period. While there is no intrinsic advantage to doing this, the benefit of playing several hundred all at once versus small $25 allotments on a daily basis cannot be undervalued. It is easier to hit a bonus round that makes it profitable with so much free-play together at one time.

All of this may be why the CET properties receive so much more business through Greyhound. While the other casinos get about 2-5 drop-offs per day, a bus is leaving for a CET property almost every trip. Approximately 20 buses per day drop of at Caesars, Bally's and (Showboat nee Harrah's) each and every day.

It is the generic free-play vouchers that also made CET properties the perfect target for a casino hustle that hit them beginning late Spring/early Summer of 2013. Caesars, Bally's and Showboat were about to fall victim to one of the most prodigious counterfeiting rings to hit the Atlantic City market.

And most confounding of all for them... it was all completely legal.

To be continued
For Whom the bus tolls; The bus tolls for thee
Prognosticator
Prognosticator
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March 22nd, 2015 at 8:53:57 PM permalink
I love this series! Please keep it up.
Greasyjohn
Greasyjohn
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March 22nd, 2015 at 9:09:26 PM permalink
Very good read Darkoz. Looking toward to the next installment.
Hunterhill
Hunterhill
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March 23rd, 2015 at 4:13:27 AM permalink
I enjoy the stories but just one comment. It makes no difference as far as hitting a bonus round whether you play the coupons one per day or all at once.I realize the time savings by using them all at once but it doesn't change your odds of winning.
The mountain is tall but grass grows on top of the mountain.
darkoz
darkoz
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March 23rd, 2015 at 7:57:53 AM permalink
Quote: Hunterhill

I enjoy the stories but just one comment. It makes no difference as far as hitting a bonus round whether you play the coupons one per day or all at once.I realize the time savings by using them all at once but it doesn't change your odds of winning.



For me there are certain machines I have played so often, I can see some of the "tells" when a bonus round is close to hitting. This doesn't guarantee it will be soon but I can often predict a bonus round is close.

With $25 free-play I am more likely to lose everything I've won by chasing this if I see the bonus is close whereas with a large amount of free-play I have a better chance of hitting it before playing through my winnings.

It is also psychologically better strategy since you feel you won a more satisfying amount when playing from large amounts of free-play at once. Turning over your $25 voucher eighty percent is not satisfying since you only won $20 but adding them all up and walking away with a couple hundred feels good.

Mathematically its the same thing but $20 bucks won each day does not add up in my pocket (because its gonna be spent on dinner before it adds up).
For Whom the bus tolls; The bus tolls for thee
Hunterhill
Hunterhill
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March 23rd, 2015 at 2:12:37 PM permalink
"But I often can predict when a bonus round is going to hit" . No disrespect but this sounds like Voodoo nonsense.
The mountain is tall but grass grows on top of the mountain.
AxelWolf
AxelWolf
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March 23rd, 2015 at 2:25:05 PM permalink
Quote: Hunterhill

"But I often can predict when a bonus round is going to hit" . No disrespect but this sounds like Voodoo nonsense.

For the most part it is. However there are machines that DO have situations like this however I highly doubt he is playing them.
♪♪Now you swear and kick and beg us That you're not a gamblin' man Then you find you're back in Vegas With a handle in your hand♪♪ Your black cards can make you money So you hide them when you're able In the land of casinos and money You must put them on the table♪♪ You go back Jack do it again roulette wheels turinin' 'round and 'round♪♪ You go back Jack do it again♪♪
darkoz
darkoz
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March 23rd, 2015 at 2:36:33 PM permalink
Here is the second part of this story.

There are two methods of purchasing your Greyhound bus ticket for Atlantic City. The first is directly from the live teller window where the salesclerk will hand you a four-part serrated-edge linked-ticket printed on a heavy cardboard paper stock. You rip off each portion as you go. The departure, bus bonus for casino, return and an itinerary receipt.

You can also get all of these by purchasing your tickets at the kiosk via cash or credit card. The kiosk will print out each portion of the ticket on separate sheets of flimsy computer paper -- one side of each ticket with all the trip info printed and the other side left a shiny blank. It is this flimsy computer paper that interested an enterprising Mr. X in this hustle. The computer paper was nothing special and could be purchased at any Kinko's or Staples and the ink used to print out the info was, well, ink from a printer.

After scanning in a ticket and using photo-shop to change dates, he was pretty much off and running. He only needed to print out the bus bonus section of the ticket. He didn't care about riding the bus round trip for five hours of the day. He was going to make this enterprise a bit more profitable than that. He was simply going to go to each casino the bus arrived at, every half-hour and hand in his bus bonus. Since the greeter at all the CET properties walked every one inside the lobby to accept the bonus and hand passengers the free-play vouchers, he simply had to mosey on up to the queue and insinuate himself as if he too was a passenger disembarking from the bus.

But Mr. X wanted to not only make this extremely profitable, but also expose himself to as little danger as possible. So, he decided not to actually do this himself. After all, he was the head honcho and should not be in the line of fire. He was the magic man with the printing process. Instead, he convinced a bunch of homeless people to do the dirty work for him.

With every half-hour bus arrival at a CET property, up to 4 homeless people, that were decently presentable, would mosey on into the line and present their bogus bus bonus. They were so well printed that the greeter didn't even notice they were counterfeits and these people would walk off with the legitimate $25 free-play voucher. They would exit the casino where they would rendezvous with Mr. X who would pay them $5 for their work. At two buses an hour, these guys were making a decent ten dollar an hour wage and Mr. X was getting $200 in free-play an hour for very little investment or risk. And since these were good at both video poker and video blackjack, he managed a very decent return.

This hustle went seemingly unnoticed for most of the summer of 2013 but eventually someone saw that sales and redemption numbers were not matching. The bus bonus is not something reimbursed by Greyhound which is probably why it managed to go on for so long. Most likely, there is some accounting done for the number of Greyhound bus tickets sold within a certain time-frame and number of redeemed bus bonus vouchers. And the numbers were very incongruously not lining up.

Certain there was some type of counterfeiting scheme, the bus company instituted a new Greyhound image watermark on the back of all their computer printing paper from the kiosk. And indeed, this seemed to shut down the entire operation. The numbers began to fall back into place.

But Mr. X wasn't about to let a great opportunity go by and he was very enterprising. It took him about two months to perfectly match up the watermark and printing process for both sides of the computer paper. The paper was still the same, after all, it was only the watermark pre-printed with a certain panache from the manufacturer he had to duplicate and as most everyone knows, if it's man-made, it can be duplicated.

By November of 2013, he and his crew were back in business.

By mid-winter, Greyhound and the CET casinos were once again seeing their numbers not matching up. They decided they had to do what any law-abiding business would with counterfeiters. They called in the police. A sting was set-up where the casino security would keep an eagle's eye out for anyone slipping into the line from a newly arrived bus.

Sure enough, they saw the culprits and security sprung on them like jackals. While not everyone in the ring, (there were quite a few people who switched up when they would do the hustle by this time) nonetheless, the casino had some people to throw the book at. And they most certainly planned on making an example of these counterfeiters.

They were brought to the local precinct for booking. There a representative of the CET properties arrived to file the formal complaint and charges. The conversation with the authorities went something like this:

"They've been counterfeiting these. The bus bonus portions of the Greyhound tickets," said the casino representative.

"So, they arrive by bus? What about the actual tickets for Greyhound? You have a sample of those being counterfeited?"

"No, they don't counterfeit the tickets for riding. They don't even ride the bus," stated the casino rep, certain that NOT riding the bus made the case even more heinous.

"Well, if they aren't riding the bus, then they aren't stealing anything from the bus company. There is no theft of service from riding without a legit ticket."

"That's correct. The only thing they do is come up and get the free-play. Here is a voucher for $25. This is what they have been stealing."

The authorities examined the voucher. "This is worth $25 each? Cash?"

"No, it's not cash. It must be wagered in a slot machine. There is no way of knowing what the actual value is until played."

"So, it's basically a freebie, a complimentary that you hand out?"

Seeing where this was going, the casino rep was quick to point out, "Yes, but only qualified bus patrons are allowed to have it. Everyone else is stealing them when they acquire them."

"So, what is the stated value of the voucher?"

Now, most businesses that deal with tickets, coupons or vouchers like to protect themselves from possible scalpers. That is why coupons for a free hamburger at McDonald's might state the value of the coupon is 1/20th of a penny. Even though the free food that it buys is worth a lot more, a scalper technically cannot sell the coupon for more than what its worth.

CET was no different in this respect. But this was about to bite them on the ass.

The authorities turned over the free-play vouchers and saw quite clearly the statement printed, "This voucher has no cash value."

Everyone arrested was free to go. You cannot steal something with no value that is freely handed out.

And now, CET had a big problem on their hands. Instead of making an example of these arrested citizens, they had just shown how they could not be prosecuted. They were facing an empowered counterfeiting ring...one that was completely legal.

To be continued.
For Whom the bus tolls; The bus tolls for thee
darkoz
darkoz
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March 24th, 2015 at 6:09:14 AM permalink
Quote: Hunterhill

"But I often can predict when a bonus round is going to hit" . No disrespect but this sounds like Voodoo nonsense.



Good. Keep thinking that. Protects my hustle, lol.

And my exact quote was I can often predict when a bonus round is "close". Not when it's going to hit. May sound like splitting hairs but they aren't the same claim.

Seriously, being able to predict the bonus round does not overcome the HE. And its not like I can say, "here it comes on the next spin." There are certain teases some machines give usually between 20 - 50 spins before the bonus round occurs. You will start getting two out of the three symbols lined up needed for a bonus round and they will keep repeatedly falling down but you will be one short. Usually this will then be followed by a period of several spins with almost no wins (I call it the dry spell before the storm where they try to suck you dry so you just give up before the bonus hits) and then a few more teases with the symbols and bam, you got the bonus.

This doesn't work for all games and doesn't work all the time but trust me, when you've played the same games for years, you can easily see when its coming. Works about 80% of the time.

But still doesn't eliminate house edge. However, helps a lot when trying to maximize free-play turnover.
For Whom the bus tolls; The bus tolls for thee
rdw4potus
rdw4potus
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March 24th, 2015 at 6:21:00 AM permalink
Quote: darkoz


Seriously, being able to predict the bonus round does not overcome the HE. And its not like I can say, "here it comes on the next spin." There are certain teases some machines give usually between 20 - 50 spins before the bonus round occurs. You will start getting two out of the three symbols lined up needed for a bonus round and they will keep repeatedly falling down but you will be one short. Usually this will then be followed by a period of several spins with almost no wins (I call it the dry spell before the storm where they try to suck you dry so you just give up before the bonus hits) and then a few more teases with the symbols and bam, you got the bonus.



This isn't even remotely close to how slots work...
"So as the clock ticked and the day passed, opportunity met preparation, and luck happened." - Maurice Clarett

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