On-Line Casinos Cheat, so what else is new?
Well, this week, the story has broke that at least three online casinos were cheating its customers at Craps. It was tied to games being offerred by BLR Technologies, a firm down in Costa Rica. I've been keeping up and contributing to the threads at Casinomeister and SBR in order to make people aware of the problem.
It's been suspected for a long time that online casinos are cheating people, but it's been a while since one was truly found, in REAL MONEY mode. VIP Golden Club's blackjack was very obviously rigged, not even paying players on winning hands, but this has been a case where the results were fixed to APPEAR like simple bad luck, especially over a length of 100 attempts or so.
Responses from the casinos involved have been insufficient. While 5Dimes removed their incriminating software, they're remarked (according to another SBR Forum) that they will not refund a player for their losses. Legends has claimed that their RNG generator prevents cheating. And Worldwide hasn't made a response at all. All the while, BLR and the casinos are pulling in at a house advantage of 46% instead of the 1.364%+ that the game advertises. These sites are reputable sportsbook sites. Clearly, they believe that they are operating "above the law" and they are.
Responses from the players involved are somewhat nonchalant. Did Clempops49 receive his money back? The player at 5dimes who was told he wouldn't get his money back will continue to play there. While Casinomeister has rogued the two casinos left, SBR has done nothing to change its ratings of its sportsbooks.
But really, this is a black eye to the online gaming community as a whole. For awhile now, because it was rare to find a cheat at a casino site, people who gambled online have grown to simply trust the software. if BLR is fixing its craps game, why not fix its entire suite of games? And what about Playtech and Microgaming. Maybe their source code is such that they're moving the game only 1% or 2% towards the house -- not enough to be detected in a statistical test, but well enough to take a much more substantial piece of the pie away from players. Even on this site, a great number of people believe that online gambling is a fair game. And this is what this scandal is about -- the integrity of the online experience.
The fact is that the sites involved need to remove blr's software from their sites. And until they do (and remedy their players), there will be a pox on online gambling.
At this time, i just don't see why online gambling isn't legalized and regulated in the United States. It would all be taxable revenue, indeed, which I think is fair. But given the amount of gambling there is, it would be a boon for jobs in the United States, and it would be regulated to offer a fair games,
My life has been fairly blessed in that my job pays me to live stretches of times in different places. It's long enough to get a feel of the cities I am living in. I've lived in Chicago, northern New Jersey, Seattle, Vancouver, but my home has always been somewhere in southern Ontario.
From a gambling perspective, it gives me the opportunity to experience many different gaming areas. I've been to some of the Chicagoland casinos. I've been to Atlantic city several times. I've frequented Mohegan Sun and Foxwoods. And my home casinos in Niagara Falls I am quite familiar with.
But nothing compares to Vegas. Maybe Macau will one day.
Why do I love Vegas so much?
As a Canadian, it's usually sunnier, dryer, and warmer. I like to go in the late winter when Vegas is around 70 while it's a crisp 32 up here. Those days make for beautiful days for the walk down the strip. And getting there is easy, with direct flights to Vegas from pretty much any major and minor airport in the world. You get a variety of places to stay, from the clean, serviceable $29 rooms to the $500+/ night suites at some of the best hotels in the world.
There is such a variety of things to do in Vegas. There is a great variety of gambling settings you can partake in, whether it's the $5 Blackjack Switch tables at the Casino Royale next to the gigantic $3 craps tub, chomping away on a Subway sandwich, sitting in the Encore at 10am in the morning sipping on Mimosas playing some $15 Pai Gow Poker, gassing it up at the Paris' craps tables, getting cheered as somebody makes $1,008, on the Hard 10 that you throw, or gasping as the drunk woman at the end of the blackjack table at the Bellagio doubles a soft 20 to pull an Ace.
Outside of gambling, you can walk the Strip, day or night, watching the Volcano erupt, the show at the Wynn waterfalls, the fountains of Bellagio, the miniaturized Arc du Triomphe, the bright beam of light coming out the Luxor. You can marvel both outside and inside the hotels, checking out the different themes and smell. And if you choose to leave the Strip, you can go to Hoover Dam, the Grand Canyon (via Helicopter or plane), Death Valley or Mt. Charleston.
There's the food, whether you want the cheap Steak and Eggs breakfast in the middle of the night, a plentiful buffet and any of the casinos, or a 5 star dining experience, you can do it. Food is available at any budget, any time of the day or night.
And of course you can shop. Mostly on the strip you are confined to pretty high end places, but the Fashion Mall opposite the Wynn and the PH shops will cater to everyone. If you are looking for something special, like the $350 Hermes scarf or a $50,000 diamond ring, you will find it in Vegas.
Then there's the people watching... seeing the party dump out of a limo at 7am in the morning while you wait for your morning joe... watching the old ladies hobble from penny slot to penny slot... checking out the young women as they get decked out for their night on the town (married, not dead)... watching people playing craps at a reserved table in their robes... watching truly stupendous betting. Vegas is truly a world destination, where you see people of all cultures and nationalities get together to have fun and maybe win a bit of money.
It does feel like a fantasy Sin City world there, with vans going down the streets and cards being handed out everywhere advertising escort services. You can see concerts, Broadway shows, stand-up comedy, illusionists, boxing, and even Mr. Vegas himself at the Tropicana. People on the strip are generally very happy. It is a place to party, have fun, and live a little bit irresponsibly, which I think is something that all adults need from time to time.
And that's why I love Vegas. You can't match that experience anywhere in the United States. And that's why I can't wait to get back there... soon.
I love data
Not the character from ST:TNG (though Brent Spiner’s character is very cool), but just plain, raw, data.
What do I love about it? First, it is collected through observation. Sample data can be collected through computer random number generators which is sufficient for gambling simulations (card games, craps, roulette). But even the RNG generation only becomes sufficient for gambling when you can jump to assume that the events at the casino itself is random. It took a great deal of observation and data to prove that the spin of the roulette wheel, the dealing of the cards, and the rolls of the dice are indeed random. Casinos have taken great lengths to make sure that the game that is being played is a random game. This stops both the casino and the player from cheating.
When you have raw data, it can be analyzed in many many ways. Of course, you have to ascertain whether the source of the data is accurate and the way that the data is measured. Is data thrown out because it is deemed as bad? Did the person gathering the data make the correct reading? What method did the person use to get the data? Was the method of gathering the data consistent every time?
With data, you always have to look for the bias. For example, temperature readings are subject to bias over time because the environment around the thermometer becomes different over time and are subject to the urban heat island effect (the temperatures at night and during the day skew significantly up and down because of the reflection and trapping of solar radiation around the observation site). This bias is a major argument against the evidence that global warming is occurring.
For gambling, is the observer capturing every outcome, every session, or are they selectively observing. Making a statement that the dealer never busts is far more subjective than stating that the dealer has not busted in 32 hands.
When you have a raw set of data, you can analyze it. You can find trends in the data. You can find the truth and look for reasons to support why it is so. Sometimes your reasoning is a pure guess (blackjack revenue is down because 6:5 tables are proliferating) because you don’t have sufficient data to support your theory, just a downward trend or it is uncannily accurate (the house advantage for a pass bet in craps approaches 1.41% over time) because you have the data or simulated data to support it.
For table games, the only games where data is important is when cards are being dealt from a non-replaceable shoe. In that case, you can figure out what cards have been played, calculate the frequency of the remaining cards, and adjust the probabilities of your hand verses the dealer’s and make betting and strategy adjustments accordingly. In sports betting, you can gain an advantage over the house by making habitually smart bets that the casinos don’t account for. Don’t ask me what they are, but I should start taking a real close look at this data set sometime soon.
For all other table games, you don’t need data. You simple need the rules of the game to calculate the quality of the game. So while I grin when Shank (Goatcabin) comes up with 10,000 simulations of 200 rolls each, the data purely shows that as you bet more, you lose more. Why? Because the rules of the game dictate that is so. You don’t get a discount on the house advantage by betting more (with the exception of free odds). The variance of the game is calculable as well and when Shank (Goatcabin) shows figures that you lose your shirt x% of the time and win a car y% of the time, this is calculable without simulation. The reason why we use simulations is because none of us (especially me) have the math knowledge to plug it in so we resort to simulations to show “real world” scenarios.
For slot machines (not video poker, where the rules of the game can be used to calculate the quality of the game and optimal strategy), you have no idea of what the payout is or the frequency of that payout. For that, you need the PAR sheet of the game or need data to figure out what the casino’s advantage is on that game.
What is scary about data is the analysis portion and the completely skewed analysis you can get because you misinterpret the data. Take the long argument in a thread that the house advantage in craps is not 1.41% because in 495 come out rolls, 244 wins only happens 3.5% of the time. This is a misunderstanding of probability in that the HA represents the most probable outcome. It is the variance that explains the differences from the outcome. It the HA was 1.41% with a variance of zero, this would mean that the casino would simply give you back $98.59 on every $100 bet, no matter what the dice threw.
Good luck in a casino, to me, is simply experiencing a positive variance. Leaving the game and the casino a winner is simply knowing when to walk away before the luck turns. That’s why when I walk into the casino, I know that the goal of the casino is to take my money while hopefully entertaining me while doing so that I come back to lose more. But all of us hope that the positive variance genies will serve us well or that we are good enough at playing a game (through counting, by finding a game with a positive outcome like some full-pay video poker machines, by taking advantage of sports bets) that we can come out ahead and have fun.
To go into a casino thinking that you will win is foolish. It’s what the casinos count on to get you in the door.
Probability and Odds
There has been a long thread that talks about House Advantages and probability. In it, someone purports that the HA on the Pass is not 1.4141414%. Arguments are that in real life, it never is and in fact, in 495 trials, you are only likely to win exactly 244 trials 3.5% of the time and therefore, your experience never is the house advantage, and therefore it is a sucker bet. A great deal of time was spent trying to explain what a probability was and the meaning of statistics, but it was all twisted to support the OP's idea that the HA is not in fact 1.414% on the pass line in craps.
Truthfully, you could say the same about anything in life. When you are born, depending on whether you are male or female, you are assigned a life expectancy of say, 78 years. It doesn't mean that you are going to live that long.
At the casino, you could assign every single game and slot machine a probability, expected value, and variance which gives you an idea of the quality of the game. Games with lower house advantage and volatility (a measure of variance) may be favored by grinders. Games with high amounts of variance may be treasured by true gamblers even if the house advantage is high. Games with high house advantages and little variance are low quality games that should be avoided. And within the game of craps, unlike any other game of the casino, every single bet has a different probability, variance, and expectation, which makes the game very fun and fascinating to watch and play, and difficult to learn.
But craps "probabilities" can be figured out quite easily. Dice are random devices. They don't run hot and don't run cold. They just run. Because there are 36 total combinations (6 x 6) and six ways to make a seven, you know that over time, a seven will be thrown in one out of six rolls. That doesn't mean it will be thrown that way: quite the contrary. The casino payouts are quite known. For example, if you bet big red, you will get paid 4 units. The "House Advantage", the advantage that the casino has over you, is easily calculable: 4 x 6/36 - 30/36 = -.166666 = 16.67% HA.
That is, for every dollar that you bet on big red, on average, you will lose $.167.
Every single bet at the craps table is calculable in this way. The House Advantage is in fact an average of what you will lose based on either every roll or every decision based on one unit bet.
Because craps is such a complex game and not well understood, it gives people the opportunity to concoct betting and gambling systems to try and beat the game. The problem is that the casino has figured this out and has concocted a way to get an advantage on you every single roll, even if minute. These probabilities add up if you take more bets and you lose more than if you took the single bet itself.
Knowing this doesn't necessarily give you an advantage at any single session. In any single session, some person can come in and bet the highest house advantage bets and come out way ahead. That's luck at work. Over the long run, however, the house advantage does kick in and you will approach the expected value based on the bets that they've made. So, if you are going to play craps for a long time and want your bankroll to last, it's best to take the bets with the lowest house advantage. If you are going to play the 4 and 10 and the house offers a buy bet where you only pay $1 commission on a $25 winning bet, are you better off placing $25 on the 4 and 10 and winning $45 or buying the 4 and 10 for $25 and winning $49? The answer is obvious. Even if you buy a 4 or 10 for $10, you would get paid $19 on a win instead of $18 by placing the same bet.
What's ironic is that placing a number or set of numbers as is advocated also carries house advantages that can be expressed as numbers, but this is ignored. Some people think that by betting more numbers you have a greater opportunity to win, and it does, but it also gives you a great opportunity to lose everything you've bet when Big Red comes along.
The end result is that no betting pattern or strategy can overcome the house's advantage on the game of craps, just like every single other game in the casino, with very little exception. This can be proven, quite easily, with math. If you win at craps, it was because you were lucky and knew to leave the table ahead. Perhaps the only skill you have at the craps table is knowing when it is time to leave.
If we decide to throw math, probability, and statistics out the window, what do we have left? Superstition, anecdotes, and faulty fallacies designed to fleece our wallet.