A question of ethics

So, I have been doing quite a few shops at a local casino chain. As a part of the shop, I am required to ask the dealers questions about the game’s rules. In doing so, I discovered that each casino in the chain is interpreting a specific rule differently - often in a way that is contrary to both the casino chain’s licensing agreement with the owners of the game and the way the game is registered with the atate’s Gambling commission. As a shopper I dutifully reported the rule discrepancies - multiple times.

However, as a math geek, I felt compelled to figure out how this rule discrepancy affected the house edge.... it turns out that the casino that is most blatantly offering an illegal version of the game is giving the players a significant advantage. In Other words, instead of playing with a .4% disadvantage, I am playing with a 3-4% advantage. I have been testing this hypothesis myself and, in my last 14 hours of play, I am averaging winning about $50/hr. I have come out ahead each of my last eight trips in by at
least $100 - on the five dollar tables...It’s embarrassingly easy. Moreover, I get as much free food as I want through their players’ cards, so I can stay all day long if I am so inclined.......

So, is it ethical to take advantage of the casino on my own time?

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/14/2018 02:43PM by MFJohnston.

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You are doing exactly what professionals who make a serious study of probability/advantage in gambling do. There used to be several sites that told members what serial numbers on certain game machine in LV machines had "advantage player" , or at least close to 50:50. Particularly with the blackjack machines, a highly skilled player could turn that to advantage. Since the casinos almost certainly know what you have discovered, I suspect that they are using the "rep" that they get for being "player friendly" to attract more and more gamblers, most of whom wil play the games where the odds are definitely tilted toward the house. They may consider the player advantage game as just an advertising expense until such time as the professional gamblers, using that knowledge, really make it too expensive.

IMHO, it's up to you.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
Do it!

Also that reminds me of two articles that I think you would find incredibly interesting. I'll try to link them when I get home tonight.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
I want her seat please!!!!

I’m sure they aware of the situation. Through this evaluation, you gained some insight. Well, I say just enjoy it!!!!
Two articles that are kind of but not really related. I thought MFJ might enjoy them because he's a math nerd. Emphasis on nerd.....

[highline.huffingtonpost.com]
[www.wired.com]

The first link is a recent article about a group that was winning a MA scratch off game. There was another famous group of MIT students doing the same game. Long article but interesting.

The second link is an old article about a guy in Canada that cracked the code of their scratch offs. He could look at a ticket and guess with very high accuracy if they were winners or losers. The most interesting part of that story is that he tried to tell the lottery commission and they didn't believe him. So he sent the head of the lottery a group of unscratched tickets and marked which ones were winners. He received a call the same day from them lol.

Oh. Almost forgot this 3 part story from philly.com. Perhaps the most interesting one!

[www.philly.com]

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
I want to know where this casino is!!!!

What's done is done. An egg cracked cannot be cured.
There are 3 kinds of lies. Lies, Damn lies, and statistics.
I would recommend a book called The Frugal Gambler by Jean Scott. Excellent read on this subject!
It's actually amazing what types of things you learn and learn about as a mystery shopper.

I think that you should go ahead and play. You could have asked those questions as a "regular patron," and you also did all the work of figuring out the averages, etc., which is something anyone (who was interested in math....) could do.
GO FOR IT....

Create a life that feels good on the inside, not one that just looks good on the outside.....
Dr. Judith Wright
OP
As a nerd, math geek, and advantage player I would love to know which casino and game. However I would assume you are smart enough to not name the casino as it would result in a running of advantage players and ultimately change the rule back to favor the casino. With that said if you could tell us the game, I am assuming Blackjack based on your stated house advantage under normal conditions but I am curious what rule would make this big of a swing. Card counters are happy with a 1% advantage a 3% to 4% would be huge. I would take advantage until they no longer offered the game with those rules.
Bgriifin
Thanks for the articles as I love gaming studies, stories, and anything related to the industry.

Shopping Western NY, Northeast and Central PA, and parts of Ohio and West Virginia. Have car will travel anywhere if the monies right.
I don’t see this being any different than doing a shop where you find a great deal, then going back one your own time to take advantage of it. Oh wait, it’s exactly the same thing.
I have gleaned a tremendous amount of wheeling and dealing knowledge from MSing. Automotive - when to purchase, and discounts on services; wireless - phone purchase and plans; jewelry discounts; grocers - too many savings opportunities to list; home accessories and furnishings; banking services; loyalty rewards and discount days/times for fast/casual/fine dining, and a multitude of other merchants . . .

I take advantage of every cent and bit from my shopping experiences.
I am not going to name the casino here, but it is in the Seattle area..... The game is Players Edge 21 - which is basically Spanish 21 (which is a variation of Blackjack). Here is a brief summary....

* In Spanish 21, the tens are removed from the deck, which is the one big advantage the house has over the player that is not present in Blackjack.
* The advantages the player has are: player blackjack beats dealer blackjack; player 21 always wins, blackjack players 3:2, there are several ways to get 21 that have 3:2, 2:1, and 3:1 payouts, player may split any two matched cards - up to three times, making four hands, player may double at any time, player may double a doubled bet.

The rule issue is this: in Players Edge 21, players are either permitted to double-double-double or "double for less," but not both. This casino allows both, which is huge. Consider: You are dealt a hard "5" against a dealer "6" up card. Basic strategy calls for a double.. You double and draw a "7." You now have "12" and about a 42% chance of winning the hand. Basic strategy calls for for you to stay as a second double will only raise you chance of winning the hand to about 48%, an increase that does not warrant doubling your bet.. However, "doubling for less" allows you to ante up one more dollar (even if you are at a $10 table!) for one more card. You can now increase your chance of winning the hand by six percent for almost nothing. In a nutshell, you can "double for less" any time a "double" or "double-double" draws a stinker of a card. In most cases is it superior to surrendering or staying.

As written, the rules should have a .4% house edge (assuming the side wagers are NOT played) - which is very low (a good game for the player). Add in that:
* The casino uses a "shoe" instead a an automatic shuffler. This creates volatility in the deck, where it will run high and low through play. Because more low cards can come out on a given hand, the shoe is more likely to run high, an advantage to the player (even if s/he is not counting cards).
* The casino allows you do double up to three times on a hand (typical is two). This allows the player to double very aggressively when the dealer's up card is a four, five, or six. That third double doesn't happen vary often, but can make for a huge hand with the player most likely to win.
* The casino allows the double-for-less, which allows you to have a shot a saving a failed double. (or double-double!) instead of surrendering.

I can only estimate the player advantage of these rules as the math is very messy and generally done with a computer program that simulates millions of hands. There does not seem to be any research online about the effect of these rules as such beneficial rules simply do not happen. Moreover, the "double for less" option has a different effect on the house edge, depending on your initial bet (if your initial wager is $100, the "double for less" is only 1% of your original bet, whereas if your initial bet is $3, the "double for less is 33% of your initial bet, which will have a dramatic change in your expected returns as a percentage of your total bet. Generally, computations for the house edge have nothing to do with the level of your wager. This is a different beast.)

Note: A huge player advantage, does not guarantee a winning evening. It is still gambling.
* A player not willing to really learn basic strategy (when to hit, double, stay, surrender based on his/her cards and the dealer's cards) will always play with a large disadvantage.
* I don't like to risk more than $100. On eight straight trips of about three hours each, I came out ahead. Twice, I left ahead by less than $15. Once, I was at $260. Once I was at $400. Each other time, I was between $150 and $200. However, this morning, I lost my $100.
* I still prefer to do casinos as shops as I don't have to risk any money and can come out with a good chunk of money.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
MF Johnston

Thanks for the info, This may help explain the game better to others although you did a fair job. You may want to contact the wizard and see if you in fact have stumbled on a profitable game as you may have and if so imho you won the lottery.

here is the link:
[wizardofodds.com]

Shopping Western NY, Northeast and Central PA, and parts of Ohio and West Virginia. Have car will travel anywhere if the monies right.
Much of my research is from the wizard.... I'm very certain that the game is favorable to the player.

@BuffaloNY101 wrote:

MF Johnston

Thanks for the info, This may help explain the game better to others although you did a fair job. You may want to contact the wizard and see if you in fact have stumbled on a profitable game as you may have and if so imho you won the lottery.

here is the link:
[wizardofodds.com]

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
Hmmm,
I used the Wizard's blackjack strategy on a recent cruise where I played small stakes blackjack for 2 hours every day for a 12 day crossing of the Atlantic. I started with $40 and, even without a rule that gave players the advantage, left with $24 at the end of 12 x 2 = 24 hours of play. Watching the dealer's cards and knowing what that AND my hand told me about the need to hit, stay, double or surrender, is indeed the very essence of squeezing everything available out of any odds.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
If you play well, Blackjack is a near-even game. smiling smiley

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
If you play well and stop at the right time, Blackjack is almost always a winning game.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
That requires that you start off well.... My last session started off with a win. Then, the dealer scored 20 or 21 on a dozen straight hands, while I was dealt 14-16.... It was a really brutal sequence. I survived two hours, but lost better than 80% of my hands. It was rough.... They key word in your quote is "almost." The game nearly always has ups and downs.... If you can quit while you are up, it's all good.

@bgriffin wrote:

If you play well and stop at the right time, Blackjack is almost always a winning game.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
MF,
My losses on the cruise all happened when I was dealt 14-16 and the dealer had 20 or blackjack. "odds" are a long term thing that can rear up and bite in the short term. So BG, not always.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
@MFJohnston wrote:

The game nearly always has ups and downs.... If you can quit while you are up, it's all good.

That was exactly my point. While it does happen it's very rare that you just sit down at a blackjack table and boom lose all your money. Sure you might lose half but then next thing you know you're up half. Normally when I sit down at a table I set a goal. So let's say I'm at a $5 table. I'll change $100 and I know that any time I am up $50 I'm getting up and when I am out my $100 I am getting up. Sometimes I play forever and still have my $100 and that's ok too, but a majority of the time one of the first 2 things happens. And then sometimes I get over $50 because maybe I split or doubled down. At that point I pull my $150 back and I'm just screwing around with whatever I make off the extra chips. But if I lose a couple of hands in a row and I'm back down to my $150, it's always time to get up. As long as you're disciplined you will get up from the table with $150 more than twice as often as you get up with none.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
@walesmaven wrote:

MF,
My losses on the cruise all happened when I was dealt 14-16 and the dealer had 20 or blackjack. "odds" are a long term thing that can rear up and bite in the short term. So BG, not always.

Yep. That's why I said almost always. Sometimes you just sit down and give them all your money. But if you play with discipline you will come out ahead over the long run. Casinos just know few players play with discipline.

There are reasons that a body stays in motion
At the moment only demons come to mind
Yup.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
@walesmaven wrote:

MF,
My losses on the cruise all happened when I was dealt 14-16 and the dealer had 20 or blackjack. "odds" are a long term thing that can rear up and bite in the short term. So BG, not always.
I only gamble on the first night of the cruise. The dealers seem very lucky on the rest; same with the slots that tighten up after the first night.

Recently I was on a casino shop where the croupier hit green 4 out of his first 6 spins. That was really weird, and statistically near impossible.

Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.

(Yes, I stole Hoju's tagline.)


Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 04/16/2018 10:37PM by iShop123.
@JASFLALMT wrote:

MFJ is a dude, LOL. But I am sure he is fine with it.

But they said if the shoe fits.......... tongue sticking out smiley
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