Now You Know
By Frank Scoblete
There are quite a few rituals and manners in casino gambling, from both the players’ and the casinos’ standpoints. For example, how come the dealers clap their hands and then turn them up and down when they leave a table? Is it some strange religious rite learned in dealer’s school? No, it simply shows the “eye in the sky,” the ever-present security system, that they have nothing in their hands as they leave for a much-needed break.
Are dealers such a security risk? In general, no they aren’t. But one or two rotten dealers looking to steal chips or money can cause large problems for the casino treasury. I remember one security seminar I attended where video was shown of a slick criminal dealer. When the video was run at regular speed, the dealer didn’t look as if she were stealing dozens of black chips each day.
However, in slow motion, you could see her stuff a black chip into her sleeve, then continue dealing as if what she was doing was as natural as can be. At the end of a round she’d raise her arm as if stretching and the black chip would scoot down inside her blouse into a small pocket. She’d steal $1,200 a day in chips from the casino.
What did her in, as what does most casino gamblers in, was greed. She was stealing so much money that security became suspicious and focused on her whenever she was dealing. At first they could find nothing, as her movements were essentially undetectable in regular speed. But the slow motion, when reviewed in stop frame, showed what she was doing.
Greed is a dangerous emotion. According to a detective I know, “Most criminals continue to do what they have been getting away with. They continue to commit the same type of crime over and over. That’s how they get caught. It is a rare criminal who does a crime once, succeeds and stops forever. I don’t even know if such a criminal actually exists.”
Now you know why greed can be the worst of enemies.
When Is a Shoe Not a Shoe?
The great Dominator, a gambling guru to most dice players, was having a tough day at the blackjack tables at the magnificent Rampart Casino in Summerlin, NV. He’d get lousy hands, hit to them, get a 10 and bust. “Man,” he said, “this is one lousy shoe after lousy shoe.” But the great Dominator was not playing a shoe, he was playing a double-deck, hand-held game.
“Is a double-deck game called a shoe?” I asked.
“No,” Jim, an excellent dealer, said, “it’s not. It’s called a deck. You’ve had a lousy deck, not a lousy shoe.”
The Rampart dealers are an extremely nice bunch and give friendly and efficient service. All the ones we talked to said that you call a double-deck game a “deck” or “decks” but not a shoe. So Dom was having a bad day with the deck. Poor guy.
So now you know when a shoe is a shoe and a deck is a deck… or decks.
I was talking to a pumpkin-shaped, orange-haired 80-year-old woman at Bally’s in Las Vegas. She was gingerly hitting the spin button on her machine. It hadn’t been such a good day for her at the machine. “I’m down a lot, but I know I will come back because the good and bad streaks equal out, right?” she asked. “So my good streak is coming, right?”
I smiled at her, but I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the good and bad streaks do not even out at slots. The bad streaks dominate because slot machines are nowhere near a 50–50 win/loss proposition. In fact, most slot machines are between a 10–90 and a 20–80 hit/loss proposition.
The hit frequency of a slot machine is usually programmed to be around 10–20 percent. That means you get a hit 10 to 20 percent of the time. Hits are not, unfortunately, wins since you can get a hit that pays less than what you put in the machine. Plenty of slot players have put in three coins and “hit” with a two-coin return.
Since the slots are so heavily in favor of casino wins, the streaks will be much greater against the player and much greater for the casino. But you must factor in the fact that, while the streaks will heavily favor the casinos, the money advantage is a closer game—with the casino usually holding a 2–15 percent edge. While this makes the contest between man and machine closer, the house will still streak more since it does have an edge on your bets.
Now you know why slot streaks invariably will tend to heavily favor the house.
We Want and Need a Reason
My friend Lou likes to play blackjack and craps. In the past few sessions, he’s had his head handed to him on a silver platter. Then, in one session, he bought in for cash and not a marker. He won. Then he bought in again with cash and won again.
“From now on,” he said, “I am not going to use markers. I always lose using markers, and I have been winning using cash buy-ins.”
Now, if you know anything about how casino games fluctuate, given the random runs of good and bad luck, you know that whether Lou bought in with markers or cash had nothing whatsoever to do with his recent good fortune.
So why did he think his buy-ins had anything to do with why he won or lost?
One explanation is that we are pattern-finding creatures. We need to establish connections between events, and we delight in finding the causes of all the effects we see around us. If the causes are illusory, it doesn’t matter. What we don’t know for certain, we will gladly and gullibly invent.
Lou was experiencing a bad streak brought on by randomness. He then experienced a good streak brought on by randomness. But his mind couldn’t accept that. It was too impersonal. The forces of the universe must have a reasonable connection to his behavior, he thought—even when they don’t. Our pattern-finding natures can sometimes launch us into deep superstitious explanations for this, that and the other thing. It’s our destiny, so to speak, to find patterns in just about everything.
Now you know why reason is often left at the door when we enter the casinos.
Frank Scoblete is the best-selling gaming author in America. His websites are www.goldentouchcraps.com, www.goldentouchblackjack.com and www.scoblete.com in association with CasinoCity.com. His newest book is The Golden Touch Dice Control Revolution! For more information or a free brochure, call 800/944-0406.
DOUBLE DEALINGS AND OTHER MISCONCEPTIONS.