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A Casino Odyssey: Part Three

By localroger in Culture
Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 06:11:03 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)

Our personal lives no longer revolved around tournament schedules, five-dollar match-play coupons, and free buffets. We were eating at the a la carte restaurants, drinking expensive Scotch, and staying in multi-room hotel suites with Jacuzzi baths -- all for free, while my friends won hundreds of thousands of dollars.

At least, at the properties that hadn't figured out what we were doing yet.

This is part three of a four-part story.
In case you didn't see them, here are Parts One and Two.

While Y gradually sharpened her card-counting skills and conquered the Gulf Coast, X realized that if he stayed away long enough, he could return to properties where he'd been banned. But the Coast was no longer big enough to accommodate his bankroll. He and Y were now "black chippers," players who bet more than $100 a hand, and their play attracted the attention of casino staff -- much of it fawning, some of it hostile.

We had already visited Las Vegas as a low-roller vacation back in our low-roller cheap days. Now it was time to return on business. X and Y made a modest entrance and found playable games run by people who didn't know who they were all over town.

Back home, I didn't play in many tournaments any more. Our visits to Mississippi were scheduled around countable Blackjack games, and I occupied myself playing low-stakes Craps while Y "went nuts" with "my" money across the pit.

Yes? Oh, how's it going Y?
Oh, I'll be playing later but I'm hungry now. Can we have two for
[insert $50-a-plate restaurant]?
Of course. Will you be needing a room?

Of course, Y got invited to leave plenty of times; but we didn't have X's history of low-stakes card counting. (Hint to wannabe counters: do not play in real casinos at low stakes. A lot of places will let you do that, but then bar you when your action turns green.) And casinos do not hire, ahem, the best and the brightest. The surest way to spot a card counter is to be able to count cards yourself. Then you can tell that a player is spreading his bets according to the count. Needless to say, a lot of players vary their bets according to whim or superstitious bullshit. Few casino personnel are equipped to tell the difference. I was sitting next to Y at the Horseshoe in Tunica, MS once when the genius pitboss barred a bona fide loser while Y calmly spread a ridiculous 20:1 right beside him.

Many casinos actually discourage their employees from learning about card counting. One fellow who had gone to a great deal of trouble to educate himself became so disgruntled that he supplied X with his and Y's pages from the infamous Griffin book.

You'd think it would be a big deal to be listed in Griffin, but it isn't. X and Y got nailed thanks to some bonehead moves by another player X had recruited -- he was now up to four in addition to himself and Y, and the rules of dividend disbursement were taking on a Kafkaesque level of complexity as he tried to reward both hours of play and productivity. The Griffin listing slowed them down for a little while at a couple of properties, then they sank into the sea of 50,000+ faces listed in that book.

The Griffin book is worthless. People don't get nailed because they are in Griffin; they get nailed because the casino has noticed what they are doing. It's the same with play-tracking systems that had their day and the facial-recognition systems that are all the rage now. They can't be applied until the casino has noticed you and pointed the Eye in the Sky in your direction.

But once the casino has noticed what you are doing you are pretty much SOL anyway; Griffin and these high-tech toys just provide confirmation. This is true whether you are illegally plying slot machines with doodads that bollix up their coin returns or legally counting cards. At least when you are card-counting, there isn't much they can legally do to you other than show you the door.

One of the things that makes it possible for X and his minions to play is that casinos are departmentalized. These are at a minimum Slots, Table games, and Promotions, and they don't talk to one another. It has often happened that we were barred by a table game pitboss only to receive a mailer from Promotions inviting us back weeks later. It has been established in Nevada that this invalidates the recital you were given of the Trespass Act; they can't have you arrested for showing up where they have invited you. We have also gotten wildly different receptions from the three casino shifts, which also don't communicate much. Sure, it's in the computer, but nobody gets it out of the computer until they notice there might be something worth looking up.

By 1999, X's team had won half a million dollars and he had eight people playing for him.

Through the Looking Glass

In the real world, when you look at the menu for an expensive restaurant you think

boy that lobster sounds good but what does "market price" mean?

In casino looking-glass land, it goes more like this:

damn he wrote the comp for two hundred bucks how are we gonna burn all that up? hey let's start with the lobster!

X, Y, and several other letters of the alphabet were criscrossing the country by 1998. New gaming jurisdictions were busting out all over the map and they were filled with clueless pit personnel who were blinded by the size of their action. Y took me along on some of these trips where we ate rich food and drank expensive booze. X and Y went on many others, driving to such improbable locales as Chicago and Cherokee, NC.

The Cherokee casino, run by Harrah's, was a source of particular strangeness; located in a dry county, it offered no possible way to cash in several thousand dollars a day worth of comp points. So X and Y and several other letters came back laden with cans of peanuts, chocolates, Native American artifacts, leather jackets, and even pants specially ordered for them by the gift shop. The gift shop stopped accepting comp points shortly before the countable Blackjack machines were reprogrammed to be un-countable.

Overenthusiastic guards pursued X from [censored northern Louisiana casino], presumably in an attempt to find out where he was staying. The resulting car chase ended undramatically when X lost his followers; he was in a sedan and they were in a marked casino van. It was an unusual version of a ritual which was usually accomplished with a backhanded compliment.

For the most part I didn't get to experience the thrill of being pursued by overzealous guards. I did one time get to cash out seven thousand dollars worth of cheques while Y made for the door. We could hear the pit personnel arguing about us and knew the game was up. Casinos have dangerously high noise levels; in my real job I take training on this and have been taught that noise pressure levels between 80 and 100 decibels are not painful, but still result in progressive hearing loss. Many casino personnel are deaf as stones from too much time around the clanging slot machines, and when they think they're whispering you can hear them from across the pit.

Throughout all of this we came to perceive that most people didn't have a clue what goes on at the high end of casino life. It's not like what you see on the TV special about "whales" (except maybe for the few hundred such people who exist). It's not like a Mario Puzo novel (except maybe for Fools Die, and then only a little). The most striking thing, once you get to the green chip level, is how few winners there are. We made no friends at the tables where X and Y were eventually betting $1,000 a hand; the whole proceeding had a marked air of desperation. The casino personnel were desperate for our action; the other players at our level were desperate to recover losses which they wouldn't ever recover. Everyone was lying about everything; we were lying about who we were and what we were doing, the other players were lying to their spouses, shareholders, partners, and accountants about where the money was; and the casino folks were grinning and pumping out the fairy tales they hoped would bring us back to lose what we had just won where we had just won it.

Stand at the corner of Tropicana and Las Vegas boulevards, and you can turn 360 degrees and see Sagans of dollars worth of investment -- a giant MGM lion, a pyramid, a life-sized King Arthur's castle and one-third size New York skyline, with the more distant towers of other properties providing a backdrop. The money to build those monuments to tackiness does not come from people who are playing $5 a hand Blackjack to get free drinks. It comes from the green and black chip players, usually businessmen, who can afford to bet at these levels at least for a while. There are very few "regulars" at this level the way there were at the tournaments.

As I found out when I began gambling, it is perfectly possible for a five-dollar player to lose $1,000 without ever seeing a winning session. But a regular person with a job and a mortgage can afford that. Your expectation, superimposed on the swings of outrageous fortune, is to lose ten to twenty bucks an hour. (You will probably play 60 to 100 hands an hour; this generates several hundred dollars in action. The casino expects to keep two to five percent of this total.) Joe Sixpack can usually afford this too, though he might not realize just how high the tax is.

At the green chip ($25 minimum) level, Joe Sixpack will get wiped out. Swings of $5,000 are common, and the vig is more like $100 an hour. Some ordinary people can sustain this play for the annual Las Vegas vacation, but not if they are driving to the local casino every week. Some professionals with high incomes can sustain this play, but they are unusual. The story of Mrs. J, who managed to lose a $300,000 windfall along with her husband is much more typical.

At the black chip ($100 minimum) level, the air gets very thin. You can lose the ranch in a single session, and many of the occupations which can keep you funded against the vig are illegal. There are people who play a lot at this level, but few of them play for very long. Those that can don't want to make your acquaintance. They're either dodging autograph seekers or the law.

One of the most suspicious things about our own play as the 1999 rolled over into 2000 was not the card-counting bet spread. It was the fact that we were playing at levels up to $1,000 a hand, and we kept coming back even though we obviously weren't rock stars, athletes, or mafiosos.

Continues in Part 4: The Dark Side


Voxel dot net
o Managed Hosting
o VoxCAST Content Delivery
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In Part Four, I think X will...
o Lose his shirt 20%
o Retire to the Carribbean 5%
o Go postal and shoot up a casino 13%
o Win a free, no-expenses-paid trip to the hospital 11%
o Continue to play indefinitely 1%
o Have a tragic accident unrelated to gambling 6%
o Die of cancer 1%
o Have a falling-out with Y 40%

Votes: 60
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o One
o Two
o Part 4
o Also by localroger

Display: Sort:
A Casino Odyssey: Part Three | 31 comments (28 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
Playing high dollar hands (3.33 / 3) (#1)
by skim123 on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 04:21:36 PM EST

I suck at gambling, but go to the casinos once or twice a year (try to find the $2 tables, but there are so few of those). Usually end up loosing around $100, and it goes fast. Entertainment money is what I call it, though.

Anywho, last time I was in Vegas was in December 2000, at the Hard Rock Casino around one AM. I was walking around (my friends were in the nightclub there, didn't feel like waiting for an hour in line and having to drop $20 just to get in). Anywho, came across an individual sitting at a reserved table, with a lot of girls around the table. I only saw the player's back, over his shoulder, but he was betting in the neighborhood of $500 per hand. Neat.

So I watched for a while, and eventually worked my way more around the table so I could see better. Upon seeing this guy's face I realized it was Matt Damon, so that was kinda cool. I never realized how small he is, he is about my height (5'10") and build (155 lbs.). He had some big burly men around him (security, I assume) and he ended up losing a lot, it looked like.

(In case anyone care's, the most I've ever won in Vegas was $40 one night at the $2 tables. :-)

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

Funny. (5.00 / 2) (#11)
by mindstrm on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 08:17:40 PM EST

Cause if you watched Rounders, you'd know that Matt Damon is the world's greatest player of Texas Hold'em....

[ Parent ]
Hmmmm (3.00 / 1) (#15)
by skim123 on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 09:02:41 PM EST

Cause if you watched Rounders, you'd know that Matt Damon is the world's greatest player of Texas Hold'em

Guess blackjack just ain't his thing, eh? ;)

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
Yeah... probably not. (2.00 / 1) (#26)
by mindstrm on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 09:52:09 AM EST

Anyone ever wants a game of poker for kicks.. I play on pokerroom.com once in a while ;)

[ Parent ]
Heh (4.20 / 5) (#2)
by trhurler on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 04:41:52 PM EST

Sorry for the longish tangentially almost-not-related casino rant, but where else would I put it?:)

I don't even do casinos as entertainment much anymore, unless some friend wants to go for a birthday or something. Why? Heh.

I don't know how it is anywhere else; I've only been to two or three of the casinos in my area, and none elsewhere. However, what I found out was that sure, sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, you lose more, fine. Entertainment expense - it hardly bothers me.

BUT, what does bother me is that the casinos here have very high turnover in a place you wouldn't expect - the cashiers. These people are shockingly dishonest. I assume they either quit because they're about to be fired or are actually fired for stealing money. They've done it to me and at least three of my friends. Basically, if you lose, you lose, and if you win, they try hard to "accidentally" not give you a ten or a twenty out of your winnings. Just the one. If you don't notice it while they can still see your money(ie, if you turn around, or whatever,) then they keep the rest, telling you "well, I couldn't see what you just did, but if I find my register over, I'll call you. Give me your number."

Needless to say, they never call. Your ten or twenty disappears into their pockets, and then they do the same again to someone else. And again, and again. I imagine it is a nice scam. I used to wonder how they did it, with cameras there and all. Then I worked some jobs where I got exposure to security cameras, and it all makes sense now.

Basically, not all the cameras are going to constantly have someone's eye on them, and if nothing unusual is happening, or appears to be, then the odds of anyone noticing you count off $50 or $100 incorrectly are nearly nil unless there's someone trying. So, these people can get away with this - for awhile. Then someone complains, and someone else, and so they start watching that person, and that's probably why there's so much turnover.

Regardless, since they(the casinos here) seem to be inherently incapable of hiring people who will handle money honestly, I have no real interest in going there, even as an entertainment expense. Fucking losers.

(Most people who go love it - they play the slots, lose their asses, and are happy to have done it, and if they ever win, of course nobody tries to skim off of it - but I personally hate slots. The only reason I ever went to casinos is that I like card games, and I've found that, however illegal they may be, private games are a lot more fun, at least as honest, and as long as the money stays sane, at least as safe too. Since I'm not in it for the money, I find nickel dime quarter poker games to be much better than any casino tables. Fewer pointless rules and customs, nicer people, and nobody gives a damn whether he wins or not, except insofar as he'd care if he were playing without chips. The point becomes more who wins over time than how much he's winning, and maybe the winner gets a lunch out of the deal. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I usually win:)

All that said, I wish the casinos here weren't that way, because as it is, I always end up pissed off whenever several of my friends go out there and drag me with them...

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Wow, where the heck is this? (4.33 / 3) (#3)
by localroger on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 05:12:04 PM EST

- the cashiers. These people are shockingly dishonest.

Wow, this is something we've not experienced. The way the cage is supposed to work is that the cashier counts the bills out one at a time, in stacks which are arranged for particular ease of viewing by the camera. The cameras in the cage (as in certain critical areas of the pit) are videotaping all the time. When a large sum of money is involved (the breakpoint varies) two cashiers must be present to check one another.

Having said this, the rapid expansion of the casino industry has put a lot of real pinheads in positions of authority, and this is typical of the kind of scam that can become epidemic in a limited jurisdiction where no one has the skills to detect it.

Last year Harrah's Vicksburg found out that the Craps dealers had been cheating them for years, by paying associates for bets they never made. They are accused of taking millions. The scam came to light because one of the associates was supposed to be paid $30,000 for her role in the conspiracy, but the person who was supposed to pay her spent the money on a SUV instead and told her to wait a week. She went to the cops and soon the entire table game department at that property got the boot.

I also know of dealers, particularly of handheld "pitch" Blackjack games, who were almost certainly cheating. X keeps careful records of what was won (or lost) where so we can avoid those situations.

Finally, because it is so easy for them to cheat and their relationship with their managers is overtly adversarial, dealers and cashiers are considered 'at will' employees who can be fired on mere suspicion, without proof of wrongdoing.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Hmm... (4.00 / 2) (#9)
by trhurler on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 08:03:49 PM EST

Well, this is in St. Louis. I can't say it happens everywhere here, because there are at least two or three casinos I've never even set foot in, but it happens some places. Maybe it'll get better with time; I don't know.

I wasn't sure I believed it until I was talking to a guy who works as a manager of some sort at one of them; he was in my favorite bar(which closed, dammit - another rant for another time,) and talking about how they were having to pay ridiculous rates just to get people who were smart enough not to get caught stealing(from customers OR the casino!) in the first week of employment, much less to get people who actually wouldn't steal at all. Apparently, economic boom times aren't good for casinos in some ways; when fast food places have to pay $10/hour in St. Louis(low cost of living, so people don't make as much as they do on the coasts,) for teenagers with no skills, you know the market for employees is tight:)

Anyway, that manager was the guy who actually explained the most "successful" scam they'd caught, which was the one I described. Yes, there's videotape, but that doesn't mean someone actually watches every minute of it(he wouldn't talk about that, which I found odd, since he was admitting that employees were blatantly ripping off customers,) and if a transaction is for a small amount, that's one that's liable to be overlooked. Since I never go in with more than $100 anyway, that's me. Presumably, they catch them either in spot checks of the tapes, or when lots of people bitch. However, I bet you that if you scam ten people out of ten bucks each, eight of them won't bother reporting it because they'll assume it was an honest mistake or else decide it isn't worth the hassle.

And speaking of that, normally, I'd have gotten her boss, and raised holy hell, and probably someone would have realized that given the circumstances, I probably wasn't creating a scene just to scam them out of $10(especially since I don't exactly go out with friends looking like I'm poor,) but I was out with a sizable group, and we were celebrating this guy's birthday, and somehow, it didn't seem right to screw that up over ten bucks. One guy I went to high school with had this happen to him twice; the second time he got someone fired(well, him and about three other people who complained that night,) but the first time, he fell for the honest mistake line.

In fairness, the guy who complained the second time did get a very nice dinner from the casino "for his trouble," and he seemed ok with that. They at least want people to be happy, it seems.

By the way, to me, the number one lesson here is one that almost nobody realizes, which you stated in your story in another form: cameras don't do any good until you already know you're screwed. Not in casinos, not in convenience stores, not anywhere. Granted, they may deter some people, keeping the honest honest, but that's about it.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Y just read this, and sez... (4.00 / 3) (#12)
by localroger on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 08:36:43 PM EST

Back in our low-roller days we had a few confrontations with casinos which were successfully resolved by appealing to the gaming commission. Since there are tapes, such appeals can be surprisingly successful; it isn't just "li'l U against big dem" quite as much as you'd think. At least if your state is honest. Our dealings were in Mississippi... and even there, things have changed.

But you really should have complained to the authorities. All it takes is a phone call, and we know from experience that you sometimes do get relief from these agencies. I remember one drawn-out case involving a coupon with vague terms where Y got the massive judgement, asked for and received, of $25 from [censored]. Gaming actually came out and interviewed people within less than an hour of the complaint. I don't know if Missouri's regulators are as on the ball today as Mississippi's were in 1997, but if they are then you have recourse against things like this.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Well, (3.00 / 1) (#14)
by trhurler on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 08:51:59 PM EST

That was awhile back(as in, a couple of years at least,) in this case, and I have neither dates nor times, so obviously that's out this time. I'll keep it in mind, though. (Honestly, I'm more apt to just report it to the casino in hopes that they'll fire their employee over it, because really, the ten or twenty bucks is hardly the point; I can make more than that in less time than it would take to deal with the complaint:) I don't know anything about the Missouri gaming commission's practices; I've seen them both criticized and praised in the paper, but the paper says all kinds of crazy shit, so I take that all with a grain of salt. Anyway, thanks for the info. Good to know.

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Home poker games (4.00 / 1) (#24)
by scheme on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 07:43:59 AM EST

Fewer pointless rules and customs, nicer people, and nobody gives a damn whether he wins or not, except insofar as he'd care if he were playing without chips. The point becomes more who wins over time than how much he's winning, and maybe the winner gets a lunch out of the deal. Of course, it doesn't hurt that I usually win:)

Actually, I find it as being the exact opposite. Home games usually have weird variations and poker games. Plus you have games with a bunch of wild cards which ups the variance quite a bit. Casino games usually play standard games which don't have odd house rules.

As for winning and losing, it really depends on the people playing. People do get pissed if they get wiped out. Incidentally, if you know what you're doing you can easily rack up a nice win. I've had sessions in nickel and dime games where I've been up something like $20 after a 4 -5 hour session. =)

"Put your hand on a hot stove for a minute, and it seems like an hour. Sit with a pretty girl for an hour, and it seems like a minute. THAT'S relativity." --Albert Einstein

[ Parent ]
Home poker games (4.00 / 1) (#25)
by yosemite on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 08:58:09 AM EST

Home games usually have weird variations and poker games
You're telling me. Recently, I was going through a pile of old papers, and came across a list of rules for different poker games we used to play once upon a time.

Yikes. It amazes me we used to play some of them. Insane variations on 7-card stud with wild cards that would change based on what cards had been dealt. Like "Follow the Queen": whenever a Queen is dealt face-up, the card following is now wild (and any previous card made wild by following the Queen is now non-wild). Or "Red Brigade": 5 card stud, and all the red cards are wild. But an all red-card hand scores lowest, so the best hand is a black ace and all the rest red.

Although my problem (with poker, anyway) is that a winning strategy generally involved folding early and often (most hands are obvious losers fairly early on). Which means that a winning strategy also involves a lot of time sitting and watching other people play poker, which isn't as much fun as playing yourself... Ah, well. It was only nickle ante, so I never lost more than lunch money.

[Signature redacted]

[ Parent ]

Well (3.00 / 1) (#31)
by trhurler on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 11:41:53 AM EST

OK, admittedly, if you play lame games, then the game is lame, but we don't do that. No game is allowed with more than four wilds in the deck, and people get pissed if you call wilds at all. About the worst deal these guys have is that they play the occasional hand of iron cross, which is a real screwjob for anyone who isn't willing to lose half his stake in one game or else sit tight and wait - waiting out a game of iron cross gets old quick:) (As for people getting wiped out, if "wiped out" means you lost five bucks, put another five up and try again, or shut your hole. Nobody likes a whiner, so if we get one, we just mock him until he either changes his attitude or quits coming back.)

'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Is My Dad a Card Counter? (4.00 / 4) (#4)
by snowlion on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 05:32:21 PM EST

I'm 25, have a science and mathematics education, am a computer programmer at an entertainment game engine company.

My dad's about fifty something. A long time ago, he was a great decrypter for the military. He once was told to call the president very early in the morning, and he told the president that some war in the middle East. I think it was called the 7 day war or something like that, I don't really remember very well. He speaks fluent arabic, favors the Palestinians and Eritreans, and a bunch of other stuff that I really don't have much of a clue about. I believe he reasoned that if he went into the military early and chose to learn a language far away from vietnamese, that he'd survive. Anyways, he has a mathematical background and has broken a number of encoded messages for the military.

My mother used to worry about my dad's gambling. Every year, once a year, he'd take a bunch of money, and go to gamble, I forget where. She used to worry about this quite a bit, wondered if he was addicted to gambling, called her and his family and relatives expressing concern, etc., etc.,.

Over time, however, she stopped.

Because, every time he returned, he had a bunch of money. =^_^= Granted, it was not much, sometimes only $100, other times as high as $1,000. But beyond that, he always won money.

Once, in his bedroom, I saw a book on how to gamble intelligently. I don't remember if it had a section on counting cards or not; I just looked at it briefly.

My question is: Can you consistantly win money playing poker (I think that's my dad's favorite game) without counting cards? Can you just play a little smarter somehow, without really being able to count cards?

Actually, now that I think about it, I have heard dad say things such as: "Well, you must have the seven of diamonds, because xyz and abc." And sure enough, Joey had it. Hmm...

Heh... I'll have to ask him about this the next time I go over... He's also a really good bridge player. Perhaps I should try playing and cheat by removing some cards from the deck, and see if he notices anything. {;D}=

I absolutely love this series; it's fascinating to see the difference between the romantic view of gambling and casinos, and the reality..!

Totally cool!

This is what I call an education!

Map Your Thoughts
No, but maybe more. (3.75 / 4) (#7)
by MmmmJoel on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 06:03:47 PM EST

You can definitely fairly consistently win money at poker. At the stakes your father was probably playing at, you mostly play against older people throwing their social security checks at you or travelers who don't know anything about poker but maybe have watched Rounders once or twice. You'll definitely have some monetary swings as with any other game, but with some reading and research you can come out ahead. If you get good enough, it's possible (although extremely hard) to make a living from poker if you play in high-limit games.

There's no card counting in poker because they shuffle the deck after every hand. The strategy in poker comes from reading people's body language, using your position in the hand to gain information, learning when to bet, raise, and fold, knowing the probability that the right cards to help your hand will fall, effective bluffing, etc, etc, etc. The best part about making money in poker is that you will never have anyone kick you out for winning money. It is the only casino game I will ever play.

[ Parent ]

Poker. (4.20 / 5) (#10)
by mindstrm on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 08:13:52 PM EST

Can you win at poker? Yes. It's much more complicated than counting cards, though.

It would be more accurate to say that poker is a game of skill; that skill being playing poker.

Knowing the odds, knowing exactly what the chances of each hand and draw are handy; just as important is reading the others at the table, choosing the right games, and as the song goes 'know when to hold'em, know when to fold 'em'.

Go watch Rounders, if it's out on video... it's hollywood, but there's some truth to it.

The reason you can win at poker, is simply, you aren't playing the house; the house just takes a percentage of each pot (or set amount per hand, etc)... know as the 'rake'. This means that all the money you win comes from the other players (and money you lose goes to other players). In the end, he who knows the game and can read the other players the best comes out ahead.

I bet your dad was playing poker... if he's a good bridge player, he has a good mind for this stuff.

[ Parent ]
Your Dad is a shark. (4.40 / 5) (#18)
by localroger on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 09:52:42 PM EST

In Poker, you are not playing against the casino. They take their "rake," and after that it's you and the rest of the human race.

Instructive: X had a go at poker before he did the risk-of-ruin calcs with me. He lost his posterior. There are people who can win very consistently at poker, but they are the creme de la crme. From your post, it sounds like your Dad is probably one of them.

X learned in his poker-playing days that any table hs a "donator." Even if you are a mediocre player, you can avoid being the "donator" by being someone else. As long as you aren't the worst player at the table, then you have a chance. But X found out, with disturbing frequency, that he was the donator. So he doesn't play poker any more.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Griffin? (3.50 / 2) (#13)
by Bwah on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 08:44:50 PM EST

What exactly is Griffin? Sounds like some kind of US wide network to ID know card counters?

To redesign an infinite ensemble of universes: what terrible responsibility, what arrogance ... It sounds just like the type of thing your average Homo sap would do for a dare. -- Stephen Baxter

Griffin (5.00 / 4) (#16)
by localroger on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 09:10:33 PM EST

The Griffin Detective Agency based in Las Vegas specializes in tracking the activities of undesirable players for casinos. There have been a few TV specials about them, which did not mention that they treat card counters the same way they treat card-markers and slot cheats.

Griffin publishes a very, very large index of "bad people" which it sells for mucho dinero to those casinos dumb enough to buy their scam. Some of the people in Griffin really are "bad" but there is no way of knowing how many because all of the member casinos (who contribute most of the Griffin Book's content) are held to strict secrecy as to its contents. For this reason there is no accountability about the contents of this Book. There are a lot of people who once worked as dealers listed in Griffin who probably don't even know why they can't find employment any more. It's the ultimate example of "at will," since people are barred (either from playing or working) based on a privately held database gleaned from uncontrolled and unaccountable sources which are kept secret by contract.

(wipes brow) I thought everyone had seen this on TV. It really is sleazy. It is really so sleazy. Did I mention how sleazy it is? It's even sleazier than that. But I'll have a bit more about that in Part Four.

I can haz blog!
[ Parent ]

Why the US needs a data protection act (4.66 / 3) (#27)
by Afty on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 06:18:47 PM EST

This is a prime example of why.

Here in the UK, I can choose to send a communcication to any company of my choosing, asking them to send me *all* information they hold on me, from any source. I may be asked to pay a reasonable fee to cover their expenses (limited to the equivalent of around $15).

If they do not comply, failing to send me the information, they may be barred from ever holding records about individuals again. Needless to say, they all comply. If anything is factually wrong in their records about me, they are obligated by law to correct it when I notify them.

It's a great piece of consumer protectionism, which really needs to be adopted elsewhere.

[ Parent ]
Downsides (2.00 / 2) (#28)
by sigwinch on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 11:55:12 PM EST

In typical centralized, socialist fashion, a dubious benefit is touted endlessly, and the risks are totally ignored.
Here in the UK, I can choose to send a communcication to any company of my choosing, asking them to send me *all* information they hold on me, from any source.
Completely ignoring the obvious problem: to comply, the company has to track you by a number that is guaranteed to uniquely identify you. In practice, this can only be accomplished with a government-issued universal ID number. In the U.S. system, lots of companies have poorly correlated databases with considerable erroneous data. In the 'consumer protection' system, the companies have databases that are guaranteed by law to correlate, and which are more accurate.
If they do not comply, failing to send me the information, they may be barred from ever holding records about individuals again. Needless to say, they all comply.
Right. They *all* comply. You just go right ahead and believe that you have total control of 500,000 private databases.
If anything is factually wrong in their records about me, they are obligated by law to correct it when I notify them.
Expunging data from a large enterprise database would cost a minimum of $25,000 per record, since all the backups have to be brought online and expunged too. Just changing the live copy does not constitute a correction for the purposes of the law. God help your economy when the sleazy lawyers figure this one out and start suing for failure to correct all records.

I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Complete nonsense (4.00 / 2) (#29)
by the trinidad kid on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 04:17:58 AM EST

In the UK we do not have government-issued universal ID numbers - individuals can usually be identified by name and address data.

If my data is held legitimately by a company it cannot be forced to delete it, but it can be forced to change it if it is incorrect.

The nonsense about changing all back-ups is simply FUD - the old back-ups remain unchanged - it is the data that decisions are made on that counts.

[ Parent ]
Read the law itself, then object to it (3.00 / 1) (#30)
by simon farnz on Mon Jul 23, 2001 at 07:44:22 AM EST

The Data Protection Act does not require them to send all information they hold about you, only information which can be identified as about me. If their system does not allow anyone to identify information as being about me, I cannot ask for a copy or amend it.

Backups of the incorrect data are legal, provided that restoring any backup restores all amendments made under the Act.

Furthermore, most companies will comply because the penalties for failure to comply are high; in addition to fines and a bar on holding data, the Office of the Information Commissioner is entitled to seize computers and paper records as part of an investigation, and to confiscate them if you are acting in breach of the Act.

The law is not unreasonable; your interpretation is incorrect.
If guns are outlawed, only outlaws have guns
[ Parent ]

This page has some good info (4.00 / 2) (#17)
by skim123 on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 09:23:48 PM EST


Although it seems as if he is trying to sell you an International Driver's Liscence.

Money is in some respects like fire; it is a very excellent servant but a terrible master.
PT Barnum

[ Parent ]
PART 4 (2.00 / 2) (#19)
by Desterado on Sat Jul 21, 2001 at 11:57:25 PM EST

I want part 4 now!

You've got the flag, I've got your back.
I agree (2.00 / 1) (#20)
by delmoi on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 12:35:06 AM EST

If you're already got part4 written, what's the point of keeping us waiting?!?
"'argumentation' is not a word, idiot." -- thelizman
[ Parent ]
Very crafty! (4.00 / 4) (#21)
by yuri on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 02:19:35 AM EST

In case you have not noticed yet, this author is both crafty and patient. He has addicted us to his tale....gambling...gimme gimme part 4, just a little hit...now please!!!

I'd do anything for part four (well not quite) but I want it now!

Great series! Write a book about it!

Yes, very crafty (4.00 / 4) (#22)
by sigwinch on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 02:31:14 AM EST

Five dollars says there *is* no part four.


I don't want the world, I just want your half.
[ Parent ]

Excellent Series (3.00 / 4) (#23)
by CheSera on Sun Jul 22, 2001 at 03:08:44 AM EST

I'd just like to say that this series of stories is really above the bar for the things we see on K5 these days (even those on the FP). Its well written, very intresting, and despite some early misgivings about the presence in a site devoted to "Technology & Culture" (I'm really not a stickler about that, but still) really fits in well with the feel of K5. Kudos to the Author. I'll look forward avidly to #4.


A Casino Odyssey: Part Three | 31 comments (28 topical, 3 editorial, 0 hidden)
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