Players Need To Know The Five Advantage Play Gambling Techniques That Are Actually Cheating
The casino has an edge over players in almost every situation. Their advantage guarantees them a long-term profit over the average gambler.
But sometimes, players turn the tables on casinos and gain an edge. Advantage players use specific skills to beat gambling venues at their own game.
The best-known form of advantage gambling is card counting, which thousands of blackjack players use to make a living. Other legitimate advantage techniques include ace sequencing and shuffle tracking.
Contrary to public opinion, being an advantage gambler isn’t illegal. Instead, you’re simply using skill to overcome the house edge and win profits.
But certain techniques that people may think of as legitimate advantage play are actually cheating. Some of these strategies can land you in jail, while others result in drawn-out courtroom battles.
I’m going to discuss five advantage gambling techniques that are actually cheating. These aren’t your usual card-marking or chip-stealing tricks, but rather ones that toe the line of what’s legal and illegal.
1 – Dice Sliding
Casinos want craps players to toss the dice hard enough that they hit the back wall and produce a completely random result.
You don’t have to hit the back wall every time. But casinos require you to make a reasonable attempt at throwing dice towards the back wall.
They also want to make sure that you’re actually tossing the dice, rather than sliding them. Casinos don’t count dice sliding as a legitimate play.
The boxman will warn players the first time that they slide the dice. Subsequent warnings can eventually get you kicked off the table.
The reason why casinos don’t like this is that dice sliding doesn’t always produce a random result. Instead, players can line the dice up how they like and slide them towards the wall.
Even when the dice kick off the back wall, it’s entirely possible that they’ll keep the desired numbers upright. Here’s an example.
You make a place 8 bet
You put two 4s on top
You slide the dice towards the wall in an effort to prevent tumbling
The goal is for them to kiss off the back wall with very little force
Given that the craps crew watches for anything fishy like dice sliding, this advantage play technique is almost impossible to pull off yourself. Therefore, dice sliders often use one or more accomplices to help them.
This is where you venture into illegal territory and face the prospect of being arrested. In fact, two professional gamblers from Argentina named Leo Fernandez and Veronica Dabul were arrested for this very thing.
The pair played at the Wynn Las Vegas in 2011. Dabul would distract the dealer with questions while Fernandez slid dice down the table.
They played at the Wynn for almost a month before they were caught. The two made over $700,000 from the game but were later arrested and sued by the Wynn.
2 – Edge Sorting
One of the murkiest advantage play techniques with regard to cheating is edge sorting. In theory, edge sorting is a perfectly legitimate way to gain an edge in baccarat.
But it’s so hard that players must go to unreasonable means to win. The story of Phil Ivey and Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun — which I’ll soon cover — best exemplifies all the variables needed to pull off edge sorting.
Beginning with how edge sorting works, this process involves identifying flawed edges on card backs. Some card decks have slight imperfections on the backs that can give away the value.
Here’s a synopsis on spotting these flaws.
Study card decks to identify one with irregularities that can reveal certain card values
Look for small irregularities on the long-side edges
A common example is when 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 have full-diamond patterns on the edges, and 6, 7, 8, and 9 have half-diamond patterns
It’s easier to spot these imperfections when the dealer rotates cards 180 degrees
888’s Eliot Jacobson notes that a good edge sorter can gain a 20.93% advantage on casinos. Even if you’re not that good but can still pull off the technique, you’re looking at over a 10% edge.
Having a 20.93% advantage means that every $1,000 bet would result in a $209.30 profit. This is exactly why Ivey and Kelly Sun took two casinos for over $20 million combined.
Sun was especially key to this scheme because she analyzed a specific Gemaco deck and found flaws on the back. She and Ivey requested the same purple Gemaco deck when they played at the Borgata (Atlantic City) and Crockfords (London) casinos.
They also made the following requests.
A Mandarin-speaking dealer, which allowed Sun to make requests that casino officials couldn’t understand
Rotating the cards 180 degrees, which makes it easier to spot imperfections
The purple Gemaco deck had to be used in every session
Ivey, who’s a ten-time World Series of Poker champion, a bet between $50,000 and $150,000 per hand. He won £7 million ($11m) at Crockfords and another $9.6 million at the Borgata.
Crockfords told Ivey that they would wire him the £7 million after the bank holiday was over. But they reviewed surveillance footage and felt comfortable battling him in court.
The Borgata originally paid Ivey the $9.6 million in 2012. But after seeing the Crockfords case, they sued the poker pro years later and won their money back.
Judges from London and New Jersey both said that Ivey seemed to legitimately believe that he wasn’t cheating. Therefore, his edge sorting situation wasn’t considered criminal.
But the casino won in both cases because Ivey went so far to gain an advantage. The judges believed that odd requests like the cards being rotated 180 degrees, a flawed deck, and a Mandarin-speaking dealer bordered on cheating.
The simple act of edge sorting may be legitimate. But it’s so hard to see the tiny flaws on card backs that you almost certainly must “cheat” to win.
3 – Online Poker Bots
A poker bot is an artificial intelligence program designed to play online poker. Players have been using these programs since the late 2000s.
But it wasn’t until recent years that AI became good enough to consistently beat no-limit games.
The difficulty for AI in beating no-limit poker is factoring in the human thought process. Unlike limit poker, which is a more mathematically driven game, no-limit includes more psychology.
But bots have advanced to the point where they’re now capable of beating many different poker limits. The most extreme example of how far bots have come is Libratus, which defeated four of the top poker pros in a 2017 contest.
Not every poker AI comes close to equaling the success of Libratus. But there are many bots that are good enough to at least win profits against the average player.
Poker AI used to be somewhat acceptable several years ago.
Players never liked competing against bots because they give users an unfair advantage. But they were more tolerable because they didn’t have a high success rate.
This has changed, though, which is why bots are no longer acceptable by any means. Online poker sites monitor tables and try to catch bot users.
While they aren’t always successful, poker sites are at least aware of the problem and taking steps to reduce the use of AI.
Whether or not bots constitute advantage play is debatable. But what’s clear is that AI falls in line with other cheating techniques discussed in this post.
Bots offer users several key advantages that aren’t available to humans. They’re excellent in mathematical situations, never get tired, and play with no emotions (i.e., tilt-free).
One famous, real-life bot example was a Full Tilt Poker user called “DeepComputer.” This AI was multi-tabling turbo sit and go’s (300 starting chips) all day.
DeepComputer didn’t get caught because it was playing all day, but rather because the users opened a second account with the same bot. This violated Full Tilt’s terms and conditions for multi-accounting, which punishes players who open multiple accounts at the same site.
Unlike cheating in house-banked games, internet poker rooms aren’t theoretically affected by bots. The sites make money off rake regardless, meaning they’re not affected when AI cheats players.
But their reputation can take a huge hit if the site becomes bot-infested.
The trustworthy poker sites who care about their reputation typically use a variety of means to catch bot users. These include measuring mouse movements, player reaction time, and what programs are running in the background. Poker rooms can then find out if these metrics line up with normal human play.
4 – Sharing Lineup Data in Daily Fantasy Sports
One seemingly harmless advantage play method involves sharing lineup information in daily fantasy sports (DFS). It’s a given that friends share the lineups they like and why.
But this can go too far when players collude to gain an advantage. Specifically, sharing lineup data and using a systematic approach with multiple users to run different lineups is cheating.
DraftKings user “papagates” ran into this problem after winning the Fantasy Football Millionaire contest in 2016. Allegations came that papagates colluded with his brother, “chipotleaddict,” another top DFS player, to create varied lineups.
Fantasy Football Millionaire lets players submit 150 entries. Winning this contest not only takes high-scoring players but also different lineups from the numerous other entries.
Considering that lineup variance is a key, colluding with another player to create 300 entries full of different teams provides an unfair advantage.
The brothers denied any wrongdoing. And they were absolved of collusion after a thorough DraftKings investigation.
But while papagates and chipotleaddict may not have shared lineup data, collusion occurs elsewhere in the DFS world. Players can work out plots with each other so long as there’s no established connection between them.
Speculation arose about papagates and chipotleaddict because they’re bothers and both very successful. This speculation only ramped up when papagates earned $1 million for his victory.
The fact that DraftKings went as far as to investigate claims shows that this type of collusion is unacceptable.
This isn’t like a CBS or Yahoo! league where ten buddies get together and put $50 or $100 into the pot. Instead, strangers are competing against each other for huge prizes.
Long story short, don’t treat lineup collusion as a light-hearted matter. Anybody who’s caught doing so will have their prize revoked and their reputation tarnished.
5 – Using a Smartphone App in Roulette
Using gadgets to beat casino games was once legal in many gambling jurisdictions. This includes Nevada, where a team of physics students calling themselves the “Eudaemons” beat roulette with electronic devices in the 1970s.
The Eudaemons used complex electronic equipment to track the ball’s speed and guess where it would land on the wheel. This information was then relayed to an output system hidden in the bettor’s shirt.
Gaming jurisdictions have gradually closed electronic loopholes like the ones the Eudaemons used to win money.
Nevada and many other states and countries now have laws that make it explicitly illegal to cheat with electronic devices.
Roulette is a popular game to use electronics on because devices can provide an educated guess on which pocket the ball lands in. But you can also be arrested for doing this in the wrong gambling jurisdiction.
Sometimes people read old stories and may think that they can get away with electronics in certain places. For example, a team used a mobile phone app to win £1.3 million at the Ritz (London) in 2004.
Their phone app measured the ball’s velocity and offered an accurate prediction on where the ball could land. They netted £100,000 the first night of using the app and another £1.2 million the next night.
Ritz officials called the police, who arrested the team members. They were released, though, and allowed to keep their winnings because there were no laws against using such a device.
But like many gambling jurisdictions, the UK has since made laws against using any type of electronics to beat casinos.
My advice is to never use any device in casino games unless you thoroughly understand the jurisdiction’s laws and know that they allow electronics. I don’t know of any place like this, though, so chances are that you won’t find anywhere to use devices.
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