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Playtech's Live Dealer Blackjack

Discussion in 'Online Casinos' started by goooner, Sep 22, 2012.

    Sep 22, 2012
  1. goooner

    goooner Dormant account

    Occupation:
    Gambler
    Location:
    London
    A number of people have contacted me or my website about Playtech livedealer Blackjack from the casino in Latvia. They report that playing basic strategy they are losing around 3% in live dealer games which use the Playtech software, instead of the expected figure of about 0.6% which the game should produce playing Basic strategy. They take advantage of casino promotions and think they have a fair chance to make money at -0.6% (they are often offered $100 to deposit $100 with 8 times play through for example) but little chance at -3%.

    I have looked at the different tables on various sites and the complete shoe is taken away from the table, and then brought back for a "once through the pack" single shuffle. This give rise to a suspicion, possibly unjustified, that the shoe is "arranged" before returning to the table - and this is the reason it is taken out of view for a short time. On one occasion I saw cards face up on an empty table in view in the main lobby, and there were about 10-12 aces on the right, all face up. Perhaps the cards were being sorted and checked. That view was only there for a short time, as someone then collected the cards.

    The interesting statistic from the people who contacted me was that the percentage of Blackjacks for the player overall was around 2.4%, almost exactly half the figure that it should be for 8 decks of 4.7451% (2/416*128/415*2). What could happen to cause this might, for example, be that at the shuffle table the casino takes out 16 of the aces and places them at the bottom. Then there is a single riffle in six sections followed by a cut, so that these 16 aces will not be in play in the new shoe. There will now be an average of 8 aces in the section that will be used in the new shoe, and not the average of 16 aces that would be expected for the (approximately) 208 cards that are used in an 8 deck game with the postilion inserted half way. I did a simulation for 8 decks with only 50% aces, and had a figure of -3.3% playing basic strategy - no doubt you would be better than me at checking that!

    I manually recorded 10 shoes and saw 83 aces, about the number I would expect in 5 shoes, so statistically there does seem to be something suspect about the game. The result I had was around 7 standard deviations below expectancy. I was not playing, and selected a full table where I could record without having to play. When I asked the live dealer why the shoe was being taken away from the table, she seemed very annoyed and called the supervisor and said "look what is in my chat box". The supervisor came and said that I could see another shuffle taking place at the shuffle table, but that was not available on the site I was using. Online support and the support of my site clarified that the "shuffle" could not be seen on most software. Also there is no independent verification that the shuffle out of view is fair.
     
    1 person likes this.
  2. Sep 25, 2012
  3. vinylweatherman

    vinylweatherman You type well loads CAG MM

    Occupation:
    STILL At Leisure
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    You need to collect a significant amount of data before you can prove statistically that there is reason to doubt the fairness of the game. How to do this is on the Wizard of Odds website, along with some guidance as to what you need in terms of data and analysis to show that this is beyond what could be expected by chance.

    The actions of the studio dealer and supervisor are unwise as they only serve to make things look even more suspicious. Calling over "look what's in my chat box" as though caught red handed with a hand in the cookie jar rather than give a straight answer to such a basic question makes it look as though the dealer felt something was going on that shouldn't be, and wanted someone higher to give the appropriate answer in case she revealed too much.

    In a land casino, the player gets to see everything if they want, right from sealed decks being cut open, through to shuffling, and placement in the shoe. I am sure if the shoe was taken into the back office out of sight for "shuffling", and then brought back in a land casino the players would all leave the table to complain. Taking it out of view in a studio is the same thing, players can't see what is being done to the cards, so cannot confirm with their own eyes that nothing shady has been going on.

    This is additionally disturbing given the flood of tales from players who have been banned from live games only, yet are still "valued customers" of the casino and can play the software games. This would not be necessary if the casino believed the studios in Latvia provided a fair and random game.

    If they are doing anything dodgy, and you can figure out what, you can beat the games. If you know the deck has had aces removed, you recalculate the basic strategy tables and the RTP. In the case of Blackjack, if they DON'T do anything dodgy, but let the shoe be penetrated by 50%, you can still beat the game.
     
  4. Sep 26, 2012
  5. GrandMaster

    GrandMaster Ueber Meister CAG

    Occupation:
    Mathematician by day, online gambler by night.
    Location:
    UK
    Adjusting basic strategy won't compensate for the increased house edge due from the removal of some aces. The best thing is to record lots of hands by some kind of screen recording software, and then to get in touch with Michael Shackleford (the Wizard of Odds) or Eliot Jacobson, who visits the forum occasionally.
     
  6. Sep 27, 2012
  7. goooner

    goooner Dormant account

    Occupation:
    Gambler
    Location:
    London
    I did send Michael Shackleford the information via his excellent webiste, but do not have any screen-recording software that I could use, so I had to record them manually. Each shoe took around 25 minutes, and the 10 shoes I recorded took over 4 hours. I contacted Betfred, on whose site I was playing, and suggested that taking the cards out of view would only raise suspicion, and they promised to refer the matter to the provider - Playtech. The total number of hands from customers contacting me was quite a lot, around 5,000, but the result of -3% was not that far below the expectancy of -0.3%, and their data did not include the stake. However that was over 3 standard deviations below expectancy. There may be people at the other end of the scale, of course, who would not be complaining. I think we should just wait for the reply from the casino.

    Also the players banned from live casinos might be those - I see them all the time - sitting at the table and only betting when the count is high. There is a player advantage of about 1% with a true count of +2, so if they just wait for that they will probably win. I can understand why they are banned if they follow such a strategy.

    The result on the ten shoes I recorded (83 aces) would only occur with a fair game less than 0.000000000256% of the time, so I think that there is already evidence of foul play.
     
    1 person likes this.
  8. Sep 27, 2012
  9. vinylweatherman

    vinylweatherman You type well loads CAG MM

    Occupation:
    STILL At Leisure
    Location:
    United Kingdom
    It shows they are being watched pretty carefully, but what about the Roulette players getting banned, what do they gain by betting only when "the count is high" or whatever it is called on Roulette. Land casinos will kick card counters out, so in respect of Blackjack the live casino isn't doing anything out of the ordinary. It is the Roulette bans that look really odd.

    If they were fiddling the deck, surely they would not kick out the counters because their strategy would backfire because it is based on the shoe being an honest one. It could just be that they worry that counters will also be data mining during play, and will quickly spot anything dodgy going on.

    Are they evasive about letting players have their play history at live games, but not minding at all when it is the software play histories they are after?
     
  10. Sep 28, 2012
  11. kc83

    kc83 Dormant account

    Occupation:
    home maker
    Location:
    planet earth
    Basically, if you don't like live blackjack or any live game, then don't play it.

    One thing worth pointing out is, why did the OP have to say that a bonus was involved.

    Seems to me that something is not right here.

    Not my place to say as only a newbie,but seems like something else is going here,and not concerning the live dealers.
     
  12. Sep 29, 2012
  13. GrandMaster

    GrandMaster Ueber Meister CAG

    Occupation:
    Mathematician by day, online gambler by night.
    Location:
    UK
    I cannot help you with screen recording software, maybe someone else can advise you. You could also take any kind of a video camera, even a webcam and just point it at the monitor. The point is video evidence is much harder to argue with.
     
  14. Oct 2, 2012
  15. goooner

    goooner Dormant account

    Occupation:
    Gambler
    Location:
    London
    Perhaps they ban the live Roulette players because they have some method of measuring the speed of the ball - I recall some US students doing this. I can well imagine them banning winning players who are far more likely to record the hands and check out their strategy.

    Someone above raised the matter of bonuses. Essentially players take up the bonuses, follow the turnover rules, and then cash out if they have a balance which can be withdrawn. There is nothing wrong with that, as they are betting in their own names, and shopping around. If the margin is less than 1%, they will expect to make money. For example, they deposit $100 and get a $100 bonus and have to turn it over 10 times. They will expect to stake $1000 and lose $10, but still have a balance of $190 dollars which they can withdraw. The casino needs to recover this money and might try taking out aces to do so.

    But the overall issue is that is is unacceptable for the shoe to be taken out of view for a time; there is absolutely no reason why the shuffle cannot take place at the table - it is already being done by a different person so there is no time lost.
     

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