Return to Player - Critiques Requested.

binary128

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DiamondGeezer,

Re: "commercially sensitive".

My first thought was of walking into a clothing store, asking to speak with the Manager, and then asking them what their average markup was on, say, sweaters. They might reply with this "commercially sensitive" response. (That, or "None of your damn business, Sasquatch.")

My second thought was "Are a Casino's Theoretical RTPs equivalent to the markup, or are they more like the final price?" That is, if I go to Store A and see a sweater for $24.95, and then go to Store B and see the same sweater for $21.95, I'd buy the one for $21.95. I still don't know the markup, but knowing the final price at least allows me to do comparison shopping.

This analogy falls apart a bit when you consider that, for a Slot, the final price is a statistic that is only realized after you've purchased 500,000 "sweaters". Thus, for Casinos, receiving and publishing Monthly RTP Audits from an independent and respected source becomes important.

I guess my opinion is that publishing the Theoretical RTPs allows the Player to comparison shop, and publishing Monthly RTP Audits provides to the Player the assurance that those Theoretical RTPs weren't just made up from whole cloth.

(For those with a more cynical perspective - note that I used the phrase "... provides to the Player the assurance ..." rather than "... assures the Player ..." If a Casino provides an RTP report but you are not assured by this report, that remains totally your call.)


As to why anyone would play a game or slot when they did not know what the theoretical RTP is:

20 years ago, when I wanted a telephone for my house, I went out and bought the phone, brought it home and plugged it in. When it rang, I'd pick it up and say "Hello". A couple of years back my kids got for me a Birthday gift of a cell phone. It came with an instruction book so thick that it would have made the Encyclopedia Britannica proud. I asked myself: "When did the learning curve for using a phone go from flat to Everest?"

Too many parts of life today are just so damned complicated. (When was the last time you read through the entire End User License Agreement (EULA) for whatever plug-in update you've got running in your browser?)

Wouldn't it be nice if playing a few rounds of Pontoon, or having a few spins on some entertaining slot, didn't involve a greater amount of knowledge or awareness than that required to simply play the game?

A few posts back I made the statement:

Anyone that even browses the internet without having every form of blocker known to mankind (script blocker, Flash blocker, cookie blocker, ad blocker, port blocker, virus blocker, spyware blocker, malware blocker) turned on and set to "Black & Decker Mode" (which is how I browse, actually) is taking a leap of faith.

The reason that I browse this way is because my computer got seriously nailed in a "drive-by attack". After that, all shields went up, and set to full power. So, I browse this way because it proved to be necessary.

However, wouldn't it be great if the learning curve for playing a slot, or any other game, in an online Casino wasn't so damned steep?

As such, I don't think that "total idiot" is a description that I would want to use. "A little naive" - OK; "total idiot" - a bit off the deep end.

Chris
 

DiamondGeezer

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Well the "total idiot" is a reference that applies to myself becasue I played heaps of pub fruites at arcades in the 80's with RTP's in the 70's. Believe me it wasn't good for the finances even if it was a lot of fun. And if a 75% RTP wasn't bad enough there was a guy who hangs around here going round and emptying the damm things :eek:

Maybe total idiot is a bit strong but I just can't see why the RTP's aren't listed just like any other game. It's hard to understand what this commercially sensitive information is since there are only a few suppliers and most companies now cross buy each others games. It's difficult to understand what their motives are really. Anyway it's good news for you because hopefully players will gravitate to your software and you will steal a march on all the opposition. You could be bigger than Playtech in few years time :thumbsup:
 

binary128

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Well, if "Geezer" is any indication, then we're both too old to be beating up on ourselves.

So, I'd vote that you write the past off with the "a little naive" label and run with it.

Chris
 

jstrike

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Europe
I'm honestly scared to wade into this thread, but Chris brought it up to me, so here goes: Jufo's totally right that there are cleaner and more transparent ways to certify casino integrity, than what's being provided right now by the mishmash of regulators and auditing agencies. The auditors are frequently way behind the curve on things. Sometimes they're totally backwards. Some things they require are actually very bad for the players. Some things they ban are actually very good. It's not usually put into those terms, because everybody's worried about RTP and the RNG, but that's not really where the rubber meets the road.

Fairdice is a good example, because I'm pretty sure that any system using client-side input to verify the RNG results before the deal wouldn't pass eCOGRA rules and would be illegal in most jurisdictions, because they all say that no client or network variables can be used to generate randomness. They don't make an exception for well-thought-out crypto protocols like Fairdice, and the industry's just as happy to skirt the subject.

Having said that there's this huge hangup on randomness when in reality, the RNG isn't the layer where cheating would take place in a crooked system. Neither is the RTP. Both, in a way, can be touted as being perfect a sleight-of-hand. It's hard to explain what I'm getting at here, but follow me: Like Spiderlegz referenced and Jufo made clear with the chart, a casino could have completely random numbers on one end and a perfect RTP on the other end, and still be cheating by basically timing the variance based on player bankrolls to ensure they never see any daylight over their initial deposit. Now -- you shouldn't be able to do that if you're being audited, and anyone who runs a casino knows that a system like that doesn't make a lotta sense because that's what the curve looks like anyway... I mean, StrikeSapphire has a 95.6% real RTP across all games on average (over 101% if you count bonuses -- since we opened we've lost money), but still the chances for any given player are that if he or she keeps money in play long enough, they're going to lose their initial bankroll eventually. In other words, a true percentage enforces itself and there's no need to do what Jufo's suggesting just to get to the same house edge you're getting anyway. But it would limit the volatility, and if a casino weren't able to bankroll the games they were offering, it would be insurance for them against catastrophic losses. That's why we only have $5 blackjack... but you see what I'm saying.

So, the really dangerous layer of software is right in the middle, in how the random numbers are used to get to that RTP in the end. That's where most players suspect things get personal, and that's the question that needs to be addressed and isn't. I don't think the audit agencies do a good job of addressing it or even understand the real concerns involved, most of the time. So what can you do about it? Our site runs 6-deck Blackjack shoes, with 6 players on a table, and only reshuffles 2/3rds of the way through every shoe. We don't ban card counting. We might be the only site that runs the same shoe for more than one hand, actually. Then we publish the entire deck, every deck, every day. Same with roulette, craps, etc., in addition to slot RTPs. That way any player can compare her hands against the deck and see it was fair, and compare every deck against every other deck we ever dealt, and see if there's some kind of bias in the shuffles. My idea when I wrote it was to crowd source our auditing and enforcement. We couldn't lie about it, because it's right in the public eye for everyone to see. If a player said "the dealer got 5 blackjacks in a row starting on hand #2-130293", anybody can go on our site and see if it's true, and other players on the same table can verify or deny.

This is better than Fairdice, because ultimately the random number from the RNG doesn't mean anything: It's what the casino does with it. And the RTP doesn't mean anything either, because it's how you got there. Fair play involves both of those being fair, but it also involves everything that happens in between...and the only way you can see that is by analyzing the results hand by hand, for every single hand. Not over the long haul to just see the RTP, and not just by looking to make sure the RNG is fair.

I've got nothing but good things to say about Chris's and Gailwind's efforts toward transparency...they really are the Good Guys, and that's why I'm a fan and why I've wanted to work with them (full disclosure, I approached them for investment a couple months ago, but they turned me down. No harm, no foul. We don't work together, and StrikeSapphire remains 100% independent. But after a lot of talking, I can say that Chris is on the level, and really a straight shooting guy).

Explaining this stuff clearly is a step in the right direction. But neither auditing agencies, gaming commissions nor published RTP reports address the lingering questions, and there does need to be a new model for transparency. Fairdice is an old, centralized way of looking at it, but not a bad one underneath the 2004 technology... it would be better to take it and make it really peer-to-peer and crowd sourced, in a way where every single action is out in the open. That's the direction we've gone, and it's good to see Galewind's going there too. I hope other casinos pick up the torch and do what we all know can, and should be done.
 

binary128

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Josh,

I think that what you've done at StrikeSapphire is unique and interesting. I think that your work, both previous and ongoing, and your real-world experience with the results allows you to introduce a valuable perspective into this discussion.

For those who don't know, Josh is actually a 73-year old retired truck driver, living somewhere in Eastern Europe, sitting around all day in his living room wearing nothing but boxer shorts and a really nasty old t-shirt, drinking cheap beer and watching dubbed Law & Order reruns. He literally shanghaied about a half dozen programmers from China about 4 years ago, and has them shackled to benches in his basement churning out computer code, feeding them nothing but stale Cheerios that he hijacked from a truck that overturned down his street.

Just kidding. Just kidding.

Josh is who he appears to be - an intelligent, creative, honest, hard working, opinionated, (strongly opinionated), independent and nice guy.


I think it’s worth mapping where this thread has traveled since it started.


I asked for a critique of a "Casino Terminology 101" article that Galewind wrote for our Help file system. It is a long article, a depressingly long article (some pointed out that it is just way too long), but, for those who find themselves frustrated and/or confused by all of this "casino metadata", we wanted to provide a clear, technically accurate, relatively easy to understand page that would address some common terms:

  • Return to Player = RTP
  • Reported (or Actual) RTP, and how it is calculated.
  • What variance means.
  • Theoretical RTP (versus Reported RTP)
  • House Edge, and how it relates to Theoretical RTP
  • Statistical game play (aka, "Optimal Strategy")
  • Law of Large Numbers (we added that because of Jufo)
  • Theoretical Maximum RTP
  • Element of Risk
  • Etc., etc., etc.
And we also wanted our article to bring home for the reader the significant point: "What does all of this mean relative to money in my pocket?"


The thread segued a bit into how variance/volatility (and standard deviation) should be included in our article, and included to the same or greater length as RTP.

The thread touched on why, although of some value, our article does not address the critical issues affecting the online gambling industry.

I threw in a somewhat "pissy" shredding of another organization's article on RTP (again, my public apology to jetset), and expressed my personal dissatisfaction (disgust may be a more accurate word) at the state of online casino documentation in general.

The thread detailed exactly what is involved in Galewind's monthly RTP audit with Certified Fair Gambling. It also discussed audits performed by other organizations, for other casinos, and the concerns about whether these audits are truly of any value to the player.

The thread touched on the two different types of audits which Casinos go through (Monthly RTP Audits and System Audits), and the differences between them.

There was discussion on how some of the companies that are involved in accrediting or certifying online Casinos (and their software providers) may not have a very good grasp of some of the areas of operation and/or technology that are specific to online casinos.

There was a bit of a sidetrack into the old English Harbour mess, but on target as to pointing out the limitations of Monthly audits.

I then brought up the T word, which I discovered was pretty much like ripping a band-aid off a scab.

We then got into a (speculative) discussion about how online casinos can operate without having to rely on "the T word".

We took a couple of (admittedly justified) shots at BetFair because they really blew it in their game documentation.

I then threw in a complete derail with my link to Galewind's article on Game Malfunctions. (I'd like to point out that there hasn't been anything said about this one.)

By the way, I really like my analogy about published RTPs, sale prices and comparison shopping, even if I do say so myself.


So ... wow. What a thread.

The original objective was accomplished by the way (thank you very much), and the article has been put live. The last modification was to include Jufo's Law of Large Numbers.

In addition, I'd estimate that there are at least 6 other major topic points which have been touched on that would be worthy of their own dedicated threads (or maybe even more that just one dedicated thread).

If I were Josh, and had just picked up on this, I think I would also be "... scared to wade into this thread ..." I mean, given all of the options, where the heck do you start?

If you've read this far then once again you have been treated to (or subjected to) one of my (patent pending) "more words than you ever want to read" articles. But, I'm old enough to know that no one was ultimately confused as a result of having too many words available.

I also like "summing up", because without it I personally don't know (or remember) where we were, where we are, and/or where we might be going.

Josh has raised some good points. I have an opinion about some of them. I'll let it percolate a bit and get back in soon.

Chris
 
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binary128

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Vancouver, BC
Although there have been a lot of people who have read it, the contribution rate has dropped to the point where I suspect this thread has run its course.

But, rather than simply let it suffer a death by attrition, I wanted to provide a proper closure.

My original objective has been accomplished. Personally, I think the article that arose as a result of the suggestions in this thread is the best article that I have seen on this subject. It properly and accurately addresses the challenging issue of RTP with all of its associated, and equally challenging, links.

I agree, it is a long read, and it may take more than one round, but all of the data is there, it is accurate, and it doesn't use a lot of words that you need to look up elsewhere. (That is, words which may require some form of definition are given that definition within the file.)

So, I'm proud of the result, and I thank those that contributed.


However, I've "puzzled and puzzed" (as the Grinch would say) over what this thread is about, or more accurately, what it has turned into. As I detailed previously, we've traveled around the map a bit.

This is where I think we stand. From the Player's perspective:

1.) How do I know, absolutely KNOW, that I am getting a fair game?

2.) What price do I need to pay for this knowledge?

3.) Where can I turn if and when I discover that I have been cheated?


For question #1, we start with the toughest issue of all: exactly what is a "fair" game. We then move into things like RNG Certifications, published Monthly Certification Audits (that is, audits that are more than just an RTP financial summary), Quality System Audits (eCOGRA, TST, AGCC, et al.), Casino published Theoretical RTPs for each game, reporting/control systems like the deck reporting at StrikeSapphire, the FairDice system, the Randomness Control at BetVoyager Casino, the BitJack21 system.

For question #2 we need to have a practical discussion/conclusion on the PITA factor associated with the reporting/control systems listed above. There are also functional problems (latency delays, or simply internet connection failures) associated with any type of web service. In other words, some of these things may be great ideas that just don't work.

For question #3 - well, I just don't know. I've read enough snippets on Casinomeister to cause me to question the effectiveness of any/all of the supposed accreditation organizations: Kahnawake, AGCC, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Malta, UK Gambling Commission. Are there others? Are they all ineffective? Is Casinomeister really all there is? It would be worth quantifying this.


I've thought of starting a thread for each of these 3 questions. The problem is, they overlap. Each is huge enough to have their own thread, but things would just get all sloppy.

So, unless there is some disagreement, I'm closing this thread and moving on. I personally do not think that it would be appropriate for me to start any of the 3 threads that I mentioned above. I came here with a specific, finite, objective, and that objective has been accomplished.

I thus leave it to any other Casinomeister members to do with all of this as they wish.

Chris
 

pmutts

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Whale

Disregard. Moderator--Please delete. I posted in the wrong thread. Thanks!
 
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