Electronic/video blackjack

My question for you is this…how honest is a video blackjack game in a casino? I play at Delaware Park where actual dealers are not yet allowed so what they have in their stead is a huge blackjack video game. There’s a virtual dealer and up to five people can sit around and play just like at a real blackjack table.

You can’t help but think that the game is designed to make a profit just like a slot machine, and of course I do realize that blackjack is designed to make money anyway. Let’s say I have a 13 and I take a hit, do I have the same chance to get an 8 as I would in a real game of BJ? Or does that depend on how much money the machine has taken in or given out so far that day? In my personal experience, I always seem to do better at a table when there’s someone else there betting (and losing) big. That might just be my imagination though.

I know the NGC sees to it that all gaming is on the up and up, but how would that apply to video blackjack?

I guess the same applies to internet gambling which I would never trust…

It is likely your imagination. If it differed from traditional blackjack I guarantee you they would legally be required to advertise it as such. Gambling commission would be on that like white on rice (the problem with Internet gambling is there IS NO regulatory body).

One thing I would check is to see if the machines pay Blackjack 3-to-2. I’ve heard some Vegas machines pay Blackjacks even money to compensate for the fact that you can bet only 25 cents a play. If it is like that, don’t touch it.

It is possible to build a machine that can be programmed to cheat. But if the blackjack machine is regulated and legal (approved for public use by a gaming commission in your area) the same way video poker and slots, etc. are, then it is not likely to be cheating. It has to generate a true random number that has been certified by various independent authorities. Because the results of each draw should be truly random you might see odd patterns or variations that are simply part of the random draw. A lot of casino and video versions of blackjack do lower your odds with other things like side bets, e.g. you get a huge cash bonus if you draw AAAA but only if you pay a bonus entry every hand and that type of thing. But after the shuffle the deck should be as random as a real deck of cards regardless of whatever side bets they entice you to make. As noted above, different blackjack rules also pay different odds on various hands, allow or don’t allow splits, double downs, etc. so blackjack odds can vary a lot just depending which game of blackjack you choose.

I disagree with **Cyberhwk **that internet gambling isn’t regulated. Major online casinos and poker rooms are regulated by local gaming laws in the countries they are based and are also tested, inspected, and vouched for by independent certification authorities like eCOGRA. Before that, the software itself that they use for their clients and servers is also certified by its authors, like Microgaming, etc. who send it to other testing labs to be double-certified as being truly random. In any game of chance there is a potential for odds to be unfairly stacked against you and this is true in casinos as well as on the internet. You have to take a small leap of faith in either case that someone isn’t still cheating you despite the regulations. I don’t think internet casinos are any more or less likely to do so than brick and mortar casinos though.

Deep breath here.
That’s because it IS a slot machine. I can’t site the issue, but it was mentioned in passing in an issue of Casino Player.

That’s not to say, that it necessarily has more of a take than regular Blackjack.

However, I am willing to bet (no pun intended) that the deck is continually shuffled, has a multiple deck shoe, and never mis-deals cards. Also, it never needs to take a break, or take tips.

Everything that a Player could use against a Human dealer have been removed. It is reduced to a Randomized number.

Which, is exactly what a slot machine is.

FWIW : I live in Atlanta, there is a Harrah’s in North Carolina, and a local “Raceino” in Alabama. The NC drive is 2.5 hours, AL is 3.

Both have legalites in force on how the Casino can be run.

NC: “Real” Slot Machines, a majority of which have an option to “”“stop”"" the reels mid spin, and / or the option to lock reels and respin other reels for the immediate next spin only. (This makes the “slot” machine more like Video Poker). The legality here, I believe, is that the casino has a given percentage of ““Skill”” based gaming. -Or at least, the perception of Skill. The end result, is no real cards anywhere in the casino, and no alcohol either. (In fact, the Indian reservation it is on, doesn’t allow Alcohol anywhere on the reservation…)

Incidentally, Harrah’s Cherokee also has “Digital Blackjack” - And Digital Mini Baccarat, and Digital Texas hold em.

AL : Class 3 slot machines. All of them are actually Not slot machines. They are Bingo machines, that do a dance and pony show of reel spinning, after the fact. The Bingo cards mark themselves, and the reels spin a millisecond after the entire Bingo game completes. - The bingo game itself takes less than a second. But, all of the games are Charity Bingo. [The Dog track, and traditional bingo hall are also there, but I digress.] – So, Bingo dressed up to look like slot machines – But you can drink.

Suffice to say, I have decided that the 30 extra minutes of driving is WELL worth it.

All of this to say, a LOT of casinos have legalities that work out to be mere technicalities and semantics. However, once those details are ironed out, the Casino does all that it can to maintain what it has.

It will always play a fair game, it just might not be the game you think it is. If it didn’t the casino would close either because the Law will catch on to it, OR the gaming comission will get on to them.

In the state of Nevada all machines that play a game representing a deck of cards must deal the game in the same way an actual physical deck of cards would be dealt; the odds of certain cards appearing or not appearing can not be manipulated. To be licensed for sale and use in Nevada, every machine sold by a manufacturer must follow that rule in every machine it sells worldwide.

So, if you are playing a machine made by a manufacturer that sells machines in Nevada or you playing in a casino owned or operated by a Nevada company, it does deal and play as if it were a real deck of cards … with the likely exception that the deck is reshuffled after every hand, unlike a live BJ game.

If you play an unbranded machine or in an unlicensed location there is a good chance the machine contains a chip manufactured to play by very different rules, even to the extent that it never pays the big jackpot.

The opposite is also true. Again, the machine is ALWAYS playing it’s game. You get into some interesting situations that game conflicts with the game you THINK you are playing.

You ever get a drink from a soda fountain, and realize AFTER you drink it, that you got the wrong flavor? Your immediate result is often “This is sure is funny tasting X!” it is hardly ever “Oh, hey, this is Y!”.

Just saying, there are times you can tell something is up.

Side note on slot machines / video gaming; I had a full day job interview at Bally Gaming which makes a fair portion of these machines. They run (at the time) on Power PC chips, had sophisticated custom-built software (in C++) and ran a linux variant.

The machines are all networked together and to a bank of servers in the back rooms of the casinos. The bosses at the casino program in the EXACT payout for that day into the servers. They know day to day precisely how much money those machines will take in and pay out. They change the amount a little day-to-day to generate more big winners and thus excitement on the floor. It’s also how casinos can advertise “Our slots pay out 90.5%” and such. I was floored at the sophistication even though I was going for a software development manager position and was well experienced in IT.

So have you verified my fears? That the blackjack game can and is allowed to control who wins? So it’s not as legitimate as a real shoe of cards would be? And that if I see a drunk losing his ass betting $100 a hand at the same table, that I’m more likely to win a $5 hand? I went last night and there were two guys doing just that, but it looked like they had plenty of money to burn. They were losing like crazy and I made a nice steady profit.

Sounds like everyone else pretty much said it must be legitimate to be legal.

On the other hand, they do have mechanically controlled roulette wheels. It’s a real table with a real ball that goes wherever it wants to (unless there’s a magnet under 00 :eek:) It just doesn’t have a human operating it, it’s all mechanical.

KingFriday, I think you’re reading too much into ToddEnsz’s post.

First, he was talking about slot machines, not video blackjack. You can definitely tweak a slot’s chip to produce the payout rate over time that you want to achieve. (However, I was always under the impression that this can only be done by opening up the machine and modifying the firmware inside the machine’s chip – not something that can be done “in the back room”. This is not inconsistent with the casino’s management knowing how much a bank of machines will return; when you’re dealing with thousands of pulls, and you know the rate of return of each machine, you can predict the net for the bank of machines pretty accurately, over the long run.

But assuming you’re dealing with a casino operating under the same limitations that Turble stated: no, they can’t program the machine to deal you a 10 when you’re holding a stiff hand. They have to give you a random card. Video poker and video blackjack raise and lower their payback rates by modifying the amounts they pay for a winning hand…not by modifying the odds of achieving that hand.

JSC: the ‘over time’ part is a day when you have 1,000 machines in the casino. And yes, it is controlled centrally, not by reprogramming firmware machine by machine.

KING FRIDAY: That being said, the individual hands are still random. Look at it this way, if the pit boss in a casino sees a particular dealer payout too much, he send the dealer ‘on break’ or to another table. Blackjack is not as purely random as you imagine as a result of that. It’s simple with slot machines which can easily be set to pay out every 25 pulls, etc. Video poker is harder to control but can still be considered random even though the seed values may change. This controls the eventual payout amounts.

Same principle with the machines (and yes, video poker and blackjack were among the machines that company made).

That’s not the way it works in Nevada. If, in a video poker game, you’re dealt 5 cards, and need (for example), the ace of spades to compete a straight: your odds of drawing that ace are 1 in 47, just like in real life. They can’t change that. All they can change is how much they pay you for the straight.

King Friday, do you know specifically the manufacturer and name of the game machine? It would help a lot to look at the specifics. There are slot machine type games that happen to have a poker or blackjack theme, and then there are actual video poker/blackjack machines which operate with fundamentally the same odds as a real deck of cards. Is it the Shufflemaster TMS300 Video Blackjack? If so they are deemed to be “fair” by The Wizard of Odds who’s opinion on such questions is very trusted. One note though, if that is the machine, each players hand is dealt from a separate random deck; one players actions can’t affect the other players cards. You might get dealt the Ace and Jack of spades, and so might the guy right next to you on the same hand. So it is video-gamish in that sense, but each deck is a random deck and standard blackjack strategy should apply. The outcomes of hands cannot be altered based on some predefined condition. Once the deck is shuffled the cards fall where they may.

While there are some bosses in the casino industry who will pull a dealer off a table for losing they tend to be those who have been juiced into their job on a “who you know” basis; they are looked down upon by those who actually understand how gambling games work. Their actions only serve to make for an unpleasant workplace and to sometimes drive off players who have gotten lucky and who would likely have stayed and eventually lost back their winnings.

“Blackjack is not as purely random as you imagine as a result of that. “ Huh? Think about it. How in the world could someone know that a particular dealer’s cold streak isn’t about to end on the next hand or that the next dealer isn’t about to begin running bad … and how in the world could changing dealers alter the ‘randomness’ of the cards?

As for programming a slot machine to pay off every 25 pulls … uh … I suggest that a winning strategy should be trivial to work out.

You may be a whiz at IT, ToddEnsz, but you are spreading misconceptions regarding the mathematics of gambling. jsc1953 is telling it like it is.

Turble, I’m not commenting on the mathematics of gambling but merely reporting what I was told but several people who are in the business of making those machines during a comprehensive visit to the factory that programs and assembles them. The ARE controlled centrally, they ARE networked to each other and to the server farm. The casinos KNOW how to set the machines to regulate cash flow in and out.

And the 25 pulls was an example. With a thousand slot machines in a casino, each one would likely be set to a different payout frequency so obviously the strategy wouldn’t be “trivial to work out”.

I think most of the appeal of gambling derives from this disconnect. The ACTUAL play in all casino games is a random walk to bankruptcy. The fun of gambling derives from the structure of anticipation that individual players build on top of this random walk.

It definitely is made by Shufflemaster, it says that on your “credits” display. Next time I go I’ll look for a model number. I have a few pictures that I can link you to if you’d like.

It says that is the case in Pennsylvania, I’m pressing my luck in Delaware. It is interesting that it says the players do not know when the shuffle takes place. I wondered about that because every 20 minutes or so a new dealer pops up on the video screen and everyone just assumes that’s when the shuffle takes place. The “late surrender” listed there is not accurate. The $5 tables do not have that option, but the $10 and $25 do. You can also double down on any hand.

Finally Something I know Something about! (now if I can only get the quoting right)
I worked for Shuffle Master for 8 years, in Las Vegas as a Service Tech Dispatcher for 4.5 years, then as a Service Tech for 3.5 years in Arizona.
Gaming regulations vary by jurisdiction, as do casino procedures. It’s been over a year since I worked for Shuffle Master and on the Table Master videos but I don’t think much has changed.

Yes King Friday, the game is designed to make money for the casino and Shuffle Master.
Meeko is correct, it is a multi-player slot machine, controlled by a standard tower computer. The platform was created by Sega for use in video game arcades, Shuffle Master purchased them, wrote the gaming software and modified them to be a gaming platform.
Turble is correct that the cards (5 or 6 decks) are shuffled at the start of every hand.
There actually is a tiny dealer inside the platform (took years to breed them) with a card shuffler and 5 or 6 decks of cards :smiley:
jsc1953 is correct that the payoff/hold % is controlled by a software setting in the individual machine, of this I am sure of concerning the Table Masters as of a year ago (and was also true of slot machines based on what I knew and from what the casino slot techs told me).

I respectfully disagree with ToddEnsz. Yes, all machines communicated with the “back of the house” but the slots were not controlled nor programmed from there, at least I am sure the Table Masters were not (the concept of running games from a servers/central computers has been floated but I am unaware of it being implemented). I believe what ToddEnsz saw was the SAS servers used for slot machine meter reporting, player tracking, bonusing, ticketing and cashless gaming.
Yes the casino bosses would know what the individual machines’ hold/payout was from the communication/reports and could see if it was performing as expected; a machine out of the variance would draw their attention, along with the the Gaming Inspectors who had access to the same reports.
When the casino had a problem with the Table Master, they called Shuffle Master Dispatch who then notified me. When I got to the casino, at a minimum I needed a casino slot tech with keys to open the machine and a call to Surveillance to put a camera on the machine; sometimes we needed a Casino/Tribal Gaming Inspector if the repair/reset was more involved as they had keys to some locks that the slot techs didn’t. If sensitive parts/software were involved, Shuffle Master Compliance interfaced with the State Gaming Regulators and the Casino/Tribal Gaming Compliance before the parts/software was shipped to the casino, where it was inspected before it was given to me, to be installed under the watchful eyes of the slot techs, Casino/Tribal Gaming Inspector and Surveillance.

In all my time in a casino, in and around live pits, I have never seen nor heard from any dealer that they were rotated for any reason other than the scheduled move time occurred or the table/pit was closing due to lack of play.

The dealer video(s) used and the timing of their rotation is merely a setting and has nothing to do with the shuffle (which occurs every hand).

Because I know how difficult it would be and how many people it would take to be involved in creating an unfair game, I would have no hesitation of putting my money in play at a licensed casino
(that said, I know the only way to make money at a casino is to own the casino, so I don’t gamble).

As do I. I don’t claim subject matter expertise, but I’m nearly certain that gaming regulations in Nevada (and elsewhere) require each pull of a slot machine to be independent; that is, the outcome may not be affected by any previous outcomes, on that particular machine or any other. This is why sticking with a “hot” machine or avoiding a “cold” machine, or doing the reverse (because the cold machine is “due”) is malarkey.

As others have said, there are similar regulations protecting players of video blackjack, video poker, video roulette, video keno, etc. And there is no need for the house to flout these regulations; since the games all favor the house anyway, they’d be foolish to risk large fines, their lucrative licenses, or the negative P.R. that would result from cheating.

I have to question this. It says very clearly on the display screen that the 6 deck shoe is shuffled when 2/3 of the shoe has been played.