Written on July 24-25, 2003; later updates.
There was the discovery of a new instrument of measuring fluctuation in random events that I made. I named it FFG deviation. It is more precise and more useful than traditional standard deviation. Then there was also an unambiguous message from my daughter. She advised me to put my gambling theory to work, in casinos. Those favorable circumstances put me aboard a casino charter bus with the destination Atlantic City.
I arrived by the ocean on Sunday. I wanted to live in the same place as in my first trip to Atlantic City, in 1995. The place is on Kentucky Avenue, an unconscious association with the Kentucky Derby my mind probably made. Back then I was no more than 10% of what I am now in the science of gambling or gambling mathematics. I decided to name it the science of winning.
• I began a fact-finding mission my first day. I collected data on the minimum and maximum bets at the roulette and blackjack tables. The differences between casinos were not dramatic. A reasonable bankroll would zero the impact of differences in the table limits. I only checked 10 casinos on the boardwalk, from Showboat (the organizer of the bus trips I patronize sometimes) to Hilton... three or four miles one-way...
I only wanted that day to recheck the blackjack slot machines. I was hoping that the casinos had righted a wrong I wrote about at this website. As I told you in unequivocal terms, the blackjack slot machines are hardware-programmed to beat the player, disregarding theory of probability, defying the odds. I played at Caesar's, on Sunday, July 20, 2003, starting at 7:30 PM. I opened my trusted notebook and wrote down each and every blackjack hand I played. A total of over 1400 hands in around 4 hours. I started with $50. The minimum bet was $1, maximum bet $5.
The game is terrible, by comparison to table blackjack. The slot blackjack paid 1 to 1 for a blackjack (natural 21); double-down and pair-splitting were not allowed. I knew the terms were terrible. I played only because I wanted to verify whether the casinos had corrected that old wrong or not. NOT! The slot machine swallowed my maximum bets in brute defiance of probability. A screen prompt always urges the player to bet the maximum!
Look at these strings of numbers! Here is how I keep records. If I bet one unit and win, I write down 1+; if I bet one unit and lose I inscribe 1-. Look how long a streak of 1+ I have here: 1+,1+,1+,1-,1+,1+,1+,1+,1+,1+,1+. Now, look at this streak, when I bet higher: 1+,4-,2-,1-,3-,5-,5-,5-,4+. Or this: 5-,5-,0,5-,5-,5+. By the way, 0 represents a push (tie). The slot machines, the casinos, that is, tell the player that she won 1 unit in case of a tie! The benignly shy old lady from Yourtown, USA will go home and say happily to her neighbor during that bingo game: “Florence, I won one unit almost every time!”
Florence's friend always wins. The blackjack slot machine tells you that you won 2 units for a blackjack. In fact, your net win is one and only one unit for a 1-unit bet. The casinos allow the glittering display of blatant deception! If it is a push, you win one unit! Blatant deception alright, but also an affront to the intellect! How about a loss? Following the same path, you win 0 units in the case of a loss! That's why Florence's friend has the perception that she always wins! I have been embarrassed to hear people, especially older ladies, that they go to Atlantic City to win, while playing the slots and only the slots! “I am too old to go down there for fun! I go for win!” Who could tell them the truth face to face?!
The casino deception can be translated as: win 2 when it's +1; win 1 when it's 0, win 0 when it's –1. The United States Federal Trade Commission has a strong case here. But who knows what their time, and resources, and intentions are at various points in time. The casinos calculate the odds that way. They are required to prove that the slot machines spit out (i.e. return to the player) according to the displayed odds. The machine records show at the end of the month an average of 90% in winnings. If the total play was $100, $90 was the return to the player. So, the house edge is 10%. How deceptive that is if a push is considered a win of 1 to 1! The real house advantage must be at least 5 times worse, given the frequency of pushes and all the 1-to-1 wins accounted for as 2-to-1 wins! BEWARE!
Back at my blackjack slot machine, I made a small change in my game. I decided to cash out and start anew. I figured out the machine would consider me a totally new player. I bet smaller this time around. At the next point I was ahead by 10 units, I cashed out again. Surprise! The machine jammed up! It was a long, embarrassing moment. It lasted about an hour.
I notified the casino personnel. The error lamp was blinking, so my notification wasn't even required. They totally ignored me. The security personnel were the most cooperative during that incident. While waiting for a fix, I applied the same tactic at the next blackjack-slot machine. I was ahead by 5, I cashed out. I was ahead by 10, I cashed out. That's not a game to win. It's not a blackjack game to play at all. I only did it for the sake of science.
That was my most frequent idiom during my mission by the ocean. “I do it for the sake of science”. First and foremost, it is the truth. I also wanted to lighten up the casino personnel. “Lighten up, guys! I am a scientist, not a terrorist!” was my wordless message I wanted to convey.
My notebook caused the incident at the slot blackjack. I was asked what I was doing. I told I did it, among other things, as record keeping for tax purposes. I felt I was marked. I still hoped it was a simple perception. It did not deter my plans. I would definitely start gambling the following day.
•• It was a sunny, warm Monday, July 21, 2003. I had decided, before the trip, that I would not drink alcohol during my research period in the field of Science of Winning. I slightly altered that plan. I drank two draft beers before starting playing roulette. The first casino was Tropicana. It had the best table limits according to my data collection, gathered in that notebook reading Yahoo on the cover. I bought a number of such notebooks three years ago. They were rule lined exactly as my desire. At that point, I tracked some 20 roulette parameters. Since my discovery of FFG deviation, I honed everything down to 11 parameters. Some parameters just keep me in the game; other parameters are the hard hitters. At the end of a session, the roles reverse. The patient slow hitters start hitting hard.
The two beers did have a positive effect. I needed guts when I announced I wanted US$ 2000 worth of chips! The roulette dealer with an Italian name left soon after I cashed in. An African-American lady took over as dealer. I also wrote down the dealers' names, pit boss names, and their badge numbers.
Two young ladies were my neighbors. The only mistake I made: I started playing before converting the 16 previous spins to customary +/- columns. I'd never do it again, but I'd have a hard time finding a place at a table! I asked the two young neighbors if they were casino employees. They played way too wacky for me not to ask! They simply littered the inside bets, mainly straight-ups! They didn't play with their own money, no matter what you would say! The dealer said the ladies were catering employees of the casino!
Since my analysis was not finished, I played quick outside bets. It was more like a dogfight. The dealer was displeased that I was not losing, however! She would mention to me unhappily: “What game is that? Why don't you play inside bets?” I got it! I said again: “I do it for the sake of science. Do you have a problem with it?” The lady dealer and the male pit boss said they didn't have any problem. I took their words at their face value. I would realize later I was wrong.
In any event, that event raised my adrenaline level. I was pushed in a fighting mode. That's how nature works. In my case, it's fight or restroom. If fighting, I use the adrenaline. If fighting is not a good choice, I must release the adrenaline down the drain.
They cashed me out. I didn't even count my money. I still tipped the dealer. I wrote before at this website that tipping the dealer is a no-no. The player faces negative odds, anyway. Why should he/she face higher odds of their own making?! Let the casino fat cats take care of their own employees, was my opinion. Nevertheless, I have always tipped the dealer, as far as I can recall. But I would never recall my tips! It is probably true that:
One was born a gentleman, or a sucker; one was born a lady, or a shrew.
A bath or a shower cools things down. If fighting is down the road, collect enough information to make you a winner — if you are on the right path. I didn't believe at that point that the casinos were hostile to my way of gambling. I entered Trump Plaza at 5:20 PM. The roulette tables with the table limits I wanted were no longer there. I looked around for a moment to find a place at under-$10 minimum bet roulette table. I figured that would be an overnight affair — probably the graveyard shift.
I spotted immediately an available seat at a blackjack table. Surprisingly, it was a $10 minimum bet table! You've got to be fast when you see a good spot! G. gave me a fair deal. She never complained that I had a record-keeping notebook. But her pit boss asked me to make sure my notebook was not visible. “Why don't you keep it on your lap?” the weary pit boss asked me. I had trained myself for such conditions as well. I had no problem setting my notebook on my lap and writing down the parameters.
Again, I tipped like a gentleman. Here is one streak of my encounter with G.: 10-,10-,20-,0,25+,20-,10+,40+,20+,20-,50+ ... The figures are in US dollars. The minimum bet was $10, maximum $500. It was a whole lot closer to theory of probability, namely the mathematics of streaks.
I won $300 in one hour. My plan was also not to be greedy. That amount in one hour was enough for one day. Telling you, the temptation to stay and play is very strong! But the professional winner must be disciplined, as well as skilled. That win alone covered all my expenses to Atlantic City.
I pushed myself out of there. I decided that at least $200 winnings a day would pay for rent and then make a living. I decided that I would not go above $1000 a day. I only wanted an income to assure my decent living and an environment of creativity. I want the fulfillment of my Human_Computing_Beast project be carried out via gambling sponsorship.
I was close to using my $500 plan. The $1000 plan would have been the act of the following day. I would have forfeited my bus plan, but who would care of plus/minus $100 in bus trips?
••• I went to Trump Taj Mahal. There was no special reasoning behind my selection of that particular casino. I only had two beers and the last beer location was the closest to Taj Mahal. I have no choice now but use some real names and badge numbers here. Something unwarranted happened. It was hurting me and it was disparaging to me. It was bad for the casino as well. Actually, it was, by factors of magnitude, worse for the casino and all the casinos, than it was for me. Consider all the money that they have, reported to all the money that I have. Penny for penny, their behavior was insane by factors of magnitude. Absolutely stupid behavior on their part.
I spotted a $5 roulette table. The table had also seats available. The time was 6:40 PM. I wrote down the previous 16 spins. The oldest spin available was 21, followed by 4. I converted also the spins to 11 +/- columns. It consumes some time, but I won't play without finishing the conversion, ever. The table turned crowded after a few minutes. I was hoping someone would leave that roulette table. Au contraire, a big guy, resembling a football lineman, told me: “I bet you want to change $2000 worth of chips!” How the hell did he know that? So, what I did at Tropicana was quickly transmitted around the boardwalk! “I guess you'll have to wait…” the lineman concluded. And I waited, and waited — for a total of 41 spins!
I spotted a blackjack table nearby. I hoped for another quick $100, while the roulette table would empty. It was two or three tables from where I had played blackjack earlier that day. It was 7:20 PM when I chipped in at the blackjack table. The dealer was an Asian American man. His shift was over shortly thereafter. An African American man took over as dealer. I was never ahead by more than $50. If it's not at least $100, I keep playing. I went also down by around $150. I kept playing. It was a dogfight. Curiously, I would win more when the dealer went to his breaks! A lady substituted him for his breaks.
I noticed some agitation in the pit boss area. Then a waitress came very, very close to me. Actually, she would rub my shoulders on two occasions. (No, I won't file sexual assault charges! Gosh!) In fact, I interpreted her massage as a message: "You are marked!" I remember well what she said, because it was interesting. She said: “You are so lonely here! Why don't you have something to drink?” I asked for a martini and a coffee.
The table was actually crowded. Three ladies left a couple of times, and then came back two or three times. One was Italian (presumably from Italy, but familiar with the casino dealers and the pit personnel). One was an Asian American married to an elderly man. Another one was a blonde some called Young Lady. She said she was forty. People who looked familiar to her complimented her for looking so young! To me, things did not look natural, although I treated them naturally. I behaved naturally with the waitress too. She also liked my baseball cap. She wanted it as a collectors' item! My cap gained a few “artistic” die spots during washing. I like it that way!
The martini did not have the effect the casino bosses might have hoped for. Problem is I don't get drunk easily. I had three martinis at that table. The only effect was trips to the restrooms. It was around 11:30 PM. I decided to play until midnight or so. Win or lose, I would leave the blackjack table at midnight.
Unfortunately, I didn't get the chance to leave at midnight in normal fashion. All of a sudden, a casino executive burst in my proximity. "What is that?" he asked pointing to my notebook. "How about record keeping for tax purposes?" I answered with a question. “I don't do anything illegal”, I continued. “I do not interfere with the game. I do not impede other players. I do not modify the odds of the game.” The casino boss was furious. He informed me angrily that he does not accept a notebook at any table. He asked me to leave immediately.
He was really angry and agitated. The situation was an embarrassment for everybody around. I was in the worst spot, however. It looked as if I was caught during a robbery! Of course, I have never robbed anything. Nor have I ever committed any crime or felony. But I was put in the spotlight as if I had done a crime. Something like cheating, like stealing and hiding cards, or looking inside the deck.
I would not let such an event go without proper reaction on my part. The guy's badge read: Casino Supervisor 804013. The guy probably wanted to get me mad and turn violent. My reaction was: Coolheaded. I said again I did not do anything illegal. I only used my mind, I said. I also said that they should have learned something from the Ken Uston case. The law is really adverse to discrimination of any nature.
This situation did take place. It involved the lady next to me and yours truly. The blackjack dealer's face card was 10. I had 16, and hit. The lady served after my play had 11 and doubled down. This is exactly what we got. I received a 10, the lady received a 5! Everybody at the table noticed that. The lady said that we should change the seats!
Let's assume the impossible: perfect counting of cards at blackjack. A card counter would count the cards as they are, not simply +1/-1. Such an impossible counter would know exactly the value of the cards remaining in the deck. Let's suppose that only two cards remained in the deck: a 10 and a 5. But you saw what happened. I needed a 5 and received a 10! The sequence of the cards is the most important factor in the blackjack deck. Figuring the sequence of the cards is a mathematical impossibility. It's impossible to figure out the sequence of just two cards; how about 50 cards or more?
I make these remarks now. I didn't mention them at the complaints booth of the casino. The stock market is a huge casino, larger by factors of magnitude than all the casinos of the world combined! Yet, data collection and analysis, including by using computers, are considered not only legal, but also normal activities.
The same should be valid in all the casinos of the world. Those stock analysts and traders who think outsmart the rest are not prohibited from the stock exchanges. In fact, all the analysts think he/she is the smartest in the stock market. They use the most sophisticated computers and software. They do not interfere with the stock market and they don't impede or obstruct other stock market players.
The casino players should enjoy the same treatment. They should be allowed to use notebooks, and computers, and software, and anything they want to. Do they want to clock the roulette wheel speed? Let them do so. I can guarantee you that the wheel speed is not a factor at all. The standard deviation and especially the FFG deviation are the same, regardless of casino, or roulette table. They are, in fact, the same even if the roulette spins are computer generated! The deflectors make the speed a non-factor in the roulette ball landing in a number spot.
The only legal restriction is interference with the game and obstructing other players. In the stock market, insider information is considered interference with the game. It is punished by law. Likewise, if a blackjack player touches the deck of cards trying to observe the sequence of cards, that act would constitute interference with the game. Such a casino player should be punished legally. If a roulette player touches the spinning wheel with the intent to cause the ball landing in a certain numbered spot, that act would constitute interference with the game. Such a gambler should be punished legally. Also importantly, no player should obstruct other players at the casino table. If a computer is used, or a notebook is used, it should not be in a position to alter the play of others.
The casino gaming guide I found at the complaints booth only specifies these two restrictions. At blackjack: Players are not allowed to touch the cards. At roulette: When the ball comes to rest, the Dealer calls out the winning numbers and places a marker on it. First the table is cleared of losing wagers and then all winners are paid. During that time, please don't touch the table.
In my case, none of my actions can be interpreted as interference with the game, not even in the slightest measure. I haven't heard any casino player complaining about my notebook. I have never touched another player, except maybe when taking the seat, or leaving the seat. I think the most obstructive action of any player is drinking at the table. The tables can get pretty cluttered sometimes. Nevertheless, drinking at the casino table is considered a normal activity.
At this time, one or two lawsuits in US federal court are in consideration, including a class action suit. Somebody has to be there for Florence's friend. The elderly are so easily victimized by unnecessary deception. The mathematical odds are sufficiently an advantage for the casinos. No need for "You won 1 when it's a tie!"
No government, or group of individuals, or an individual have a right to impose a ban on intelligence.
• A short follow-up
The state government agency (New Jersey Casino Control Commission or NJCCC) did not respond in 30 days, as an (unwritten?) law requires. Meanwhile, I had brought my case to the attention of the FBI. According to the rules and duties of a federal agency, FBI probably broadcast my case to other federal agencies, including FTC (Federal Trade Commission).
My individual case pales by comparison to the blatant deception the casinos practice in their slot machines gaming. Just look at these gaming cases. A college athletics coach takes his players to a pizza parlor. The coach plays the father figure for his players. He treats them with a few slices of pizza. I don't see anything wrong legally with that. Yet, the collegiate athletic watchdogs find such acts not only unethical, but illegal as well. The coaches and universities involved are punished. Keeping the proportions, the casinos slot machine gaming is so blatantly illegal (deceptive trade) that punishment would go into outer space!
I asked the state agency for an explanation. I also informed the NJCCC agency that I had informed the federal government as well. The state agency responded immediately. The law enforcement branch of the Casino Control Commission informed me: “We are collecting additional information relevant to your complaint” (August 26, 2003).
• • The decision of the New Jersey Casino Control Commission, October 3, 2003
”While N.J.A.C. 19:47-8.1 adheres to the prohibition of electronic, electrical and mechanical devices to track the cards having been dealt, the changing prohibition of any table game or the playing strategies to be utilized, it is our opinion that your complaint does not indicate any violation of the Casino Control Act or pertinent regulations. Because we find no violation of the Act or the regulations, the dispute contained in your complaint is a private matter between you and Trump Taj Mahal Hotel Casino.”
Therefore, the Casino Control Commission advises lawsuit. Read my response here: New Jersey Casino Control Commission rules that skilled players may be discriminated against with impunity.
By the bye: N.J.A.C. probably stands for New Jersey Atlantic City. All government agencies in the United States are obligated to explain every abbreviation they use. Did N.J.C.C.C. comply in my case? NOT! NON! (NON is the Latin for NO or NOT; the Latin language is widely used in legalese, especially in the U.S. judicial system.)
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