Saturday, February 21, 2009

More proof that casino executives are penny wise-pound foolish

  A lot of foofoorah hit the news this last week over a new iphone application which allows iphone and ipod touch users to "count cards" live while playing blackjack in a casino.

  Using an electronic device to keep track of anything, or in any other way help you play better in a casino, is a felony in most places, from what I understand. Let's face it--if you can use a computer to track cards in blackjack, then you can definitely beat the game, right?

  Wrong.  The popular story about blackjack being beatable, while technically true, is practically false.  In fact, this myth has led to blackjack being the most popular table game in casinos for years and years here in the United States.  Why do so many people play black jack?  Because it's relativley easy to learn, and there's this story out there that you can beat the casino.

  The real truth is that 99.99% of all the people who ever play blackjack are going to eventually (if not immediately) lose at it. Casinos operate thinking about the long term--just like banks.  In the long term, the casino is going to keep somewhere between 1 and 30 or 40 percent of every dollar 99.99% of players ever put down as a bet on the black jack table.

  It is true that that .01% are going to beat the casino, because they've taken the time to develop the skill of card counting AND they have enough discipline to follow a proper betting scheme in order to handle downswings due to variance.  

  But the thing is that of all the people in world who consider themselves to be "card counters", well over 90% of *those* people are going to lose, because they *haven't* taken the time to learn how to play properly, bet properly, etc.  They just don't have the discipline to do it.  

  The casinos should be encouraging card counting.  In fact, they should be encouraging people to use this new iphone app.  Because even *with* the app, the vast majority of people are going to lose.  And the app is going to create even *more* of a delusion, and bring *more* would be counters into the casino to lose their money at the black jack table.  If I were a casino executive, I would be inviting--begging--people to come into my casino with their iphone and this app, and licking my lips over the windfall I'd be reaping.  My blackjack tables would be full night and day of mostly naive people who think that they can now beat my blackjack games with their fancy new toy.  I'd be salivating just thinking about it.

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