Thursday, November 29, 2012

A Wart's Opinion - Casino Police "On the Pad"?

As with my previous post, this one also pulls in information from my first post ("A Wart's Opinion - Ripples in the Water") concerning the transformation of "Player Protection Watchdog" web sites into "Gambling Protection Rackets".

The working example here (mentioned in my earlier post "A Wart's Opinion - Is Justice Possible?") concerns this post in the Casinomeister (CM) forum.

Here we have an online Casino player turning for help with a Casino named Casino Club to what was/is supposed to be a "Player Advocate" web site (many would say the most powerful player advocate web site on the internet).  As mentioned earlier, the player immediately got a shotgun blast (hereinafter referred to as a Bailey BlastTM) to the gut from the web site's owner/moderator Bryan Bailey, with a response that contained phrases like - "you are banned now for being a fraudster", "go take a hike", "pull your crap with somebody else", "BS like this".

Since the player was almost immediately banned from the forum, they were thus blocked from making any further posts.  In other words, one forum post, one Bailey BlastTM, and this player, along with his problem, was as dead as a door nail.  (Later posts indicated that the amount of player money involved was truly significant - about 8,000 Euros, or 10,000 US Dollars!  We're NOT talking about pocket change here.)

The only thing that saved this player from the results of that Bailey BlastTM was the fact that the support community of the CM forum got involved.  One member quickly (8 hours post-Blastindicated that the player had first submitted his problem to another gambling forum (the player was from Germany, the other forum is in German).  This German forum appears to have already put the player through the "Skeptical Support Members" gauntlet.  (At least it looks that way to me, but what do I know - I can't read German.)  This other forum recommended that the player use the power of CM's Pitch-a-Bitch (PAB) process to see if they could get some sort of resolution to their problem.

***********************
For those who can read German, the thread's page 3 post:

"Nachdem was du hier geschrieben hast (kein Bonus mit Mindestumsatz) usw. sehe ich bei casinomeister gute chancen für dich, dass du deine Gewinne (innerhalb 10 Tage) ausbezahlt bekommst. Einfach mal bei google casinomeister pitch a bitch eingeben und das erste ergebnis anklicken!"
***********************

So, a loose thread in Mr. Bailey's "Secret PAB Process" (see Side Note below) was exposed in the CM forum.  Specifically, it did not appear that the player was, as Mr. Bailey described, a "fraudster".

In addition, the German forum posted game play logs - hard data that CM members with some gaming experience as well as some statistical knowledge could begin to analyze.  (CM's "Secret PAB Process" hides all of this sort of data - it is only available to CM and the Casino.  Again, see Side Note below.)

Several CM members pounced on this German forum's data like ugly on ape.  After analyzing the data, these CM members decided that Mr. Bailey was wrong - they were willing to risk receiving their own Bailey BlastTM and be banned from CasinomeisterLand forever by saying so.  (In a rather amazing bit of irony, the player that first made reference to this German forum, in defense of the player, was banned from the CM forum about 6 months later.)

Through their ongoing efforts, that loose thread continued to grow longer and longer.  The results of the initial "Secret PAB Process" began to further unravel.  In the next post from Mr. Bailey (the one following his initial Bailey BlastTM), he indicated that he still retained "Secret Knowledge", information not published on the German forum.  However, he also agreed that the 20-odd CM forum posts which had been analyzing the German forum's data "have pointed out a number of odd things".

CM forum discussion continued, and analysis of the German forum's hard data continued.  Mr. Bailey continued to reference his initial "Secret Knowledge", and even threw in a reference to new "Secret Knowledge", but he persisted in his "Secret PAB Process" approach.

It is interesting to note that NONE of Mr. Bailey's "Secret Knowledge" was ever released to the public for analysis, neither during the discussion/analysis of the problem nor after that problem was resolved.  Even though his initial analysis ("fraudster") was now being proven wrong by CM members analyzing data from another freakin' forum, at no time did Mr. Bailey join in with his own forum's members, disclose his "Secret Knowledge" and actually work with them to help analyze and resolve the problem.

It is beyond interesting to note that:

#1 - Part of CM's Philosophy and Mission Statement states - "Our mission at Casinomeister is to provide solid information; information that enables players to make smart choices."  And yet what we've seen here (and in many other places, on a few of which I plan to shine the spotlight of basic common sense and logic) is CM hiding information, not providing information.

#2 - It was Mr. Bailey's original "behind closed doors" process which resulted in the player getting totally screwed (as well as insulted, abused, denigrated, and banned from the CM forum).  Remember, we're talking about 8,000 Euros here!

#3 - It was the CM forum's members analysis of the public data, data only made available to them on another forum, that even Mr. Bailey admitted was throwing light on the issue.

#4 - AND STILL, Mr. Bailey continued to withhold his "Secret Knowledge" from the very people who were shining that light, from his own forum members.

Finally, one CM member's frustration boils over, and they just drop to the bottom line:

"Casinomeister, the evidence presented is clearly nowhere near conclusive and this casino is now rogue, why can't you see this? i for one feel you have lost all credibility over this issue. if you are going to rake in affiliate cash from rogue casinos on the pretence they are legit' and tested then you are in my opinion rogue yourself."

Mr. Bailey's response:  "So, I guess I'm not allowed to base my opinion on the information I have at hand unless it falls in line with your "tunnel vision" viewpoint.  One more comment like this and this thread is locked."

This is almost beyond belief.

- "opinion"?  I thought that we were dealing with the analysis of hard data here.  Does this mean that all of the "Secret Knowledge" that you've been withholding from the problem analysis is not at all "hard data" but more in the way of "soft subjectivity"?

 - "information I have" and "tunnel vision viewpoint"!  Mr. Bailey, why don't you stop with all of this "Secret Knowledge" bullshit and just publish your data?  You're the one who is keeping your members roadblocked inside the freakin' tunnel in the first place!

"This thread is locked"!  You've got to be kidding!  You want to lock out the only people that are providing any valid analysis of the limited data which has been made available to them?

Does the phrase "egotistical prick" spring to mind?  Does the thought "Now here's a man with something to hide." spring to mind?  How about "The Emperor has no clothes."


A Side Note **********

It is well known that CM's PAB process is conducted "behind closed doors".  Let's take a look at that a bit.

#1  One of the rules of the PAB process is that once the PAB information is submitted to CM the player is not supposed to talk about it in the forum.  Quotes from CM's documentation on this issue:

"... we advise that forum posts be withheld until the PAB process has had a chance to run it's course."

Well, that's a nice, friendly, non-definitive way to put it - "we advise".  However, it is immediately followed, in bold, with the paragraph:

"We reserve the right to discard any PAB that where that same issue has been posted to the boards.  This relates to threads started by, or contributions to other threads by, the person who filed the PAB.  This applies equally to posts made before or after the PAB was filed."

WOW.  Those words are a whole lot more definitive than "we advise".  And just in case that wasn't clear enough, they follow this with the paragraph:

"In other words in the case where the material was posted before the PAB was filed we will determine whether those posts would damage or thwart the PAB process before we decide if we will proceed with the PAB. In the case where the material was posted after the PAB was filed  there is a very high probability that we will suspend or discard the PAB at that point."


So, just to hammer this point home - this section of the PAB documentation went from "we advise that forum posts be withheld" to "a very high probability that we will suspend or discard the PAB".  The player's data remains behind closed doors, and if the player leaks that data then the PAB is killed.


#2  A quote from CM's Q&A section of the PAB system:

Q:  Who sees the information I give to you guys in the PAB form?

A:  Of course the Casinomeister staff see it first. Once we've processed it we then passed it directly to the casino or their appointed representative.  Your information is never seen publicly nor can it be accessed by anyone other than Casinomeister staff.  In other words, your information is considered private and personal and is treated accordingly. 

Translation:  "We're doing you a favor by isolating you and your data from any other source of support."  I mean, who is really assisted by this clause - the player, or the Casino.  (Think about that for, oh, 4 or 5 seconds.)


#3  Another quote from CM's Q&A section of the PAB system:

Q:  I'd like to see all of the communications that pass between Casinomeister and the casino.  How do I do that?

A:  You don't.  The negotiation process is conducted privately between Casinomeister and the casino people.  Often security and/or risk assessment issues are involved and that information is not available to anyone outside the Casinomeister-casino loop.  The privacy of the process is a large part of what makes the process work.  We'll let you know as soon as we have something for you. 

"a large part of what makes the process work"?  Work for whom?  The Player?  The Casino?


Justice for this player was obtained only because another web site made the deciding data public.  (This was the "loose thread" on which the forum's bulldogs first started pulling.)  However, in spite of this fact, both Mr. Bailey and Mr. Drayman (Max Drayman, the "Manager" of the CM PAB system) continued to support this "Secret PAB Process" system, both throughout this specific thread as well as in other threads which followed this one.

CM Statement - "Look, this is the system we have, this is what we do and how we are going to continue to do it.  Either trust us or not."

If this player's case is an example of the results of the "Secret PAB Process", well ... NOT.

End Side Note **********


There are a number of things which I believe are significant here.


#1 - It is important to remember - CM is an Affiliate (a "Super Affiliate", actually).  CM makes money the same way that all Affiliates make money - they drive traffic to gambling web sites, and then receive money from that web site in return.  (A typical arrangement for an Affiliate is that they receive a percentage of the player's losses (anywhere from 20% up to 50%) for the life of the player at that web site.  I believe that this is referred to as a "Rev Share" arrangement.)

CM attracts visitors because of his forum, his PAB process, his various publications, his "Rogue List", etc.  (In other words, he "googles" well.)  But the bottom line is that he makes money from the Casinos that he recommends.  (Example of CM Affiliate activity.)


#2 - Although prior to 2010 CM's home page had at the top the phrase "Casino Watchdog And Player Advocate Since 1998", since then it has the phrase "Advocate of fair play for over fourteen solid years...".  That's a rather huge change in one's "Statement of Purpose".


#3 - Casino Club (the Casino against which this PAB player was complaining) was described by one forum member as "one of the biggest online casinos in Europe."  In other words, CM (probably) made a great deal of money from them through his Affiliate fees (and probably wanted to make a great deal more money).  Just as with Legends at Sportsbook Review, Casino Club is a customer that CM very much wants to protect.  I believe that this was the root cause of that Bailey BlastTM which greeted this particular player.


Bottom Line **********


A series of observations & conclusions:


#1 - Given the abusive and insulting words ("you are banned now for being a fraudster", "go take a hike", "pull your crap with somebody else", "BS like this") publicly fired at this poor player in that Bailey BlastTM, did Mr. Bailey offer any subsequent public apology?  No.  Nothing.

He did state later in the thread "I get a little crow instead of turkey this Thanksgiving", but this was more in response to the fact that he had been publicly proven wrong.


As above, does the phrase "egotistical prick" spring to mind?  How about the words boorish, disrespectful, inconsiderate, vulgar, thoughtless, or just plain mean?


#2 - If I had a problem with a Casino, turned to a "Player Advocate" forum for assistance, and immediately received a Bailey BlastTM from the "Chief Advocate", I'd leave and never come back.

If I were a member (especially a relatively new member) of that forum, observing a Bailey BlastTM would frighten me significantly enough to be very careful about making, if not completely reluctant to make, any complaint about an "Affiliate Casino", in case I'm treated to my own Blast.

Which perhaps is Mr. Bailey's ultimate objective.  He bans the dissenters (a dissenter in many cases is nothing more than someone with an average IQ asking logical questions), locks problem threads, and Blasts the sheep into submission.  He hires a couple of "forum thugs" to keep the sheep in order.  (I mean come on - Nifty29 has just GOT to be on the payroll.)

Regarding locking threads - here is a link to another Casinomeister thread which will be the subject of an upcoming post.

** A ** The subject of this current post occurred in November of 2008.  It involved a very profitable CM affiliate, the suspected use of a "robot" by the player, and the staggeringly subjective attempt (some, like the author, might conclude the useless and thus corrupt attempt) at proving the use of a robot.

** B **  The subject of the upcoming post (the link above) occurred 4 years later, in August of 2012.  It involves a very profitable CM affiliate, the suspected use of a "robot" by the player, and the staggeringly subjective attempt (some, like the author, might conclude the useless and thus corrupt attempt) at proving the use of a robot.



#3 - One is left to conclude that this is how the whole problem originally played out.

1.)  Player submits PAB.

2.)  Casinomeister contacts Casino Club, asks them "So what do you want me to do here?"

3.)  Casino Club replies - "Just tell them to f**k off."

4.  Casinomeister tells player to "f**k off".



#4 - There are obvious parallels between this case and the SBR case with Legends Casino.  One is that both Casinomeister and SBR are "bought".  (As I said in my first post to this blog - SBR would sell their grandmother for pocket change.  Casinomeister would still sell their grandmother, but they would charge more.)

They are both bought because their income got whacked by the US enforcement of the UIGEA, and subsequent (and ongoing) US DOJ activities (Black Friday, Blue Monday, and more recent activities).

Their income also got whacked, and I forgot to mention this in the SBR thread, because of the continuing global economic downturn.


Both Casinomeister and SBR spent many years making a whole lot of money.  They could afford integrity.  Now they have to scramble to keep the fleet of Mercedes gassed up.

HOWEVER - As mentioned above, the subject of this current post occurred in November of 2008 - 4 years ago.  Mr. Bailey must have had enough money in the vault to afford a shred of remaining integrity.  We'll see how things played out 4 years later in the upcoming post I mentioned previously.


Saturday, November 17, 2012

A Wart's Opinion - Is Justice Possible?

This post pulls in information from my first post, titled "A Wart's Opinion - Ripples in the Water" and dated June 30 2012 - specifically concerning how what used to be "Player Protection Watchdog" web sites have been transformed into "Gambling Protection Rackets".

For a working example it pulls in information from my last post "Do Online Casino Games Cheat - Part 2" - specifically the situation involving the Craps game provided by BLR Technologies.

Obviously, some of what follows is speculation, but I don't believe I get anywhere near "Tin Foil Hat" territory.


The question here - what does it take:

#1 - to prove that a Casino game is cheating?

#2 - to get your money back?

#3 - to see that other affected players get their money back?

#4 - to see that the Casino gets a slap of such a magnitude that they, and others, will be more reluctant to cheat in the future?

I mean, isn't this what we all would call "Justice"?


Well, first of all, you're going to need help, and a lot of it.  If you're rich then you can buy that help, in the form of statisticians and attorneys.  If you're not rich, you'll need to get help from other sources.  The following proceeds under the assumption that the reader (as with the writer) is not rich.

In my first post to this Blog I spoke about how a few online forums had risen over the years to the status of "Player Watchdog".  It is to these forums that you will first need to turn for help.  (As I indicated, the forum/web site's Management may have been corrupted, and the forums themselves may contain some "web site thugs", but many of the forum members retain honesty, integrity and, most importantly, knowledge.  These people truly want to see justice done, are willing to help to achieve that objective, and are all too aware of (and frustrated by) the fact that the forum/web site's Management has slipped over to the dark side of the force.)

A Side Note **********

The Wizard of Vegas (WOV) web site/forum only came on the scene in October of 2009.  That part of the forum dealing with online Casinos did not really pick up any steam until the beginning of 2010.  The important bit here is that they were simply not around during those years when the other forums mentioned in my first post percolated to the top of the "honesty and integrity" stack, and thus became "Watchdog Web Sites", able to wield sufficient power in the online gambling industry to provide player protection services.

However, Mike Shackleford started the Wizard of Odds (WOO) web site, without any forum, round about the year 2000.  Over the years he developed a solid reputation for honesty, integrity, and player advocacy, and in this area has remained at the top of the stack to this day.  This reputation followed him when he created the WOV web site, which now included a forum.  Given the increase in corruption demonstrated by the online Casino "Watchdog Web Sites" (as well as the decrease in the average IQ of these forum's members), this WOV forum has grown more and more into "the place to go" for raising any problems more complicated than "They won't process my withdrawal".

End Side Note **********

I'll repeat some of what I've posted previously:

The BLR Tech complaint first appeared in the WOV forum here.  The Player played thousands of games over an extended period of time, video recorded several hours of game sessions, uploaded these videos to YouTube, and then struggled through the skepticism of The WOV forum members because he wasn't "speaking their language" (he made 13 posts) before finally getting some attention.

Derail **********

Here is a post in the Casinomeister forum.  In this case, the affected player did not even make it to the start of the "skeptical support members" gauntlet.  They were abused, insulted and denigrated with an immediate shotgun blast from Casinomeister (Bryan Bailey) right at the starting gate.  (How else can you describe the use of phrases like - "you are banned now for being a fraudster", "go take a hike", "pull your crap with somebody else", "BS like this")

I'll be detailing this one in a future post.

End Derail **********

So, to obtain Justice, Challenge #1 - You first have to be committed to fight to overcome the skepticism of the player support community.  (I included the Casinomeister derail above to demonstrate an extreme example of this challenge.)  The skepticism demonstrated by the WOV members arises from the fact that so many people have cried "Wolf" in the past and subsequent analysis showed that there was no wolf at all.

To overcome this skepticism requires a sufficient quantity of hard data, and enough intelligence and verbal (English language) skills to understand and present the data.  In this WOV example, the player had several hours of video (the ultimate in hard data) - it just needed to be translated into numbers that could be worked on by the forum's statisticians.

(You can see on page 4 of the thread the frustration that arose as the statisticians and the player reached an impasse in communication.  Finally, on page 5 you can see one of the statisticians volunteer to go through each of the videos and get the numbers that were needed in order for the problem investigation to proceed.)

Something to remember here - the members of these forums that contributed to both of these threads (WOV and Casinomeister) are NOT PAID for doing any/all of the work that was done.  These are volunteers here

You can then see that the WOV forum members were now "on the case".  Several analysis of the original data were conducted, other samples from the same Casino that the player used (World Wide Wagering) were collected, and samples from a different Casino that used the BLR Tech software (5Dimes Casino) were also collected.  (A third Casino, Legends Sports, also used this software, but they were not sampled, apparently for no other reason than that none of the "volunteers" had an account there.)

I'll drop to the bottom line - one post in the thread statistically demonstrated that the probability that the BLR Tech Craps game is NOT crooked is 1 chance in 4,500,000,000,000,000,000,000.

That actually represents Challenge #2 - your data for proving cheating needs to demonstrate the cheat to a statistically significant extent.  As I mentioned in my earlier post, "Tin Foil Hat" territory is usually +/- 3 Standard Deviations (SDs).  So, if you can demonstrate a result that is outside of +/- 3SDs given a "reasonable sample size", you've got a decent starting point.

(Penny flip example:  The SD for a penny flip in 1000 flips is about 16 - 15.8114 to be exact - with the average being 500.  +/- 3SDs = +/- 48.  1000 penny flips should then have a "heads" count of between 452 and 548.  If you get a "heads" count of 400, that's a 6 SD result, or a "Whoa Nelly!" moment.)

Ideally, the cheat also needs to be repeatable.  Obviously, for this particular BLR Tech problem, both conditions were easily met.

At this point, the "Watchdogs" can begin to flex their muscles.  The WOV forum increased "Google exposure" by starting a second thread and then a third thread.  The issue was also added to the WOO web site.

Mr. Shackleford even managed to get some exposure in the press.

The issue was added to the Casinomeister forum.

And finally it received "These guys are completely corrupt" banners on both the Wizard of Odds Blacklist and the Casinomeister Rogue List.

OK, at this point you've gotta say "Holy Shit!"  Not only have these guys (BLR Tech) been caught red handed, but they have gotten an extreme level of exposure.  You figure these guys are absolutely out of business, and anybody running their Casino has dumped them like a hot potato.

Well ..... not quite.  One of the licensees (5Dimes) did drop the product.  2 or 3 customers, including the one who started it all in the WOV forum, were paid back for their losses.  And that was pretty much it.

Wait a minute ... this isn't Justice!

What went wrong here?

The Number One thing that went wrong is that all 3 of these Casinos - World Wide Wagering, Legends and 5Dimes - are primarily Sportsbooks.  The Casino product bolts onto the side of their Sportsbook operation, and quite probably represents a very small percentage (2 to 3 percent?) of their monthly profit.  Being Sportsbooks, they don't know about, and if known probably don't care about, the activities and negative exposure arising from the WOV, the WOO and/or Casinomeister.

They care about negative exposure on Sportsbook-centric forums like SportsbookReview.com (SBR), or theRx.com, etc.

Realizing this, the "volunteer watchdogs" from the WOV forum promptly trooped off to the SBR forum and started making the problem known there.

A first thread was started on SBR, received essentially no attention, and was effectively killed by an SBR Senior Moderator Bill Dozer.  (Mr. Dozer (and Legends) - The problem had nothing to with the Random Number Generator (RNG).  The RNG could have been God and it wouldn't have mattered.  The cheat was that the RNG was NOT BEING USED.)

A second thread went on for quite a bit longer, but no one within the SBR Management stepped up to the plate.  ("Hey, this is significant - we're going to look into this.")  The Legends Sportsbook was raised several times throughout this particular thread.  SBR Management simply ignored any cries for action (and there were several) within the thread.  Ultimately, the thread, and the issue, simply faded away.

A third thread was by far the most aggressive attempt on the part of the "Casino community" to get SBR to step up to the plate and initiate some form of action regarding both Legends as well as World Wide Wagering.  It was initiated by Eliot Jacobson, a well respected senior member of the online Casino community.  In this thread Eliot received abuse from the SBR Management, then finally an insult to his professional integrity.  He responded by basically saying "Look, I just came here to warn the members of your forum/web site of a significant problem within your part of the online gambling community.  You want me to go away?  I'm gone.  I don't need this shit!  Best of luck to you."

Another Side Note **********

There were a number of truly amazing (as in weird, disgusting, etc.) things contained within some of the posts in these three SBR threads.  One will be highlighted below - another is the focus of this side note.

Many (most?) SBR forum members stated that it was a perfectly acceptable conclusion for the unpaid volunteers of the WOV forum to spend their own time and money analyzing the Legends Casino and directly confirming that this product was also showing the same cheating behavior.  Until such direct proof had been presented, Legends was in the clear.

One or two members may have indicated that, since 2 out of the 3 companies using this product all showed cheating, the onus was now on Legends to prove that it was clean.  However, the thread ended with the ball squarely on the unpaid volunteer's side of the tennis court.

I found that not only weird, but extremely disturbing.  Casinomeister may have gone over to the dark side of the force, and yes their forum has some "enforcement thugs" drifting about, but in general the Casinomeister forum members are capable of generating and expressing some significant levels of "righteous indignation", and in a case like this one the "righteous indignation" would certainly hold sway.

This does not appear to be the case however within the SBR forum.  Indeed, I felt as though I caught a whiff of fear in some posts.  Fear of exactly what I don't know - retribution from the Sportsbooks, retribution from the SBR Management?  I don't know.  It could be just me.

End Side Note **********

So, as it stands at this point in the narrative, there are 2 Sportsbooks that are using, and are continuing to use, this cheating Casino software - World Wide Wagering and Legends.  World Wide Wagering was the Casino from which the cheating videos were collected.

However, Legends provides us with the clue as to what really went down at SBR.  Why is Legends significant?  Because of how Legends and SBR are in bed together.

First, some background:

SBR assigns each Sportsbook in their review list a grade from A+ (absolutely world class, top quality) to F (the bottom of the septic tank).  SBR rated Legends as an A+ book.  (Out of the hundreds of Sportsbooks which SBR reviews, only 6, as of this writing, have an A+ rating, with another 5 an A rating, and 1 an A- rating.  That's 12 out of hundreds with an A.  The rest are B+ or less.)

However, Legends, according to the SBR members, is not an A+ book.  Here you can see that out of the approximately 1800 total votes, only 3.7% of the forum members voted for Legends as a "Top 10 Book" - only 0.7% voted it as their first pick.  That's 7 people out of a thousand, folks!

(World Wide Wagering, which SBR had rated as a B book, wasn't even in the list.)

Personally, I am of the opinion that if SBR did not so aggressively promote Legends, then they also would not even be on this SBR member's list.  I therefore conclude that, at best, Legends is a B-rated book.  So where did this A+ rating come from.

Simple.  SBR sold it, and Legends bought it.  Legends bought that A+ rating from SBR.  Just as with any US-facing Sportsbook, SBR makes a lot of money off these books.  SBR makes a lot more money off Legends because of that A+ rating.

So, as far as this bullshit with their Casino is concerned, Legends doesn't want to go through the pain in the ass of getting another one.  They tell SBR to do what they are being paid to do - run protection for them.  Get this whole BLR Tech mess to disappear.

Meanwhile, World Wide Wagering, which had made subtle statements indicating that they were thinking of dropping this cheating Casino, was now back to "waffle mode", waiting to see if they could hide behind the "protection umbrella" of Legends.


And that's exactly how it played out.  SBR killed the issue, Legends kept the Casino, and World Wide Wagering came back in under the "protection shield".


To copy from above:  What does it take to get Justice?

#1 - Prove that a Casino game is cheating?

#2 - Get your money back?

#3 - Other affected players get their money back?

#4 - The Casino gets a slap of such a magnitude that they, and others, will be more reluctant to cheat in the future?


The results?

#1 - Cheating was unquestionably demonstrated and proven.

#2 - The original player in the WOV forum got their money back.

#3 - There is no evidence indicating that anyone else got any money back.  Those that were screwed remain screwed.

#4 - The Casinos, and their cheating software, got protection rather than a slap.


In my opinion, Justice in this case failed because SBR was bought.  SBR was bought because their income got whacked by the US pullout of major Sportsbooks caused by the enforcement of the UIGEA, and subsequent (and ongoing) US DOJ activities (Black Friday, Blue Monday, and more recent activities).

SBR spent many years (from 2000 through 2006) making a whole lot of money, a whole lot of money.  They could afford to be honest - they could afford integrity.  Now they find themselves in a position of having to scramble to get the money to keep the fleet of Mercedes at a full tank of gas.

If the US had not done what they did, then it is my opinion that Justice in this case would have been realized.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A Wart's Opinion - Do Online Casino Games Cheat? - Part 2

Part 1, which I posted a couple of months ago (sorry, I've been busy.), dealt with the question:  "Do Online Casino Slot Games Cheat?"  This post deals with the question:  "Do Online Casino non-Slot Games Cheat?"

I'm going to limit the scope of the non-slot games to what could be called "the standards" - Blackjack, Video Poker, Table Poker(s), Craps, Roulette, and like that.  I won't be including in my mental considerations any of the vast variety of obscure game variants, custom games, and so forth.

I reread Part 1 a few times over the past couple of months.  The content for this Part 2 post has been percolating in my brain for awhile now as I've gone about the work of collecting links to some good examples for the points I'll be raising.  In doing this, I have observed in myself what some might label a bias regarding online Casinos.  That bias is:

If the Casino thinks that they can cheat you and get away with it, then they will cheat you.  They will cheat you to the extent of their comfort level in getting away with it.

They (typically) won't implement a cheat whose result can be quickly and easily discovered.  They (typically) won't implement a cheat whose magnitude will invite further investigation - that is, a cheat that results in, say, a 10-fold increase in the house edge.

However, given human nature in general, the nature of the humans that appear to be involved in the operation of online gambling, the magnitude and persistence of the global economic downturn, the impact of the UIGEA, the ongoing (never ending?) actions of the US DOJ, etc. - they will cheat you.

Some Casinos cheat all of the time, but all Casinos cheat some of the time.


Onward to Part 2 - Do Online Casino non-Slot Games Cheat?


With slots, the only known performance details about any specific game are the ones disclosed by the software supplier and/or the Casino.  As mentioned in Part 1, unless there is some sort of Monthly RTP Report provided by a respectable Certification company, any/all of this data can simply be lies.  And even then there are problems because the Certification company lumps all of the slot data into a single number.  One number for 150 slots leaves the Casino with a whole lot of wiggle room to cheat you and get away with it.

However, for the group of games covered in this Part 2, a great deal of performance details is known without any disclosure by the software provider or the Casino.  A 52-card deck is a 52-card deck, and each card has the same 1-in-52 chance of appearing as any other card.  It's just statistics, and there is no possibility of lying.  This, however, does not preclude the possibility of cheating.

I'll wade into some details and statistics for one example, and then try to move more quickly from there on.


*** Some Gory Details ***

In Blackjack (BJ) it should be true that you have exactly the same chance to be dealt any starting card (first card a 7), any second card (second card a King), and any starting total (2-card total = 17) as the Dealer.

In BJ, the "problem" starting totals are from 12 to 16 (any Hit could result in a bust).  The probability of getting dealt a 2-card total of 12 to 16 (for the typical BJ 6-deck shoe) is about 38%.  2,000 hands is a good sample size, so you'd expect to see an average of 760 deal hands in this range.

The Standard Deviation (SD) for a 12-to-16 deal in 2000 hands is about 22.  +/- 3 SDs is the usual cut-off for the "Tin Foil Hat" crowd.  ("Tin Foil Hat" crowd = "This game is totally rigged.  I just played 10 hands and lost all 10.  Everyone knows that's impossible.  I want my money back.")

So, with an average of 760, +/- 3 SDs = 694 to 826.  If you play 2000 hands of BJ and do nothing more than keep count of the 12-to-16 deal total, a count of 694 to 826 for you and/or the Dealer really can't justify crying "Wolf".  (Well, you could try, but most of the villagers will ignore you.)

(For the sake of reference, 4,000 hands, average 12-to-16 count = 1520, SD = 31, +/- 3 SD range = 1427 to 1613.)

Bottom Line - The deal total is easy to keep track of, and easy to analyze.

Can the Dealer cheat on the deal?  Of course they can.

One way would be to "work the up card" only on specific hand combinations.  Example:  The server deals your hand a 9 and a 7, total 16.  The server deals the Dealer an Ace and a 6 (soft 17).  If the Dealer shows the 6, Basic Strategy says Stand (and lose).  So, although the Dealer's first card "dealt" was an Ace, they show the 6.  The Dealer’s deal total is the same so doesn't show a problem, but you got screwed.

Precise calculations can be made as to when to "work the up card", such that the addition to the House Edge would fly below the radar - say, half a percent or so.  Even something as small as a half a percent on a highly popular, high-bet-per-round game like BJ can mean a whole lot more money in the Casino's coffers at the end of the month.

(As the Wizard of Odds said in one post - "If you're going to cheat, you want to fleece the sheep, not slaughter them.")

"But wait." you say. "This would get caught in a first-card/second-card distribution analysis of the play logs".  Simple solution - the Casino showed the 6 as the first card in the hand, but they recorded the Ace as the first card in the database.  Analysis of the play logs is clean.

"But wait." you say.  "This would get caught if I kept a record of the first 2 cards dealt, for both me and the Dealer.  Then my record would show what they’re doing."  True.  However, I don't know of any Casino that doesn't say somewhere in their complaint processing documentation that in the event of a disagreement between your data and the Casino's data, the Casino's data will win.

(A very recent example, on target but sadly about Roulette rather than BJ.  But you get the point.)

If you want to see what it took for a Player to deal with cheating software, have a look at this thread on The Wizard of Vegas forum:

In this case, the Player played thousands of games over an extended period of time, video recorded several hours of game sessions, uploaded these videos to YouTube, and then struggled through the skepticism of the forum members because he wasn't "speaking their language" before finally causing the whole issue to explode.  (I plan to talk about this specific example in greater detail in a later post.)

BJ third-card analysis is a little trickier, because Basic Strategy is working in your favor.  The Dealer can't follow Basic Strategy - they always have to Hit if their hand total is less than 17 (typically, this includes "soft 17").  Example:  Your deal total of 13 only takes a third card if the Dealer is showing anything higher than 6.  The Dealer's 13 always has to take a Hit.

So, the waters for a third-card analysis are going to be pretty muddy anyway.  If the dealer is going to cheat, this is an even better place to do it.  One quick example, pulled in from Part 1 - the "Win Percent" factor on your Hit request for the third card.

The software code for the game has as one of its input parameters a "Win Percent" factor.  The game runs, and let’s say that this "Win Percent" factor is 90%.  For reasons, you take a third card.  If it is possible for a third card to bust your hand (a hand total greater than 11), the first thing the game code does is generate a random number.  If that number is less than 90, then the game plays normally.  If the number is greater than 90, then the game plays your hand to a bust.

Note that this 90% number can be adjusted to accommodate the comfort level of the Casino.  A Casino that is more concerned with getting caught might be more comfortable with a 98% adjustment value.

*** End of Gory Details ***


To enable cheating, the Casino software application would have to provide the capability, and the Casino would have to use that capability.

Obviously, all of the Casino software companies have for years been swearing under oath that they do not provide this capability, or indeed any capability for the Casino to directly manipulate any aspect of the games.  These statements have repeatedly proven to be lies.

Here is a link exposing the BJ game from Rival, one of the larger software suppliers in the industry.

And another link exposing the Video Poker games from SkillOnNet, a smaller software supplier to the industry.

(In my opinion, this SkillOnNet issue exposes the use of that "Win Percent" factor I've mentioned several times.  The factor setting that led to the discovery of the problem might have been 80%, or 70%, or whatever.  Once the problem was exposed, the factor was immediately set to 100%.)

And another link exposing the Craps game from BLR Technology, another smaller supplier to the industry.  This one has a second link in which it is statistically demonstrated that the probability that this Craps game is NOT crooked is 1 chance in 4,500,000,000,000,000,000,000.  (I don't even know how to say that number in words.)

And finally, I have the following link.  This is an odd post in an odd thread.  (I would tend to distrust its contents if it weren't so odd, and so long.)  However, it appears to indicate very clearly that software provided by Real Time Gaming (RTG), another one of the larger software suppliers in the industry, allows a Casino operator to modify game returns on the fly.  (If I had to make a guess, I'd conclude that the "Win Percent" factor method was at work here.)

It also states that 2 separate attempts were made to make this capability public on the "watchdog" web site Casinomeister, and that both attempts were promptly shot down by the Casinomeister administrators.  (Say "Thank you Casinomeister".)


So, there you have it.  I'm sure there are other web links (a handful?  hundreds?) that are NOT published by the "Tin Foil Hat" crowd and which disclose the details of online Casinos cheating at non-slot games.  This is what I was able to pull together in my limited time.


I'll end this the way I started it - with my "Statement of Bias".

If the Casino thinks that they can cheat you and get away with it, then they will cheat you.  They will cheat you to the extent of their comfort level in getting away with it.  Some Casinos cheat all of the time, but all Casinos cheat some of the time.


What can you do about it?  How can you protect yourself?  See Part 1.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Terms & Conditions Watch: Virgin Casino


Virgin Casino is one of the big players based in the UK. Indeed, the UK is the only country with generally upstanding casinos. I'm unfamiliar with the laws, but considering that that a few casinos — most visibly Betfair during its blowup — moved out of the UK to avoid legal repercussions for their awful behavior, I am led to believe that the British gaming environment is comparatively clean.

That doesn't mean that their casinos can't be shitty. For example, Betfair has revealed itself to be completely willing to fall back on nebulous terms & conditions in its quest to screw over players. Casinos like Virgin and Sky are probably less willing to be ethically dodgy since they have big brands attached to them that need to be maintained, but even here, the T&C's reveal an underlying philosophy that is predicated on dishonesty.
You confirm that your interest in the Virgin Games Service is personal and not professional and that you participate solely for your own entertainment.
This term is found at most online casinos and is a source of perpetual confusion for me. What the hell does this mean? How does one conform to this?
If funds are mistakenly credited to your Customer Account, we shall be entitled to make the appropriate adjustment to it. If you use the funds mistakenly credited to place bets or wagers, we can void all such bets wagers and reverse any winnings at our discretion.
If this is a common enough occurrence to have its own term, I'm not sure I want to do business with this company. Who is handling their financial transactions?
At all times, where there is any disagreement as to the details of any bet or wager staked on a Virgin Games Product or the outcome of any bet or wager, our electronic records (which are part of our regulated and audited technical facilities) shall prevail.
I appreciate the need to have things like this in the T&C's, but that doesn't make them any less awful. For example, what is I have video of me playing the game?
You fully accept and agree that random number generator software will determine the outcome of bets or wagers on the Virgin Games Products (excepting any peer to peer games) and that the records of such software will be final and conclusive in all respects.
No I don't. I don't know jack squat about your system. It may appear random. It may appear non-random. And there are a million ways the numbers can be rigged. Indeed, the RNG may not be random and Virgin may not even know it.
You agree that security is important to both of us.
What?
We may have reason to suspect that you have been involved in fraudulent, improper, collusive, misleading, fixing, manipulative, cheating or other unacceptable activity (whether or not unlawful) in relation to your access to or use of the Virgin Games Service. Such activity can include (but is not limited to)
  • that you have used or attempted to use any software-assistedmethods or techniques or hardware devices for participation in anyVirgin Games Product or manipulation of any of our gaming or othersystems;
  • that you have colluded or attempted to collude with another user or users of a Virgin Games Product;
  • that you have abused or misused any bonus offer or promotion offered by us;
And we have hit the mother lode! The first one covers a number of things, but mentions techniques, which means pattern betting. Pattern betting exclusions are total garbage. The second one is a means to reject "teams" of players who come in to play lots of games together. I've never understood why this is something that so many casinos ban. The last one is a "spirit of the bonus" exclusion and is a favorite tool of the biggest piece-of-shit casinos on the Internet.

We have it all, right there. The foundation of scummy behavior is alive and well at Virgin. I know that Virgin doesn't have a reputation of using these excuses to deny player winnings, but I guarantee that they have done it in the past, and will do it in the future. Do you want to be the poor player who has it happen?

P.S.

Of extreme interest to me, because of the thicket of laws that these casinos take advantage of to avoid legal responsibility, is that unlike Sky Casino, Virgin is based in Guernsey. This is notable because Guernsey is this tiny nothing of an island off the coast of France. Why would a multi-million-pound international casino with the Virgin name be based there? They are undoubtedly dodging some law.

For me, that's the last straw. I wasn't aware that Virgin isn't actually under Britain's legal jurisdiction. It's not even on the Isle of Man, which is a similar, though less extreme, legal dodge. I would not recommend going to the casino.