Monday, January 7, 2013

A Wart's Opinion - Casino Police Still "On the Pad" - Part 2

There are a lot of posts in this blog that lead us to where we are right now.

#1 - My first post in this blog - Ripples in the Water - which identified the transformation of "Player Advocate Web Sites" into "Casino Protection Rackets".

#2 - Another of my posts - Casino Police "On the Pad"? - dealt with a Player almost getting screwed by a casino named Casino Club on the charge that the Player used a robot.

#3 - Another one of my posts - Casino Police "On the Pad"? Addendum - dealt with a Player who did get totally screwed by a casino named BetFair on the charge that the Player used a robot.

#4 - Another of my posts - Casino Police Still "On the Pad" Part 1 - proposed a set of criteria for determining whether a Player might have used a robot.

And here we are at Casino Police Still "On the Pad" Part 2.  What we're going to do here is to try and apply the criteria that we proposed in Part 1 to another situation in which a Casino, in this case Betfred's casino, is attempting to screw a Player out of their winnings because they say the Player used a robot.

Important Info **********

It is not my contention that there are no "casino robots" being used today.  Indeed, quite the opposite - I suspect that the use of robots to play online casino games is not uncommon.

It is however my contention that the use of robots by Players is not (or more accurately should not be) a problem for the casinos such that punitive actions for their use should be applied.

It is also my contention that proving that a robot was actually used to play a series of games is exceedingly difficult (I avoid the use of the word "impossible") to prove.

And finally, it is my contention that casinos pull out the "Player used a robot" clause for no other reason than that the Player won an amount of money (a large amount of money) and the casino just doesn't want to pay.

End Important Info **********

The situation under discussion in this post is contained in a Casinomeister (CM) thread, and the link to this CM thread is below.  I strongly recommend that you read the first post in this thread.  Having read a significant number of CM posts, I can tell you that this one is amazingly literate.

HOWEVER, before following the link I feel the need to prepare you.  As with (almost) all things on the internet, this forum thread will continue to appear in a web search list.  CM (Mr. Bryan Bailey) needed to find a way to deal with this - that is, he needed to find a way to provide Betfred with "historical Casino Protection" (censorship without actually burning the book).

So, what did he do - he prefaced every single post from the affected Player with the following statement:
ADMINISTRATIVE NOTE: The player's gameplay was analyzed by an independent third party, and it was determined that the player used a computer program to assist in his game play. In other words, he used a bot.
This statement was added to the top of the Player's thread post numbers 1, 125, 130, 133, 134, 137, 139, 143, 152, and 153.  That effort took some time - Mr. Bailey must have wanted to make DAMN sure that Betfred's back was covered.  Given the magnitude of this effort, I'm going to label it a Bailey BrainSpinTM.

So, given this warning, here is the CM link.  Again, the first post is, in my opinion, a required read.

Quick Summary:

The Player enters a "special promotion" at Betfred's casino:  Play Blackjack, get a hand with three Diamond 7s, and win either a new Jaguar or 29,940 GBP.

The Player goes on to explain that the "Terms & Conditions" (T&Cs) for the promotion initially excluded the following games - Duel Blackjack, Blackjack Surrender, Lucky Blackjack and Blackjack scratchcards.  According to the Player, Blackjack Switch was added to this "exclusion list" sometime around August 14th.

In other words:

1.  Betfred publicly recognized that all of the games in the exclusion list are generally considered to be "a Blackjack game".

2.  the game Pontoon was not included in this exclusion list.

The Player decided to play multi-hand Pontoon.  (They state that they contacted Betfred's customer service in chat to verify that Pontoon was an allowed game for this promotion, and that customer service responded yes.  This, however, cannot be verified as the Player did not provide the chat log.)

The Player states that on Aug 17 2012 one of their 5 hands received three diamond 7s.  They included a table screenshot clearly showing one of their hands with three diamond 7s.  They also include a screen shot of what appears to be a play log, also clearly showing three diamond 7s.

Side Note **********

A few posts ago I dealt with the requirements of proving that a casino cheated you.  In that post I indicated that proof starts with "a sufficient quantity of hard data", and described recorded videos as "the ultimate in hard data".

Screen shots, which is the data provided by this BetFred Player, are not at the same level as videos because of the possibility of "photoshop-ing".  That possibility puts them at #2 on the "hard data" list, which is still pretty damn good.

End Side Note **********

So, after receiving this three-diamond-7s Jaguar winning hand:

#1.)  The Player contacted Betfred's Support (a link to a CM thread confirms that this was done via email on Aug 17) and were told they did not win the Jaguar because Pontoon is not a Blackjack game.

#2.)  The Player contested this decision.  (They indicate they did this on Aug 19 2012, but do not specify the method.)  The Betfred response the Player then received (they indicate by email on Aug 20) said that they did not win the Jaguar because they used a "robot".

#3.)  And finally (the Player does not specify when and how) they were told that they did not win the Jaguar because Canadian Players were excluded from this "special promotion" in the T&Cs.

The first post in this thread from the Betfred CM representative contained the statement:  "The player in question did claim the Blackjack 7s top prize and Betfred did indeed reject his application for a number of reasons, many of which I can’t disclose on a public forum."

We are once again treated to a "behind closed doors", hidden courtroom, "Player gets screwed because CM is running a protection racket" online casino problem.  Many reasons which can't be disclosed in public?  What possibly can't be disclosed in public?

The Betfred rep actually invites the Player to enter Mr. Bailey's "Secret PAB Process", because once it gets into Bailey's Backroom Betfred knows that it's all over.

Betfred CM rep = Spider.  Player = Fly.  Mr. Bailey = Spiderweb.
______________________________________________________________________________________

OK, let's deal with the easy ones first.

#1.)  Is Pontoon considered "a Blackjack game"?

- The Player provides screen shots showing that Betfred's software provider for this "special promotion", Playtech, did and does consider Pontoon to be "a Blackjack game".

- CM states in this post that according to Hoyle's Encyclopedia of Card Games ("... the definitive rule book on card games."), Pontoon is "a Blackjack game".

- The web site blackjackchamp.com, which is clearly focused on the game of Blackjack, has a list of Playtech Blackjack games, in which Pontoon is listed.

- Galewind Software's Lobby has a button labeled Blackjack which when clicked exposes game thumbnail "launch graphics", one of which is Pontoon.

- I can confirm that on Jan 6 2013, at the following Betfred web page, under the expanded "Terms & Conditions Apply" section, in a table with the header "Example with a single bet", is the statement:  "Blackjack (all varieties, excluding Pontoon, Blackjack Switch and Blackjack Surrender)"

- We then have a post from the Betfred representative, in which he states:  "Pontoon was removed ..." and then a whole lot of other words (119 to be exact).  I consider myself to be an intelligent person, but I personally have no idea what those other words mean.  How someone can say absolutely nothing in 122 words is a real skill - not an admirable skill as the world does not benefit from this ability, but it's a skill nonetheless.

The bottom line here is that everyone, including Betfred, considers Pontoon to be "a Blackjack game", and that the Player's use of Pontoon in this "special promotion" was not a problem.

I am forced to conclude that Betfred removed Pontoon from the allowed games list for this "special promotion" after the Player won their Jaguar for no reason other than that the Player won the Jaguar.

I'll leave it to the reader to confirm, as they wish, the exceedingly weird shit (and I mean EXCEEDINGLY WEIRD SHIT) that Betfred did regarding the shuffling, and then final removal, of the Pontoon game from their entire frickin' casino.


#3.)  Were Canadian players excluded from the game in the T&Cs that were available on Aug 17?

- The Player provided a screen shot of a Google "cached page" of the T&Cs which clearly shows that Canada is NOT listed in the "ineligible countries", but there is no date for this T&C copy reference.

- In a post from the Betfred CM rep he states::  "The country was never a reason given for our denial of the prize."

So, although Canada was undeniably added to the list of "ineligible countries" for this "special promotion", there is one contention with no denial that this was done after the Player won the Jaguar, and this was not one of the "number of reasons" for which his win was denied.

(Think about this for, oh, 4 or 5 seconds.  They removed a game from their entire casino, and then removed an ENTIRE COUNTRY from this promotion.  An appropriate analogy simply escapes me.)

______________________________________________________________________________________

#2.)  Now we get to the heart of the matter, the one that Betfred decided to run with.  They said that the reason that the Player was denied their Jaguar was because they used a robot, and robot use is specifically forbidden in Betfred's Casino's T&Cs.

So, here we go!

First, Mr. Bailey decides to "shit-can the PAB".

He indicates that:  "I had selected a qualified neutral third party to review the player's game play. The player was instructed to contact the casino rep via email giving the casino explicit permission to send me and this qualified third party a copy of his game play."

Mr. Bailey did not indicate to the Player who this "qualified neutral third party" was, nor the conditions and criteria for the review.

He stated:  "Instead of cooperating, [the Player] began to debate the terms and conditions ..."

Given the documented history of CM's complete incompetence in handling "robot" complaints (read Casino Police Still "On the Pad" Part 1, Casino Police "On the Pad"? Addendum, or Casino Police "On the Pad"?), I also would have wanted things about this test (who is doing it, based on what criteria) known up front.

At this point in the post I'm also going to highlight a statement from Mr. Bailey:  "One of his sessions was for 44 hrs 53 minutes with 57.6 rounds per minute. The casino reported a number of other sessions like these."

I'm highlighting this now because this statement indicates that Mr. Bailey knew things about the Player's data which are of significant importance later.  (Not only that, but 57.6 rounds per minute equals 1 round per second.  Let's see how well Mr. Bailey's data, on which his "Secret PAB Process" would otherwise make its decision, holds up when the actual data becomes public.)

A Side Note **********

An interesting statement from the Betfred CM Rep:  "We tried to do this on a 1:1 basis but unfortunately the player preferred this medium."  OK, imagine this as a 1-on-1:

BetFred:  You didn't win it, you used a bot.

Player:  I did win it, I didn't use a bot.

BetFred:  You didn't win it, you used a bot.

Player:  I did win it, I didn't use a bot.

BetFred:  You didn't win it, you used a bot.

Player:  I did win it, I didn't use a bot.

.... Repeat as many times as you want.

End Side Note **********

And finally, we get to the first post from the Player after submitting the PAB.  (Remember, once you have submitted a PAB, you can't comment anywhere until that PAB has been concluded.  The Player dutifully held to this requirement.  Interestingly, the Betfred CM rep did not.)

In this post the Player states the reasons why he argued with Mr. Bailey about submitting his play logs to some unknown analyst to be evaluated based on some unknown criteria.
"In fact this was the very reason I had doubts about going to independent investigator - I know that there was nothing evidently non-human in my play and yet I was told that their 'assessment' found the bot play. So I suspected they are using some weird techniques. And that's when I started reading the T&C and arguing with Bryan.  Well, this is all irrelevant now. I totally agree my attitude did not look well and I apologize"
In this post the Player further details his concerns for who was going to be doing the testing, what criteria they were going to use, etc.  It is obvious from this post - the Player figures that he has only 1 bullet in his gun, he needs to hit the bullseye to win, someone else that he doesn't know is going to be doing the shooting, he doesn't know the qualifications of this person, and he doesn't even know the size of that bullseye.

Now that the Player has had at least a peek into Mr. Bailey's "smoky back room", he puts it on the line:
"Here is my suggestion. I post a bond of 1000 dollars via Moneybookers. The case is being reopened and my logs looked at. If a 44-hour 57 round per minute straight playing session is found, you keep the bond. If not, I get my prize."
Then we're treated to a whole lot of posts by forum members who consider Mr. Bailey to know everything about everything, to be as honest as the day is long, to never make a mistake, etc.  (These forum members do not just occasionally pucker up to Mr. Bailey.  They're more like Remora, permanently attached to Mr. Bailey's buttocks.)  The Bailey BlastTM issue is long forgotten, the "500 games per hour is beyond the scope of human capability" is long forgotten, the "take the casino at their word" issue is long forgotten.)

Mr. Bailey, in response to the Player's offer of a $1000 bond, tells the Player to just piss off.
"Betfred is not some clip-shot joint operating on a shoestring budget in cyberland; it's a legitimate well-financed corporation that is required to comply with the rules of their licensing jurisdiction."
A Side Note **********

(This is truly ironic, as in amazingly ironic, given the situation that is playing out on the CM forum as I write this blog post.  This new CM thread was initially titled "Betfred Rigged HiLo Games".  Mr. Bailey was on vacation until Monday Jan 7.  After his return it took him 4 hours to re-title the thread and get Betfred's name out of there.  This new issue is almost certainly the fodder for another post in this blog.)

End Side Note **********

The CM Betfred rep then makes a post, in which he hints at what went down, and what is coming up.  (He also decides to threaten the Player with a Libel Suit - I have absolutely no freakin' idea where that came from.)

Interestingly, and because of these "hints", this Betfred CM post has the opposite affect from the one that I'm sure they hoped for.  More and more posts are now appearing requesting that the PAB be re-opened.  It looks like there is something shady going on with Betfred after all.

Mr. Bailey, on Aug 30, then floats the idea of just closing the thread.  29 posts were made to the thread on the same day that Mr. Bailey makes this suggestion.  (A quick scan of the threads in this section of the CM forum shows that 29 posts far exceeds the average total posts for those threads.  In other words, 29 posts to a thread in a single day is a very active thread, and this is a thread that Mr. Bailey wants to shut down.)

Mr. Drayman (Max Drayman, aka MaxD, the Manager of the CM PAB system) states (also on Aug 30):
"Just wanted to add that the PAB has been shit-canned because the OP has said 'I don't want to cooperate with you on this'. He didn't use those exact words but the end result of him not giving permission for us to involve a 3rd party analyst is exactly that, not cooperating."
(Remember, this is the same fellow who stated that 500 games per hour proved "pretty much beyond question" that a robot was involved.  What if Mr. Drayman's brother was the secret analyst who was going to perform the verification of the log files?)

Mr. Bailey, later in the day on Aug 30, succumbs to public pressure and re-opens the PAB with a 24-hour deadline.  He then closes the thread until the play logs have been released, analyzed (by some still unknown analyst, using still unknown criteria), and reported.

4 days later, on Sep 3, Mr. Bailey re-opens the thread, and immediately initiates the complete fustercluck that is to follow.

I know that in Casino Police Still "On the Pad" Part 1, I stated that this was going to be a 2-part post.  Given the length of this Part 2 post, and the amount of words required to properly describe the fustercluck mentioned above, this has now changed to a 3-part post.  I anticipate that Part 3 will be published within the next 2 weeks.

In closing, however, I'd like to say - you just can't make this shit up.  We're talking about companies (CM, Betfred, etc.) that have been in business for well over 10 years.  You'd expect them to know what they're doing.  Instead we are witnesses to some of the stupidest shit ever to come down the pike.

I also feel it necessary to repeat something I said at the start of Part 1:  The devil is in the details, and writing about the details usually takes a whole lot of words.

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