🖐 Casinos vs. Counters - How Blackjack Works | HowStuffWorks

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The casinos' next attempt was the real counter-killer. continues to win at the blackjack table despite all these obstacles, the casino will simply apply "heat.


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Learn rules and strategies to play at Blackjack, one of the most famous table games that you can find in any casino. Casinos Killer will help you win against the.


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Discover the pros and cons of card counting in online blackjack and where to apply it to Why card counting doesn't work in online casinos As previously mentioned, the big killer when it comes to getting a good count on a.


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As Grosjean explains with a shrug, "It's a carnival game, so the casino doesn't take 40ish James Grosjean has made it his life's work to win money from casinos. Hitting the local riverboats between classes, he found blackjack games to be.


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And if you do personalize the enemy, you tend to think of some smarmy Many successful blackjack pros I know harbor a pretty strong antipathy for the casino industry as ) as saying: “If someone told me I could make $10 million a year working He says that without this killer instinct a player will never get to the top.


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Blackjack. We fast forward in time now to the winter of I had become disgruntled working in the casino in my home town and was hired as a croupier in a.


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When he trolls a casino, he may look like a gambler, but he's really a quantitative analyst in search of soft targets. After graduating from Harvard inthelate80sasoneofthetop60 students in his year, he enrolled at the University of Chicago and pursued a PhD in econometrics with the intention of getting a job on Wall Street. In April , Caesars Palace security personnel in Las Vegas thought Grosjean and a collaborator were cheating by bending cards, a way of marking them. He codes in half a dozen computer languages, describes himself as a statistician and says he has a mid-six-figure dollar income. At high school, he learned to program in C, Pascal and Fortran. An experienced casino shark can gain an advantage by briefly seeing a card -- a technique known as "hole carding" -- but Grosjean's skill is to take this and apply maths to it. And we don't run games to lose money. Sometimes we find moves that are casino-specific. The incident at Caesars Palace resulted in a jury finding the casino guilty of false imprisonment, defamation and battery;. Police arrested the pair. Typically, counters realise only a two per cent return on investment. His father edited a now defunct computer magazine called Sync and worked with an author named Ken Uston. As he watches, Grosjean explains that, even if players employ perfect basic strategy, the casino has an advantage of five per cent. I do -- but I also love writing code and running numbers. Two players materialise and snag seats to the left of him. He and his partner Mankodi are currently overseeing three teammates. Monday, Tuesday, Saturday, Thanksgiving, whenever. Grosjean prefers hand-dealt games to those in which cards are distributed by machines. During the coming days in Atlantic City, they'll use maths, technology and physiology to win money at games that exist solely to be unwinnable, while watching for casino managers, who routinely jettison players who discover advantages. Be the first to read Wired's articles in print before they're posted online, and get your hands on loads of additional content by subscribing online. He resembles a punter who has gone to seed. James Grosjean -- diminutive and unshaven, dressed in jeans and a short-sleeved black shirt -- stands beneath a gaudy chandelier in the Mardi Gras-themed Showboat casino in Atlantic City, New Jersey. On the unmade bed there are two laptops: a Toshiba Satellite and a Sony Vaio. A burly guy wearing a football jersey has squeezed into the seat between her and Grosjean. But luck doesn't come into his strategy. They ignore Grosjean in favour of more obvious targets, such as blackjack card counters who use an easily detected system to calculate the value of cards remaining to be dealt, based on knowledge of those already dealt. For example, he devised a formula that let him triple his profitability while staking just twice the money. Grosjean is parsing these numbers to find an accurate value -- the games may not be beatable any other way. Among the information on Grosjean's computers are snatched surveillance pictures of him and his teammates -- he uses the pattern on the casino carpeting to pinpoint where they have been picked off. Less shuffling also means more hands played, and for those playing with a small edge hands per hour is better than Grosjean also looked for faster dealers and fewer players at tables, which could double game speed, increasing the amounts winnable per session. At this moment, though, you would not imagine him to be educated or affluent: he wears a faded baseball cap that's positioned so the peak shades his eyes, he is missing a front tooth, looks like he hasn't seen the sun in a long while, and has avoided showering for almost a week. At around two the following morning, Grosjean opens the door to his motel room, a couple of blocks from the Boardwalk. He turns his gaze to a shorthaired dealer from the Philippines and observes how she deals for a couple of minutes. He's researched every statistical eventuality of the game and memorised the optimal play for each situation. How a Harvard maths graduate and his associates are beating Vegas and Atlantic City -- using data generated by advanced computer programs. With each utterance, he is identifying the dealer's cards for Mealea and Bullet so they can place bets.

This article was taken from the January issue of Wired magazine. And, with more tables available, he could leave disadvantageous situations to find advantageous ones -- by observing shoes and only sitting down when the count was positive, a manoeuvre known as "wonging".

He already understood how to leverage the analytical power of computers. A life spent hacking casinos might, thanks to Hollywood, appear to be glamorous. He knows this because he has the data: Grosjean has devised what he says is the optimal way to play this poker variation using a piece of software that has played the game hundreds of thousands of times. The following afternoon, Grosjean sits on a bench near the entrance of Harrah's Resort in Atlantic City. On the Toshiba, he is running " million hand simulations of a new game I'd rather not mention," Grosjean says. Grosjean prefers to room away from the gambling tables. He wears an Oakland Raiders T-shirt, bets small and watches intently, monitoring wins and losses. Grosjean has been accused -- incorrectly -- of cheating on a number of occasions. With a basic strategy memorised, and with some form of card knowledge -- sometimes the exact card, sometimes a range of possibilities ie knowing that a card is between a two and a nine -- Grosjean calculates the perfect play. What Grosjean does isn't gambling; it's the implementation of statistics, combinatorics maths dealing with combinations of objects belonging to a finite set with certain constraints , probability analysis and algebra that, on occasion, allows him to play at an advantage exceeding per cent. He heads into the night, past a petty crime scene illuminated by flashing lights from police cars. The dealer remains oblivious to the plan that has just been executed, as does the pit boss -- the dealer's overseer -- and the Showboat's surveillance crew, who keep watch via overhead cameras. Armed with data, he turns this modest act into a weapon. The Vaio is working on numbers to help him calculate the values of "loss rebates": casinos encourage high-stakes players by offering deals to refund a certain proportion of losses. Grosjean's iPhone vibrates: team members are scouting targets around town. He reverse engineers casino games, using data to create strategies to beat them, and can memorise more than 1, plays at a time. But I thought it could be profitable, so I bought books on card counting and began to play. Oblivious, he walks towards the glittering casino signage. The process begins with Grosjean zeroing in on a card game in which players make decisions. He played his first blackjack games soon after turning On the ride down, I taught myself basic strategy by reading a book called Winning Casino Blackjack for the NonCounter. Back at the table, predetermined words correlate with each card's rank. Leading his group through a game in which most players have no chance of breaking even, Grosjean operates with a 25 per cent advantage. Even then he recognised that he could use data to beat the system. Standard blackjack wisdom is to bet everything -- knowing about the ace offers a He walks into a casino and finds edges at a variety of games with a variety of methods that are unthinkable for other players. On Grosjean's bed is a printout of a photo from the Facebook page of a player on a competing crew he suspects will be in Atlantic City over the weekend. For example, he wanted to know how much to bet on a hand of blackjack if he had discerned that the first card he'd been dealt was an ace. In the early 80s -- when Grosjean was around 12 -- Uston was known for writing Mastering Pac-Man, a guide to beating the arcade game. Grosjean works with a revolving group of players, maybe a dozen in all. The penetration of the cut affects the percentage of cards dealt before the reshuffle and deeper penetration offers an advantage: card counting becomes more accurate towards the bottom of a deck or shoe. Grosjean, in his early forties, has a degree in applied mathematics from Harvard. Some dealers do this due to poor visible perception, others through sheer laziness -- the deeper the cut card is, the less they have to shuffle. I have the program play with those strategies. I run the numbers and see what the game will pay under those various conditions. The action comes lightning fast; so fast that few people in the casino -- including the dealer's boss -- realise she is flashing cards. My major was applied math, and that is what I use. He focuses on a poker-based game, one of several in the place that have been designed to give the house a substantial advantage. Grosjean's mugshot is now a staple of casino-security databases, even though charges were dropped. The beauty of it all is that he beats games in ways that the casinos can't figure out, and they hate him for it. But Grosjean views it as prosaic. Cards are dealt, and Grosjean starts talking in gibberish, reeling off half-thoughts about cars, fish and girlfriends. Two seats to Grosjean's right sits Previn Mankodi: dark haired, bearded and with a masters in economics from Jesus College, Cambridge. Grosjean glances at the digital clock on his bedside table. Except we have skills. Data streams across both computer screens, a flow of digits enabling Grosjean to strategise plays and divine odds. So I figure out which edges we can ignore and lose fractional percentages of advantages. Between classes, Grosjean picked up pocket money by card counting blackjack games on the Empress riverboat casino in nearby Joliet, Illinois. Looking relaxed and acting chatty, Grosjean spots cards, calculates optimal plays, adjusts those plays so as not to look suspicious, keeps an eye out for casino security, and signals to his teammates verbally and manually. Grosjean is waiting for a play that will take place in the next 90 minutes. In case his players don't know what to do with that information, he uses hand signals. Grosjean has devoted hundreds of hours to studying how to give himself an edge in this game. Valet-parking attendants zip past while gamblers hustle in and out via the big glass doors. We had someone tell the dealer that she was exposing cards and she got herself transferred to a different game. People think I can't give this [way of life] up because I love whacking games. The place is a dump: guests in neighbouring rooms are arguing, fluorescent lights flicker in the hallway, and the carpet feels disconcertingly sticky. Other files contain details of dealers who reveal hole cards those who blatantly flash get dubbed "superstars"; those who seem flashy, but aren't, are "teases" , and phone numbers of local attorneys across the country. I want to confirm how much our edge deteriorates when I'm uncertain. He was also the mastermind behind one of the most notorious blackjack teams in the country. I calculate every scenario one million times and keep working in different features until the game is profitable and simple enough to play -- you can't have rules to remember and five different calculations to make on each hand.