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Bloomberg program "The Player"

Discussion in 'Casino Gaming' started by Chuck2009x, Feb 2, 2014.

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  1. Chuck2009x

    Chuck2009x VIP Whale

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    Bloomberg aired a program yesterday about this guy Don Johnson who supposedly beat the crap out of AC casinos (and Tropicana apparently) during the depths of the recession by figuring out some "secret".

    Well, they teased and teased and teased the secret until the end of the hour. Up until that point, his tricks amounted to:
    • 20% loss rebate (yeah that would help)
    • Allowing him to make big bets (he defined this as $25k a hand x 3 hands)
    • Dealer stands on soft 17 (lol)

    The big secret:
    He'd get the casino to agree to an odd rule here and there (like certain hand signs for hitting or staying) and then try to confuse and distract the dealers so they'd make some sort of mistake and he'd get a "free bet". He did say that occasionally dealers would pay him by mistake, but that's not what he meant by "free bet".

    What the hell does he mean by "free bet?" Get paid if you win the hand, don't have to pay if you lose? They never explained it. :bang:

    The show was mostly useless and annoying because of the endless teasing of this big secret, but a couple of other takeaways:

    Loveman said they do profile and store a player's skill level. Johnson said this was part of his exploit; he started out and got profiled as an average player who was willing to lose a good amount, then took his crash course and set up his strategy and they didn't catch up to him fast enough.

    Murren said they expect to hold 20% of a player's bets. This lines up very neatly with what I've experienced, especially when I play slots. Wynn talks all the time on conference calls about their expected hold on bacc, but this was the first time I ever heard another CEO give a number.
     
  2. Breeze147

    Breeze147 Button Man

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    I watched the last half hour. It's hard for me to believe they wouldn't call in the heaviest hitting dealer who would not get distracted.

    The rules he negotiated are just basic decent blackjack rules. We used to have those same rules everywhere.

    I had to laugh when he said he would import porn stars from AVN to distract dealers. That's a joke. Reminds me of the thread we had here about getting hookers to distract the dealers.

    I just find the whole premise hard to believe. I guess it is fact that he won that much money, but the premise that he learned how to play blackjack AFTER he negotiated the rules is a bit hard to swallow.

    And I'm sure that his "Ivy League team of mathematical experts" did not work for free.

    We have guys on this forum who know just as much about the math of the game as they did.
     
  3. Kickin

    Kickin Flea

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    All of the publicly traded casino companies release this number, they're also collected and published by the regulators. The typical hold for most table games ranges from 15%-20%. Its the amount the casinos win divided by the total drop, not how much they win off each bet.

    There have been threads about this show posted already. I haven't watched it but read other interviews with Johnson. He always came across as cognizant of the fact that even with the terms he negotiated, he still needed to get very lucky and did. He also never mentioned this other stuff about distracting or tricking dealers.

    Personally I think that part is bullshit because people betting much much lower stakes than him have posted about how a casino caught an error later on and made them pay up for it. With this guy betting upwards of 100k per hand you can bet there were a lot of eyes watching everything. I think as this story ages it just gets more and more embellished, just like the stories about Archie Karas.
     
  4. Terry Benedict

    Terry Benedict VIP Whale

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    I just watched it last night. I was also a little confused about distracting and intimidating dealers.

    Women: I agree it can be distracting. But how much concentration does a veteran dealer need to run three hands and one player? Especially when a pause can be called for clarification constantly.

    Surrender signal: It came across that Johnson would drag his finger when the dealer was looking somewhere else. I don't get why the pit boss/supervisor who is managing the game wouldn't be there to confirm the play.

    Intimidating: The show came across like he bullied dealers with just a hardass stare. Really? If I was the casino, I would have a really slow dealer follow a chatty dealer. And have a lightning fast dealer follow the slow one. I don't think he was as intimidating as he came across.

    Negotiation and luck: His S17 is probably not too unusual, and I'm not sure about multiple splits. Due to his negotiation for high stakes and rebate, he was probably required to play for a certain amount of time. His luck was making his big split/double hand. And I am guessing it came near the end of his required time when he didn't have to give the opportunity to give it back with bad luck. It came at a time when he could bank it.
     
  5. dankyone

    dankyone VIP Whale

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    He basically "negotiated" the old standard 0.26% shoe game which is still widely available at MGM props at $50/100 minimums.

    His real advantage was the loss rebate, ability to take it and start a new trip immediately. It is a bit implausible that he was inducing dealer errors repeatedly and getting away with it at those stakes. The whole world would have been watching him play and again at whale stakes they would insist on clear signals.
     
  6. bsbaz

    bsbaz Tourist

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    I assumed that when he was talking about his 'free bets', he would make his secret surrender hand signal. If they didn't see his signal, he would wait to see how the hand played, and if it was bad for him, he would point out after the fact that he should have only lost half. The only problem with this is that after about 2 times of this happening, I'd imagine you would get shut down very quickly.

    Either way, like the original poster intimated, the show kept promising some jaw dropping information about how he beat the casinos and just didn't deliver.
     
  7. Chuck2009x

    Chuck2009x VIP Whale

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    Yeah, I think that's what "free bet" must have meant. Maybe I wasn't paying close enough attention.
     
  8. stackinchips

    stackinchips High-Roller

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    That was how I interpreted it as well, but it wasn't really explained.

    His rules weren't anything special, but the best rules coupled with a 20% loss rebate that could be executed at any time makes the difference. He was essentially getting paid 1.25:1 on every bet he made (If he was betting 10k/hand and won he got 10k, if he lost, after the rebate he would only owe 8k). If he got down he could just end his "trip" and start a new one. Essentially he was playing a game that had no HA and probably favored the player. At the end of the day though, he still had to have some really good runs to crush the casino like he did.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
  9. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

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    I'm pretty sure several casino executives lost their jobs over this guy and his deal. It was all about the 20% loss rebate and the fact that he could basically end a losing 'trip' and start a new one almost at will.

    They can rationally offer these loss rebate things, but they have to have strict limits on the length of each 'trip', making them long enough so the casino doesn't get burned.
     
  10. paperposter

    paperposter VIP Whale

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    except for the rebate he negotiated he played the same rules i and alot of us play every day he got lucky .

    the crap about dealer mistakes is crap, 300k on the table per hand the pit bosses ,eye the sky and jesus are watching every hand
     
  11. 33hard6

    33hard6 Tourist

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    Anyone have a link to watch?
     
  12. dankyone

    dankyone VIP Whale

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    I'm sure that is what he meant, but again it is not plausible that he would get away with that move more than once or twice.

    I have twice seen very high limit players signal for a hit with their hand while saying "surrender!" These were not beginners who are just making a mistake, they are deliberately taking a shot--if they pull a 4 or 5 they get to keep the card, if they bust they will loudly protest that they said surrender. In both cases, they busted and were allowed to keep half the money--once. No casino would put up with this move repeatedly from the same player, and frankly the dealer is partly at fault by dealing the card without a clear signal.
     
  13. joshrocker

    joshrocker VIP Whale

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    The way I understood it was, if the dealer made a mistake on the hand, he got to keep his bet if the hand lost. A couple of mistakes a day would really add up in a game where the house advantage is very small and the player was playing perfectly.

    He basically got the casinos to give him a near even game. They were under the impression that he was a rich sucker who they had a size able advantage over. Really, he played a perfect game and was playing with a slight advantage when you figured in the loss rebate and the dealers mistakes.

    He got lucky to win as much as he did but anyone that played a perfect game with the rules they gave him would expect to make a profit playing the game.
     
  14. Chuck2009x

    Chuck2009x VIP Whale

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    If the listings are correct, it's on again Saturday 2/8 at 10:00am Eastern.
     
  15. 33hard6

    33hard6 Tourist

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    Thanks Chuck
     
  16. JWBlue

    JWBlue VIP Whale

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  17. Turtleman

    Turtleman VIP Whale

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    Though I heard about Don Johnson before, it wasn't until yesterday that I watched the hour show on Bloomberg. As others have pointed out, they kept promising "jaw dropping information" about how he did it, but never delivered. However, there are probably a host of viewers who now believe that dealer standing on all 17's, the player being permitted to split up to four hands, surrender, intimidation, and capitalizing on dealer mistakes must be the secret to success. Those rules are not uncommon at all, especially for high limit players. Oh, and let's not forget that Mr. Johnson understands the math! HUH?

    Anyway, I spent way too long this morning scouring the various gambling sites for anything, anything at all that might shed even the slightest clue about what he might be doing differently. Other than the humongous betting of course, I came up empty. For sure, he has nerves of steel, but it's hard for me to dismiss everything as merely fantastic luck when he's won so much more than once. I remain as mystified as I am envious! :confused2:
     
  18. WrongWayWade

    WrongWayWade VIP Whale

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    Nothing mystical about it at all. Like I explained in my previous post, he negotiated a 20% loss rebate that he could invoke just about any time he wanted to. So whenever he got behind, he'd take his 20% then start a new 'trip'. When he'd get substantially ahead, he end that 'trip' and lock in that win.

    Some executives (more than one casino) that negotiated this deal that allowed him to do this lost their jobs, as they didn't do the math. Loss rebates can be offered and still work for the casino, but the 'trip' length must be very long to ensure the house still has an advantage.
     
  19. joshrocker

    joshrocker VIP Whale

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    Agree with everything you said. Only thing that I have to offer is remember they thought he was a poor player. According to the show he really took the game serious very quickly and was able to capitalize before they caught on to his new skill level.

    I doubt they would have offered him such good terms had they realized the skill level they were dealing with.
     
  20. Turtleman

    Turtleman VIP Whale

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    Thanks for clarifying – I don't know what I was thinking! I was trying to figure out what Mr. Johnson might have been doing differently to WIN, while assuming that 20% less of a loss is still a loss. Of course, reducing losses by 20% is everything, as long as you have the discipline not to absorb greater than "normal" losses because of the discount. Clearly Mr. Johnson has plenty of discipline. All that hype about favorable rules and knowing the math was just "fluff." Heck, I bet many of us would be consistent winners if we could get loss rebates of even a few percent!
     
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