Advantage Players in the World of Casinos6 months ago
The advantage player has long been the bane of the casino bosses lives. Always coming up with increasingly sophisticated methods to gain an advantage and eliminate the house edge.
In the modern hi-tech world, with more casino gambling done online than in brick-and-mortar casinos, the new generation are not so familiar with the tales of cunning advantage play that has rinsed millions of dollars from the coffers of the casinos.
Online casinos offer an incredible number of original games to their customers, and the number of legal online casino sites in the US is rising all of the time. But it is the traditional games that are the targets for the sharks.
Here are some stories about the people who stuck it to the casinos.
Cheung Yin Sun
Cheung Yin Sun, also known as Kelly, is not such a familiar name to poker players, or indeed in the gambling world as a whole. What she is known for, is being Phil Ivey’s partner in the recent ‘edge sorting’ scandal.
Sun is far more than just a hanger on though. The Hong Kong born gambler has been betting big in gambling dens across the whole world all of her adult life. She even claims to have lost $20 million of her father’s money on casinos games.
After ending up in jail for 25 days over an unpaid gambling debt of around $100,000, she vowed to sock it to MGM and take them for what she could. Studying the backs of the playing cards used on the mini baccarat tables, Sun was able to train herself to recognise imperfections as small as 1/32 inch. This gave her a huge advantage.
Taking full advantage of the perception that Chinese people are superstitious, Sun and her backers were able to ask for the cards to be arranged in a certain manner to make the process easier. They would also request to be able to place their bets only after the cards had been dealt.
A final figure on how much she had made before the ill-fated link up with Ivey is unknown. Rumour has it though that the figure is in the region of more than $30 million.
Gonzalo Garcia-Pelayo took the casinos to the cleaners after analysing roulette wheels to discover if they were truly random.
When a wheel is installed, there is always an element of human error that will disturb the true randomness. The human error in producing the wheel will also do the same.
Garcia-Pelayo targeted wheels in Spain and would spend countless hours watching the spins and recording the results. Helped by his children, he used a computer to analyse the data to predict which numbers were more likely to come up.
After practicing his method across Spain and then the US he finally retired as he was too well-known in the business. With an estimated $1.5 million profit he was now set up for life, even if one casino did attempt unsuccessfully to sue him for their losses.
MIT Blackjack Team
Perhaps the most famous case of advantage play in casino history, is the MIT blackjack team. They took casinos all over the US for millions of dollars using sophisticated techniques that included card counting and signalling to other team members that they needed to get onto certain tables.
Card counting at blackjack in a US casino will get you thrown out of the door before you know what’s happening. Pit bosses know that if you are hesitant in betting and are always changing your bets size then you are most likely card counting.
The key for the MIT team was to be able to follow a count of the shoe and then signal to another player they should now come and start betting bigger.
At least 22 partnerships were run in between 1979 to 1989 with more than 70 team members. The best part of two decades were spent making a profit at every casino they could get into.
Eventually, as you might expect, they started to get recognised and private detectives were on the case to work out who their teammates were. It soon became more hassle than what is was worth to the team and they moved onto new projects.
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