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Thread: Questions Regarding Playtech Live Blackjack

  1. #1
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    Questions Regarding Playtech Live Blackjack

    Hello all

    I have noticed on Playtech's live Blackjack that periodically they change the cards and the new ones come in a locked box, couple of questions:

    1) Any idea how frequent this is?

    Much more importantly:

    2) Why dont they spread the whole new shoe out in front of you before they use it, as this is what is commonly done in normal casinos when changing cards? Im sure the shoe's are as they should be, but would this not be better practice to highlight to customers the integrity of the game etc?

    many thanks

    James

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    Administrator LD's Avatar
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    Hi jamesmagic.

    2 excellent questions. All I can tell you is that the deal is from an 8-deck shoe with cut-card always inserted (around) middle of shoe.

    Hopefully The Dealer can shed some more light on on your questions...or even better maybe give us a short overview of shuffle/shoe-change/new shoe card burn... etc policies (pretty please)
    'coz good old fashioned real random beats simulated random any day

  3. #3
    Moderator The Dealer's Avatar
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    Well, I will do my best...

    Let's start with the "much more importantly" question:

    Why dont they spread the whole new shoe out in front of you before they use it, as this is what is commonly done in normal casinos when changing cards? Im sure the shoe's are as they should be, but would this not be better practice to highlight to customers the integrity of the game etc?
    Hmm, James if you will ever have a chance to play on the bet365 dedicated BJ table and observe the whole table opening procedure at 7pm (Latvian time), you will understand why we don't spread the whole new shoe out in front of you every time there is a card change on the table - it lasts 15 till 17 minutes. So, if we would do so, we will more than half of the time having a card change procedure on the table and not an actual game. That would be quite irrational, right?

    And I doubt that in normal Casinos it is like that, not at least in those, in which I have been lucky to be in. As far as I know, they really do that spreading out and stuff, but quite rare - few times in a month, or something, I bet it depends on each Casinos specific policy anyway...

    And now it's gona be difficult for me to explain you the other thing. So immagine - the white card comes out, so it's time for a card change. The shuffler comes with cards in a closed box which already have been shuffled according to our Casino shuffling procedure, who is complex, quite long, includes different shuffling technicks and absollutelly provides a random shuffled set of cards at the end. It's last usually about 3 minutes, sometimes less, if another shuffler assists. So they bring them to the BJ table, when there is need and shuffles another time in front of you, to double down the "randomness". And so over and over again.

    They are not brand new fresh cards, they are already used cards, just shuffled again. Of course, we are changing on regular basis the old, used cards to totally fresh cards stright from secure storage room. They are also double checked before by pitboss and shufflers to make sure that the bar codes are correct, that there are all cards in every deck etc., and only then the cards can get on the floor to serve you.

    How freqent exactly everything happens? First of all, I have no idea, and even if I would know, I am not allowed to say, because that's a commercial secret (not sure if I use the correct English term). All I can say is that time by time I notice that there are new, fresh cards, which (at least for me) are more comfortable to deal.

    Ok, I guess I am done. I hope it's helped to clear things up .
    Last edited by The Dealer; 04-08-2012 at 10:55 PM.

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    Hello

    firstly, thank you both for coming back to me and especially Dealer for giving such a long response.

    The problem is, online, intergrity is everything and unfortunately "your word" is probably not sufficient for all players (Full Tilt gave their word as well...).

    Also, unfortunately, the concern is not that it is random, that looks clear, but rather than there are none of the decks are short of Aces or picture cards..which are beneficial to the player.

    Whilst I appreciate, the procedure is lengthy, which eats into playing time (and thus revenues), it is also important, especially for higher limit bettors.

    Why dont you simply do it much less frequently (or not at all!)? It seems the cards are changed very often at Playtech, which is really the problem...it doesnt seem necessary. That way, you still get to maintain the off screen shuffling for whatever reason, but us players can see several shoes run through with shuffling on screen, greatly alleviating any concerns. I would suspect once or twice a day per table should be sufficient, or at least no more than every 4 hours. But when the cards are frequently changed, and then never shown to the player, it can only bring up concerns.

    A bricks and mortar casino would not change the cards so frequently and whenever they do, they would always shoe the entire shoe out with the dealer checking it in front of the player (or at least in the UK where I live).

    I would very much welcome you feeding this back to people at Playtech if possible and from a player's perspective it does seem that Evolution Gaming appreciate this issue and thus i suspect why operators powered by them dominate the higher limit games.

    Plus shuffle procedures are not normally commercial secrets, walk into any casino and they will gladly tell you when, who and how they change the cards. Unfortunately, it seem Playtech are probably too far removed from the players to really understand this...whilst good at technology, I suspect they dont really understand the customer facing aspect of the business..

    Please do ask if anything I have said is not clear, as I very much appreciate your time- in other ways, I much prefer the Playtech offering, but this is too much of a concern in my mind to be brushed aside.


    many thanks

    James

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    I noticed this thread on here, and I already have major suspicions. Here is what I posted on some other sites before seeing the above:

    A number of people have contacted me or my website about Playtech Live Dealer Blackjack. They report that playing basic strategy they are losing around 3% in live dealer games which use the Playtech software, instead of the expected figure of about 0.6% which the game should produce playing Basic strategy. They take advantage of casino promotions and think they have a fair chance to make money at -0.6% (they are often offered $100 to deposit $100 with 8 times play through for example) but little chance at -3%.

    I have looked at the different tables on various sites (this site indicates which casinos use Playtech software, so you can check), and the complete shoe is taken away from the table, and then brought back for a "once through the pack" single shuffle. This gives rise to a suspicion, possibly unjustified, that the shoe is "arranged" before returning to the table - and this is the reason it is taken out of view for a short time. On one occasion I saw cards face up on an empty table in view in the main lobby, and there were about 10-12 aces on the right, all face up. Perhaps the cards were being sorted and checked. That view was only there for a short time, as someone then collected the cards.

    The interesting statistic from the people who contacted me was that the percentage of Blackjacks for the player overall was around 2.4%, almost exactly half the figure that it should be for 8 decks of 4.7451% (2/416*128/415*2). What could happen to cause this might, for example, be that at the shuffle table the casino takes out 16 of the aces and places them at the bottom. Then there is a single riffle in six sections followed by a cut, so that these 16 aces will not be in play in the new shoe. There will now be an average of 8 aces in the section that will be used in the new shoe, and not the average of 16 aces that would be expected for the (approximately) 208 cards that are used in an 8 deck game with the postilion inserted half way. I did a simulation for 8 decks with only 50% aces, and had a figure of -3.3% playing basic strategy - no doubt you would be better than me at checking that!

    I manually recorded 10 shoes and saw 83 aces, about the number I would expect in 5 shoes, so statistically there does seem to be something suspect about the game. The result I had was around 7 standard deviations below expectancy. I was not playing, and selected a full table where I could record without having to play. When I asked the live dealer why the shoe was being taken away from the table, she seemed very annoyed and called the supervisor and said "look what is in my chat box". The supervisor came and said that I could see another shuffle taking place at the shuffle table, but that was not available on the site I was using. Online support and the support of my site clarified that the "shuffle" could not be seen on most software. Also there is no independent verification that the shuffle out of view is fair.

    I notice that The Dealer, who seems to be defending the failure of the casino to shuffle openly, has the following signature:
    "Winning is about heart, not just legs. It's got to be in the right place." Lance Armstrong.

    Presumably the right place is the one where you don't get caught ....

  6. #6
    Very interesting reading, thanks for the post.


    I have had quite minor questions & comments referred to the PA / pit boss.

    I think most things at Playtech are not as open as they should and could be!

    Everything the dealers do & say is surrounded in casino rules, secrets, lies, & standard lines they are given to respond to player questions.


    The whole Playtech management policy of dealers not supposed to discuss the operation of the casino floor just creates an atmosphere of mistrust and false information.

  7. #7
    Moderator The Dealer's Avatar
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    too gooner

    I don't even know how to start. Ok, I am gonna try to not defend enything. Clearly - just my opinion based on the facts I know.

    They report that playing basic strategy they are losing around 3% in live dealer games which use the Playtech software, instead of the expected figure of about 0.6% which the game should produce playing Basic strategy.
    I have questions. Does this "expected figure of about 0,6%" was calculated before on this kind of Black Jack game? By "this kind" I mean a BJ played with 8 decks (not 6, like in some Casinos); a game, where before each hand one card is burned (in most of casinos they don't burn any card before hands). I bet, those small diferences could change the expected percentage of everything. So if those reporters are comparing some calculated percentages, does they did them or based them on exactly the same kind of BJ's?! Or maybe not...

    On one occasion I saw cards face up on an empty table in view in the main lobby, and there were about 10-12 aces on the right, all face up. Perhaps the cards were being sorted and checked. That view was only there for a short time, as someone then collected the cards.
    What an evidence... Pff.. And I saw Elviss 2 years ago... Right...
    If you saw this, so actually you can see those shuffler tables? Because the only reason why this could happen is with special bet365 cards for the dedicated, exclusive bet365 BJ table. On this table you can request to change all the cards and start over with new, arranged shoe, where the shuffler comes on opens every deck in front of you, therefor you, other players, the dealer and the shuffler check and sees that there are all cards. (You can see this every single day at 7pm Latvian time on that dedicated table.)To do this those cards have to be arranged in 8 decks, each suit from ace to king.

    Do you know those people, who contacted you? I mean, why the hell you are so sure you can trust them just like that, but at the same time everything is so suspicious in Casino's, which have been licensed, which means that it is been guaranteed that they are fair and that it is safe to play in them?!

    You are making some simulation on one shoe (8 decks) and then recording 10 shoes and afterwards doing so many conclutions based on them? Why? It too less! I t can be just an coincidence. Maybe most of aces within 10 shoes where on the bottom of the shoe or they where those burn cards at the beggining or before every sinlge hand. Do calculations, recordings and simulations with 100 000 shoes, and then post some percentages here. I would really appreciate that.

    What could happen to cause this might, for example, be that at the shuffle table the casino takes out 16 of the aces and places them at the bottom. Then there is a single riffle in six sections followed by a cut, so that these 16 aces will not be in play in the new shoe.
    How to comment this?... Hmmm... These two sentences is the main reason why all your so called "arguments" and facts seems ... unreliable.
    If you would at least once pay attention to the shuffling procedure made on the actual game table with those "suspicious" cards from the card box, this is what you would see --> the shuffer takes out all 8 decks of the shoe, takes half off and puts it on the right side of the "leftover" cards. Then the shuffler does a Ceasar's cut (takes half off, put it too front and the bottom place on the top of that half) with the right par of cards. Then the shuffler makes a ussual single riffle shuffle in eight (not six!) sections. Then the shuffler puts the first cutting card half in that tower in a random choosed place, then cut it off, put it down, the bottom put again on the previous top part, and then lay down the whole set and again cuts about 4 decks with the second white card. Then put it in the shoe and voila! - it's done. Sounds complicated, and it is and should be like that. I would call that a real , trustfull, fair shuffle. And now, if you would like to count some possibilities, do this with 8 decks at home, with your 16 aces arranged on the bottom. Where do you think they would be at the end of this? Nobody knows... And can you imagine? - before this they are doing another one, just it is more complicated and time-consuming, that why they do that on special shuffling tables.



    P.S. When I choosed my signature, I (the same as rest of the world) did not know that Armstrong actually cheated. But the fact that he did, does not means that I don't agree with this quote. I would say, that the attitude is that what counts when you are doing anything in your life. If you put your heart in everything you do, you are a winner already, just because of the positive emotions you are receiving within the process.

  8. #8
    Administrator LD's Avatar
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    Hi goooner, welcome to the forums, and thanks for sharing your analysis...good stuff

    Call me naive, but my take on the question of Playtech or any other major operator cheating by some kind of card tampering method is this:

    - the gain is a few extra bucks in the short term before word gets out (as it invariably always does...someone mention Lance again?) and the sh1t hits the fan.
    - the loss is irreparable damage to the Playtech brand, lost players AND lawsuits for breach of contract from all of their licensees who are very protective of their own brands

    To spend many millions of dollars setting up a sophisticated live deal operation only to take this kind of risk on a game that has a house edge anyway (quite large for players not playing optimally!)...to me this is the height of stupidity and makes no business sense at all.

    I tend to agree with the Wizard of Odds (checked his site to see if he'd done any statistical analysis on any of the live blackjack games -unfortunately not)...
    What you should be worried about from online casinos is not that they are cheating with the cards. The casinos don’t need to cheat to make money, the built in house edge is sufficient to ensure financial security...What you should be worried about is bad customer service
    ...extremely bad customer service being no response, ever, when you ask for your winnings to be cashed out
    'coz good old fashioned real random beats simulated random any day

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Dealer View Post
    too gooner
    I have questions. Does this "expected figure of about 0,6%" was calculated before on this kind of Black Jack game? By "this kind" I mean a BJ played with 8 decks (not 6, like in some Casinos); a game, where before each hand one card is burned (in most of casinos they don't burn any card before hands). I bet, those small diferences could change the expected percentage of everything. So if those reporters are comparing some calculated percentages, does they did them or based them on exactly the same kind of BJ's?! Or maybe not...
    The figure of 0.6% was taken from the Wizard of Odds site, playing basic strategy. The burn card makes no difference, and the 8 decks increase the house advantage slightly over smaller number of decks. The figure from the Wizard for 8 decks, dealer hits s17, is 0.57% to be precise, with no double permitted after a split.

    On your other points, the shuffle at the other table cannot be viewed by the player, so I cannot verify how it is done. I did try the procedure I saw with 16 aces on the bottom, and they remained in the bottom half after the shuffle and cut. The only time I saw some face-up aces was when there was a general view of the lobby as I logged in, before I selected a table. That could well have been cards checked before being changed.

    The players who contacted me were not known to me, but did send records of their results on request. That is when I noticed the shortage of Blackjacks and began to investigate further. I was also suprised by the reaction of the dealer when I asked why the cards were being taken away from the table ("Look at what is in my chat box"). It is not practical to record 10,000 deals as recording ten shoes took three hours. I recorded another 10 shoes last weekend, and had 79 aces, against an expectancy of about 160, so the same trend was observed. It would be an easy procedure for the shuffling table to move 16 aces to the bottom after the complicated shuffle that you say takes place with Caesar's cuts and 8 sections. It would take them about 30 seconds of the 3 minutes the shoe leaves the table.

    But the overriding criticism is the lack of openness. The whole idea of live dealer games is to eliminate suspicion raised by RNG games - which indeed is unjustified as LD states. There is no independent monitoring of the shuffle of which I am aware. Why, oh why, does the procedure you outline not take place in view of the players while the game is going on. A second person is used in any case. Then there would be no cause for concern. And in answer to LD's point if the casinos make 3% using Playtech software and only 0.6% using, say, Evolution or Wagerlogic, then which one do you think they are going to choose. All look above board to the untrained eye.
    Last edited by goooner; 10-18-2012 at 04:41 PM.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by LD View Post
    Hi goooner, welcome to the forums, and thanks for sharing your analysis...good stuff
    Call me naive, but my take on the question of Playtech or any other major operator cheating by some kind of card tampering method is this:

    - the gain is a few extra bucks in the short term before word gets out (as it invariably always does...someone mention Lance again?) and the sh1t hits the fan.
    - the loss is irreparable damage to the Playtech brand, lost players AND lawsuits for breach of contract from all of their licensees who are very protective of their own brands
    If the house edge is 3% instead of 0.6%, then there will not be too much winnings to pay out. Live dealer players are often banned by casinos, apparently, because they sit there and wait for a high count, bet and then toodle off. I agree with the casinos here, in that they are running a business and can exclude whoever they like. The software kicks you off if you do not bet for two or three turns, but then you can sit down again, so my sympathy is with the casinos.

    We know that some rogue online casinos do not pay out, and do not like winners. Fortunately there are those that are completely above board. Betfred, which was the site I watched at, were unaware the cards were taken away from the table, and they agreed this was wrong and agreed to refer it to the supplier - Playtech, but they have not got back to me yet.

    And the gain from taking out 16 aces and putting them at the bottom would be threefold. A tripling of the return immediately, combatting those that Wong in and bet with a high count (as now the number of blackjacks have gone down) and a higher retention of the customers' money without the customer realising anything is amiss.

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