In protecting against hole-card play on casino card games, there are many different elements that the casino needs to have in place. Among these are:
- A dealing procedure focused on hole-card protection.
- A method of taking cards out of the shuffler that is focused on hole-card protection.
- An ergonomic location for the shuffler so that it is physically easy and natural to protect the hole-card.
- Attention to the burn card and the cut.
- Ongoing reminders to the dealers about hole-card protection. Hopefully, prior to each shift.
- Staff training to underscore which games are especially vulnerable.
- Eyes on the games, especially watching out for “lucky idiots.” This includes the dealer, pit staff and surveillance.
- Ongoing research by at least one team member to keep up to date on advanced advantage play against your games.
In my opinion, the most serious hole-card vulnerabilities against the most common games are, in order:
- Blackjack and blackjack variants (due to the large max bet)
- Baccarat (very rare due to standard dealing procedure)
- Mississippi Stud (edge over 100% possible)
- Ultimate Texas Hold’em
- Texas Hold’em Bonus Poker
- Let it Ride Poker
- Three Card Poker (edge over 3% possible)
- Other poker-style games win raise/fold decisions.
Bad and Good
Over the years, I have collected photographs that showed #3 at its worst. That is, placement of the iDeal shuffler in a location on the table that is so egregious that it is almost impossible not to expose a hole-card. The point of the design of the iDeal is that the dealer should bring the cards up to table level and then slide them. But, when there is one or more obstacles in the way of the dealer carrying out this intention, trouble is not far behind.
Here are some less than ideal iDeal pictures:
And here is a thoughtfully placed shuffler. Notice the discard tray is on the far side of the shuffler (not in front of it), the shuffler is cut into the table, and there is a straight path on the table with no obstacles to each position.