The question of why advantage players do what they do is answered in the popular media by images of glitz, glamour, parties, piles of chips, cat and mouse, and youth. The motive is greed and the time frame is now. But there is another class of advantage players (APs) who definitely do not fit this Hollywood stereotype. I’m talking about professional APs – the life-timers. These are individuals with the talent, dedication and bankroll whose chosen occupation is beating casinos at their own games.
The opening scene in Tom Stoppard’s brilliant play “Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead” shows the main characters involved in an experiment in probability theory. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are on a mountain path when Guildenstern sees a coin on the trail. He picks up the coin, and flips it, then flips it again and again… What follows is unlikely; heads comes up 157 times in a row.
Many years ago I was asked to help edit a book by a low-level card counter who was recounting his Las Vegas adventures. His book told the stories of the various trips he made, what he wagered and what he won or lost. It was really more of a journal than a book, but there was entertainment value in these struggles. For each trip the author also discussed his wager size, the risk he was taking and most importantly his expected value (EV) for the trip.
There is no mystery to the success of casinos. People place wagers on games that have a built in house edge. The players win or lose the individual bets, but that’s of no concern to the management. The only concern is that players continue pumping wagers through the system. In this case, the large variance of individual bets evens out and the house earns according to the following basic equation:
In table games, little procedures can cost a lot. Getting just one additional round per hour can lead to an increase in annual revenue of 3% or more. Efforts to speed up games usually focus on the dealers themselves. These front line employees are instructed to attract players to the game, make the game fun, and to deal as fast and accurately as they can. Game pace audits help casinos rank dealing speeds so that the fastest dealers can be placed on the highest value games. Game pace is undeniably the single most important factor in maximizing table revenue. It is therefore worthwhile to ask if there are unnecessary procedures in place that subvert game pace. The first place to look is the greatest time-hog itself, the shuffle.