Don's Domain Chat: Bill Zender
Don's Domain Chat
Bill Zender
Bill Zender, author of Card Counting for the Casino Executive, How to Detect Casino Cheating at Blackjack, and Pai Gow Without Tears

June 1, 2003

Zman Login:

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Viktor Hey Zman! Thank you very much for hosting tonight. The throngs should start pouring in any minute.

Zman Viktor, thanks for inviting me. Sorry about the previous mix-up.

Night_Train Login:

Zman Hey Viktor, have you done any research into the CA card room game of 21st century BJ?

Night_Train Good Evening folks.

Night_Train Z. Long time! How's things?

Viktor Zman: No I haven't. Are the rules online anywhere?

Zman Good evening NT.

Night_Train what makes this casino so special?

Zman Viktor, not that I know of.

Viktor OK...what are the rules.

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Buster Login:

Zman Viktor, it a little lengthy and I was just curious. Contact me later and I will e-mail you the rules.

Viktor Zman: OK...will do.

Zman Hey Rick, how are you doing? Still out there earning?

Bettie Bill, it's been 4 years since "Casino Cheating" came out. Would you say that it's still as relative as ever?

Night_Train I'm doing well. I guess you can say I'm semi-retired and not playing as actively this year.

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Zman Bettie, I'd say so. As long as there are unregulated gaming it will be.

Buster which places are unregulated?

Bettie So, perhaps more so in the multitude of Indian casinos as opposed to the Strip?

Slippery California for one

Zman Buster, as far as I'm concerned most of the native American joints since they govern themselves.

bfbagain Hi all, and to you zman. I'd like to ask a quickie ? right off the bat. Are you coming back to the Aladdin?

Zman I feel the indian gaming concept of estb their own gaming commission is dicey at best. I'm not accusing though.

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Zman BF, I had several chance to but they all went away, so far. The Aladdin will be a tough place to make profitable no matter who buys it or what changes they make.

bfbagain hey scobee, I'll send you something later

scobee_1 kewl

Bettie Bill, Are you playing for your sole means of income nowadays?

Zman Bettie, yes I am, but it's not BJ and it's not in Nevada. I'm banking card room games in CA.

Night_Train Are there still strong opportunities in that arena these days? Or do you find things thinning out a bit?

scobee_1 Why do casinos offer promotions that give a postive EV game? Are they ever used to entrap us?

bfbagain zman, why they wouldn't is beyond me. Clearly they would be making an enormous upgrade to their bottom lines. Not to mention a little leadership! ?. What's your relationship, if any, to Steve Wynn? Is he/or Le Reve an option for you in the future?

Zman NT, CA card room games are being banked by some BIG groups. I bank on four games, one of the group has over 100 tables state wide.

Buster how often do you catch people cheating in those games? and what happens to them?

Bettie I understand that these games can get fairly dangerous.

Zman Scobee, I don't know of any casino that traps on purpose because its not productive to the business as a whole.

scobee_1 I am hearing of DD games being used primarily to trap counters.

Zman BF, I won't work for SW because he thinks he knows everything. So how can I help, huh?

Bettie I've heard that too, Scobee, but I think that it's just because more counters get caught on DD, so the rumor starts.

bfbagain Well that answers that. Don't hold back now.

Zman Buster, the cheating limited because most of the players just want to gamble. Funny, huh?

Buster you must not be banking tiles

scobee_1 Sure thing...full speed ahead.

Buster when you do catch someone cheating do they just throw them out? or have you seen an actual arrest?

Zman Scobee, at one time it was felt that the use of the cont shufflers would force all the counter to the non con shuffle games. But that all I've ever heard. Again, it's not a productive business move.

Boardwalker Login:

Boardwalker Hi

Zman Buster, I bank one of the biggest tile games in the bay area. I have a great working relationship with the card room and respect from the people working for me (Asian).

scobee_1 Hey, Zman. There is one policy I have noticed that makes no sense to me. Shut down pits and tables until the remainders are two deep. Doesn't it make more more productive use of the house edge if all games remain open so there is no waiting for gamblers?

Zman Buster, in California they just throw them out (card rooms that is). The reason is they don't want to bring attention to the fact someone could be cheating.

Double21 Login:

Zman Scobee, yes you are right. There is an economic level that balances income versus cost just like any other business. The problem is casino execs don't always see things that way.

scobee_1 In the Chicago area, Asian games are prolifigate. Is there that much more margin for a dime Pai-Gow when you could have a $20 Blackjack table instead?

Zman Bettie, in answer to your previous question, yes these games are dangerious because it's my players versus the remaining people at the table. Like having a small casino.

Bettie I've heard stories, having known two guys who played in these games as part of a larger banking team. Or something - I never did understand exactly what it was they did as they were very vague.

Zman Scobee, PG is too slow; 20 rounds per hr vs. 60. Also BJ presents a bigger market base. And last, PG players perfer to play against each other not against the house.

Night_Train Z, you basically have an associate banking at 4 tables in one specific card room? Or are you in more than one joint?

scobee_1 So it is true. The people who run table games are idiots par excellent.

Zman NT, I'm in one joint. I have about 15 people I'm partnered with and we do good considering.

nw Login:

Night_Train Z, do you have a lock on this joint or do you have competition on the banking ops?

Zman Scobee, its hit and miss. It depends on upper management and there is a big gap between MBA's and qualified casino people.

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scobee_1 Why in the world don't the execs just look at the most successful casinos and emulate their model? I know, rhetorical question...

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Zman NT, I don't have an special aggreement, although the card room does not want a major banking group on property. I get competition all the time from small groups, but they don't understan two important things; house advantage and bankroll requirements/

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scobee_1 Barona, Bellagio, Horseshoe Tunica, seem to have some enlightened approaches balancing game protection and fair play. Has there ever been a study determining what percentage of gamblers are advantage players and how much they hurt the bottom line?

Zman Scobee, may I be so bold as to suggest we had a good operation at the old Aladdin. Several casinos started to emulate our rules, but once they experienced a set back they blamed it on the liberal rules and went back to square one.

Buster Would it be possible for you to play in NV, or are you just too well known?

JA Login:

DonS Hi, everyone. Sorry I won't be able to saty, as I am not feeling very well, but I just wanted to welcome Bill personally to Don's Domain and tell him what a pleasure it is to have him hosting a chat here.

Zman Scobee, not study that I know of, but form the Aladdin days I'd say LV strip is 99% non BS players or better.

As_Zehn Z, was in AC this past weekend and it seems that every time I go, I see fewer and fewer employees including waitresses and slot attendants. Crowds were down too. Is this a trend everywhere?

scobee_1 Your reputation precedes you with good reason. No braggadacio there. We have one casino that consistently offers a better game over the past few years, with protection, and they do consistently better in their hold than the others.

Zman Buster, I could play anywhere but LV area, but all iut takes is one person to say, "isn't thatr Bill Zender!"

Zman Don S, thank you it's a pleasure being here.

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Bettie While I have everyone's attention, I'd like to remind you all that RGE carries Bill's "Card Counting for Casino Execs," "Pai Gow Without Tears," and "How to Detect Casino Cheating at Blackjack."

scobee_1 There ought to be a law... $5-5000 tables everywhere with 80% pen. The casinos would make gazillions off the ploppies.

Bettie As Don's Domian members, you are entitled to 10% off of all non-sale, non-subscription items!

Night_Train Hi Don. Good to see you.

Zman As Z, I not sure because I'm really not intouch with the market any more. We are entering the slowest period other then the 10 days before Xmas.

Night_Train Z, have you thought about updating "CC or Casino Execs?"

bfbagain Hi Don, just a quick ? if you don't mind. And to Z, please don't take offense at this, but Don, seeing that the Bryce Carlson chat didn't come off, is he resheduled or is it a total cancellation?

Zman Scobee, I agree, but not everyone thinks the way we do.

scobee_1 No drop off in business in regional/local casinos I can see.

DonS Bryce woul dbe happy to reschedule. I'm sure we'll have him one day soon.

DonS We had an unexplained poor turnout the night he hosted. Perhaps not enough advanced advertising.

Zman NT, I would have to change only a small part of the book because basics are basics. I'd rather do a completely new book.

DonS Bryce deserves a large audience. We hope to reschedule.

Bettie Thanks to all for joining us tonight, but I am off to go take advantage of a local promotion! Good night!

Viktor We will be scheduling Bryce soon. We wanted to focus on promotion for the Zman. Next will be Bryce-a-palooza.

bfbagain Don, it must have been the time announcements, right Viktor

Bettie Logout:

bfbagain Just kidding

JA Sunday nights are tough for chats, I think

DonS Work nights not so great either, though.

Night_Train Z, have you read the book that recently came out "CC Guide to Casino Surveillance?"

Zman NT, yes I have and to tell you all the truth it has good info but I can't see that high of a price tag. Sorry Viktor.

scobee_1 I think you might have people submit questions in as to provoke commitments to visit live and see what the answers may be. It also would provide an outline for the honored guest.

Night_Train That's a great suggestion, Scobee1

scobee_1 The price reflects a desire to market to surveillance departments, I think. How much is $100 to a surveillance education budget?

bfbagain The pricetag was/is high, but the info on the color red was priceless. Especially after I told my wife when we at the Bellagio in her VERY FINE and VERY SHEER red dress.

Viktor Zman: I agree! It was published by HP. We keep the book on permanent sale because we think the price is a rip-off.

Zman Scobee, not much but I don't see it during much in that direction. Every surviellance room has their own procedure and usually their own way of covering the casino floor.

Viktor I had nothing to do with it.

scobee_1 LOL... actually a lot of fabrics are transparent to the old B/W cameras. I think those days are long gone with CCT cameras. Isn't your wife lucky to have you aound?

Zman BF, I once had a video tape (only B&W color doesn't work) of a women in tight black pants walking thru the casino. She looked naked but no one seemed to notice.

Night_Train I feel that the book has some good info. The thing to keep in mind is that the recommendations in the book have now been "on the street" for too long. The reader needs to get more creative and not do things exactly as stated in the book.

scobee_1 as DV suggests on practically a daily basis....

bfbagain Z, ok the question iso you know Cellini?

Zman The camera lense is sensitive to intfared rays. Some black PG tiles are also transparent.

Brick Login:

Zman BF, I know of him and his two uncles (or uncle and dad) were very well versed in game protection.

DonS Folks, I'll say good night. Thanks again, Bill, and enjoy the rest of the evening, everyone.

bfbagain Z, what's your thoughts about the new tax increase on Ill casinos, from 50-70%? Don't you think if IN was on top of their game that they could really use that to their advantage?

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Night_Train good night Don. feel better.

As_Zehn timing is everything

scobee_1 Don, Good health and better days..

Zman BF, good question. 50% tax is not a tax but profit sharing. Before I'd invest in an area like ILL I would want them to pick up some of the risk as well. I think its bad for their markets.

bfbagain Agree wholeheartedly! Kill the goose that lays the golden egg comes to mind.

scobee_1 well, 70% is not profit sharing, it is killing the goose.

Zman Scobee, 70% is "lets run these boy the hell out of here!"

scobee_1 What the f**K happened to expanding the number of gaming positions?

Zman Scobee, I'm not sure why they would do something like that. It isn't good business for anyone.

Brick Hi folks,is there a way I can review the previous chat from the start?

JA I think you'll have to wait until they archive it

Viktor A transcript of the chat will be posted to the site.

bfbagain Actually, they call it a "coup." Something right out of the old man's [RJD] bag of tricks.

scobee_1 I don't think that even Zman could make it work under those circumstances. Especially when big games are available an hour away in other states.

Brick thanks

bfbagain Z, what's your thought on the Miss. casino scene?

scobee_1 BR, There has to be something else going on behind the scenes. I couldn't believe that when I got back from Tunica all the income generating changes in Illinois gaming were off the table.

Zman Scobee, I don't think It's possible with 40% or more taxed to win. It doesn't allow for capital for expansion.

As_Zehn Similar business mentality to unions squeezing businesses dry.

Zman BF, sorry, I'm not in touch with it either. At one time it was wide open.

scobee_1 That is the theme of the hour.... how to ruin a good business model by excessive manipulations to the formula.

Zman As Z, good example. The politicans are trying to make gaming cover up for their mistakes, ergo Calif, ergo Nevada.

scobee_1 The one bright spot in Illinois at the moment is that Penn Gaming is taking a hands-off approach to the Hollywood. But all else is darkness.

JA Just for the record, I miss the old Aladdin

Zman Scobee, If you look at a model William Thompson did years ago in the book, The Last Resort", it alludes to this type of mentality.

Zman JA, just for the record, I miss the old Alddin, too.

As_Zehn Many businesses in trouble start to cut costs randomly compounding bad decisons. They usually start with marketing and backroom people and find sales decreasing so they continue to cut.

Brick Bill do Bill do you believe blackjack internet sites are visited by far more casino employees then say 5 years ago.What do you feel are the untentions of most casino lurkers?

scobee_1 It seems odd to me that casinos do not market their blackjack games as 'better than the competition.' They do it with slots and craps.

bfbagain s Z sounds like you're referring to Mandalay Bay

Zman As Z, casino usually start by tighting their games and loosening their comps and credit. Usually, you will see a turnover of casino hosts and marketing people, and then you will see a shotgun appoach to marketing. All markets at the same time. Then the e

bfbagain Z, is that more of an instituional arrogance or just ignorance?

Zman Brick, at one time sneaking into green chip was a step up for casino execs. I know of one casino that hired people based on their access to websites. I think today it's not that big a deal because it didn't change anything casinowise.

As_Zehn Amazing that certain industires can be so predictable. It's like watching a restaurant location folding and reopening over and over only to fail again.

Brick You dont feel it is harming the game any?

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Zman Scobee, BJ hard to market unless you advertise single decks (notice the big thing about 6-5 BJ). I used food specials and shows instead.

scobee_1 Z-man, how is the internet explosion in poker affecting the California parlors?

Zman BF, I think everyone is scare to do things that are percieved as risky by board members or stockholders.

scobee_1 Couldn't a casino just say, we have late surrender and fewer decks?

Night_Train Heading out. Been a please folks. Z, nice chatting with you and hopefully we'll catch up again soon. G'nite everyone.

Night_Train Logout:

As_Zehn It would only take one successful entrepreneur to start a chain reaction.

Zman Brick, One day BJ will be another video game with random generated shuffles and no physical cards on the table.

scobee_1 and still make it up on volume? I know, I know....never overestimate the intelligence of casino management..

Brick Are you serious?

Brick Why do you think this?

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scobee_1 Impossible to eliminate table games, I think. People at slots are not the same social animals as the players at tables.

Zman Scobee, I don't see the effect because poker is better played live in a card room. I do understand that someone just won an event in the WSOP who praticed only on the internet.

Brick I agree with scobee.

scobee_1 yeah, guy named Moneymaker. I have a friend who refuses to play live because he gets 5X the action online.

Zman Scobee, Fewer decks does not attract Joe customer. Today the casinos look for volume. Thats why slots are so big.

Zman Brick, it's going to happen. Not now , not tomorrow, but within the next ten to fifteen years.

scobee_1 I think that people like Henry Tamburin, Fred Renzey, and Anthony Curtis are starting to educate the ploppies that there is a difference in games. But then I could be wrong.

As_Zehn Z, I see tons of vacant machines and full tables.

Brick Bill ,the day the green felt is gone will be the day casinos dont exist anymore,Icant see it.

As_Zehn Brick, don't overestimate the intelligence of the average casino patron.

bfbagain No he can't and I'll tell you why if anyone will indulge me. [Sorry Z] The greatest marketing ploy the casinos have is the ubiquitous belief that BJ can be beaten. It's what draws people initially to casinos, not the slots, not the VP, although once there,

Zman As Z, Supply and demand. There still is a demand for the live games. Live games mean social interaction. PDS makes a table game that is totally computerized. No shuffling . no shoe, no cards, no card delivery. All the dealer does is push buttons.

Brick Casinos will only be forcing ploppies to give up thier beloved games,not a very good policy.

bfbagain they take advanyage of other games. BJ is what brings people in, and the belief it can be beaten. If it doesn't exist, the whole industry will decline. And that's a bet I would mortgage a house for

scobee_1 Z-man, I am going to visit a live casino now and see what I can do to punish their bottom line. I wish you still had some desire to manage casinos. Good luck with being a casino instead of being saddled with one. It has been a pleasure.

As_Zehn Z, don't need the casino then. Can just paly on the internet.

Zman BF, I'm the first to agree that bJ beatablility has made it the big game in the casino. But, is it really beatable nowadays. Not like 1962.

bfbagain True, but the ploppies don't know that

scobee_1 BF.. you and your houses. Remember, never overestimate the intelligence of casinos mgmt. On that note, I am out of here. Drop me a line when you can.

As_Zehn Nor do they care, that's why lotteries are successful.

Zman BF, ploppies realy are looking for a gaming experience not a win. We look at things differently because we want to win.

bfbagain True, but there must be some truth in the marketing of casino gaming as "entertainment" as opposed to gambling. Maybe

scobee_1 Goodnight, all. Remember the golden rule...

As_Zehn Watching people put money on big 6 & 8 at the craps tables tells you alot.

Zman Live games provide social interaction while internet does not (except a few adult sites). Ploppies will always go where they are entertained.

Brick Disconnect:

bfbagain As Z wow, I think I can count on one hand the times I have actually seen that. But truth be told, I don't live in casinos, although there was a time I was accused of that

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Zman BF, one of the biggest problem with casino execs today is they can not relate to their customers.

Double21 Zman--a question about the future of Vegas blackjack. What do you see?

As_Zehn Z, again that problem is not just specific to casinos.

Brick Login:

bfbagain hA Ha, that is an UNDERSTATEMENT. LoL.... I can't stop laughing, forgive me. Mandalay Bay comes to mind again tonight.

Zman Dbl 21, I don't see games getting any better. I see execs covering their butts and not taking chance. The tighter the better in their minds.

bfbagain Scobee, check your mail later

Double21 I think all the high end casinos would get rid of beatable blackjack all together if they could based on my last trip Zman.A

Zman If youpeople had only seen some of the stupid things casino exec have done over the last several years you would be surprised.

Double21 Not me Zman.

bfbagain me too, no surprises here

bfbagain Z, you're familiar with Ill politics, that prepares anyone for casino executive decisions

Zman Dbl 21, probobly not, but it really is amazing that some execs will sacrifice good players to protect their positions.

Brick Bill, I dont see what you mean about blackjack being easier today than the 60's,do you play advantage blackjack? Under todays conditions it is certainly a tuff game,at least for me. the

Zman BF, you got me there.

As_Zehn Brick, you misread. He stated it isn't as easy as 1962.

Zman Brick, sorry if thats the way it came out. Todays games are almost too tough.

bfbagain Ok, Z that brings around to teams, courtesy of Brick. Your thoughts on the current times of team play please

Brick Z,if you were to be hired again by a major casino as gaming manager would you start changing over to video BJ since you feel it is the future?

Zman Hey folks, if anyone wants to e-mail me questions I'm at "[email protected]" or "[email protected]".

Zman Brick, I'd be the last to change over. I still think the game has draw, but then again one day I will be precieved as a dinorsur.

Brick I'm having a hard time imagining the end of table games within the next decade. Ineed some anti depressants quick!!!

Zman Brick, I had a talk with Snyder about five years ago and he had to agree with me that the beatable BJ game will not last forever.

Double21 Nothing last forever--tell how long?(!)

Brick I think some casinos will hold on to the tables,they'll always be around.

Zman Brick, I hope so, but then again there are no more Faro tables.

Double21 Yes there are--6:5 BJ.

JA I gotta run. Excellent chat, Zman. thanks a lot. Will be fun to read the archive.

Zman Is that a game of chance???? LOL

Double21 Guess not!

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bfbagain According to the Bally marquee

Zman I have to run soon too. I have a dbl Jack Dainels waiting.

Viktor What, you can't drink and chat?

Viktor That would make things interesting.

As_Zehn Brick, in AC the number of tables keeps going down. And some of the ones that stay are caribbean stud and other junk games.

Viktor Thank you very much for hosting this week Bill.

Brick If they do all change over to all machines it will be a gradual change that will crawl at a very very slow pace, maybe bythe year 2050.

Zman No my computer isn't wireless.

bfbagain Z thanks... I had the pleasure of spending some time at the old Aladdin when you were ther. Didn't make your aquaintance tho... must have been a good thing. Thanks for being here, And I have your books.

Zman Just as a side note; most of the serious BJ player I knewn in the 80's have switched over to holdem poker.

Double21 Nice to chat with you again Bill--thanks.

Zman BF, thanks for coming online. I always enjoy these chats since it provides interesting inchange of ideas.

As_Zehn Good chat, thanks Bill.

bfbagain Thanks for being here Z, and good nite all

Double21 Thanks for arranging it Viktor.

Zman Thanks folks. I'll be signing off. Thanks again for a good time.

Viktor Thanks Zman, have a good night!

Brick Thanks Bill..

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