Secrets of a Vegas high-roller suite from its manager

Brandon Presser managed the high-roller suites in Las Vegas's Cosmopolitan. They're reserved for players who front more than a million in the hotel's private casino. Read the rest

MIT has an open course in winning at Texas Hold 'Em

MIT's How to Win at Texas Hold 'Em is a CC-licensed open course taught by Will Ma in 2016 and now free to watch online; the game is the perfect combination of psych and stats, and learning to play is a great way to improve your basic reasoning skills. (via Kottke) Read the rest

New gamblers who see a short video about slot-machine psychology don't get tricked

Video slot machines pull a lot of tricks to make it hard to tell how fair the game is; one of them is to ring up "wins" that are actually losses (you put in $1 and get $0.75 back, say), with a lot of fanfare and hoo-rah. These tricks are calculated to hook players into the game by stimulating their reward centers with intermittent stimulus, a powerfully addictive combination. Read the rest

How Claude Shannon used information theory to cheat at Vegas roulette

Claude Shannon is one of the great, heroic titans of the computer science revolution, a brilliant scientist and Feynman-grade eccentric whose accomplishments fill several excellent books. Read the rest

Bet on what will Trump ban during his first term

UK betting site Paddy Power is taking bets on a number of Trump related possibilities, including suspending the 1st Amendment (40-to-1), repealing Obamacare (1-to-2), banning abortion (3-to-1), re-opening Alcatraz as a prison (14-to-1), outlawing the theory of evolution (50-to-1), and banning stairs (500-to-1). Read the rest

Russia's slot-machine bans let criminals buy machines on the cheap and reverse-engineer them

In 2009, then-PM Vladimir Putin engineered a Russian ban on slot machines in a bid to starve Georgian mafiyeh of funds, the resulting glut of used slots gave Russia's own criminal gangs cheap testbeds to use in a project to reverse-engineer the machines and discover their weaknesses -- now, Russian gangs roam the world's casinos, racking up careful, enormous scores. Read the rest

Libratus poker AI beats several of the world's best players

In a first, an artificial intelligence named Libratus has bested top-tier players at no-limit Texas Hold 'em. This is especially notable because imperfect information games are notoriously challenging to program. Read the rest

Judge rules that winning casino baccarat by taking note of asymmetries in card-backs is cheating

In July 2012, professional poker-player Phil Ivey won $4.8M from the baccarat tables at Atlantic City's Borgata Hotel Casino & Spa in 17 hours; on other occasions, he took a total of $9M out of the Borgata: he did it by asking the house to deal Gemaco Borgata cards, whose backs contained minute asymmetries in their patterns. By asking the dealer to turn some cards upside down, Ivey's partner, Cheng Yin Sun, was able to track them as they moved through the deck. Read the rest

Woman wins $43 million on a slot machine, receives steak dinner instead of cash jackpot

Katrina Bookman was excited when her slot machine hit the jackpot: $42,949,672.76. Resorts World Casino in New York was happy to take her money while she was putting it into the machine, but weren't as happy about giving her the prize. MACHINE R BORKED, they told her. Read the rest

The Fantasy Sports Gamble: Frontline and NYT online sports betting exposé

The Fantasy Sports Gamble” is a must-see Frontline documentary investigated with The New York Times about fantasy sports and online sports betting. Read the rest

I've played the Powerball simulator for 1,092 years and have lost 91% of my money

Somebody will win the $1.3 Billion Powerball lottery, but it won't be me and it won't be you. Read the rest

New Zealand's lost colossus: all-mechanical racetrack oddsmaking computer

In 1913, George Julius installed a building-sized, all mechanical odds-calculating computer at Auckland, NZ's Ellerslie racetrack, powered by huge iron weights that slowly pulled down bike chains over sprockets, driving the clockwork device as it "totalised" all the bets laid on horses at the track, keeping the odds in constant balance so that all the bettors were effectively betting against one another, in a system called "pari-mutuel" betting. Read the rest

A former casino floor manager offers tips for beating the odds

Apropos of Rob's post yesterday about the plight of card counters in casinos, Mental Floss has a number other methods for improving your odds at a casino. They interviewed Bill Zender, a former professional card counter, dealer, and casino floor manager. I think Zender's most useful tip is finding a sloppy, drug-addled dealer who regularly flashes their hole card. This probably doesn't happen often, but when it does, you can rake it in.

Zender estimates there are fewer than 100 professional blackjack card counters in the world. If you happen to be one of them, you might nab a 1.5 percent advantage. So save your energy, Zender advises; instead keep an eye out for the sloppy blackjack dealer who will accidentally flash the face-down card. Zender once made a living exploiting this, keeping a notebook of 35 weak dealers from 16 different casinos. The strategy is called “card holing,” and it can give you a 6 to 9 percent edge over the house. (That’s like standing in front of an ATM that spits out twenties!) The best part? “It’s totally legal,” Zender says. “They may throw me out of the casino, but they’re not going to arrest me.”

Image: Daniel J. Prostak Read the rest

The occult gambling game giving out amulets of real gold

What in the unknown world is Jason Rohrer up to now?

Anti-vaxxer ordered to pay EUR100K to winner of "measles aren't real" bet

Stefan Lanka, a "vaccination skeptic" who claims that measles are a psychosomatic condition brought on by "traumatic separations," publicly challenged people to prove that measles was caused by a virus. Read the rest

Chinese property developer has $160 million gambling debt

A Chinese property development executive, known as the "Red King of Gambling" owes $160 million in gambling debts to casinos in Macau. Read the rest

Sore losers: How casinos went after two guys who found a video poker bug

John Kane, who'd lost a fortune to Video King machines, discovered a subtle bug that let him win big -- so the casinos put him in handcuffs. Read the rest

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