Robin Hood Blackjack Player Takes from Rich Casinos and Gives to the Poor

How many times have we been low on money and wished that someone, somewhere would help us? No, I’m not talking about your blackjack bankroll running low; I mean in life. Most of us have been there.

For Kurt and Megan Kegler, that time for them was when their toddler daughter developed a brain tumor. Treatment costs had accumulated and they were $35,000 in debt.

Then, out of the blue, they received a phone call from a blackjack player in Vegas calling himself Robin Hood 702. He told the couple that he was going to fly them first class to Vegas, where he would win the money they needed.

And sure enough, he did. He reportedly lost hundreds of thousands the first night he played, and you can imagine how the Keglers felt. Here was their chance at getting out of debt, and he was losing. But in the end, he won the much needed $35,000. He walked over to the couple and handed them the chips. And he won their money by playing blackjack.

It’s wonderful to see blackjack used for such an end. And that is Robin Hood’s aim: by playing blackjack, he intends to “take the dark side associated with gambling and use it for good.”

Nobody knows who this man is. But the casino managers call him a whale. That would be someone who wins and loses large amounts of money and doesn’t panic over it. Robin Hood has said in interviews that he has been through his own financial hardships and rough spots in his life. And he wants to give back and help out. He’s helped a woman in Charleston and he offered to sponsor a holiday for the crew that was attacked by Somali pirates.

And he wants to help others in need.

Robin Hood as created his own website where individuals can tell their stories. He will then choose another family to win money for from the casinos. The only “requirement” is that an individual’s or family’s financial need cannot be more than $50,000.

Casinos Pouting About Card Counting Players

If you follow gambling news then you’ve probably already heard of this Thomas P. Donovan and the Grand Victoria Casino. If you haven’t, let me give you a quick recap:

In 2006 the Grand Victoria threw Donovan out of their casino in Rising Sun, Indiana for card counting. He sued and lost. So he went to the Indiana Court of Appeals where he won, the appeals court saying that it wasn’t a good enough reason to kick Donovan out.

This comes down to casinos not liking card counters. Online casino operators are thankful that they don’t have to deal with this issue since you can’t count card online. But for land based casinos this, according to them, is a major thorn in their sides. Why? Because they might lose.

Oh my, oh my, a casino might lose a fraction of their money to a player.

And that, blackjack fans, is the problem. Casinos basically expect players to walk in the door and give over their money; they also expect that they shouldn’t have to pay them back…except for the occasional big win that looks good for business and will draw players.

If we wanted to give our money away without the chance of any monetary return, we could just as easily donate our money to the church. The reason this is gambling is because we are putting our money out there on the chance that we can win money back. It’s a chance. A gamble.

And casinos need to except that their business is a gamble. If you’re going to go into business where players are putting their money on the line, then they need to except that they will have to pay players who win.

While most of the games in casinos are games of chance, blackjack is a game of skill. Like with any game, players are going to try to find a strategy, try to win. This is the case with card counting. All card counting is is a strategy that blackjack players use to try to even up the odds.

Casinos start with the edge already. And they think that it’s unfair for players to use mental processes, such as remembering what cards have been played out of the decks and calculating an approximate chance that they’ll hit for a high card—card counting. They feel that it’s unfair for players to try to do something to win.

If that’s how they feel, they should be lobbying for a ban on mental processes or, if they’re that afraid of losing to players, then they should stick to slots, roulette and keno, and stop fussing about card counting blackjack players.

Card Counting Days Numbered—Update

Just a quick update, blackjack fans. Details have been released about Kris Zutis’s card counting detection software.

You all remember Kris Zutis, right? He’s the 22 year old from Dundee in Scotland who has created a computer program that will detect card counting in blackjack—this is after he decided not to write a program that would undermine poker strategy, his game of choice.

Details have been released on the basics of how the software works. Zutis’s program uses various visual recognition techniques that collect information. Some of this information that is collected is contour analysis which detects what cards have been flipped. Stereo imaging is also used to measure the height of chips tacks to determine how much a player has bet.

After this and other data is collected, the program will analyze what cards have been played and a player’s betting strategy. The casino is then alerted if the program thinks that the analysis on the player’s actions is suspicious. At that point they can take action against a blackjack player.

Already casinos are interested in Zutis’s program, and it’s no wonder. If having an edge over a player isn’t enough, the casinos want to take away our strategy now too.

Zutis has been invited to present his paper on his program, entitled ‘Who’s Counting?: Real-Time Blackjack Monitoring for Card Counting Detection’ at the International Conference on Computer Vision Systems (ICVS) in Belgium. He’s hoping to generate more interest in his program so that it can be further developed and made ready for sale.

To: The State of Florida, From: Blackjack Fans

This has been going on for awhile now. In the state of Florida the Seminole Tribe and state law makers are still in a stalemate about whether the Tribe should be allowed to have table games, including blackjack, in all seven of their casinos. I started following this closely. And then a little less closely. And a little less closely. Then it was just a part of my routine. The same things were being said over and over again.

Let me sum it up: In 2007 Florida Governor Charlie Crist stuck a compact with the Seminoles that allowed them to have table games. State law makers weren’t happy with Tribe casinos having what they viewed as a monopoly on table games within the state. Now, two years later, they’re still fighting over it. Like a tennis match. Back and forth. Specifically House Speaker Larry Cretul says that the governor had no such power to make such a deal with the Tribe. The Tribe says that the Supreme Court okay’s the compact and that they are operating within it. Florida says no, and the Seminoles say yes.

This morning I came across a news notice that Cretul wants the Tribe casinos shut down, saying that they are violating state law by continuing to operate without a compact. Again, the Tribe says that they are still operating within the 2007 compact. But what got me was here is this man, this House Speaker, that wants to cut off a source of much needed income for the state of Florida, money that can fund schools, money that can help to educate the state’s children.

He’s not alone either. Owners of dog racing tracks don’t want the Tribe operating either. They’re worried about losing business to the casinos because the Seminole casinos will have popular table games like blackjack and their race tracks won’t. What these dog track owners need to realize that while they might lose their customers that are at the tracks specifically to gamble, they will hold onto their fans who love to watch dogs run around a track. It seems like tracks owners don’t want to worry about competition. It’s almost like they want to be the only ones to offer gambling—which would give tracks the monopoly on gambling in Florida—this coming from track owners who believe that monopolies are bad.

Dog tracks are not Wal-Marts—they are not going to be able to offer every form of gambling avenue possible to gambling and blackjack fans. They can keep their dog races, which have their own following, and the Seminoles can have their table games like blackjack, which have a different following.

What everyone—Seminoles included—is that this state needs the money. Schools are suffering: teachers are being laid off, books are becoming out-dated, and schools are closing. Children are not receiving the knowledge they need to be productive members of society in a few years time. What these law makers, track owners and, yes, even the Seminoles need to be concerned about is the state’s children and their education, and not worry about how can line their pockets more.

I’m all for heading out to a casino and playing blackjack face to face with a dealer—sometimes you just need a break from online blackjack. But really what’s more important—profit or smarts? I’ll go with smarts, thanks. And while money for education comes from multiple sources, the Seminoles are willing to pay a couple million down to have the games and to keep contributing a good chunk of their profits from blackjack and other table games—and they designate that money to be put towards education. But the children’s interests first, guys and ladies.

I say if they’re willing to pay, let the Seminoles pay. Who are the state and track owners to say what is best for Florida gamblers? If we want to play, let us play. If the money I lose is going towards a teacher’s salary, show me to the blackjack tables! Let us play!

Perfect Basic Strategy

Does such a thing exist? Yes, in fact it does.

So why haven’t casinos banned this too?

Simple. People can’t seem to play it right or stick with it.

It’s true. I don’t know how often I hear about how there is no way to beat casinos. That there’s nothing that can be done about the odds. And maybe this is because today is a Monday, but I finally decided to put in my own thoughts on this.

Yes, it is completely true that you can not beat the casinos—online or otherwise. There is no absolutely guaranteed way to win every single time. This is why it’s called gambling, folks. You aren’t supposed to know whether or not you’ll win. That’s where the thrill comes from. If you want to know that you will win every single time go play Monopoly—you can buy your win there.

Now that doesn’t mean that you can’t even the odds a bit though. That’s what strategy is for. No, there is no strategy for games of chance like roulette, craps or slots. But not every single game in a casino is a game of chance; blackjack and poker are both games of skill. This means that with work and practice and patience, the odds of the game can be changed.

I know, I know, I said that changing the odds means putting in some effort. But anything that is worth achieving requires effort. And the money you win will feel better because you know you will have earned it rather than knowing that it just fell into your lap. You can hold those chips, look at the people around you and know that you are the better player, not them.

So how can you change the odds in blackjack? Easy. Play perfect basic strategy. Don’t look at that and think, “Wow, perfect, that might take a lot of time,” or “That sounds hard.” Trust me it’s not hard.

You’ve seen a basic strategy chart. All you need to do is print one and take it with you to a casino. Or pull it up in a window so that you can reference it when playing online. Now comes the hard part—and I can’t believe that this is thought to be hard—do exactly as it says to do. That chart tells you the best statistical play that you can make based on the hand that you have versus the dealer’s up card. Do what that chart says every time and you will, over time, lower the house odds from 2%-5% to 0.5%.

The biggest misconception, and why casinos haven’t banned basic strategy, is that people think that they will win every single hand that they play when using basic strategy. This is not true. You will not win every single hand. However, you will win more hands playing with basic strategy than you will if you don’t. Casinos will play that misconception against you. They will allow you to keep thinking that you will win every hand using basic strategy. And then they will watch you throw the chart away after you lose three or four hands, thinking that you have been lied to.

The hard part in playing perfect basic strategy is sticking with it. This tends to be hardest when faced with a stiff hand, better known as a hard 12 through a hard 16. When holding those hands versus a dealer’s up card of 2 through 6 basic strategy dictates for you to stand. It will be so hard not to hit. But the dealer has a better statistical chance of busting than of winning. And you also have a better statistical chance of busting with those stiff hands and dealer up cards than you have of winning. So logically the best option for you is to stand, which offers you better odds, while the dealer keeps hitting and hopefully busts—which he has a better chance of doing.

If you can do what that chart says every single time then you will be playing perfect basic strategy. That’s all there is to perfect basic strategy—do exactly what the chart tells you to every time. If you do so, the house edge will be lowered to 0.5% over time.

So put in the effort and patience and, while you will not flat out beat the casino, you can at least come as close to even odds that you can. And doing what that chart says is not a hard thing to do either.

Are Card Counting Days Numbered?

Casinos the world over must thinking that their day is coming and are getting ready to celebrate. To my blackjack friends, I am sorry to say that a computer program is in the works that will be able to detect card counting.

Or so its programmer says. Kris Zutis, a final year student at Dundee, is claiming that he has developed a program that will be able to track a game as it progresses by monitoring the cards played and by tracking how a player bets. It is explained that a camera will watch a game of blackjack, collecting information about the game. It then somehow uses a complex system of algorithms to analyze how the game is being played. It will compare betting done by players to what cards have been played.

In other words, this card counting detection system is going to count cards to see if how a player is betting is reflected in how this detection system has counted the deck. I have to admit that this Zutis kid is pretty smart to think of this—what better way to detect card counting players than to have the casino count cards and compare it to how blackjack players are betting. Actually I’m surprised the casinos haven’t figured that idea out already. But this kid takes it the idea further by creating a program to compute that comparison. Nice way to make money, Zutis.

So not only will we blackjack players have to find a new system, but now we’ll have to be mindful of how we’re betting. Seems we won’t be able to bet how we wish anymore without upsetting these poor casinos. Seems Big Brother has finally tapped into the world of gambling—let’s tell them how they can and can’t gamble.

Zutis says his program isn’t ready to go on the market quite yet; he has to develop it further. Calling all investors—help develop a program that will do the counting that we will be forbidden to do. A bit hypocritical, no?

Zutis is a self-proclaimed poker enthusiast. Originally he said he wanted his project to be related to poker. He wanted to sully his own game. But after learning the system was better suited to crackdown on blackjack he went that route. More like he realized, ‘Oops, I don’t want to somehow limit the game that I play.’ And while he will most likely be rather disliked if his card counting program for detecting card counting is sold to casinos, I can’t imagine anyone liking a guy who sells out to the casinos’ side.

What is Real and Imaginary in Blackjack? Part V

Hello again. Are there more blackjack “rules?” Yes, there are more blackjack rules! But you wanted to know, yes? Yes. Then we’ll continue.

  • You’re a cheater if you see the dealer’s hole card and don’t say a word.

– No, you aren’t a cheater so rest easy. You did nothing wrong. The dealer did. Seriously. This isn’t writing off a heck of a tip-off on how to play. If a dealer is sloppy it’s the casino’s fault for hiring a sloppy dealer, or the dealer’s fault for not being more cautious. You have no effect on the dealer at all (this includes the magical third base chair too). Remember, no effect.

If you want to think that real luck is involved with blackjack, then this is it. Seeing the dealer’s hole card because of their mistake is a lucky break for you. Otherwise there is no luck in blackjack. There’s chance in how the cards are dealt, but not luck. The only luck is when the dealer messes up. And it’s the casino’s responsibility to run herd on their dealers, not yours.

  • You are a cheater if you accept a winning blackjack bet that you actually lost.

– Again, no, you’re not a cheater. This one also falls under “Dealer Sloppiness.” It’s the dealer’s responsibility to pay attention to whether you won or he won. If you didn’t and he gives you the payout anyway, you again, have done nothing wrong. You didn’t tell the dealer to pay you when you didn’t win. For whatever reason, the dealer is paying you anyway despite losing that round of blackjack. You do not run herd on the dealers, the casino does. And  a dealer who can’t pay attention enough to payout only when he is supposed to won’t be a dealer for long.

Now. Whether you accept the payout or not is up to you. This one isn’t like seeing the dealer’s hole card; once you see it, you can’t un-see it. A payout you didn’t win may be accidentally awarded to you, but you don’t have to take it. This one depends on your ethics. If you’re are comfortable in your heart by taking it, then take it—it was the dealer and casino’s mistake. If you aren’t comfortable with taking the payout, speak up, tell the dealer that, hey, he made a mistake. There is nothing that says you have to take the wrongly given payout. Accepting it is up to you and your ethics and your conscience.

  • Progressive betting systems will overcome the house edge.

– No. No, no, no. This one has nothing to do with the dealer or casino either. This one is all you. No, there isn’t a progressive betting system that will overcome the house edge in blackjack. It’s true that you might win more, but you can also lose more too.

Other than basic strategy and card counting, there isn’t a system that will change the odds. Progressive betting can cause small fluctuations in your bankroll but that’s about it. With an unlimited bankroll on their side, casinos don’t think twice about system players—other than card counters, they really don’t like them. The problem with a progressive betting system is that once you think you’ve found one that works, greed will rear it’s ugly head. You will think your system is unbeatable. Math will catch up with you and you will lose and lose big. And that’s how casinos have an unlimited bankroll.

You can’t overcome the house edge in blackjack. The best you can do is whittle it away to give you the best odds. Do so with basic strategy and card counting—but don’t get caught counting cards!

Which Denomination to Play

Here’s the casinos’ Modus operandi: Move ‘em in, move ‘em out, move in more. In other words, what’s the fastest way possible to bring them in and take their money in order to bring in more?

I’m sure in wandering through a casino or while trolling online casinos for a blackjack game, you’ve seen that the minimum bet varies from table to table, virtual or not. Which is the best one to play at?

I know that a higher stakes table has the potential to give you a better payout. Let’s look at the payouts between a $100 table a $10 table. If you win with a blackjack at the first table, you’re payout is $300; at the latter table, the same win would give you a payout of $30. So those blackjack players who are looking to make money would think that the table to play is the $100 table.

No.

And no especially if you’re just beginning to play.

The reasoning behind this is simple: You don’t win every time. Seems obvious, but once you’re caught up in the razzle dazzle of a casino—traditional or online—you will think that nothing can stop you from winning. You’re going make it big. You’re going to walk out with a ton of money. And that’s exactly how a casino wants you to think. Because when you’re thinking that and you walk up to that $100 or $200 table, you just made your first mistake.

Casinos, online or land-based, make their money when players lose. If you’re a novice at playing blackjack you will want to start out small. Since you’re just getting used to the game and are still learning, you’re more likely to lose simply by making beginner mistakes. Casinos will bank on you and you will lose a good chunk, if not all, of your money by sitting down at a higher stakes table. By starting out at a smaller table, like the $10 tables, you stand a better chance of hanging on to your money. Sure, you won’t have as much of a gain in the beginning, but you won’t lose your money as fast.

Move up to higher stakes tables once you know your basic strategy and you’re winning on a fairly consistent basis. In other words when you feel confident, not because of bright lights and sounds, but because you know you’re a good blackjack player. Start small. It’s real easy to gamble away the $700 you brought with you at higher stakes tables than at small stakes tables.

House Rules to Look Out for Part I: Dealer Hits on Soft Seventeen

Whether you’re playing blackjack online or are out there in a casino, there are some house rules that are not player friendly. Yes, I know you expect that when playing blackjack. But there are some, especially if you’re just starting out, that you will want to keep an eye out for—and avoid.

When learning to play blackjack the first strategy you learn is basic strategy. These are the ‘moves’ for blackjack players. This is how we choose how to play our hands—to hit or stand, or split, or double. And the casinos—both online and off—know this. So if a half of a percent house edge wasn’t enough, the casinos will try to take any advantage from us that they can. And in some places blackjack’s basic strategy can be used against you.
Take for example that the dealer has an Ace-6. Dealers always stand on a soft seventeen—they stand on all seventeens, hard or soft. However. There are some casinos who’s house rules allow for the dealer to hit on a soft seventeen. That’s a two-tenths of a percent increase in favor of the house.

Doesn’t sound like much right? Think again. Add that two-tenths of a percent to the regular half of a percent. See the difference now? Yeah, a blackjack game in which a dealer can hit on a soft seventeen is not your friend. You do not want to give the house anymore favor over you.

You like your money, yes? And you want to win more money, yes? Bearing in mind that you won’t win every single time, why lower your odds of winning even more? Avoid blackjack games in which the dealer can hit on a soft seventeen. Look for blackjack games in which the dealer has to stand on all seventeens.

Keep an Eye Out for: House Rules to Look Out for Part II: Restrictions on Doubling Down