Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Media (Apple) Media Entertainment Games

Casinos Warn iPhone Card-Counting App is Illegal 462

Posted by timothy
from the you-may-only-use-your-regular-brain dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Gaming commissions in Nevada are informing casinos that a new card counting program has made its way to the Apple iPhone, called Hi Lo. This program can be used in the Stealth Mode. When the program is used in the Stealth Mode the screen of the phone will remain shut off, and as long as the user knows where the keys are located the program can be run effortlessly without detection. Randall Sayre, of the Nevada Gaming Commission says 'Use of this type of program or possession of a device with this type of program on it (with the intent to use it), in a licensed gaming establishment, is a violation of NRS 465.075.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Casinos Warn iPhone Card-Counting App is Illegal

Comments Filter:
  • by nnnich (1454535) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:05PM (#26887653)
    they no like a makey no money
    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:15PM (#26887899) Homepage Journal
      Why use the iPhone....?

      Card counting on your own, isn't that hard. Sure, it takes a bit of practice, but, it isn't rocket science.

      I played with it awhile...I just made sure I first memorized basic strategy....the set play for everything based on your cards vs the dealer.

      Once you get that down like 2nd nature...you start going with the +1 -1 for the low and high cards showing up on the table...divide the count by number of decks used to that point..etc.

      Not rocket science, but, it does take some practice.

      Even if you were using this iPhone app...you'd still have to have basic strategy memorized.

      • Re:awww poor casinos (Score:5, Informative)

        by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:25PM (#26888119)

        Well, the reason is speed, accuracy and memory. Mechanical devices used for card counting have been banned for quite a while, this is more of a notification that the iPhones have an app to do it.

        When people are doing it in their head, there are strategies in place to cope with that. Usually the dealer will have things that he's allowed to do and in the worst case the pit boss will come over and talk up the player.

        I'm not sure that the iPhone is specifically a problem, but it is within the category of cheating devices when used for card counting.

        But it is also worth while pointing out that Black Jack isn't a game that any sane casino would offer if they weren't able to make card counting difficult. It's just not profitable, mainly they offer it as a sort of favor to the clients.

        • Re:awww poor casinos (Score:5, Interesting)

          by XxtraLarGe (551297) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:33PM (#26888283) Journal

          When people are doing it in their head, there are strategies in place to cope with that. Usually the dealer will have things that he's allowed to do and in the worst case the pit boss will come over and talk up the player.

          Yeah, they will do all sorts of things to make you distracted. I stayed at the Flamingo, and some of the $15 black jack tables had pole dancers in the middle of the tables! I stayed away until after they were done for the night, and when the free drinks come around I got myself a bottle of water.

          • by LandDolphin (1202876) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:45PM (#26888503)
            Sounds like you missed out and some of the fun... Pole Dancers and 'free' drinks sound liek a nice way to spend an evening...
            • by Bryansix (761547) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:55PM (#26888677) Homepage

              Sounds like you missed out and some of the fun... Pole Dancers and 'free' drinks sound liek a nice way to spend an evening...

              And to lose a lot of money.

              • by mweather (1089505) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:08PM (#26888923)
                Do you have something better than pole dancers to spend it on? I doubt it.
                • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

                  by phulegart (997083)

                  hmm.... let's see.
                  Hookers? You get more action from them than a tease from a pole dancer.
                  Food? Better buy than pole dancer time.
                  Umm.. maybe spend more money gambling, and less on bimbos who won't put out?

                • by Lars T. (470328) <Lars DOT Traeger AT googlemail DOT com> on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @02:15PM (#26890195) Journal
                  He could buy a iPhone, the counting app, and then count effectively even when distracted!
                  • Re:awww poor casinos (Score:5, Informative)

                    by FatdogHaiku (978357) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @03:31PM (#26891585)
                    Yup, but there is this little stumbling block:

                    NRS 465.088 Penalties for violation of NRS 465.070 to 465.085, inclusive.

                    1. A person who violates any provision of NRS 465.070 to 465.085, inclusive, is guilty of a category B felony and shall be punished:

                    (a) For the first offense, by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, or by a fine of not more than $10,000, or by both fine and imprisonment.

                    (b) For a second or subsequent violation of any of these provisions, by imprisonment in the state prison for a minimum term of not less than 1 year and a maximum term of not more than 6 years, and may be further punished by a fine of not more than $10,000. The court shall not suspend a sentence of imprisonment imposed pursuant to this paragraph, or grant probation to the person convicted.

                    REF: http://www.leg.state.nv.us/NRS/NRS-465.html [state.nv.us]

                    I live about 90 minutes from Las Vegas and I can tell you the state of Nevada is serious as a heart attack about cheating. There are repeat offenders serving LIFE without parole for creating and distributing cheating devices and schemes.

                    Counting cards in your head is not illegal, but if you do master the art of counting cards without being detected, you can be refused entry at the whim of the casino, just because you are too good at the game... They can walk up and ask you to leave and never return and you must do so. They can also put you face, vital statistics, and biometrics (for facial recognition) in a database shared with other casinos.

                    Enjoy your stay

              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by LandDolphin (1202876)
                Bah... You lose what you can afford too.. Figure you'd be spending the money doing something else for entertainment. Many forget that's what gambling is, entertainment.
                • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

                  by Bryansix (761547)
                  I agree but you lose more money when you are drunk and distracted.
                  • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                    by LandDolphin (1202876)
                    And you 'lose money'(aka spend money) to get drunk and distracted at other places.. AS long as you don't lose more then you can afford you're all good.
              • by tjstork (137384) <todd.bandrowsky@NOSpAM.gmail.com> on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @03:06PM (#26891095) Homepage Journal

                Here's the thing. If you are going to a casino to get money, you are kinda missing the point. The whole essence of the casino is sin, getting the drinks and the hookers and the whole nine yards of decadence and then a good steak, cigar, and a game of cards. That's a man's way to do things.

                I mean, you could go to Disney and blow a few hundred bucks on Dumbo balloons... or you could go to Vegas, and gamble, get hammered and get laid. Hmmm, if you are going to blow money, why not blow it something cool. Believe me, once you get married, the gambling, cards, drinking are all going to go away.

                The only thing that sucks about so many casinos and bars is that you can't smoke at them. What a stupid thing. A bunch of people whining about second hand smoke and then they all drive home drunk. It's just stupid. Quit being such a pussy about cancer, and smoke up.

          • Odd (Score:4, Interesting)

            by SmallFurryCreature (593017) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:31PM (#26889371) Journal

            I looked at the pole dancers and boozed up, loosing maybe $20.

            Obviously you are smarter then I am.

          • by Zwicky (702757) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @02:26PM (#26890429)

            some of the $15 black jack tables had pole dancers in the middle of the tables!...free drinks

            In fact, forget the... wait, which one of these can I do without?

          • by Mister_Stoopid (1222674) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @02:40PM (#26890685)
            If you can't play a profitable game of blackjack while also watching the pole dancer in the middle of the table, you need more practice.
      • Even if you were using this iPhone app...you'd still have to have basic strategy memorized.

        While I have the most "basic strategy" memorized, there's variations based on if the dealer hits or stands on soft 17, if black jack pays out 3/2 or 6/5, etc. I practiced using Sega Casino on my Nintendo DS. When I was in Vegas last year, I was happy to find some $5 tables at the Hilton where my convention was, and the dealer told me that you could use the basic strategy cards openly if you wanted to.

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by Ed_Pinkley (881113)
          A strategy guide is OK since playing basic strategy still has an edge for the house. The iPhone app isn't great. It only tracks the raw count. It is still only doing the counts some people do in their head. (Hi/lo, Hi/Lo Opt.) Let it do a perfect betting and playing strategy. *That's the stuff a computer is good at. It is a nice proof of concept but as has been mentioned here, it would be impossible to use in a casino. The warning is just to make sure everyone knows about it.

          Come up with an app. tha
          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by uniquename72 (1169497)

            A casino will notice you winning no matter how you do it. Since you are on private property, they can ask you to leave. If you don't leave, you are trespassing.

            Have you ever even entered a casino? They LOVE when you win. The more you win, the more comps they shower you with. Having a winner at a table entices all the suckers around them to play and lose. It's the best advertising there is!

            Card counting has become almost impossible (despite the liars here who claim to do it -- as though wealthy card cheats spend their free time on /.) because it requires wild (and obvious) swings in betting.

            Add to that 10+ deck shuffles (every dozen or so hands) and a ban on en

      • Re:awww poor casinos (Score:5, Interesting)

        by johnsonav (1098915) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @01:13PM (#26888997) Journal

        Why use the iPhone....?

        Card counting on your own, isn't that hard. Sure, it takes a bit of practice, but, it isn't rocket science.

        No, standard Hi/Lo counting is pretty easy. Most people can even keep a separate Ace count too. All it takes is practice.

        But the power of computer-aided counting is that it can keep track of each card's specific value. Instead of keeping track of only the relative number of high cards played, a computer can keep track of the number of 2's, 3's, 4's, 5's, etc. A computer can process and use every piece of information known about the remaining cards, not just the ratio of high cards to low. It can make the perfect playing and betting decisions every time.

        Someone who is using a computer to count cards, therefore has a greater theoretical edge against the house. Or, he can get the same edge as a traditional counter, without having to vary his bets as much. That's the real power of computer-aided counting: less detectability. (Assuming, of course, he's not fiddling with his iPhone on the table the whole time.)

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by ceoyoyo (59147)

        Because it's not too hard to throw out the few people who bother to learn to count cards well themselves. Those people might even be a benefit (for a while) because a winner tends to get other people playing.

        It's a real pain to detect and throw out every idiot who can download an iPhone app.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by mea37 (1201159)

      The question isn't really whether the casinos need sympathy.

      The question is, realistically what would happen if casinos actually allowed the odds of any game to be tilted in the players' favor?

      Answer: People would flock to that game, the casinos would lose money, and there would be no more casinos. Some people think that would be a good thing; are you surprised that the casino operators are not among them?

      Of course, counting cards in your head is legal. For this reason, casinos will always have to do thei

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:39PM (#26888383)

      Nicky Santoro: A lot of holes in the desert, and a lot of problems are buried in those holes. But you gotta do it right. I mean, you gotta have the hole already dug before you show up with a package in the trunk. Otherwise, you're talking about a half-hour to forty-five minutes worth of digging. And who knows who's gonna come along in that time? Pretty soon, you gotta dig a few more holes. You could be there all fuckin' night.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by blair1q (305137)

      You know the rules going in.

      The casinos promise not to cheat you.

      You promise not to cheat the casinos.

      The Gaming Commission is the referee.

      You don't like it? Stay the fuck home.

  • Hi Lo? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Samschnooks (1415697) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:08PM (#26887741)
    They couldn't call it "Rainman"?
  • by shogun (657) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:10PM (#26887787)

    If the screen is off its all well and good to input card appearances with it hidden in your pocket, but how do you get its current odds output? Vibration or something like that?

  • by UnknowingFool (672806) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:11PM (#26887803)
    I was recently in Las Vegas and it seems to me that an application like this would only find use in the smaller casinos. The bigger ones use card shuffling machines that I think continuously reshuffle the deck. After a hand the dealer puts the cards back into the machine which reshuffles the decks (I think they hold several decks). Anybody else know if this is how the machine works? Some of the smaller casinos offer 1 deck Black Jack with no machine used for better player odds. The smaller casinos need to draw more players in and have to offer better odds. These would help here.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cayenne8 (626475)
      "The bigger ones use card shuffling machines that I think continuously reshuffle the deck."

      Well, if you want to play blackjack...you avoid these tables like the plague!!

      I've not been out there in a couple years or so...but, are you saying ALL the major casinos use the continuous shufflers only? I know they tried those at the Harrah's down here in NOLA, and they did not go over well. Most blackjack players..can't / don't count cards...but, using that machine took away the illusion they had that they could

      • by hedwards (940851) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:36PM (#26888345)

        Continuous shufflers aren't as reliable about screwing things up as one might imagine. The basic problem is that you aren't guaranteed to hit those dead spots in the decks where most of the cards suck.

        This is actually fairly important because it means that with the constraints on the dealer, it means that there's a relatively consistent number of 10 point cards left in the deck. And with the dealer being required to take a hit at any total less than 16 and depending upon the casino will uniformly take a hit or not on 17s.

        And as such it changes the dynamics of what you take a hit on, knowing that the dealer has a card between 2 and 6 is more consistent than it is on a table where the decks aren't being shuffled as often.

        Which is a long way of saying that while it does limit the traditional card counting, it does open up other conditions in a way which opens up other options.

    • I've never been to Vegas so I have no idea what they are using. However, I remember seeing something about a machine that doesn't shuffle the deck but pushes out exactly one card at random from a stack which is in effect the same thing. Perhaps that is what Vegas uses now.
    • by gnick (1211984)

      The bigger ones use card shuffling machines that I think continuously reshuffle the deck.

      No. They will use several decks and do indeed have shufflers. But they do not reshuffle until the decks are exhausted. Continuous shuffling in pretty much any card game would be ludicrously bad form.

    • Most casinos have 1 or 2 deck games but those usually come with high minimums and are in the "high roller" rooms off to the side. The minimums are usually in the $50-$100 range.
    • by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdotNO@SPAMworf.net> on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:28PM (#26888177)

      I was recently in Las Vegas and it seems to me that an application like this would only find use in the smaller casinos. The bigger ones use card shuffling machines that I think continuously reshuffle the deck. After a hand the dealer puts the cards back into the machine which reshuffles the decks (I think they hold several decks). Anybody else know if this is how the machine works? Some of the smaller casinos offer 1 deck Black Jack with no machine used for better player odds. The smaller casinos need to draw more players in and have to offer better odds. These would help here.

      There are several shufflers around - one is a "continuous shuffler" - basically a circular rake (or one on a belt) that can take cards that moves back and forth randomly. Dealer inserts cards at the top, and they get inserted into the rake one by one, and pulls cards from the bottom, whatever happens to be there. Another kind simply takes cards and shuffles them periodically.

      But the usual trick is to simply shuffle after every round - the tables only have one deck in play (and a pre-shuffled deck standing ready to keep play fast). When the round ends, that old deck is tossed into the shuffler, and the new deck dealt. This completely screws up counting. Smaller casinos simply use less decks - turns out more decks in the shoe make card counting more successful.

      Also, while card counting itself isn't illegal, using an aid is (mechanical, electronic, etc). But it's easy to spot card counters (the people monitoring the eyes in the sky can count cards too). Heck, I'm surprised they haven't equipped the tables with RFID readers and use cards with RFID in them so a computer at the table can maintain the count and watch the bets and point out potential card counters.

      And Blackjack is one of the worst games for a casino - the odds are very low. They only carry it because it's popular. Someone doing basic strategy already has cut down the house advantage to less than half a percent - a very poor return. Card counting tips that into the player's favor.

      Finally - do casinos allow cellphones to be used at tables? At best, this warning is just a heads up to people who'll use the application that aids to card counting is illegal, but I suppose if one was trying to learn, they could use it at home or in small groups.

      The problem of communicating the count has remained though - but since card counting is a probability play anyways, communicating the rough hotness and coldness of the deck is sufficient.

      In short, the iPhone app is nothing new - many people have done this in the past, often with more elaborate contraptions suitable for the lower level of technology in the day...

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        And Blackjack is one of the worst games for a casino - the odds are very low. They only carry it because it's popular.

        The odds for Blackjack are very low if the player uses the basic strategy. That's an important distinction since most people don't bother to take the time to memorize basic strategy and don't want to feel foolish by either asking the dealer on hands they don't know or using one of the cards you can get in the gift shop. The vast majority of blackjack players make stupid mistakes and increase

    • by rnelsonee (98732)

      In the 'high roller'/VIP rooms you still see traditional shoes more often. The bigger players like them, both because it's more traditional, and because they at least operate under the illusion they have a better chance of winning.

      Now, lowly players like me still would prefer a shoe, but the casinos know that CSMs make more money - *not* by preventing card counting (which isn't happening at the low tables anyway) but by simply cutting out the time it takes the dealer to shuffle. More hands per hour = more

  • by nweaver (113078) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:12PM (#26887811) Homepage

    Card counting really doesn't work that well in Vegas casinos unless you go with a distributed ring: its pretty obvious when an individual is card counting, if you miscount slightly the casino ends up winning big, and the casions can really mess you up, from shuffling more to "backrooming" you and intimidating the F-outta you.

    But if they start suspecting this (which is easy, its just like detecting any other card counter, and then looking more fully at where you keep your hands), then they can not just backroom you, but through the legal process, make you WISH they'd just have settled for the old days when they'd have shoved your iPhone where the sun don't shine.

    • by cayenne8 (626475) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:26PM (#26888139) Homepage Journal
      "Card counting really doesn't work that well in Vegas casinos unless you go with a distributed ring: its pretty obvious when an individual is card counting, if you miscount slightly the casino ends up winning big, and the casions can really mess you up, from shuffling more to "backrooming" you and intimidating the F-outta you."

      They're not gonna backroom you like they did in the old days....they don't need to. They can just simply refuse your play, and if a problem, ban you from that casino, where if you do reenter, you are legally trespassing and they let the law deal with you.

      There are ways to count, even as a single person with no team. There are plays that you 'can' make, which are usually very stupid, but, at times can be made and not really lessen your edge you get by counting properly. I was reading one awhile back that where in a strategy, you actually did at times split 10's....a generally stupid move, but, if done at certain times, sparingly, it would not mess with your edge badly, yet it would definitely throw off the casino watching you as a 'serious' counter. I'm sorry I don't have the book around to cite the source, but, it is out there.

      Team play is definitely the best way to go, but, most casinos know that MOST people who think they can count cards...will mess up. So, unless you are making huge swings in bets with VERY high denominations of checks...you're likely not going to be harassed. They only really start looking at you if you start taking serious money from them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        I was reading one awhile back that where in a strategy, you actually did at times split 10's....a generally stupid move, but, if done at certain times, sparingly, it would not mess with your edge badly, yet it would definitely throw off the casino watching you as a 'serious' counter. I'm sorry I don't have the book around to cite the source, but, it is out there.

        You are probably thinking about Blackjack for Blood [amazon.com] by Bryce Carlson. It's a really good read and a good introduction to a level II counting system.
        The rest of this post isn't directed toward you cayenne8, but seemed like a good of a place as any to put it.
        At the end of the day, card counting wasn't very profitable for the level of effort it takes. While playing, a good card counter needs to do the following things:

        • Keep track of the count (possibly maintaining a separate count of aces)
        • Play perfec
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:48PM (#26888547)

      I was busted for card counting just 10 days ago in Vegas. The pit boss politely leaned over and said, "Sir, we are going to have to ask you to stop playing blackjack."

      I said, "ok", cashed in my chips and that was that. I got to keep the $200 I won and didn't even get escorted off the premises.

  • And all those silly little electro-magnetic devices under the craps and roulette tables are legal???

  • I'm waiting for the toothpick counting program.
  • You are either visibly typing on a phone, or have it running in voice mode with ear buds with a hand in your pocket. I supposed you could get blue tooth earphones and hide them under a hat or wig.
  • by peter303 (12292) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:33PM (#26888269)
    Any establishment may expell a player at will and doesnt need to have the physical counting computer. Of course, they'd like to keep the clumsy counters around, because they make money for the casinos.

    Wikipeadia mentions computer programs that track cards (by camera recognition) and bets (RFIDs in chips). The computer computes several of the popular counting schemes and compares that against actual play. Positive correlation with actual betting is suspicion of counting and grounds for expulsion.
  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:38PM (#26888379)

    There's an app for that!

  • Blacklist (Score:3, Informative)

    by necro81 (917438) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:55PM (#26888669) Journal
    Even if it weren't illegal, casinos really, really don't like card counters. Even those who do it entirely in their heads, if they are found out or simply start winning too consistently, can be asked to leave or escorted out of the casino. It's not a matter of legality or fairness; casinos regard it simply as cheating (anything that tips the odds they've established in their favor is cheating to them), barely above outright theft, and take action accordingly.

    In extreme cases, they can add you to a blacklist that other casinos subscribe to. Enforcement of the blacklist starts getting into really impressive, and scary, Big-Brother stuff that governments could only dream of - automatic face recognition and tracking, cross-checking faces against the black list, logging time spent at such-and-such location (i.e., table), who happens to be around the person at the same time (to sniff out collaborative counting groups). Casinos can do it because they have lots of money and incentive to do so, plus they are working this stuff in a smaller environment that they design and control to the hilt.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zippthorne (748122)

      Hah, no, casinos love card counters. They even sell how-to books in the gift shop.

      They don't want everyone to be a successful card counter of course, but they're perfectly happy to let you think you've got the chops to do it successfully. And to do that, they have to let a few successful ones slip through the cracks for a while.

  • Plagiarism (Score:5, Interesting)

    by monoqlith (610041) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @12:58PM (#26888727)

    Last paragraph:

    'The idea behind counting cards in blackjack is that a deck of cards with a high proportion of high cards (ten-valued cards and aces) to low cards is good for the player, while the reverse (a deck with a high proportion of low cards to high cards) is good for the dealer.[...]

    Wikipedia article on Card Counting: [wikipedia.org]

    'The idea behind counting cards in blackjack is that a deck of cards with a high proportion of high cards (ten-valued cards and aces) to low cards is good for the player, while the reverse (a deck with a high proportion of low cards to high cards) is good for the dealer.'

    C'mon TechFragments. If you copy a Wikipedia article, which you shouldn't be doing anyway, you need to give a link back to the article you copied from and give proper attribution to its authors.

  • Duh..... (Score:3, Informative)

    by IHC Navistar (967161) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @04:09PM (#26892411)

    Obviously, card-counting with a device, mechanical, electronic, or even a pencil and paper, is flagrantly illegal. Everybody knows this.

    However, card-counting in your head is not.

    *BUT* they can kick you out if they suspect you are counting cards in your head, or will use any number of methods to screw up your mental counting, such as distraction (hecklers, waitresses with great tits, etc. They use the same methods for dice controllers too.).

    Keep in mind, if someone says "This table is too hot for you", then leave. Immediately.

    Card Counters caught cheating with a device are handed over to the police (if they are lucky), your mugshot is taken by casino personnel, and you are placed into a Black Book database, and effectively banned from every casino with access to the database.

  • by Cliff Stoll (242915) on Tuesday February 17, 2009 @08:30PM (#26896321) Homepage

    In the early 1980's, a group of Santa Cruz physics grad students built a set of computers into their cowboy boots. These timed the spinning of roulette wheels and applied Newtonian physics.

    Thomas Bass wrote this up in the 1985 book, The Eudaemonic Pie, and caused the Nevada Gaming Commission to ban the use of these devices.

    See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Eudaemonic_Pie [wikipedia.org]

Scientists will study your brain to learn more about your distant cousin, Man.

Working...