Part 1 - Introduction
Most people hear the word Advantage Player and thoughts of nefarious gangs of criminals who lay siege on unwitting casinos always walking out with wheelbarrows full of cash come to mind. The reality couldn't be further from the truth! So, to answer the question, what are Advantage Players, you have to ask yourself, are they thieves? Are they ne're-do-wells? Do they hang out in gangs? Are they always successful? Are hundreds in casinos at all times? The short answer is, NO! Despite what Hollywood wants you to believe and despite what you've been told, there are not gangs of AP's descending on every casino on a daily basis helping themselves to wads of money. Nothing could be further from the truth.
AP's can be grouped into two basic groups, highly successful professionals who are a threat to the casino and amateurs who are little or no threat due to lack of skill, lack of dedication or lack of bankroll. Let's talk numbers. According to recent statistics, there are about 1.1 million people who participate in some type of casino gaming on any given day. Out of those 1.1 million people, 100 are trying to apply some type of viably sound Advantage Play or 1 in 11,000. Out of those 100 AP's, there are 75 that pose little if no threat to the casino. That leaves 1 in 44,000. 1 in 44,000 of daily casino patrons are AP's that pose a "threat" to the casino. According to recent statistics, the average casino patron is worth $300 per day. That is over $300 million in revenue per day. Since AP's pose such a "threat" to casinos' bottom lines, let's say that their daily worth (loss) is -$10,000 per viable AP, trust me, the number is no where near that high. That is -$250,000 per day or less than one tenth of 1% of gaming revenue.
Let's put that in perspective. How much money is lost every day purely in an attempt to thwart Advantage Play? Complex shuffles slow game speed (only a handful of skilled trackers ever existed and yet complex shuffles still dominate the landscape). Cutting off more cards in blackjack leads to more shuffling which slows game speed. How much time, training and worrying is spent and how much money is wasted on software to identify Card Counting? Simply moving the cut card back 9 cards on blackjack games would yield approximately $375,000 annually per table. In Nevada alone there are over 2,500 blackjack tables. Moving the cut card back 9 cards on all blackjack games just in Nevada would yield Nevada casinos $380 per table daily or $950,000 per day for a net win of $700,000 per day or over $250 million annually just in Nevada alone!!! Keep moving that cut card forward and Advantage Players will continue to seek much more lucrative plays that go Beyond Counting.
Wouldn't it be more cost effective to have surveillance focus their time on high dollar items such as unwarranted slip & fall lawsuits and cheats? One multi-million dollar lawsuit or one cheat possess a significantly higher threat to a casino's bottom line than all the advantage players combined. When you add it all up, casinos lose far more revenue spending more time shuffling and less time dealing than they could ever lose to Advantage Play. That is just the tip of the iceberg. What you don't see is that AP's face a myriad of obstacles that all must be cleared for the AP to be successful.
In the next edition we will look at the obstacles that face AP's and how hard they have to work to be successful.