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Las Vegas Sands Corp. Message Board

  • mbablitz mbablitz Aug 1, 2013 10:43 PM Flag

    This could be how the Cosmopolitan got cheated... and others

    Playing Baccarat the “Macau Way”
    This example of social engineering is my favorite. A group of Asian baccarat customers approached marketing at one of the major Las Vegas casinos and offered to put $1 million dollars in front money in the cage if the casino would accommodate the group’s desire to play baccarat using the “Macau way.” “What is the Macau way?” casino marketing asked. The group’s answer was the Macau way is when the dealer turns up the cards in a specific manner during play on a mini baccarat game (the dealer only touches the playing cards). The players explained that they are very superstitious gamblers and that they preferred the method used to turn over cards in Macau casinos. They then described the Macau way as lifting a card so the players could see it, and then allowing the players to instruct the dealer to either turn the card end-over-end or from the side. Since it doesn’t change the way the game is played, marketing agreed to the change and had floor operations comply.

    What management didn’t realize is that their cards had back-pattern problems known as “sorts.” The card-turning process requested by the players allowed them, through the dealer, to sort the back patterns into two groups: 6s through 9s one direction, 0 through 5s the other. By having the dealer turn and “sort” the cards, the players were actually using the back pattern shortcoming to “mark” the deck.

    The players didn’t stop there. Once they were able to engineer management into sorting the cards, they also managed to engineer them into changing the moment when they could place their bets. The players insisted that to play “true Macau way,” the casino needed to change their wagering procedure and allow them to place bets after the cards were removed from the shoe, but while they were face down and unexposed on the table. Again, marketing justified that “in for a penny, in for a pound” mindset and allowed the baccarat customers to wager after the first two player cards and the first two banker cards were face down on the layout. After approximately 10 months of play at a number of casinos, and after several million dollars in losses, one savvy casino surveillance director realized the problem and put a stop to it.

    Note: I know of no such procedure as the “Macau way.” Some Macau casinos allow players a peek at the cards before they are turned up, but to my knowledge no casinos allow them to request directional turning of the cards.

    Under the right circumstance, anyone can be socially engineered by someone who knows how to play the correct technique. Presently, due to the competitive nature of the gaming industry, there is a great urgency by management and casino marketing to attract more casino customers to their properties. This urgency provides a dangerous point of access for social engineering. Following are a few suggestions that should help prevent situations similar to the previously described scenarios from occurring.

    Before offering any promotion, take the time to put pencil to paper and see that it makes mathematical sense. If the promotion does not break even at the very minimum, strongly consider revising or eliminating it.
    Don’t change an established procedure based on a customer’s request. Minor changes like leaving a double-down card face down in a face up shoe game are fine. Allowing a customer to wager after the cards are withdrawn from the shoe is dangerous.
    Remember that casino marketing’s goal is to bring players in the door and that marketers don’t always consider issues surrounding game protection. Don’t allow a non-casino operations department to dictate procedural changes or policy. At the same time, don’t shut out their requests. Procedural changes to accommodate a customer need to be agreed upon by both marketing and operations.
    One problem that plagues the gaming industry is the continual use of “monkey see, monkey do.” If some other casino offers certain promotions, terms or procedures, they must be good. This does not hold true in many situations and has been the genesis of many major losses in our industry. Again, put pencil to paper and think things out for yourselves before deciding on any promotion or procedure changes.

    Remember the adage, “If it looks too good to be true, normally it is too good to be true.” If it looks too good to be true, please look at it several more times before accepting the terms.

    Bill Zender is a former Nevada Gaming Control agent, casino operator, professional card counter and present gaming consultant. He has been involved in various areas of gaming and hospitality since 1976.

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