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    Corporate Naivety

    Posted by Coffee April 21, 2014

    When did casino operators become simpletons? When did people with billions of dollars of buildings, employees and materials at their disposal turn into babes in the woods about the nature of their clientele?

    Top poker professional Phil Ivey is currently embroiled in not one, but two lawsuits surrounding his actions at baccarat tables. In both cases, the casinos (Crockfords in London and Borgata) have alleged that he has been “unfairly” using a method known as edge sorting, which takes advantage of manufacturing patterns on the playing cards used by the casinos themselves. As best as can be determined, both casinos are claiming foul play after Ivey, who merely used the equipment furnished to him by the casino along with some favorable dealer actions due to his celebrity status to create a situation in a game where he had the advantage.

    To be clear: at no point did Ivey manipulate the cards or use devices to cheat. He merely used his mind to spot a weakness in the game, no different than a card counter in blackjack. The casinos in question were under no obligation to use the readable cards nor were they bound to agree to Mr. Ivey’s requests (which were odd and certainly designed to create the ideal situation for him). They agreed to the terms of the bets in each case. But now, they want their money back because it wasn’t “fair.”

    For some perspective, does anyone imagine that a lawsuit would occur if the casino had won? Casinos regularly deal games with an advantage to their side of the ledger; it’s specious to act as though Mr. Ivey acted out of bad faith.

    However, what troubles me in these episodes is that the casinos are so shocked and outraged to discover that someone has gamed the system on them a bit. Since when are gamblers not trying to game the system? It’s part and parcel of gambling…hell, casinos even egg them on by selling blackjack Basic Strategy guides and holding free craps classes in the mornings. And yet, it’s a surprise that a gambling wunderkind like Ivey discovered a weakness?

    There is a scene in Casino when Robert DeNiro browbeats one of his managers for not catching onto a cheating episode as it unfolded. He says, “did you not see you were being set up on the second win?” The implication is that a good casino manager should rightfully be suspicious of wins well above the typical level of expectation. Perhaps the shame lies on Phil Ivey for the first incident; edge sorting is (or was) an extremely esoteric concept.

    However, given the headlines regarding what happened at Crockfords, how can Borgata blame anyone but itself?

    There is 1 Comment

    1. - November 23, 2014
        -   Reply

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