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Time and Money: The Key Resources In Casino Gaming

The Gaming World

Resources are paramount in this world. Water, oil, and natural gas are only a few of the most precious resources on this planet. They’re valuable because they’re limited, and they make our lives livable. 

Casino gaming is its own small world, with its own resources. Time and money are undisputed as the most valuable resources in casino gaming. Everything in gaming revolves around, or is based on these two things; time and money. 

People only have so much time, so convincing the general public to spend that time visiting a casino is where it starts. Then it moves to trying to get people to stay in the casino, because, the more time they are there, the more money (we’ll come back to money in a minute) there is to be made. That’s why casinos have hotels, and restaurants, and shopping malls, and nightclubs. It all started as ways to keep people in the casino for more time.

Now, money is the only bigger and more valuable resource in casino gaming than time. It’s not up for debate. It’s all about the Benjamins. 

  • Money in the drop box
  • Money in the guest’s pocket 
  • Money in the count room
  • Payroll and bonuses
  • Actual win
  • Theoretical win
  • Hold percentage
  • House edge

This list could go on for ages. Much like in the real world, in the gaming world, how we spend our resources is of utmost importance. This is where things get foggy. There’re lots of different opinions on how we should spend our time, our staff’s time, our money, our company’s money. 

Those Precious Resources

Want to know who else worships at the altar of time and money? Advantage players. 

They’re all about it. How much time can they put in? How much money can they make? These two questions are what drive advantage players. It’s all about that EV (expected value). Advantage players in today’s world don’t care about wins and losses. They focus on the value of the game they’re playing (money), and playing it as long as they possibly can (time).

This is just another way in which casinos and advantage players are mirror images of each other, an unpopular opinion on both sides. While both sides are similar in the resources they value, I believe the AP’s are ahead of the game in how they’re utilizing these resources (another unpopular opinion, I know).

The reason I believe the AP’s to be ahead of the game is simple: efficiency. They learn and use their resources exponentially more efficiently than casino staff. There are exceptions to this rule on both sides, of course, but in general, I’m fine with a blanket statement like this. 

Why do I say this? Advantage players learn the craft, scout which places they want to play, and play the game itself at a higher, more efficient level than ever before. This is due to a higher level of training that is more available than ever before. It’s also due to information sharing being easier and faster than ever before.

What About the Casinos?

All the variables I described above are improving for the player with every passing day. Inversely, the same variables are decreasing for the casinos as time passes. Training, for instance, used to be required for all pit bosses. There was a time when being able to pass a basic strategy test and be able to run down counters was a prerequisite for becoming a floor supervisor. This is not the case anymore (again, in general).

There is training for casino staff, sure. But it’s extremely rudimentary, and quite dated, to the point of complete inaccuracy at times. Being an advantage player is different now than it was twenty years ago, and the training hasn’t kept up with the times. 

The game has changed. Even the simple act of card counting has changed. There’s still a large contingent of casino staff that think six and eight deck games can’t be counted because, “It’s too many cards.” Not to mention, there is a LOT more to being an advantage player now than simply counting cards.

Let’s Talk About Those Resources

Time is maybe the most important asset and resource to any casino operator. How each department spends their time determines its overall efficiency. And sometimes, departments need to work together and feed off of each other to ensure overall operational efficiency. 

That being said, I have a question for table games operators. What is the criteria that causes you to call our friends in surveillance to request that they rundown or fully evaluate a player?

This is a monumental question. I’ve seen a lot of operators and management teams request full evaluations of players who are doing nothing more than winning. Sometimes even large bet sizes warrant an evaluation. This can be costly. In table games, which I myself am a part of, it’s hard for us to imagine the time that goes into evaluating a player. Inputting all the data into the software, going through tape, processing the report, it’s far more time consuming than we think it is. Such an investment of time should not be wasted on players who show no indicators of advantage play whatsoever. 

Surveillance is a department responsible for the integrity of the entire casino (and hotel, restaurant, shopping, everything!). They’re doing a lot more than watching our backs in table games. It’s easy for us to make a call upstairs and say “Check this guy out.” The time and effort that follows for surveillance though, is quite extensive. Having them invest their time collecting data on players who are simply betting large, or winning, is a waste of their time. 

As operators, we are responsible for knowing the indicators, the signs, the red flags of advantage players. 

Here’s An Example

Unfortunately, this is often not the case. One story in particular sticks out to me from my playing days. I was playing green chips while the other player was playing black. I was counting, of course, while my counterpart at the table was using W.A.G. system (Wild Ass Guessing, for those who haven’t read The Blackjack Insiders). The variance monster was getting the best of me on this day, which is how counters say “I was losing.” The other guy on the table though, was killing it, up over five thousand.

As an insider, I knew certain things to listen for from the supervisors, keying in to certain phrases, especially when they pick up the phone, if possible. The supervisor over my section requested an evaluation on my table, which made me nervous at first. As you can probably guess from the context of this article though, the evaluation wasn’t for me, but for the guy next to me. I guess they figured since I was losing, I couldn’t possibly be a threat. 

Lucky me! Unlucky for the surveillance tech, who likely spent the next few hours evaluating a Wild Ass Guesser.

Back To the Resources

Another common way that we mismanage resources is the tactics taken to deter advantage players. Maybe the most common, is the old “Cut the deck in half” trick. Some bosses do it when they think someone is counting (again, by winning or betting large). Some casinos go so far as to do it on every table as a standard operating procedure. 

To me, this is a prime example of shooting oneself in the foot. In my opinion, a good cut is 25% off the bottom of a double deck. With this cut, there’s less shuffling, way more hands per hour, therefore more money in the drop box.

Yes, card counters could very well take advantage of a game like that. But, less than 1% of players in the world are winning players. So cutting the deck (or the shoe, in extreme cases, which I’ve also seen) in half, costing all that time and money, to deter such a small number of players, is axiomatically inefficient. It’s stepping over dollars to pick up pennies. 

In this resource driven, time and money driven casino climate, we can’t afford to make ill informed decisions like this. 

The Solution Is In the Conclusion

Like any good writer and critiquer of the world around me, I’m prepared with my solution. It’s quite simple. So simple in fact, that it requires only one word. Training!

There is training available from modern casino minds like myself and others, that can increase knowledge and efficiency for the whole operation. The hardest part sometimes is asking for help. I get it. I loathe admitting I need help with something. That doesn’t stop me from doing it when it’s necessary though. Sometimes, as I hope I’ve evidenced with all this, it’s simply necessary.

 

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