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Old 06-05-2009, 10:23 PM   #1
MissileDog
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California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

I'm curious, does anyone out there in 2+2 land understand the theory and practice of the pseudo player banked games in California? FYI I don't actually play these games (-EV), just curious.

By law, the California cardrooms cannot offer house banked games, but a variety of games are approved if it is player vs. player. The house makes its money by charging a collection or time fee. Games approved this way include pai gow, pai gow tiles, baccarat, various blackjack like games, some proprietary games (Caribbean Stud, etc), pan, maybe backgammon, and of course poker.

This is the reason that there is no percentage rake in California poker, and we are stuck with the "drop on flop" and the "modified drop" non-sense. But I'm curious about the player/banker games, not pan or poker, ITT. Here is what I have heard and seen...

Back in the 1980s a friend was a big backgammon player. He said there were a few places, i think he said restaurant/bars in LA, that offered backgammon cash games with a time fee.

All the other games feature two employees. The dealer works for the house and deals the cards, but does not play or bank the game, just like poker. The prop player, sometimes called the "chip sitter", is someone's employee and their job is to take any action that the customer-players don't cover. Since, like craps, the vast amount of customer-players bet the "do" (player side), the prop player in fact usually ends up taking the "don't" (banker side). Or at least that's my impression.

Before the Indian Gaming Initiatives the Indian casinos had to follow the same rules. Another friend was a blackjack dealer at one of these casinos. They said that any customer-player could walk up to a blackjack table with a certain minimum amount of money and bank that game. There were prop players, who were uniformed casino employees, available to bank the game if no customer-player was banking the game.

I remember at some point this Indian casino make a big announcement that they were creating a "players bank" for these games. They stated that they were "donating" a certain very large amount to this bank, and that it was set up in such a way that the Indian casino could never get this money back. After the Indian Gaming Initiatives passed, the Indian casino's were allowed to offer house banked games, and the prop players disappeared.

Currently, the two closest cardrooms to me offer pai gow and blackjack. Pai gow has a collection on the players side (although they run no-collection at certain times as a promotion). The blackjack game was originally run with a collection on the players side, but now after some player unfriendly rule changes, the game is offered with no collection. There is a collection on the banker side in all these games, I believe.

The prop-players wear street clothes and have official California State badges that identify them as prop players and employees of a different company than the cardroom. The dealers wear cardroom uniforms and have official city government badges that identify them as casino workers and employees of the cardroom. The floor people supervise both the poker tables and the table games. It is not clear to me that anyone supervises the prop players.

Finally, and this might be gossip, one cardroom floor person claimed that the other cardroom was actually using their own employees as prop players, and that this is illegal.

So I have some questions.....

1) Was backgammon every offered as a legal cash game in California? Is it anymore? The California Attorney General website has a list of every legal cardroom along with every game they have been approved to offer (along with the rules and drop, pretty interesting if not quite up to date). Would backgammon be on this list if offered somewhere?

2) What happened the "players banks" at the Indian casinos?

3) There are companies that are setup to provide prop-players to these cardrooms. These companies hire and pay the prop-players, and provide the prop player's bankroll to play these games. If they paid the same collection that the customer-players pay they are playing a -EV game at a high volume, and paying an employee to do this. How can these companies possibly make any money?

4) I've asked some prop players, and some floor people about this. The answer I get is that they pay a different, lower collection, maybe, kinda. Basically I never get a credible or coherent answer. Two reasons come to mind, that these employees are not privy to these details, or that these details are considered proprietary and they are not supposed to discuss them. Does any one have any credible or coherent answer here? Is this information a matter of public record?

5) Customer-players are not allowed to simply bank the game anymore. They are may only bank two hands per round, or one hand per round, or something (this varies by cardroom and game it seems). The prop-players are allowed to bank every hand of course. So, are the cardrooms allowed to effectively discriminate against customer-players by offering them higher collection and less opportunity to be banker than the prop-players? Is this ability to discriminate, if it exists, a matter of public record?

6) What relationship do the companies that provide the prop-players have with the owners of the cardroom. Are they basically fronts, owned by the cardroom's sister or something? They obviously are the exclusive vendor of prop player services at the cardroom. Does money change hands to establish this relationship, and if so which way?
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Old 06-06-2009, 06:17 PM   #2
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

Disclaimer: I work in an Indian Casino in California, but I spend a lot of time in cardrooms and have a lot of information which can be useful here.

Excellent post. I will try to clear up a few things if I can.

The "Prop Players" actually work for a corporation that banks the games in the absence of players willing to bank. They make money the same way casinos in general make money: they have the mathmatical edge in their favor.

Example: If banking a blackjack game, the banker hits last after all the players have already hit. Obviously players who bust have already lost before the banker has to make any decision at all.

The corporation pays a fee for each hand banked, same as any player. Each player is allowed to bank twice in a row before moving the bank. Lets say there are 4 players on the game and one corporation banker. Each player in turn will be offerred the bank. If a player chooses to bank, the corporation will play as a player, for a small bet. If there is only one player on the game that chooses to bank, then he will bank 2 hands, the corporation will bank 2 hands, and back and forth. Usually there are not many players who choose to bank the game, so the corporation generally ends up banking >90% of the time.

Each corporation must be licensed, just as each cardroom needs to be licensed. It would be very difficult for a cardroom to sneak their own action or their own employees into a corporate bank.

Many card rooms do allow their employees, both on and off duty to play the games. You will see many dealers playing these games, or playing poker. This is with their own money, and sometimes is even a job requirement to keep the game going in the absence of other players.


I have never seen Backgammon offerred anywhere in California card rooms. Each county makes its own rules as to what games are allowed to be run, and I have seen many different game types offerred, but never backgammon. It would probably not be very profitable since card rooms rely on "hands per hour" to make their money, and backgammon is not as fast a game as blackjack or a hand of poker.

When the Indian casinos had player banks, they were required to make sure all the money was given away. When Class III gaming was approved (house banked games) those player pools were deposited into progressive jackpots for slots, and also kept in the poker room.

The property where I work maintains a player's pool in poker. Currently there is about $85,000 in the pool. The pool is used to fund bad beat jackpots and other promotions like "rack attack" or "aces cracked". Indian casinos are required to keep this money completely seperate from house money, and you will see the amount of the pool posted somewhere in the poker room. Card Rooms that take a "jackpot" drop, can put that money anywhere, and there is no accounting for it at all. Think of it as extra rake. Indian casinos cannot take any fees from the player's pool for administrative costs, 100% goes in from the players and 100% is distributed back to the players in various promotions.

I hope this was helpful. Good luck.
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Old 06-06-2009, 08:59 PM   #3
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

Thank you FCBLComish for your reply !

Regarding Backgammon. My friend back in the 1980s (who I've lost touch with) was a big buy-in tourney player, not a cash player. I don't remember him saying he ever played in the cash games, so he could have been confused. My opinion at the time was that these were restaurant/bars/halls (not cardrooms) which were renting out (time charge, like high stakes poker games) backgammon sets and allowing gambling on the sly. Or perhaps this is just urban myth, who knows?

So the old Indian player banks were used as jackpots, etc. Thank you FCBLComish for clearing this up!

But this is the part that's got my curiosity up. I still don't understand how a prop player company makes money.

First, doesn't the collection make both the the player and banker side to all games -EV?

And second, when there are other players who do not want to be banker, couldn't I also make two minimum bets as player then be banker for two bets, and have the same EV as the prop player? So if the prop player can make money like a casino by doing this, why can't I?

The only thing I can guess is that the fee the cardroom pays to the prop player company is so high that it covers the expected loss on the games, the prop player workers wages, and the prop company's owners profit.

And if it is just that simple, in exactly what sense of the word, is this game not house banked? Two owners, one "owns" the expected value, the other "owns" the variance, of the same exact gambling act? Since no single "house" owns both parts of the gambling act, there is no "house" at all? To an ordinary customer, if all bets are the same (or almost the same) -EV all the time, isn't that a workable definition of a house banked game, regardless of how the profits are split up? I guess I just don't get it.

As well as posting here I sent am email to the Gambling Unit in the State's Attorney General office. When (if?) I get a response I will post it here if anyone is interested. This is what I wrote...

Quote:
Sir or Madam,

I have a few questions regarding Third Party Provider of Proposition Player Service (TPPPS) in California Cardrooms....

1. Is it proper and legal for a cardroom to charge a different or lower collection to a TPPPS player than an ordinary customer?
2. Is it proper and legal for a cardroom to allow a TPPPS player to play by different rules than an ordinary customer?
3. In particular, is it proper and legal to allow a TPPPS player to act as the "banker" on each and every hand, while an ordinary player is restricted to, say, only being allowed to act as "banker" two hands a round, etc.
4. As an ordinary customer, can I insist on being treated on an equal footing with a TPPPS player, for example splitting the "banker" position 50/50?
5. If I register as a Gambling Businesses (No Oral, Written, or Implied Agreement Exists With the Gambling Establishment to Provide Proposition Player Services), can I insist on being treated on an equal footing with a TPPPS player, for example splitting the "banker" position 50/50?
6. If not (#5) it's not really clear to me what the category of "Gambling Businesses" is intended accomplish, so, what is the category of "Gambling Business" intended to accomplish?
7. If a TPPPS player pays the same collection, and must play by the same rules as an ordinary customer, how can the TPPPS company possibly make a profit?
8. What kind of payments and agreements are proper and legally valid between a cardroom and a TPPPS company such that it is ensured that the cardroom is not someway involved in banking it's own games?
9. Are the contracts between TPPPS companies and cardrooms public record?
10. Does the State have a model or sample TPPPS contract, or suggestions or guidelines for what should be included in a general TPPPS contract?
11. If TPPPS contracts are not generally public record, do you happen to know of any which have become public record, such as expired contracts, contracts that have been subject to State administrative action, or contracts that have been litigated?

Thank You,

[my real name]
[my California city]
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Old 06-06-2009, 09:25 PM   #4
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

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I will post it here if anyone is interested.
I wouldn't hold my breath -- but, yes, I'd be very interested..
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Old 06-06-2009, 09:30 PM   #5
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

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Originally Posted by MissileDog View Post
But this is the part that's got my curiosity up. I still don't understand how a prop player company makes money.

First, doesn't the collection make both the the player and banker side to all games -EV?

And second, when there are other players who do not want to be banker, couldn't I also make two minimum bets as player then be banker for two bets, and have the same EV as the prop player? So if the prop player can make money like a casino by doing this, why can't I?
Well, most of the players on these games make bets that are SO -EV, that the corporation can pay the juice and still have enough left to make a nice profit. A standard blackjack game has a built in banker advantage of somewhere around 1.5%. There is money to be made here.

You can sit down with exactly the same +EV as the corporation on any table. Provided you have:

1) Ample Funds
2) Ample Time

The secret of the corporations is that their variance is low due to their high volume with a small edge. You can have the same small edge, but you will have to be careful of variance.

One more thing, the dealer (house) is paying bets out of the corporation's stack. In addition to playing, the corporate banker also has to watch the dealer to control errors or other possible monkey business that could be going on. The house does not care who wins and loses, they are just interested in seeing a few dollars go down the drop chute each hand.

Corporations make even more money banking Pai Gow Poker and Pai Gow Tiles, because the players make these ridiculous bets called "buy" bets, where they pay 5% commission to the corporation in order to take the losing side of the wager. They are betting on hands to lose, not win. The corporation takes the 5%, pays the juice on the bet of 1% and the rest is profit.
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Old 06-08-2009, 09:11 PM   #6
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

Oh my goodness! Why have I been wasting my time playing poker? My copy of Optimal Strategy for Pai Gow Poker by Wong is en-route from South America (Amazon).

Trip report: A low stakes grinder plays pai gow poker. Instead of donating at poker today, I took my buy-in(s) and sat at the pai gow poker table. Since the table (and the entire cardroom) was just opening, I was surprised that the dealer didn't have us pick cards to determine the initial banker, instead the prop-player got special treatment and was allowed to bank first.

I made $10 minimum bet the first two hands, without collection (they have a no collection special the first hour on the player side only). On the third hand I banked for the first time and paid the $2 collection on the banker side. I noticed that the prop player did not bet. It turns out at this cardroom you can bank 2 hands, and sit out 2 hands, no need to make token player bets ever. I never made another player bet, of course.

The mechanics of "playing" the game needed to be explained to me. First I had to pick a number between 1 and 7, then i had to shake the dice cup (but not open it, d'ogh, had to shake it again the first time), then I had to ask how to indicate I wanted the dealer to "set" my hand (easy, just ignore the hand), and after the dealer "set" my hand I had to do a poker "check" once or twice before the dealer read the hands and paid the winners. I noticed that the prop-player didn't do any of this nonsense, the dealer just played out the hand. Not sure if there is some code phrase that means "just play it out everytime", or if this is another example of special treatment for the prop-player.

The pai-gow regs (most of whom I know from the poker tables), knowing that I never play pai gow, bombarded me with friendly but completely idiotic advice, which I politely ignored.

On my last hand I got a pleasant surprise. I'm not sure exactly what happened, but I'm pretty sure all player hands had pushed on the previous hand. Anyway, my the hand was collection free on both sides, sweet.

I didn't eat today, but I'm pretty sure pai gow players get a bigger daily food comp. Also, today the cardroom started a new promotion, get AA up front (two card hand) and get a ticket for a drawing for two free cars this month. Of course, since the prop-player company plays so many hands, this seems like a present to them.

I noticed, and the dealer verified, that the prop-players never tip. I explained that I was going to follow exactly whatever policy the prop-players follow regarding tipping, good or bad. I did however tip a small amount today for the extra help with the mechanics of "play".

Buy Bets and Special Treatment. Oh my double goodness !! These are not even gambling (variance zero). The prop-player chatted up Buy Bets, and, for lack of a better name, what I would call "Sell Bets". When he was banker, I could "buy" part of his action by paying him the vig, and when I was banker I could "sell" him part of my action by paying him the vig. I greeted these friendly suggestions by explaining that I will make a "buy bet" right after I shaat out a puppy. And people actually make these bets with real money, amazing!

But this is where I'm still confused. The first time someone placed a "buy bet" the prop-player was banker. The second time, I was banker, but the dealer handed the vig to the prop-player, who was not even in the hand. I called the floor of course. Here is where things got confusing, the only thing that was certain was that I was told I was never going to get any vig, ever.

The floorman explained that the the prop-player's boss had a) spend $3000 for his TPPPS badge, b) the prop-players' boss had to have $5000000 in some bank account, while c) the dealer pointed out that the prop-player was the "house" and I wasn't. Well, the dealer is obviously wrong, and the floorman's response, while probably true, doesn't answer the question. Why is the prop-player allowed to accept wagers that I can't, and how can he accept wagers when he chose not to even play that hand ?

I plan to research this more, and will share what I find if anyone is interested.

Quote:
I wouldn't hold my breath -- but, yes, I'd be very interested..
No news from A.G. Moonbeam, or his hirelings. I am holding my breath.

Quote:
and I have seen many different game types offerred
I'm guess I'm just a curious bastard. What were the most unusual or wacky games offered, especially those no longer played?
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Old 06-08-2009, 09:16 PM   #7
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

Missile,

Did you win? Is it a long term positive EV situation? Did you have to cover the entire amount bet against you, or just as much as you felt like covering?

The "buy" bets, and the silly people who make those bets are the ones that make all the money for the corporation. If there is a way that you (or I ) could book those bets, I would seriously consider doing this semi-professionally.

Where are you located? We can continue this via PM if you are interested.
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Old 06-10-2009, 01:11 AM   #8
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

I worked for one of the major corporations here in LA for about a year and a half. Hopefully I can answer all questions.

A corporation (technically called a Third Party Proposition Corporation) has a contract to be the sole corporation in a casino. Actually, there is a separate contract per game. Our corporation was (still is, I think) the biggest one in LA. We're the main corporation at most of the casinos. I worked at Commerce, where we banked the Blackjack, Pai Gow Poker, and Caribbean Stud Poker. Some other corporation banked the pan 9 and Pai Gow tiles game which were only a total of maybe a dozen tables.

In this 3 way relationship of players, the corporation, and the casino, the corporation gets the major, major raw end of the deal. We actually pay the casino, it's not the other way around. The jackpots that exist are completely funded by us. In addition, the players are constantly trying to cheat and pull all sorts of scams, to which the casino turns a blind eye. About a third of our training was in how to spot and stop cheating players.

When other players are banking and we're only covering the action behind whatever they don't we don't pay a collection since we're not the main bank. We do pay a collection when it's our turn to bank.

At the version of bj they had at Commerce, No Bust 21, perfect basic
strategy yields a 1% disadvantage to the player, however, no one knows what it is expect for us. The players are mainly guessing, so we probably have a 3-8% advantage on our action, more than enough to make up for the $3.00 collection. As mentioned before, we also "sell" action when another player is banking. For $5.00 we will wager $100 and play perfect basic, netting us $4.00. It's such a terrible deal to the player, but this is where we make a lot of our money.

One thing that we needed to watch for was bank chasers, mainly people who tried to go 50/50 with other players banking when it wasn't their turn. It is very common, but the rule is that you can only do this 6 hands per orbit. By the way, this is a good way to make money as a Pai Gow Player. I think the stats say that you will show a profit if you bank 12x as much action as you bet.

Our advantage was actually razor thin and we had some losing quarters on many games.

A little on my experience:

I moved to LA six years ago to pursue a career in acting and found out about this job. It sounded like a pretty sweet deal. I took the 10pm-6am shifts so that I could have my days free for auditioning, plus it paid $14.00/hr, two bucks more than during the day. In addition to the pay was full benefits plus 401k, and $13.00 per day that we could use towards food service while we worked. (The menu was super cheap and you could easily get a day's worth of food for $13.00)

At first, you are only trained for blackjack. Learning to train for Pai Gow Poker is optional, but after passing tests for optimal strategy (which was a ***** to learn) you get an immediate pay bump of $3 plus if you show major competence you can work your way up to the high limit tables and make up to $22/hr. There are also quite often openings for supervisor positions. They give you two sets of special shirts and pants to wear, with the pockets sewn up so you can't steal chips. We also had to get in the habit of clearing our palms after every time we touch a chip, and to this day, I still clear my palms after I touch anything as a force of habit. It's nuts.

The first few months were pretty fun. Got bored of bj quickly so I studied for the pai gow test and passed it a week later. After another few months, I worked my way into the high limit rotation. There were only a few of us.
It was pretty exciting sitting at a table with a box of 4-500k in chips and a bunch of rich ass degenerates who would show up every day, blow their 10 or 20 gs, then go home. All of our players were pretty much made up of the same 30 or 40 people so I got to know many of them pretty well, except for what they did for a living. They would always say "I'm in business" and that would be the end of it.

After about a year, our head supervisor started pulling a bunch of bs on a lot of the employees with regards to policies about the pai gow pay bump. Others had seen how quickly I'd moved up in the ranks and wanted to follow suit but what they didn't know was that it was like pulling teeth to get him to process the paperwork for my raises.

In addition to that, the lifestyle was starting to take its toll. I had probably put on about twenty pounds (eating one large meal every day at 2am will do that after a year and a half) and the graveyard shift was affecting the quality of my auditions. Plus, poker was my main hobby, and we were forbidden to play at the casinos because it was seen as a conflict of interest. Ironically, the dealers are allowed to play all they want.

I was making more playing poker online than at the job, and we also lost our contract with Commerce and so I was going to be transferred to Hawaiian Gardens. (I lived in Studio City so this added an extra 45 min each way).
Because we were going to have too many employees now, our company offered a "voluntary layoff" for those willing to quit, they would be eligible to go on unemployment. So in March of '03 on our last day at Commerce, I hung up my pocketless pants and took it.

Feel free to ask me any questions.
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Old 06-10-2009, 02:36 AM   #9
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

I have no questions, but this thread is outstanding, in no small part because of your contributions.
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Old 06-11-2009, 10:06 AM   #10
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

"...It was pretty exciting sitting at a table with a box of 4-500k in chips and a bunch of rich ass degenerates who would show up every day, blow their 10 or 20 gs, then go home. All of our players were pretty much made up of the same 30 or 40 people so I got to know many of them pretty well, except for what they did for a living. They would always say "I'm in business" and that would be the end of it. ..."

That doesn't quite wash. Anyone who consistently blows ten or twenty grand a day ain't so smart. Which means he sure ain't smart enough to have earned that money.
And all 30-40 have the same tight-lipped orientation to their financial situation. Find any group of regulars in a casino and there will be variations amongst them.
All of them use the same phrase?

Smells like money laundering to me.
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Old 06-11-2009, 04:44 PM   #11
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

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Originally Posted by FleaStiff View Post
"...It was pretty exciting sitting at a table with a box of 4-500k in chips and a bunch of rich ass degenerates who would show up every day, blow their 10 or 20 gs, then go home. All of our players were pretty much made up of the same 30 or 40 people so I got to know many of them pretty well, except for what they did for a living. They would always say "I'm in business" and that would be the end of it. ..."

That doesn't quite wash. Anyone who consistently blows ten or twenty grand a day ain't so smart. Which means he sure ain't smart enough to have earned that money.
And all 30-40 have the same tight-lipped orientation to their financial situation. Find any group of regulars in a casino and there will be variations amongst them.
All of them use the same phrase?

Smells like money laundering to me.
Well, possibly, but we're talking about people who have many millions of dollars and have businesses that make them residual income and require very little of their time. When you have that much money, it's like the only thrill left is to win money. Kind of sad. But also, it's not like they lost EVERY day.

I had shifts where I lost 100-200k in a couple of hours. The swings were huge. Also, not all of them would say" I'm in business." I was generalizing to show how it was humorous how often that answer came up among them, but it's not like every regular was some shady character.
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Old 06-11-2009, 09:41 PM   #12
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

Most of them are in the import/export business.
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Old 06-11-2009, 11:24 PM   #13
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

That doesn't quite wash. Anyone who consistently blows ten or twenty grand a day ain't so smart. Which means he sure ain't smart enough to have earned that money.


Obviously anyone who blows g's on any -EV bet is a tard. But, and this is a very common misunderstanding, smartness does not strongly correlate with wealth.

The way the world works, the vast majority of wealth is in inherited, way over 90%. And no, I will not site any references or debate the exact number for this or that part of the world, now or at anytime in the past, thank you very much! If you don't feel that something like this is true (and if the percentage was much lower, much, much lower that what I'm going to say would not still be true) we are just going to have to agree to disagree.

The way the world really works is, after the patriarch has earned the family fortune fair and square (or not), he is still left being a man. And just like any crack-momma, he is a man and things will happen. Those things are called crack-babies if their momma happens to be a crack-momma. Those things, in a wonderful phrase from Mexico, are called "Juniors" if their poppa happens to be rich. When crack-babies grow up they scare the crap out of me near the cardroom. When juniors grow up, the few that haven't discovered cocaine, they are given "do-nothing" so-called jobs, just like the mob gets from east coast unions, except in their own family business. And yes, a lot of those "jobs" are in the import/export business, especially in Los Angeles.

So I'm would guess 90% of the big pia-gow losers are "Juniors", and maybe 5% really sick degens, and sure, maybe 5% money mules.
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Old 06-12-2009, 12:30 PM   #14
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

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Originally Posted by MissileDog View Post
That doesn't quite wash. Anyone who consistently blows ten or twenty grand a day ain't so smart. Which means he sure ain't smart enough to have earned that money.


Obviously anyone who blows g's on any -EV bet is a tard. But, and this is a very common misunderstanding, smartness does not strongly correlate with wealth.
Some people can be smart in one area and less smart in another.
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Old 06-13-2009, 11:18 PM   #15
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

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In addition, the players are constantly trying to cheat and pull all sorts of scams, to which the casino turns a blind eye. About a third of our training was in how to spot and stop cheating players.

Great read. Can you elaborate a little more on this?
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Old 06-14-2009, 02:22 AM   #16
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

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Great read. Can you elaborate a little more on this?
lol sure. Well, just like in regular poker and blackjack, aces play a big role in Pai Gow Poker. So a lot of player mark the aces and then in addition, whoever is banking gets to shake the dice cup to determine the action.

The dice cup has a lid on it so that just in case an ace is marked, they won't be able to have it land on their hand. This is why it is required that if the lid comes off while shaking, they have to put it back on and give it another shake.

Some players will barely take it off and sneak a peak at the dice. In addition, some players will open the lid until they see the right number, reapply the lid, then give it a "fake shake" where they pretend to shake it, but actually the dice don't move, they just graze along the bottom of the cup.

Cheating number 2: showing other people your cards. They somewhat enforce this in Vegas too, but much more loosely. Pretty much every card is dealt out, so if everyone shows their cards to each other, you can figure out what the dealer is going to pull. At the very least, if you can account for the aces and joker, it can make a real difference on how you set your hand.

Cheating number 3: Switching cards. At a normal Pai Gow Table, there are six seats and two or three people standing behind each seat betting on that spot. Whoever has the biggest bet on the seat gets to play the hand, which might mean one of the standing "behind" players. The rule, just like in Vegas, is that they need to keep cards over the table. Reason why is because a couple of behind players will try to switch cards.

Running the Pai Gow table was a major undertaking. Imagine a table game but with the action of a craps table, except with people throwing their chips across the table to bet on other people's spots. We had to watch the cards being dealt (yes, dealers would also try get together with players to try to influence where the aces/joker ended up), the dice cup being shaken, how much money was being put in the bank, keep track of how many times each player had banked per orbit, set the hands as the dealer would open and close them in one second, keep track of our bought bets, and keep our eyes on 15-20 people to make sure nothing funny was going on.

And of course be very personable and do it all with a smile.
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Old 06-14-2009, 04:04 AM   #17
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

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lol sure. Well, just like in regular poker and blackjack, aces play a big role in Pai Gow Poker. So a lot of player mark the aces and then in addition, whoever is banking gets to shake the dice cup to determine the action.

The dice cup has a lid on it so that just in case an ace is marked, they won't be able to have it land on their hand. This is why it is required that if the lid comes off while shaking, they have to put it back on and give it another shake.

Some players will barely take it off and sneak a peak at the dice. In addition, some players will open the lid until they see the right number, reapply the lid, then give it a "fake shake" where they pretend to shake it, but actually the dice don't move, they just graze along the bottom of the cup.

Cheating number 2: showing other people your cards. They somewhat enforce this in Vegas too, but much more loosely. Pretty much every card is dealt out, so if everyone shows their cards to each other, you can figure out what the dealer is going to pull. At the very least, if you can account for the aces and joker, it can make a real difference on how you set your hand.

Cheating number 3: Switching cards. At a normal Pai Gow Table, there are six seats and two or three people standing behind each seat betting on that spot. Whoever has the biggest bet on the seat gets to play the hand, which might mean one of the standing "behind" players. The rule, just like in Vegas, is that they need to keep cards over the table. Reason why is because a couple of behind players will try to switch cards.

Running the Pai Gow table was a major undertaking. Imagine a table game but with the action of a craps table, except with people throwing their chips across the table to bet on other people's spots. We had to watch the cards being dealt (yes, dealers would also try get together with players to try to influence where the aces/joker ended up), the dice cup being shaken, how much money was being put in the bank, keep track of how many times each player had banked per orbit, set the hands as the dealer would open and close them in one second, keep track of our bought bets, and keep our eyes on 15-20 people to make sure nothing funny was going on.

And of course be very personable and do it all with a smile.
How would you handle situations where a player can beat the bank through advantage play, not cheating. Assuming this happens, does the corporation have the right to refuse play to anyone they wish for any reason? Does the casino need to back up the corporation on something like this?
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Old 06-14-2009, 05:00 PM   #18
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

Well, the only non cheating advantage play would be to bank 10-12x more action than you bet, which is possible if you bet the minimum the hand before it's your turn to bank and then cover all the action on the table, also playing optimally when it's your turn to set the hand.

If you can also find your way into other people's banks that's even better since you won't have to pay for the hand before. But usually if you go in others' banks, they want to come in yours as well.
As long as no player banks more than six times per orbit there's nothing we can do.

What we watch out for are players standing up behind who try to get in on the banks without ever playing a hand, or they try to go behind and cover the action that we would. The rule is that unless you have money in the first bank, you're not allowed to put money behind. So if you can find someone who banks very little when it's their turn to bank and go 50/50 on that first bank, you can pretty much cover the rest of the action behind.

There are also lots of ways to influence the action behind in blackjack but that's a whole other story.
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Old 06-14-2009, 06:56 PM   #19
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

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Well, the only non cheating advantage play would be to bank 10-12x more action than you bet, which is possible if you bet the minimum the hand before it's your turn to bank and then cover all the action on the table, also playing optimally when it's your turn to set the hand.

If you can also find your way into other people's banks that's even better since you won't have to pay for the hand before. But usually if you go in others' banks, they want to come in yours as well.
As long as no player banks more than six times per orbit there's nothing we can do.

What we watch out for are players standing up behind who try to get in on the banks without ever playing a hand, or they try to go behind and cover the action that we would. The rule is that unless you have money in the first bank, you're not allowed to put money behind. So if you can find someone who banks very little when it's their turn to bank and go 50/50 on that first bank, you can pretty much cover the rest of the action behind.

There are also lots of ways to influence the action behind in blackjack but that's a whole other story.
Thanks for the info. It sounds like an advantage player could then keep playing without worry of getting his action refused. I am aware of some banked games in California that yield +EV in certain conditions, of which you noted one. (non-balanced banking)
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Old 06-15-2009, 08:14 PM   #20
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

Thanks, this is something I've always wondered about. I've thought about trying to be the player banker, but the possible cheating and mistakes combined with a low edge always turned me off. Plus I always wondered if they'd try to muscle me out if I tried to bank and take away from their action.
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Old 06-15-2009, 08:15 PM   #21
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

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Thanks, this is something I've always wondered about. I've thought about trying to be the player banker, but the possible cheating and mistakes combined with a low edge always turned me off. Plus I always wondered if they'd try to muscle me out if I tried to bank and take away from their action.
All of the above, or possibly none of the above. It depends on when and where you go.
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Old 06-16-2009, 02:22 AM   #22
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

As long as you keep to the rule of only banking 6x per orbit it's ok. However, the vast majority of the associates (that was our title) are pretty asleep behind the wheel and do not pay nearly as much attention as I did. Also, this was 4 years ago so who knows what the policy is now. It also may vary from corporation to corporation.

Knowing optimal strategy is also pretty essential. It was challenging to learn, I would equate it to learning how to count using basic hi-lo. I think it adds another 1% advantage, which would make it 2% total. (1% from optimal and 1% you naturally have for the copy lose).

Also, just like in craps, dealers and players make mistakes so if you can only call them out when they're not in your favor, that adds a little more too.
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Old 06-16-2009, 04:34 PM   #23
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

I got so many questions my head is sploading.

But most important. Whats with the code of secrecy? My very short California-style pit game experience taught me...

The first rule of prop club is ... don't talk about prop club.

I've been seeing, and playing poker with, the chip sitters for years. All that time, or one single floor person, ever gave me gave any credible or coherent explanation of whats going on.

Try googling this topic. There is almost NO information about the corporations, except that they are hiring. There is NONE that I could find which even explains how this works.

I very politely, and without slowing down the game, asked some simple questions, such as why don't the chipsitters never have to play 'players' hands (and I do), why the chipsitters get 'cuts' on the board (and I don't), and why chipsitters can profit from 'buy' bets (and I can't).

I know that I am a respected customer and am personally like by the all floor people at my local. I spend way more in drop at my local than I do on my house and cars. I never make 'trouble', ever. I was told to STFU, in front of the other customers, and later took aside reminded to STFU.

So whats up? Why? And is there formal training on how to deflect curiosity?
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Old 06-16-2009, 06:40 PM   #24
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Spade Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

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Originally Posted by MissileDog View Post
I got so many questions my head is sploading.

But most important. Whats with the code of secrecy? My very short California-style pit game experience taught me...

The first rule of prop club is ... don't talk about prop club.

I've been seeing, and playing poker with, the chip sitters for years. All that time, or one single floor person, ever gave me gave any credible or coherent explanation of whats going on.

Try googling this topic. There is almost NO information about the corporations, except that they are hiring. There is NONE that I could find which even explains how this works.

I very politely, and without slowing down the game, asked some simple questions, such as why don't the chipsitters never have to play 'players' hands (and I do), why the chipsitters get 'cuts' on the board (and I don't), and why chipsitters can profit from 'buy' bets (and I can't).

I know that I am a respected customer and am personally like by the all floor people at my local. I spend way more in drop at my local than I do on my house and cars. I never make 'trouble', ever. I was told to STFU, in front of the other customers, and later took aside reminded to STFU.

So whats up? Why? And is there formal training on how to deflect curiosity?
Wow, that sucks. I have no idea why you were given that treatment. I was always very friendly with the other players and would answer any questions. The only explanation for that is that it might not have been our corporation. Ours was based very much on great, friendly service and any attitude like that would not have been tolerated, especially since most of those questions wouldn't be coming from regular players but newbies looking to understand the game.

Our corporation also prided ourselves on having a very clean record. Other corps were known to be involved in money laundry, Japanese mafia, etc. etc.

I remember this one douchebag who worked with us named Neil who kept getting written up because he would get in fights with the players LOL. He finally got fired after about a month.

I had a colleague named Adam who came to work one time absolutely hammered and when people bought action from him, basic strategy went out the window and he played his own way!
He was doubling 12, splitting tens, etc. And he was winning, which was driving the players nuts. He was fired about an hour later. His last words to me were, "How can they let me go right now? I'm so freakin' hot!"

Truth is, my attitude was that I was happy when the players won, since as long as I was doing my job well, I knew that the edge would take effect eventually and so the results didn't matter in any given session/day. This made for a much more enjoyable working environment and made me pretty popular among the players and dealers.

Although the times that I dropped a couple hundred grand in an hour on the high limit Pai Gow table felt pretty rotten.
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Old 06-17-2009, 10:57 AM   #25
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Re: California Player Banked Games -- How do they work ??

double down, thanks for the info.

You know, I would guess that the floor man just was having a bad day, and the rudeness (not really even rudeness, just abruptness) was just a thing that doesn't really have anything to do with pai-gow or myself. I was just really surprised, my feelings weren't hurt. So very good. And the chip sitter didn't get mad or even say so much as peep (I addressed all my questions only to the floor), but also didn't make any attempt to answer any of these questions.

You didn't mention your former corp by name. I'm pretty sure the one here was "Ache Prop Services'. Just kidding, if anyone cares i will try to notice the name next time and post.

So, now that I'm over my 'prop club' paranoia, let me rephrase my questions...

1. I should be able walk into, say, Commerce or Crystal, and if I politely and respectful ask a question like "if the chip sitters are really supposed to be just players like me, then how come they get to profit from 'buy bets' and I don't?" and can expect to get a coherent and credible answer?

2. So back in the day at Commerce, what was the answer to the above question?

3. When I googled around, and I am not a google tard, the lack of information about this topic is staggering. I found one Salon article which was real good, about being a chip sitter. The only other article I found was written by some idiot. This writer carefully explained there were chip sitters and poker props, then set about writing complete non-sense by ignoring the differences the rest of the article. A whole lot out there about getting a job, and an amazingly amount of silence otherwise.

And as far as I know, this thread right here, is the only place on the internet were a simple explanation of how the chip sitter's bosses make money exists, period.

So, leaving aside my prop club paranoia, why do the corporations keep such a low profile?

4. I've always been curious about the chip sitters since the early days of the Indian Casinos. At first, since the Indian Casinos I went to used uniformed casino employees as chip sitters, I just figured they were box men, like craps. Then I went on to my "Front Companies needed get around some law" theory, as I mentioned above. Off and on, ever since the first Indian Casinos, I've asked several thousand of players, dealers, floor people, and chip sitters, simply whats up, in every way I could think of. Until my friendly fellow 2+2 users responded in this thread, I was clueless, as you all know.

So, leaving aside my 'prop club' paranoia, both the corporations and the cardrooms have obviously decided to treat this information as proprietary for business reasons. Why?

5. Was part of your training how to deflect players curiosity?

6. It might be me in which case PM the answer please kind sir but...
Since most players are used to house banked games, I can't the only one curious. So, what is the most idiotic theory you've heard from a player explaining the chip sitters? There must be a ton of funny stories about players confusing California style gaming with house banked gaming.

And to all, a BIG, thank you very much! I'm still brain splodin, more questions to come....
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