How a medical professor made a fortune at the roulette wheel

#1

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/05/13/how-a-medical-professor-made-a.html

#2

Why in GOD’s name would anyone play a “digital” roulette wheel? Or any kind of “digital” gambling?
“Gee, the math algorithm that the house designed says the house won that time. What a shame. You wanna bet again?”
Any man who is so stupid he would bet money on any digital device deserves to wind up homeless. He’ll find some way to ruin himself sooner or later, may as well get it over with.

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#3

that’s true, it reminds me of my stupid stepdad and his gambling and how he would steal the money I saved and then finally he ended up homeless and of course my mom and me too, yep he sure deserved it. I’m happy it happened.

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#4

Well…let’s break it down into the basic two categories of those people who would “be so stupid”.

  1. People who have a set amount of money in their pocket and go to gambling places and do so because simply put…it’s fun. They bet $1 here, $10 there. For them it’s no different than spending $200 at a Football game.

  2. People who have a gambling addiction and cannot restrain themselves from doing so.

In either case…these people are not “stupid” nor do they need you talking down to them and treating them like some lesser species.

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#5

Was in a casino recently to meet family for dinner - bemoaning that slot machines no longer harm arm handles - you press a button.

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#6

To be clear, he’s not saying gamblers are stupid. He’s saying playing with a black box, where you have no chance of seeing what the odds are (and whether the game is being even more rigged than a normal house game) is stupid.

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#7

I don’t see the distinction. Yes, on the handful of occasions where I gambled for entertainment, I would rather play a physical game than a computer game. That is my preference not a moral judgement on the people who do otherwise.

Also, to be clear: It is exactly as rigged as a normal house game.

Don’t forget: if you do find some mechanical or algorithmic imperfection in a casino game and win on a statistical basis they can and will ban you for life. Because winning is against the rules.

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#8

Best way to make a ton of money in a Casino:

  1. Buy a Casino.

Only a complete moron who had no business skills at all would be able to bankrupt a casino! It’s basically a license to print money!

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#9

And I am stating that blanketly determining the the person “having some fun” or “having a addiction disease” is stupid is unacceptable.

By that measure every person spending money on a video game…stupid. spend money on a sportsball game…stupid. spend money going o an amusement park, vacation destination, nice dinner out…stupid. Because you can get sustenance rather cheaply and more economically by buying groceries and eating at home…you KNOW the mark up on eating at a fancy restaurant is ridiculous and it is STUPID to do so. ANY person STUPID enough to spend money buying a nice bottle of wine while on an evening on the town deserves to be poisoned by that wine and food and end up with food poisoning in the hospital.

I hope you get my point. While I can allow there is more than group A and B in the bucket of “People who play digital machines at a casino” I would argue that the overwhelming (most likely well above 90%) number of them are A or B. And ridiculing them for a conscious decision to just have some harmless fun OR for not being able to control a crippling disease is rather…well, pun intended…FUCKING STUPID.

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#10

All roulette wheels are designed to favor the house. He was only able to gain an advantage because he was able to identify mechanical flaws.

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#12

Mechanical flaws are what you look for. The fact that everything is digital now means that it’s much harder to gain an edge by paying close attention.

I’m not a gambler, but when we used to have work outings at Dave & Buster’s I would focus specifically on the mechanical machines for this reason. I just did not bother with anything digital; I worked for a software company and that just intuitively seemed like a non-starter.

I found a crane machine which had a messed up claw (the control wire was looped under the hook, giving it just a bit more grip). I took half of everything in the crane machine that night. I managed to find a few dodgy mechanical machines and racked up tens of thousands of tickets as well.

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#13

And much easier for the machine to have some malicious code that worsens your odds.

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#14

You’d think. But, there’s actually a lot of government regulation around that. I won’t say it doesn’t happen, but there’s regular code reviews and a lot of processes in place so that casinos don’t do this. I gather the consequences for getting caught are dire. ETA: And also so malware can’t be introduced into the machine. By the way a lot of slot machines run Windows…

Source: I had customers in a previous job who had to deploy software updates to slot machines. I got the schpiel from them.

That said… If you’re on a website that is based outside the US, and thus not regulated by State or Federal government… Yeah…

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#15

As someone who doesn’t gamble and does not frequent casinos, is that even true? The last casino I was in in Melbourne (hotel casinos always make you walk through the casino to get anywhere, such as the conference rooms or the hotel rooms) was very much a standard analog roulette wheel.

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#16

And by “malicious” we mean “works as designed”

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#17

Do the regulations mean that the digital machines may not be under the direct control of the house? Mechanical machines (like a roulette wheel) are designed to be random but once the ball is rolled may not be controlled by the house. That’s where the accusations of “stupidity” or rather not thinking it through come in. And the controlling software for a complex game could be millions of lines of code. They audit it all? Every line? Really?

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#18

I don’t have all the answers.

But a few things:

  1. There’s no way it’s millions of lines of code. No. Freaking. Way. A slot machine game is not going to have several times the complexity of the Linux kernel.
  2. Given item 1: Yes. They will audit every single line of code.
  3. They also audit the security configurations of the slot machines, update process, etc.

You’re right in that there is opportunity for things to slip through; of course there is, just like any computer system. I’m just suggesting that the expectation that all digital slot machines are rigged is maybe not as likely as you think it is.

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#19

Is it more or less likely than a mechanical system being rigged?

#20

I am biased, in that I’d say that because software systems are more auditable a digital slot machine is less likely to be rigged by the house.

(And probably more likely to be rigged by a malicious player)

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#21

I think I’d be more comfortable (because other people being ripped off) if the software houses were independent and paid by how close the house came to its 4% (or whatever) retention target.