Why casinos always win

City talk | Siu Sai-wo 13 May 2021

With mainland visitors returning, Macau became robust again during the May 1 week and gambling halls were reanimated.

There is a saying that casinos don't care if you are smart, or if you are dumb, they make money so long as you come, for 99 out of 100 players would end up making a contribution.

I asked my friend in Macau if anyone has ever really won. He said yes, but you would have to have special abilities. After all, the odds are always in favor of the house, so if you keep playing, you will end up losing.

However, some people with extraordinary skills could actually buck probability. My friend has seen a player who won more than lost at the roulette table. But how did he do it?

This player could estimate rather accurately where the ball would land by observing its speed as it was released by the croupier.

Casinos are no sitting ducks, so this establishment deployed mechanical ball releases plus random vibrations to disturb the ball's motion as countermeasures to neutralize such an uncanny ability.

Another extraordinary player is African-American Phil Ivey, who has won big money at casinos by detecting the subtle difference on the back of playing cards.

There have also been teams that used mental calculation to outplay the dealer. Even so, some casinos would still let them play if they didn't overdo it. My friend believes players like these could, in fact, make more money by employing their talents elsewhere, like in the investment sector.

After all, he pointed out, apart from the inherent odds against the players, there are two other killer moves that casinos have up their sleeves.

First, they make the rules, and if that doesn't work, they can blacklist you.

Second, they can always challenge the legality of a winning method in court.

Casinos pay a lot of tax money, so in litigation like these, which party do you think stands a better chance of winning?

Siu Sai-wo is publisher of Sing Tao Daily

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