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Vegas Casinos Alerted to Card-Counting iPhone Program

16/2/2009
Nevada gambling regulators have placed casino operators on red alert as stories of a new card-counting application compatible with Apple Inc.’s iPod range continue to circulate.

Pit bosses have been advised to keep a close eye on any players using an iPhone or iPod Touch at their blackjack tables after officials at an Indian casino in California caught several customers using the program and alerted state authorities.

While card counting itself is not illegal under Nevada gambling laws, Vegas casinos are often quick to eject any punters suspected of using the technique to beat the house and it is certainly a felony to use any form of device to assist the process.

The Nevada Gaming Control Board reportedly sent a memo around to the Strip’s main players last week warning them of the incidents in California and instructing them to be increasingly vigilant of the use of the Apple products in the coming weeks.

Card counting is a technique most commonly used to gain a small statistical advantage over the casinos in blackjack where players mentally record cards that have been exposed and assign a set probability value to the remaining ‘hidden’ cards. This allows them to adjust their betting patterns accordingly when they are likely to be due a winning hand and minimise their losses when a winning hand is unlikely.

The process of using card counting to beat the house in blackjack was originally made famous by a group of MIT students who were trained to become experts in the procedure and subsequently took Vegas casinos for millions of dollars. Their true-life story was recently brought to the attention of the wider public by the film 2008 film 21, starring Kevin Spacey.

Duncan Wilkie
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