[Note. This post is from the casino's point of view.]

In a casino, winning more means optimizing game-interactions with profitable customers to drive higher revenue. Losing less involves recognizing that not every customer will be profitable; the casino must find ways to mitigate losses. In table games, the casino wins more when players play more rounds, make larger wagers, the games move faster, and the house edge is maximized. The casino loses less when the games are well-protected from advantage play and cheating, when the staff is well-educated, and when the focus is on what matters in game protection. Both of these aspects of table games operations are critical to increasing bottom line table game profits. This post summarizes the top five ways to win more and lose less.

Top 5 ways for your table games to win more:

  1. Deal deeper through the shoe between shuffles. There is a common belief that the card counters will attack en masse if too many rounds are dealt between shuffles. That just isn’t the case. There is no army of counters waiting to pounce if you move the cut-card on your shoe game from 2 decks to 1 deck (or less). The income saved by protecting against the small threat of card counters is dwarfed by the income lost by slowing down the game. By dealing a few more rounds between shuffles, you will speed up the game, waste less time shuffling, and win more.

  2. Avoid unnecessary elements in shuffle procedures. Shuffling is a necessary time-eating procedure. Understanding the parts of the shuffle that are the most important allows the shuffle to be streamlined. If you are using an automatic shuffler, don’t include a riffle or a strip before putting the cards into the shuffler. A simple turn will do. Don’t plug the shoe, those are precious seconds lost. Don’t require the dealer to call out before starting or ending the shuffle. Use automatic shufflers if possible, especially on the tables that see the greatest action.

  3. Get rid of the no-midshoe entry policy. Any policy that keeps players from making wagers must be considered an extraordinary measure. Very few such measures are truly necessary to protect games. The no-midshoe entry policy keeps hundreds of players from making profitable wagers for each card counter who is denied an opportunity for a couple of rounds with a small edge. There is also time wasted explaining to players why they can’t play or why they can’t spread to two hands. Let your players make valuable bets and win more.

  4. Encourage dealers to deal faster and put the fastest dealers on the highest-value games. An increase of just 3 rounds per hour can increase table-game profits by 5% or more. These days, there is an emphasis on creating positive player-dealer interactions. For many casinos, creating a friendly social environment sometimes trumps getting rounds on the table. A smile may help keep players at the game longer, but if chatter slows down the game, the player may not be putting any more money on the table overall. Players have a time bank and a money bank, both have to be considered.

  5. Optimize the rules and payouts to maximize return in your competitive environment. Know what your competitors are doing. What are their blackjack rules? What pay tables do they have on their novelty games? What side bets are they using? Visit your competitors often and observe game-utilization. What is working for them? Once you identify your competitor’s strengths and weaknesses, you can better manage the specific elements of the games you offer. Winning more means having the right games available at the right times with the right limits.

Top 5 ways for your table games to lose less:

  1. Learn a wide variety of methods advantage players are using to beat the games. Some of your games may have a player edge off-the-top, especially if there are promotions that give cash back. The novelty games are particularly vulnerable to hole-card play. Some side-bets have card counting issues that dwarf ordinary blackjack. Many games can be beaten by player collusion. Advantage players are highly creative in their passion to beat your games.

  2. Redesign the physical layouts to avoid common problems. There are two problems that repeat over and over in table layouts. In blackjack, it is often the case that the chip-trays are ill-positioned. If the dealer slides his hole-card card over the edge of the tray as it’s being delivered, he may be exposing his hole-card to an advantage player. In the proprietary games, make sure that the discard tray in not placed so that the cards must be lifted over it was they are being delivered from the automatic shuffler. These are a couple of examples. Study your layouts and think outside the box. You can be certain that advantage players are doing just that.

  3. Use cards and shuffling procedures that guard against card weaknesses. Some of the biggest scores by advantage players in the last few years have been because of cards that have asymmetric designs on their backs. By sorting the cards into two distinct groups, advantage players have beaten baccarat, blackjack, Caribbean Stud, Three Card Poker and other games. Get a card with a safe design on its back. Then make sure to include a turn in every shuffle, no matter the game.

  4. Protect the games against their greatest vulnerabilities. Whether it’s blackjack or a novelty game, make sure your dealers are not exposing their hole-cards. Make sure you understand if any side bets on your games are vulnerable to card counting. Understand the full panorama of advantage play opportunities on each of your games, and design your game protection from the bottom up.

  5. Be aware that every game can be beat. Don’t get lazy and assume a game is safe. This especially goes for novelty games and side bets. It’s often the case that robust policies and procedures are developed for blackjack and baccarat protection, while the novelty games and side bets are overlooked completely. Modern advantage players are looking for every opportunity, and modern casinos offer a smorgasbord of options. Don’t rely on the manufacturer or distributor for help. Useful information on game vulnerabilities is extremely hard to obtain.

The key to making more and losing less is to understand the costs and benefits of every policy, procedure, and strategic decision. Understand what’s necessary to protect games. Accept that there are useless procedures that eat at your profits and get rid of them. Make sure staff is educated on both yield management and advantage play. Get the right games, the right pay tables, the right layout and the right equipment. A few small changes will generate a dramatic increase in your table games profits.

Received his Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Arizona in 1983. Eliot has been a Professor of both Mathematics and Computer Science. Eliot retired from academia in 2009. Eliot Jacobson