Blackjack Simulation Software From ET Fan:
Beware of the Sega Robo-Dealers: Non-Random Video BlackjackBy Joel H. Friedman
(From Blackjack Forum Vol. XII #4, December 1992)
© 1992 Blackjack Forum
The March issue of Blackjack Forum (Volume XII #1) contained an interesting article by Allan Pell concerning a variety of robo-blackjack machines (i.e., computerized simulations of blackjack encased in slot machines). At the recent World Gaming Congress in Las Vegas, the Sega booth at the Expo had on display a version of their multiplayer blackjack machine very similar to the Sega BlackJack Super Magic Vision machine discussed by Pell. This machine has some “features” that I personally find very disturbing.
Finally, there is a random jackpot for A,2,3,4,5,6, plus a payoff of 10, 20, or 50 units depending upon whether your cards are mixed colors, all of the same color, or all of the same suit. An honest blackjack game with these rules would result in a huge player advantage (>5%).
Video Blackjack with an Adjustable House Edge
So how can casinos make money with a game that has such favorable rules? The Sega handout lists as a feature of their machine, “Operator selected percentages from 84% to 99% in one percent increments.” In other words, it seems that the blackjack rules are fixed, but the house edge is adjustable.
When I questioned the Sega representatives about this, I was given the following information. The Sega blackjack machines do not meet the regulatory requirements of Nevada or New Jersey. This was attributed to their software, which was developed for Sega by an outside vendor. The Sega representatives did not seem to know why the software caused a problem. Their view was that their machine was designed for entertainment as opposed to serious gambling. Their customers (i.e. casinos) seemed very pleased with the fact that the hold on their machines varied only a little from the selected percentage.
Non-Random Video Poker from the Same People Who Brought You Non-Random Video Blackjack
Some of the readers of Blackjack Forum may be video poker enthusiasts as well as blackjack players. Yes, there are also video poker machines out there in foreign casinos which do not meet the regulatory requirements of Nevada and New Jersey.
Sega indicated that their blackjack machines can be found on cruise ships as well as in casinos in Europe, Asia, and in the Caribbean. The presence of a Sega blackjack machine in a casino should be viewed as an indication that you are in a jurisdiction that permits machines that do not meet the regulatory standards of Nevada or New Jersey. If you see an interesting looking machine, I suggest that you proceed with extreme caution, or play solely for entertainment.
I was not, however, unaware of the existence of these machines. In fact, during the summer of 1991, Blackjack Forum contributing writer, Allan Pell, had supplied me with brochures from many of the Japanese distributors of both video blackjack and video poker machines, which described how the casino operator could internally change the hold percentage with no apparent alteration of rules or payout schedules.
For more information and stories about video blackjack and casino cheating at blackjack, see The Big Book of Blackjack by Arnold Snyder.
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