Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Make the Hurting Stop

Man, I am one out of shape monkey. Last few days of hard monkey labor finally caught up to me, as I've been gimping around all morning. I also managed to hit myself in the eye yesterday with a 50 lb. bag of mortar, which takes some doing.

All systems go for the Coushatta trip. It's kind of nice, as far as this involuntary poker hiatus coinciding with the trip, as I'm definitely more excited to fling some chips around. Wish it was a bit shorter drive but what the hell. Don't really have a gameplan, as far as limits, etc., just mainly looking forward to cramming in as much poker as humanly possible.

Be crazy as hell if Cassava Enterprises (which operates Pacific Poker and Casino on Net) actually ended up buying PokerStars, as this article suggests could happen. I'd have to think that'd be a win-win for everyone involved, including players and affiliates, as Cassava is pretty damn good about rewarding players and affiliates with a minimum of hassle and seems willing to absorb pretty high acquisition/retention costs per player. They keep promising an upgrade to the craptacular Pacific Poker software but it might be easier to just buy rather than build, especially if their flotation is a decent success.

Does anyone watch preseason NFL games? I loves me some NFL but good lord, I'd rather watch professional bowling instead of seventh stringers battling it out for absolutely no reason. And I realize that Madden has been slowly degrading into a caricature of a caricature of Madden for quite awhile now, but he seems to have finally made the leap into the realm of outright senile old man, not making sense land. I managed to watch a quarter of the "game" last night and, on three different occasions, he uttered statements that made absolutely no sense. None.

Sort of an interesting situation that's been unfolding for a few weeks at an online casino, Joyland Casino. They've recently started promoting a big sticky bonus offer, $808 in bonus money on a $500 deposit, and attracted assorted attention on bonus forums. Pretty quickly some clever monkeys realized that they'd unknowingly set their software to reward a disproportionate amount of compp points, for every dollar wagered. Usually the comp points at casinos that use the same software work out to be something like $1 or $2 per every $1,000 wagered, but Joyland's was set to basically pay out at a comp rate of 4%.

Which doesn't sound that impressive, until you really think about it. If you have a large enough bankroll, a comp rate of 4% is basically a license to print money, as you can simply play games like BJ at lower bet sizes until your clicking finger falls off, since the comp rate easily negates the house advantage, as long as your bankroll is big enough to absorb swings due to variance. You could also play the zero risk game and cover all possible bets at certain games, winning and losing nothing from your wagers but making money from the inflated comp rate.

So apparently some people simply played non-stop while the loophole existed, literally sitting there and clicking for 16-20 hours a day, running up ridiculous amounts of money from the comp points. The casino finally caught on, at which point players attempted to cash out, some with multiple thousands of dollars in profits. Except that Joyland decided to void all of the winnings from players that cashed in comp points, instead just returning their deposits and altering the logs to erase all signs of the wins.

Despite playing the bonus game myself at assorted casinos and displaying personal willingness to exploit any edge, I can see both sides on this issue. Yeah, the casino controlled what the comp rate was, so you can argue that whether it was a mistake or not, they're responsible and should pay out in full. They didn't refund any money to players who lost in their casino, so they should bite the bullet, pay the price of admission, and pay out all winnings, even someone who gamed the system, effectively risked nothing, and ran up profits of $30,000 from nothing more than non-stop mouse clicking.

On the other hand, it was an obvious error, and anyone who has ever played at an online casino would have immediately known it was an error, as the comps were way, way too high. If Amazon screws up their pricing and lists Playboy: The Girls of Hawaiian Tropic, Naked In Paradise for $0.01, and I order 1,000 copies, planning to re-sell them on eBay, I don't really expect them to honor that mistake, when they finally catch on. Sure, I may try it, as I have nothing to lose, but it's an obvious error, one which few retailers honor when similar screw-ups happen.

It's interesting, though, largely because it's a casino that screwed up. Hard to have too much sympathy for people who profit from the degenerate gambling addicts, as opposed to a mom and pop grocery that accidently lists an item for pennies in its weekly advertising circular and gets besieged by angry shoppers trying to buy hundreds of them each. In the end, though, both are businesses, out to make a profit, and should likely be treated the same, and given the same leeway for obvious operator error.

(Yeah, I didn't know about the glitch at Joyland until it was fixed, so I'd probably be singing a slightly different tune if I was one of the clever monkeys that was owed tens of thousands of dollars.)

1 comment:

Joe Speaker said...

I love it when old sportscasters go senile. Toward the end of his amazing career, Chick Hearn almost completely lost it, which was the highlight of every Laker broadcast. He would still have moments of divine inpsiration, but mis-pronouned "Mitch Richmond" for pretty much five years straight.

Vin Scully's headed that way right now, too.