Sunday, March 21, 2010

Automated craps table

Today I played for a while at the Rio, because they have suspended their daily freeroll tournament during March Madness days, meaning that the games there should be good again temporarily (and they definitely were).

I then headed to the Flamingo for a second session. I've been kind of neglecting Harrah's properties so far this year, and would like to make at least some effort toward maintaining my platinum status, though it really does me little good. I have found that it's much easier, when going to the Flamingo poker room, to park at Bill's and walk to the Flamingo than to navigate the Flamingo parking garage, which is one of the worst in the city.

While walking through Bill's, I noticed this new computerized craps table. Maybe they exist elsewhere (in fact, almost surely so, since it's hard to believe that Bill's would be the site chosen for a first installation) but I've never known of them before. I was intrigued.

As you can see, players can sit instead of stand. They each have a private monitor. There is obviously some means of loading money/credit into them. (I'm guessing that you just hand cash to the dealer, who enters the credit on his central terminal, but I didn't witness this happening.) There is still a physical table with actual dice and a shooter, but no chips are used. Bets are made from the computer screen.

There are obvious advantages. This must surely speed up the process of placing bets. It reduces dealer errors in payouts, as well as the ancient Vegas tradition of dealers helping themselves to part of the payout, as recreational players often don't know how much they're supposed to be getting and therefore won't notice that they got shorted. It also should eliminate what I understand are the most common forms of player cheating, such as past posting (altering bets surreptitiously after the dice have landed).

I stood and watched for a few minutes. The computer system did not seem to reduce the players' fun at all. They were hooting and hollering the same as at other craps tables. The shooter was on one hell of a hot streak, and everybody was loving it. Or so it appeared. From the very little that I understand about craps, I gather that you can make yourself very unpopular by betting against the shooter. In a regular game, it is openly apparent that you have done so. But with the monitors, I assume that your bets are private (unless somebody is looking over your shoulder), so you can bet "don't pass" all you want, and nobody will know, unless you cheer when everybody else is dejected.

I wonder how the system affects dealer tips. I overheard enough to know that there are mechanisms built into the machine for tipping dealers from your credit and for posting bets for the dealers. But perhaps the social pressure to tip is reduced when nobody knows if you won or lost and the dealer isn't the one pushing you the winnings.

Another interesting feature is that the central monitors display information such as how many times in a row the shooter has won, and the highest number of times in a row a shooter has won since the table opened. If you're dumb enough to believe that certain numbers on the dice are "overdue," the screen helpfully tells you exactly how many throws it has been since various combinations hit.

I still have zero interest in playing craps, and have never put a single bet on the dice--a situation which is likely to continue for the foreseeable future. But I like seeing how technology changes gaming. If I were to decide to play, I think I'd seek out one of these tables. I think it would both speed up my learning curve about the multitude of betting options and enhance my enjoyment of the experience if I didn't have to be reaching down onto the table and figuring out which chips were mine, where to put them, when to pick them back up, and so forth. And secretly betting contrary to the rest of the table would satisfy some facet of my misanthropic tendencies.

Incidentally, while I was watching, one of the players' girlfriends rejoined him after having been off doing something else. He told her, "You should play this. You would win right away. Girls are always lucky at craps." I got the impression that he genuinely believed this, rather than that he was trying to butter her up in some way. Sigh. My campaign to make the world think rationally is a massive failure. Some people are just bound and determined to believe moronic things, and can't be educated out of it.


Minton said...

I have played on that table (actually on the first day it was there), it wasn't any faster than a normal table, but it only requires one somewhat trained employee, rather than atleast 3 well trained ones, so I'm sure it's great for the casino's bottom line.

To my knowledge it's the only one that exists anywhere, I'm guessing it's going through it's gaming trial and they chose bills.

It was pretty fun, but I have to admit I am a fan of the traditional table but unlike automated poker, I really think these will pop up in other casinos, the player still throws the dice, so it's still hands on.

There is a feature to tip the dealer...just like on rapid roulette (from the same company), but I highly doubt the tips are as good on the automated tables

Cardgrrl said...

You've got an asterisk after "combinations hit" but no footnote. Did something go missing?

Rakewell said...

Yeah, was going to put in another story of something I heard a player say at a poker table, but then decided to wait for another post for that. Asterisk removed. Thanks for catching it.

astrobel said...

If casinos keep on removing real gaming tables and dealers they will eventually lose their charm and atmosphere.
It might seem like a good idea to save some costs now and maximize profit but IMO they are risking long term business...

The Grind said...

Kind of like if someone was to believe deuce-four was the nuts.