Discount Gambling

Barred From Barona: A Win-Win Outcome

Posted in +EV, mississippi stud by stephenhow on March 14, 2012

Well, I finally got barred from table games at my local Barona Casino. Some of you may have seen this coming, and I probably should have too, especially after the multiple private warnings from their director of table games. When they first came by to talk to me, I didn’t think they’d worry about a $5 player like me. I mean I don’t even take my $5 action seriously. So when they talked to me, I thought they were just stopping by to talk shop (they work in a casino, I live in a casino). But I eventually got the vibe that they were kind of watching me. Well, they were certainly reading this blog, and the day I posted the Mississippi Stud calculator (all 6 hands seen), they came by and nicely told me I couldn’t play tables games anymore.

I figured they wouldn’t like that post. The calculator showed all the players hands face-up, like it’s played at Barona, and showed you the exact value of your hand, and the best decision (3x, 1x, or fold). I guess if the regulars saw it, and all started playing optimally, it’d be a problem. But that will never happen; I’ll bet any amount of money on it. People don’t play optimal strategy, that’s not why they’re there. People play the way they want to, and that’s the way it should be. I pretty much just wrote the calculator for myself, and one or two guys who wanted to see it.

At any rate, someone at Barona thought it best to bar me, and I can’t argue with their decision. I doubt I influenced any players about the game, but everyone got the idea that I played tight. (People also thought I played too aggressively at Ultimate Texas Hold’Em.) Worse-case, I took up a weekend seat playing tight $5 Antes, and locked out a bigger player when the game was full. Best-case, I “prop’ed” up the game on weekday nights, when an additional player helps build up critical mass in the game. (Everyone agrees it’s better to have more players and see more cards per hand.)

Like I said, being barred is a “win-win” situation. They’re happy, and don’t have to worry about me meddling with their Mississippi Stud game. I’m happy, since getting barred was the only way I’d stop playing 60 hrs/week there. So instead of coming back from the casino every night until 3am, I go downstairs and take hour-long walks through Little Italy and Balboa Park. Although it was pointless, it was easy playing a game with a 1.5% tailwind. It’s like being the house, but without all the expenses, and with comp’ed food. But it was just an attractive nuisance, something that draws you in, but ends up harming you.

16 Responses

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  1. James said, on March 15, 2012 at 12:44 am

    I am sorry to hear that you got barred from table games at your local casino. You play 60 hrs/week ? Means you are a full time AP ?

    • stephenhow said, on March 15, 2012 at 6:44 am

      Nope, I just played for fun. Playing face-up Mississippi stud for $5 Antes might net you +$2/hr on average when the table is full. Playing bigger isn’t too attractive, because of the variance. (See the outcome distribution for 5000 hands.)

  2. Profbac said, on March 15, 2012 at 1:33 pm

    Maybe it is time for you to take up live poker. I understand the Barona Casino has a nice poker room.
    The casino won’t throw you out for being a good player.
    Personally, I think you would be a natural at any type of limit game.
    No limit gets expensive, and bluffing may or may not be your thing.

    I was barred for card counting at blackjack, and recently at baccarat.
    Now I pLay some UTH and THB for fun and comps, then back to something more serious.
    I have found the bankroll fluctuations more manageable, and the ROI better.

    Take it from someone who has been there. They did you a favor. 60 hours a week is a lot of time to devote to anything that only pays you $2 per hour.

    • stephenhow said, on March 16, 2012 at 6:47 am

      Wow, you got barred from baccarat?! I assume you were counting the Dragon. So management thought it was dangerous? What did the other players think?

  3. Wacky said, on March 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    You got barred from playing all table games? Or just the ones you have identified as having a player advantage under the correct conditions?

    • stephenhow said, on March 16, 2012 at 4:34 pm

      They barred me from all table games. I was surprised at first, but I guess it’s easier to bar me from all games, rather than figure out which ones are +EV. Plus, they probably had enough of me already, counting the baccarat Dragon when the Mississippi Stud game was short.

  4. Profbac said, on March 17, 2012 at 9:44 am

    re:Card counting baccarat:
    1. In Connecticut and New Jersey all burn cards are dealt face up. Most casinos were putting the cut card 14 from the back and dealing at least one hand through the cut card.

    Under these conditions, the dragon 7 bet can be beaten during the last half deck. The tie bet can be beaten
    during the last 2 or 3 hands, depending on the count, and I will tell you that some peopkle have figured out how to play the bank and player at a positive EV during the last half deck.

    Today most of these casinos are only playing out 6 to 7 decks out of 8.
    Harrahs in Atlantic City deals out all the cards ie cut card is 14 cards fro the end, however the sign says Maximum bet on the dragon bet is $25. Also note that any game dealing all the cards is playing Maccau style, and you need to devote 2.5 plu hours per shoe. Seriously limits any earning potential.

    In Atlantic City they can’t tell you to leave, but they can limit your bet size.

  5. Konstantin said, on March 19, 2012 at 10:02 am

    I don’t think you can actually get +EV counting the dragon unless you are wonging, which the casino would certainly frown upon. Also, I seriously doubt it’s possible to get a profitable advantage counting player/banker/tie, makes a very good case for this.

    • Profbac said, on March 19, 2012 at 12:34 pm

      If you really played baccarat you would know that wonging isn’t necessary. The casinos do not pressure you to play every hand. A team of 6 people can sit while one person bets and the others are studying their score cards.
      If you get a group to reserve a table, and they are playing purple and orange chips, the casino isn’t likely to rush those players.Also the range of min to max bets is very large. Also to accomodate a large player, the casino will
      often shuffle near the end if it is requested. Also, most casinos will allow a large player free hands if he is sitting by himself.

  6. Grumpy said, on May 17, 2012 at 9:02 am

    What happened to Mike Patterson? He used to care about the customers. Now he waddles around the casino acting like he is so important. He does not return phone calls or answer his e mails. Mike, less time at the buffet, more time talking to the patrons!

  7. Jeff said, on September 10, 2012 at 11:20 pm

    Sorry to hear that Steve, it was a blast playing with you at Barona, I guess I now know why I have not seen you there in a while.

  8. Jonathan said, on January 4, 2013 at 10:44 am


    Just wondering if it is +ev to play this game when the full house pays 8:1 and the straight pays 4:1. This would be an electronic table so even a tiny edge is potentially worth it. Can you run your sims to get the return for this pay table?

    • stephenhow said, on January 4, 2013 at 11:05 am

      It’s possible it’s still +EV with those payouts. I’ve seen those electronic tables, and have written about the “virtual single deck” technique they sometimes use for each player position. Do they use a single community board, or does every player position have their own board? If there is one common board, then it might be beatable. How many player positions are there?

      • Jonathan said, on January 7, 2013 at 3:20 am

        there are 6 spots, and they use a single community board (99% sure on this, will double check next time I’m there)

  9. Jonathan said, on January 16, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    Sadly, there are only 5 spots in the electronic game I mentioned above. It is the same maker as the “virtual single deck” technique, though the machines say nothing about that. The blackjack ones do specifically talk about each player having his own deck.

    anyway, the next best option I’ve seen for mississippi stud is a 6 handed game dealt face down, which I doubt can be very +ev with a simple chip signaling/quiet whisper collusion system? (I doubt this casino would allow a full blown “what do you have” discussion), and it also pays 4:1 for the straight.

    back to the drawing board for a decent +ev spot I guess :/

  10. Tyrese Le said, on November 27, 2013 at 1:42 pm

    Is Profbac still alive?

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