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Student Creates On-Line Poker Playing Program 127

Posted by Hemos
from the playing-the-games dept.
Psyber Samurai writes "Online-Athens has this story about Paul Apostolik, a cognitive science and computer science student at the University of Georgia that has created a program that plays the risk-free online video poker sites. The program takes over the screen and actually reads the cards off the screen then determines which cards to hold and which cards to discard. I've run it, and it is extremely fun to watch it play. Yes, it does win over the long term as it collects many, many tokens."
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Student Creates On-Line Poker Playing Program

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  • It really proves that to get the best chances, GO TO THE CASINO! At least you can see if they are swapping card on you or something.


    But this article is talking about *video poker*, which if you haven't been to Vegas, is played using electronic machines even in the casinos.
  • I have windows and it still didn't do anything. Was it supposed to?
  • hrm, i'm no expert at resume writing but yours could use some work. your objective is weak and too you-centric, it does not emphasize what you could bring to the company, what you could do there, etc. in the hobbies, the "learning" is kinda lame. in your work experience, the "I did this..." and "I did that..." does not sound very professional. Likewise, you mention many times why you moved on, and it often is the company folding. I don't think an employer would find that attractive... "Great... we hire him, and we're next on his list.."

    anyhow.. good luck with the job search!
  • I've always wondered if you could use computers to generate a perfect list of moves which would, given enough time, always turn a profit.

    Consider the game of blackjack...imagine a grid that has all the possible blackjack hands (from 2, 2 to Ace, Ace) versus all the possible dealer shown cards (from 2 to Ace). Each spot on this grid can hold one of two values: Hit or Stand. For example, when the dealer is showing a 6 and you are holding a 10 and a 6, that spot on the grid should tell you whether to hit or stand (definitely stand!)

    Now, here's the tricky part. Make a routine with a giant loop. The loop should assign values to every spot on the grid (starting with all stands, for example) then play a few thousand hands using those rules. After a few thousand hands, change one spot on the grid to hit and repeat until the program has tested every possible combination (i can't even begin to imagine how many calculations this is but hell, there are several programs trying to crack huge key values and this is certainly a more financially valuable goal).

    At the end, the program should print out a grid that contains the values that generates the highest number of wins. Then, if we human players were to memorize that grid and then use those rules when we play in the casino, shouldn't we have a good chance at making money? Dare I say, even finding the perfect combination that always turns a profit?

    I dunno, but rather than trying to invent a blackjack genius that you would have to continuously update and modify, just brute force the game and be done with it.

    Anyone feel like writing this routine in a p2p fashion? I have a few cycles I'd like to donate...

    - JoeShmoe
  • your friend, huh? wink, wink...
  • Actually, according to PBS's Robert Cringely, such a thing does exist [pbs.org], and presumably people do indeed know about it:
    But can you really program a computer to find patterns in stock prices? Yes, you can, according to Jim Hall, who did just that. Hall was an engineer at Deere & Co. in Moline, Illinois, who was asked to build a combine that didn't need a driver. Deere was worried about the rising cost of farm labor, and so asked Hall for a machine that didn't require skilled labor -- a machine that would automatically learn the field and harvest without supervision. Hall built the combine, which was never marketed, then converted the software to learn another field -- the stock market. Hall became the manager of Deere's pension portfolio, successfully harvesting capital gains instead of wheat.
    As for what effects it's had, well, probably not many, or else people would have made more noise about it. :)

    --
  • by jamiemccarthy (4847) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @06:56AM (#100701) Homepage Journal
    I'd like to blame it on Spielberg's latest, but the fact is, movie or no movie, reporters will take any damn program that someone writes and turn it into the latest example of "artificial intelligence." Yes, this is my pet peeve. Do reporters think nobody will be interested in reading their story unless it mentions computers and "intelligence" in the same sentence?

    In this case, the program reads the screen and moves the mouse to click on the proper places. Pretty clever I suppose. But once you get past the fancy I/O code, it's just applying simple formulas to decide what cards to hold. There's nothing "intelligent" about calculating that holding the pair will give an expected return of $0.21, while going for the flush will give an expected return of $0.08.

    The only thing about poker vaguely related to "intelligence" is its condensation of the social relationships of zero-sum games into the formal interface of betting. Placing bets is much more amenable to mathematical analysis than the fuzzier stuff we do when we're playing similar zero-sum games, say, negotiating the price for a used car: furrowing our brows, clearing our throats, poking fingers at each other's chests, yelling, pretending to think over an offer, saying "my manager will have to approve this," and so on.

    When you simplify the interface between entities to just a few operations (raise, call, fold), suddenly mathematics can play a role.

    John von Neumann was one of the first to recognize this, and it was the game of poker that he focused on, in his study of game theory:

    The nominal inspiration for game theory was poker, a game von Neumann played occasionally and not especially well. (A 1955 Newsweek article appriased him as "only a fair-to-middling winner" at the game.) In poker, you have to consider what the other players are thinking. This distinguishes game theory from the theory of probability, which also applies to many games. Consider a poker player who naively tries to use probability theory alone to guide his play. The player computes the probability that his hand is better than the other players' hands, and wagers in direct proportion to the strength of the hand. After many hands, the other players will realize that (say) his willingness to sick twelve dollars in the pot means he has at least three of a kind. As poker players know, that kind of predictability is bad (a "poker face" betrays nothing).

    Good poker players do not simply play the odds. They take into account the conclusions other players will draw from their actions, and sometimes try to deceive the other players. It was von Neumann's genius to see that this devious way of playing was both rational and amenable to rigorous analysis.

    Though much more interesting to analyze than, say, blackjack, playing a good game of poker still does not qualify as "artificial intelligence." It's been pretty well analyzed since, if I'm not mistaken, the 1920s:

    [A particular type of deception] resembles bluffing in poker. Poker can be quite complex, in part because it usually has more than two players. Von Neumann analyzed a simplified form of poker. In outline, his conclusions apply to the real game. He showed that you should always bid aggressively when you have a strong hand. With a weak hand, you should sometimes bluff (bid aggressively anyway).

    Von Neumann distinguished two reasons for bluffing. A player who never bluffs misses many chances to call the other player's bluffs. Suppose that both you and your opponent have bad hands. You don't bluff; your opponent does. That means you fold and your opponent wins without a showdown. Had you also bluffed, your lousy hand would have been compared with his lousy hand, and you might have won. The bluffer can exploit the nonbluffer; ergo, von Neumann's rational player must bluff. [...]

    At the most abstract level, game theory is about tables with numbers in them -- numbers that entities are efficiently acting to maximize or minimize. It makes no difference whether you picture the entities as poker players who want to win as much money as possible...

    (Quotes from Prisoner's Dilemma, William Poundstone, 1992, pp. 40, 60-61.)

    A program that applies von Neumann's minimax theorem to place poker bets is still just doing simple math. But Apostolik's program -- cool though it is -- doesn't even do that. He hasn't incorporated betting yet. "That would be an interesting thing to play around with," he says. True! But even that still wouldn't be A.I.

    Jamie McCarthy

  • If you did that in a casino, the would haul you off in a heartbeat. Try tapping your foot irregularly at a blackjack table, and see if they don't ask what you are doing.

    A friend of mine has written code that can play Minesweeper and FreeCel. It's amazing to watch it play freecel. I think the streak record for it is like 250 games.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    This is really getting to me because I'm seeing and hearing it more and more: the practice of referring to people as thats, not whos.

    a cognitive science and computer science student at the University of Georgia that has created a program no, no, no, he's a student who has created a program. All of a sudden everyone is referring to people as thats. Or should I say, everything is referring to people as thats.

  • "Computers playing games are always much better than humans if their AI is done correctly© I realized that I had ruined the game for everyone else©"

    Interestingly, despite some rather serious attempts, nobody has yet made a good Nethack playing program© And if someone did, I would imagine that it would just be a mess of switches and ifs designed to mimick some good human player's specific style, rather than an algorithmic approach like good chess programs use©

    Nethack is probably the closest thing in a non-network computer game to approximating the complexities of AI existing in real world situations, where everything is a special case, and regular patterns and strategies are only minimally useful©
  • Is this program publicly available via the internet? (i.e. download) If so, does anybody have the URL? -n

  • 10-15 decks? If your casino is playing with more than 6-7 decks go to a different casino!
  • As this poster [slashdot.org] has already mentioned, our own intelligence works in a similar way. There is nothing that makes human intelligence "special" except the level of complexity of the input and processing that we do in a unique way compared with the current crop of computer technology.

    Personally, I would classify intelligence as a scale. At one end of the scale would be simple formulas such as the ones used in this poker-playing machine, and in a simple organic creatures such as a fly, which has pre-programmed responses to stimuli (if food, eat(food), else flyaway()). At the other end of the scale would be the human brain with a learning neural structure that accomplishes much more than its evolutionary programming could have hoped for. But in the end, it's all the same intelligence. Since it's lunchtime, I'm going to find food -- just like the fly would. =)

    -rt-
  • That's pretty interesting - did you ever do any examination of the hands played in the real game vs the free one to see if odds for secific cards/hands were less for the pay version?

    It seems like somehow you could use a bit of counter-programming to adjust the program to win with the adjusted system. Like you said though, it would probably take a lot of money to figure out what was really going on and develop an effective counter.

    ---> Kendall
  • reminds me of the simple program i wrote for class registration at me college. it keeps trying to register for the full classes you want, and when someone drops the class, you are always the first to register. :)
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 08, 2001 @09:45AM (#100710)
    But this article is talking about *video poker*, which if you haven't been to Vegas, is played using electronic machines even in the casinos.

    This is a common misconception. The video poker machines are actually miniature kiosks with midgets inside who shuffle and deal the cards. Surveilance cameras are set up inside so that casino employees can look in on and make sure the midgets aren't cheating, but if you're lucky you can find a machine which if you whisper "Hey midget, i'll split my winnings with you" into you will find yourself winning a lot more than probability will allow for. Of course you don't actually have to split your winnings with the midget, he's a midget what's he gonna do? beat you up? Ha!
  • Actually, that sounds a lot like Tom Clancy's Debt of Honor. IIRC (and it was a while ago when I read it), somebody made the right anouncement somewhere and started a trend, which all the expert systems picked up and sent the market into a terminal plummet. The guy had also put some code into the main trading system that kept track of the actual transactions that caused the system to stop logging the transactions, and succeeded in screwing up the entire NYSE really bad, to the point where they had to backtrack and pretend that several days never happened.
  • It lost because the low-odds, high-payoff hands didn't come out as often as I needed them to.

    My real goal at the time was just to see if the player-bot could be done and to practice C++ programming. Yes, it would be interesting to check whether the free program's odds are accurate. But running under emulation was _really slow_ at the time and the client software tended to crash a lot so it seemed like more trouble than it was worth.

    Regarding "developing an effective counter": if the house is cheating at all, there is probably no way to develop an effective counter. It would be stupid to assume the only way they cheat is to tweak the odds in mechanically predictable ways. People have suggested modifying the bot player to make mistakes, but what if their cheating algorithm is win-based rather than strategy-based? It would be simple to have two payout schedules and switch to the bad one only after the player has - through luck or skill - won $500.

    Or perhaps the payout schedule was just wrong from the beginning.Drop the chance of a Royal Flush to nothing, and no amount of skilled play will consistently win.

  • I clicked on the link in your sig and nothing happened.

    Oh wait, I'm running Windows 2000.
  • all you have is 10 steady declines of bankrolls

    Yup. It's called Gamblers Ruin [mcn.net].

    "// this is the most hacked, evil, bastardized thing I've ever seen. kjb"

  • Hmmm.... There is a program for Angband called the Borg that plays it automatically, and wins frequently. Nethack can't be that different...
  • Like I Said... I'm going on memory. I'm not a gambler. You're probably right.

    Gambling is only a sport for people who can't do math.
  • Though I have no personal proof, I am fairly certain that if this is true, they are making the 'free' game easier, to attract players, rather than cheating on their live gambling. Again, I have no proof of this, but it makes sense.
    The fact that you can consistantly win should tell you something; unless you are a card-counting prodigy, you cannot consistantly win.

  • The most common auditor being the very well-respected accounting firm of Price-Waterhouse-Coopers. Would you accuse them of being paid to lie? I doubt it.

    One of the *main* things looked at, in these casinos, is the payout rate. You don't analyze every single game and audit the code, but rather, look at how much is gambled -vs- how much the house is profiting. The common average for online casinos is around 98% payout I believe. The audits show exactly how much.
    If they were cheating, you'd know.

  • Just never truly won. You overlooked the fact that the "fake" or "free" rooms in online casinos use grossly different odds to lure people in.

    "Wow, I just won 100,000 bucks.. Man, if this were only the real version... <yells> Honey?? Where's my credit cards?"
  • Actually, the pogo.com games are Java based so he has to be capturing regions of the screen and comparing the blob to a set of blobs he has representing the entire deck to determine which cards were dealt.

    I was playing at pogo.com for a while and wrote a short and sweet little program in Perl that would continuously play the spooky slots and keno. Ended up with several hundred thousand tokens that I ended up being too lazy to do anything with.. hrmm. /me goes to enter the contests..

    I had thought about trying to expand to the Poker games and actually did a little work on it using Image::Magick but hit a wall somewhere and/or lost interest..

    Too bad there wasn't more information about how the "AI" learned to play better. The pogo.com, gamesville.com, and iwin.com games probably have exploitable flaws with randomness or maybe some easter eggs from the programmer. :)

    The idea of using this kind of thing to play "for money" online casinos is rediculous though. The amount of cheating by the house going on at these sites must be mind boggling.
  • And a 10% chance of losing $34.
  • Time to take the old laptop to Vegas! I'm gonna be rich!

  • by GlenRaphael (8539) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @01:53AM (#100723) Homepage
    I wrote a program that played online video poker several years ago when online casinos were just starting to become popular. I had been making money at blackjack and this seemed like a potentially worthwhile time and money investment. It was very easy to write the program. I tailored my program to a site called InterCasino because at the time they were offering a video poker game that was positive expectation for players with perfect basic strategy.

    I only had a Mac handy but the casino client software was windows-only, so I ran the client under SoftWindows emulation figuring this would make it harder for the client to determine something untoward is going on.

    Recognizing the cards involved nothing more complicated than hit-testing for colored points along lines with certain offsets. The card pictures never changed, so it was just a matter of partitioning the set appropriately. For instance, a "9" of anything has a pip in the top-left corner; an ace does not. The only thing that was at all tricky there was differentiating a couple of the face cards. For instance, I seem to recall that their Jack of Spades and Jack of Clubs looked very similar to my algorithm. Differentiating spades and clubs generally was hard but it was especially hard with the face cards.

    As for the play, that also required no original work. There are people who play video poker professionally; you can order basic strategy charts for all the major games that detail what payout schedules have what expected value and tell you how to play the hands. Some common casino machines are positive expectation and the casinos don't care because the average player makes enough strategy errors to be a net loser. My program had to recognize the card values, categorize the hand, then run down a chart (either a table lookup or a series of if-thens) to determine what strategy to employ. Then it had to simulate a mouse click on the appropriate "hold" buttons, then on the "draw" button.

    To tune and debug the program, I had it play the hands but NOT hit draw until I verified the right cards were selected. I played through many hundreds of hands, discovering and fixing several bugs along the way. There were a couple of card-recognition bugs and a couple of play-related bugs, but eventually I got to the point where every time I questioned a play and looked it up in the rules, the computer was right. My program could play faster and more accurate video poker than I could.

    InterCasino had two modes. You could play just for fun with fake money, or you could play for real money. To shake out the bugs, I played in the "just for fun mode", letting it run through the night while I slept. I had it preprogrammed to pause at random intervals for random amounts of time to simulate bathroom breaks or whatever, but mostly it just played.

    In the morning, I'd won about a thousand dollars of fake money. As long as I played in "free" mode, I seemed to be earning about what was expected, occasionally hitting the big payoffs that make up for the long term negative grind.

    So I switched to the real-money mode. I figured it was easily worth investing $500 or so of my blackjack earnings to see if I could institute a real money machine. The dream was to have a bank of PCs in my closet raking in the cybercash while I sleep, eat, read, or go to work... So I deposited the money and set the thing to work. Again I ran it in semi-interactive mode for a while before putting it into automatic.

    And it lost. So long as I played with real money, it just wasn't hitting the big payoffs as often as I think it should have. I switched back to free mode and won again, switched back to paid mode and lost again. After losing several hundred dollars I decided to pull the plug.

    I did not play enough hands to be sure I didn't have a run of bad luck. Video poker is a game with a very small edge and almost all of the edge you have comes from hitting that once-in-a-blue-moon royal flush or equivalent. Maybe if I'd been willing to lose $10k I'd have eventually gone positive. But there's no way to prove that the game is honest, so I couldn't count on the laws of probability being in my favor. My only protection was to have a reasonable stop-loss figure, and I hit it.

    So I won't be retiring to the carribbean just yet. :-)

    (In fact, I'm currently unemployed due to a recent dot.bomb event. Need a lead QA engineer, software engineer or otherwise just generally smart guy? My resume is here [impel.com]; check it out. Especially if you're doing something with handhelds.)

  • This is exactly the way that blackjack's Basic Strategy was created. For example, I wrote a complete combinatorial analyzer for the game to create the charts available at BlackjackInfo.com [blackjackinfo.com] And, yes, the game is beatable using card counting. You don't have to be a genius. I've had a net casino profit for the last 7 years in a row.
  • the big difference between the stock market and casinos is that the house ¥the fed, the market, the man, whoever earns big when the players ¥funds, politicians, you earn big© It's non-zero sum©

    If it could have been better orchestrated, the tech bubble, which grew huge for no real reason, could have kept on going© Everyone involved was making money on IPOs and all that jazz, all they had to do was ignore the failure of advertising and the failure to actually move products and turn a profit©
  • Why not reply to my post? "Perfect play" is a well defined term in gambling, and in some games skill is actually a factor. I point the interested reader at the rec.gambling faq [conjelco.com]. We now return you to your regular ignorant trolling.
  • I wondering if the cook the cards in the free game. So when you are "practicing" it seems like you win, they suck you in, and take your money on the real game.

  • Blackjack strategy cards have been around for ages. They come in laminated business-card size, so that you can put them in your wallet to study them anywhere.

    There are dealer rule variations, which change the chart somewhat. For example, dealer hits on soft 17 means that if the dealer has 16, or has a 'soft 17' including an ace, but doesn't have 17 with non-ace cards or higher, then the dealer must hit. This is usually printed on the felt of the casino's blackjack tables, so it's hardly a secret.

    There are other "moves" besides HIT and STAND. For maximum advantage, you have to know when to double down, or split, also. You don't need to know anything about Insurance-- it's a bad bet and the house makes a lot of profit from it.

    The odds at perfect play are just barely in the house's favor, if you don't count cards. If you do count cards (even a simple increment/decrement on high/low cards), you may swing the odds to be slightly in your favor. The fewer decks the dealer uses, the worse it is for card counting, and the dealer can shuffle more often if they think you're counting. Some casinos will also ask you to leave if they analyze that you're a card-counting savant.

    For an example, I just searched Google, and got this link [gamblingspots.com].

  • Yeah, it was an interesting book but, as you state, more so for the descriptions of the builders' environment than the actual machine/theory behind it.

    I'm fairly sure their premise was unsound to begind with. Roulette really is a random game - the whole point is that the outcome, much like rolling a die, is based on the composite effect of millions of forces along the ball's path - air pressure, friction, rebounds. They were trying to predict an outcome based on only a few observations, which, furthermore, were subject to human judgement and reflexes!
  • Randominity?
  • Actually, that was quite fun, because the machine would lock up in such a funny state. Any key you pressed on the keyboard or the mouse would result in a clicking sound, and even moving the mouse would result in this sound for each "tick". Thus, you could make funny roaring sounds simply by moving the mouse around. It's almost sad they took it away. I'm not sure if it could cause any serious damage, but I guess the press this eventually got forced them to remove the "feature".
  • by invenustus (56481) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @10:06AM (#100732)
    Computers playing games are always much better than humans if their AI is done correctly.

    Actually, computers have, as of now, never been able to master the game of Go. For an intro to the game from the angle of Game Theory, check out http://eksl.cs.umass.edu/~heeringa/home/doc/go_pap er/ [umass.edu]. A human being with a mastery of the basic strategy can beat most of the best artificial intelligence simulations. Fascinating stuff....
    ----
    "Here to discuss how the AOL merger will affect consumers is the CEO of AOL."

  • Actually, the pogo.com games are Java based so he has to be capturing regions of the screen and comparing the blob to a set of blobs he has representing the entire deck to determine which cards were dealt.

    Or disassemble the java code, and rewrite it with some AI, which, depending on your hacking mindset may or may not be easier than reading the screen and moving the mouse. But I digress... it was a wonderful hack.

  • From personal experience I can tell you that the free version of Blackjack for "Casino On Net" is MUCH easier than the actual paying version. I can consistently win with the free version. I can consistently lose when actual money is on the line. While I have no scientific backing, this has been far to frequent to be anything other than true.
  • I have a friend who works for an online casino here in the UK (on the helpdesk phones).

    While talking to him, I wondered (and asked, although he didn't know the answer) exactly how these online blackjack/poker/chance games come up with a random sequence of cards.

    As many of us will know, it is incredibly difficult (if not impossible) to generate true randosity (?) using a computer (look at TCP sequence number spoofing for an example).

    So, given that you are able to observe (with a low stake) the random choice of cards an online game will generate, how difficult is it to predict the next sequence of cards?

    I assumed at the time that online casinos must realise this and have some way of defeating it...

    ?

    Si
  • There is nothing wrong with the assumption that matter (and thus simply a long row of "formal methods") can be used to reproduce 'intelligence' or 'consciousness'. It is simpler assumption than to assume some mystic "soul" for which there is no other proof.

    To say that "since you can't be sure matter can be used to simulate consciousness, you must assume it can't be" (like you're saying) is a bit like saying "since you can't know gravity isn't caused by little men with green hats, you must assume it is so".

    Until you tell me exactly what is wrong with the mechanistic consciousness assertion, when it fits everything else we know about world just fine, and why I should assert the existence of some "soul", just shut up. Please.

  • I feel so dirty responding to such a clueless moron.

    You'd be more convincing if you had the guts to say that under a login.

    But your advice is crap. Thousands of simulations and patters of probability are all still just theories. Same thing for the little charts. They are all pretty good, but not perfect.

    Look at chess programs. They play ahead X moves and use that to make a decision, but are still limited by modern technology to just a few moves. It is a poor substitute for knowing every possible chess move and thus never losing.

    Chess maybe be too complex to brute force, but a simple game like blackjack isn't.

    - JoeShmoe
  • Well, the problem with the other moves, like split and double-down is that that you can't continue to track the win count. Splitting is basically playing two hands in the space of one and double down makes your win or loss count twice as much.

    In order to track these other options, you would have to use real money, say, bet $100 each hand and then find the pattern that produces the greatest profit.

    The odds are always going to be in the house's favor because you always bust first (so even if the house would have busted, it doesn't) but still i think it should be possible to find a series of rules that makes the advantage as slim as possible.

    - JoeShmoe
  • by SaDan (81097)
    Someone using their computer for something useful! ;-)

    Actually, that's kinda neat. I'll have to try it out sometime.

    So, what are the applications for this? It'd be neat to see if this program could take input from a video camera, (mounted in your hat, of course), process the data on a tiny wearable PC of some sort, and display the proper course of action to your VGA glasses. Off to the casinos! ;-)

    Interested in weather forecasting?
  • My background? I'm a Sysadmin for one of the biggest on-line gambling companies in the world. I work in the software development house, advising on sysadmin & security issues. We do casino games, sports books, and parimutuel. Sure, people always whine and complain about companies "fixing the odds" but I'll tell you, we don't even bother. The games that we create are straight odds exactly like you'd get from a fair dealer, perfect roulette wheel, etc. No "real" on-line casinos will change their odds, because there's no point in fixing the games. The real money in online gambling comes from the hard-core players. They're always the ones who bet lots of money, and play religiously. You don't mess with these guys, you just let 'em play. See, the great thing about being running a gambling outfit is that statistics works for you. You win some, you lose some, but after a few thousand customers it all evens out. In order to make money, the casinos don't actually pay out at 100% -- they usually pay out at something in the high 90s. It's not much different to Joe Gambler, but after thousands and thousands of gamblers go through the casino, that couple of percentage points adds up to give the casino a net win. So in a sense, I suppose they do "rig" the games, but they tell you right up front exactly how they do it, by telling you the payouts. Moral of the story? Casinos always win in the long run. They really have no reason to cheat.
  • by QuantumG (50515) <qg@biodome.org> on Sunday July 08, 2001 @12:16AM (#100741) Homepage Journal
    I know at least 5 people who have shown me code which does this. It's no biggy. What is interesting is that looking at their statistics it is clear that online casinos cheat when they detect perfect play, but it is very very hard to prove.
  • The only thing new about this is it's interacting with online gambling. Interesting if it could be used in a monetary sense - like Texas Hold Em or 7 Card Stud to actually win money. (if you're playing video draw poker, you're playing to lose. The house has the best odds) - In fact, I half wonder if it's being done right now...people playing online and feeding odds and stats into a computer to see if they've got the odds to win.

    FYI - the most commonly recognized poker playing software is Wilson Software - www.wilsonsw.com - they design poker programs with very detailed programmable profiles...That's how I improved my game...a thousand hands a day no problemo. (it's also good for simulation - wondering if you'd save or lose money raising AK preflop? Run 100000 hands and find out!)

    The most interesting thing is this...Poker is actually a lot like a casino. You think you're playing each other, but if you get the ten best players together, then all you have is 10 steady declines of bankrolls. The house rake sucks it all away at 10% a hand. The best way to make money at poker is to find a fish - which I'm thinking he could program this thing to beat no problemo
  • If you are actually putting games of skill on the net unchanged, you should know in games of skill the player can get a slight advantage over the house. So maybe you'll get 1000 poor players but you will get 10 or 20 "professional" players who will write programs to play better than a person ever could and they will milk you. Maybe you dont care because you've got those 1000 poor players to suck cash off, but most casinos, including real ones, dont appreciate professional gamblers. This is all old hat, I suggest you read rec.gambling if you're actually in the biz.
  • So is this kind of like Big Blue, I mean if I were to play some of the best poker players with this little programs assistance would I win a majority of matches?

    I could see how something like this could really spoil things for Las Vegas...

    Nathaniel P. Wilkerson
    .biz and .info for $13
  • Yeah, several years ago I remember reading a .plan update from one of the id software guys (Carmack?) about how he went to Vegas and card counted his way to a fairly large sum of money then donated it to some charity or other.
  • The Australian Government would write a program to automatically arrest him for gambling online
    ----------------------------------------------
  • Years back, ERNIE (Electronic Random Number Indicator Equipment) was the system used to pick Premium Bond numbers here in the UK. (Premium Bonds are basically "lottery tickets" sold by the UK Government - your investment doesn't make interest, but some of the interest gained by the scheme is payed back in the form of monthly prizes - currently the top prize is £1 million)

    http://www.xrefer.com/entry/107493

    ERNIE used to produce random numbers by measuring the fluctuations of light intensity in a number of neon tubes, in other words it was pretty well "white noise". I believe another similar "random" source is the junction of a zener diode.

    Matt
  • The article doesn't have a link to the program anywhere, and neither does the /. story. Where is this guy's Web site so that we can download and try out the program?
  • While the casino is surely not generating truly random numbers I would guess that they are using many different methods of generating pseudo-random numbers and switching methods pseudo-randomly. I'm not an expert, but this seems like a sound method of making the patterns difficult to detect.

    Good truly random numbers can be had here:

    http://www.fourmilab.ch/hotbits/

  • by psergiu (67614) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @12:22AM (#100750)
    > and actually reads the cards off the screen
    ...
    > Yes, it does win over the long term as it collects many, many tokens.

    The question is: can this program Punch the monkey to win ?
    --
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Well, even worse, the free versions of their games have different odds than the pay ones -- even though they make them out to be the exact same game. A.K.A. fraud.
  • AK preflop is when your two hole cards are Ace, King, like you guessed and the flop has not happened yet. The flop is when community cards are turned over as in Texas Holdem or when you get face up cards as in 7 card stud. For instance in Texas Holdem you are dealt 2 cards face down and three community cards ard also dealt to the middle of the table but also face down to start. You view your hole cards and a round of betting goes on. Then the flop occurs and the three cards are turned up.
    --------------------------------------------- -----
  • . . . we have the Nevada Gaming Commission. Every single gaming design approved for use in Nevada has been massively tested to make sure that it does indeed do what' it claims.
    (Although about 10 years ago, there was a scandal where someone had a special key sequence that would cause the game to leave the "fair" power up mode and go to a mode that prevented a couple of the big payoffs--tough to find, as when you seize the game, it cuts power) . . .


    hawk

  • I clicked on that link, but nothing happend.

    Oh, wait, I forgot. I'm running Linux. :-)


    Interested in weather forecasting?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    Gee, then how'd you get hired? Modern law's purpose is to make everyone a criminal. Just because something is criminal doesn't make it wrong.
  • Often when the stockmarket starts to get predictable in some way, there's a force in it looking for randominity. The knowledge of a "perfect" computer playing on the stock-market, could disrupt the market into even more illogical ups and downs than it already has. Which is not good for the market of course.

    As it is now, everytime an analyst predict upgoing trends on a stock, it's time to sell and vice versa. Of course they use this to sell their own because of it. However, as closed-analysis becomes even more advanced the stocks will seem even more random. So the stockmarket is reduced to a pure gambling pot. What this could do is reduce the incentive for people to gamble on it, slowing down the economy.

    Analytical reports are designed to manipulate the market. This is unfortunate because the people being suckered in, as always, are of course the small-time gamblers. It's also unfortunate because what should drive the market is knowledge of good companies to invest in, not obscure ideas in an analysts mind or manipulation to get an unfair advantage. So the system is already cracking up as it is, affecting the commercial psyche. Companies are met with unreasonable expectations every single year, some develop obscure bussinessplans or decides to play hard ball with their customers because they need all the economic growth they can possibly grab.

    - Steeltoe
  • What someone posted:
    "What is interesting is that looking at their statistics it is clear that online casinos cheat when they detect perfect play, but it is very very hard to prove"

    The thing is, wouldn't this system prove that it's impossible to win?

    I'm sure they use some sort of algorithims to deal the cards and can never really be random. And what dictates 'perfect play'? Counting, in poker? Wouldn't a trained player play similar to the computer? Garbage in, garbage out.

    It really proves that to get the best chances, GO TO THE CASINO! At least you can see if they are swapping card on you or something.

  • A few friends and I did the same thing. We were all Computer Science students, and, back in 1998, we created a program that would search the cards for a few specified points. I personally lost $250 bucks. :(

    It was an interesting program and an interesting experiment, but we just weren't hitting the payoffs as much as we should have and we ran outta money. (College students.)
  • The article gives very little details about the actuals concepts involved making it somewhat uninteresting. I'm sure most people here could easily write a program to do the same things. Does it use predefined weighted logic, back progation NN, recurrent NN, alpha-beta, genetic algorithms? Even if it did, making AI games isn't really that interesting anymore, unless someone comes out with a Go player that can beat a master.
    <p>
    Besides, wouldn't it be easier to just parse HTML rather than try to read the screen? I mean, if the point of the program were to just try to understand writing, <i>that</i> would be interesting. It always irrates me when newspapers write stories like these, when there are many other people doing much cooler things that go unrecognized. At least they should ask someone who knows something if this problem is interesting... Then again, I've never heard of the newspaper, so maybe its all the new they could get to print.
  • The most common auditor being the very well-respected accounting firm of Price-Waterhouse-Coopers. Would you accuse them of being paid to lie? I doubt it.

    I would not accuse them of it, but why are you so convinced that the possibility is ruled out? That is stunningly naive. Didn't they "guard the questions" for one of those rigged quiz shows in the 50s?

    I want to get drunk with Hoagy Carmichael and

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 08, 2001 @03:12AM (#100761)
    The Eudaemonic Pie, by Thomas Bass, about these chaos theorists in the 80's who built computers in their shoes at a time when that was technically a difficult feat (no pun intended). They used a 6502 microprocessor potted in a blob of epoxy along with toe-operated switches and vibrating pins that buzzed different parts of the wearer's foot to tell him/her what numbers to play, and the circuit was stuck into the hollow heels of custom made shoes originally designed for dope smugglers.

    The way it worked was casinos used to let you place bets when the roulette ball was already rolling. By clicking the toe switches the first few times the ball went around, the shoe computer could calculate the deceleration rate of the ball and predict where it was going to end up. It couldn't predict perfectly of course, but it was enough to give a substantial advantage over the house.

    The circuitry was flaky but worked well enough to prove the concept was sound. The builders claimed they didn't actually win much money with it, but they sound a little bit coy. More interesting is the book's description of the looney, communal environment that the hackers lived in when they built the thing.

    Bass's later book "The Predictors" is about the same guys using similar techniques to program computers to automatically pick stock market trades (www.predict.com). They were the first to do that and were apparently pretty successful, but now I think all the brokerages are doing it and there's not much advantage to be had any more from those methods.

  • FINALLY, a wesley willis fan on slashdot!

    hell yeah!!

    suck a polar bears funky asshole!
  • Can you back that up?

    As far as I know, at least the reputable online casinos have code audits/verifications frequently; if it got out you were fixing your games, goodbye ALL your customers.
    How do the 'odds' of poker change from place to place?
  • Thanks for the mention. Poki probably plays better than the average casino player, but it still has a long way to go to compete with the best in the world.

    You can now play against Poki (and other humans) on our web applet. Just go to the University of Alberta GAMES group web page [ualberta.ca] and click on the red "Play Online" button in the Poker section. Have fun.

    - Darse.

  • The casinos do everything they can to make it out to be 'illegal' or 'bad behavior'.

    Though I can fully understand how they can't afford to let these people play blackjack forever, as they will always, statistically, take more than the house, it's silly to paint them as 'bad' just because they can beat you at your own game.

    'Come play our game! Win Win Win! Unless you actually CAN win, then we don't want you here!'

    ALso, they don't necessarily shuffle when there is only one deck left; they shuffle at a fairly random point when the pile gets a bit low. If memory serves (and it may be exaggerating on me) she reshuffled when there were about 4 decks left,l and they were playing with about 10 or 15 decks (but as I said, my memory could be playing tricks on me)

  • You're right, your response is complete and utter bullshit... There have been several REAL video poker games with positive expectations with correct play. Correct play is often NOT simple, and when video poker machines first came out, the correct plays were not known, and when discovered led to quite a high expectation. (on par with perfect play at Blackjack) For "Play" money video poker often have positive expectations for what should be obvious reasons. Finally, it is a cool hack because of the ability to read what the cards are.
  • by s390 (33540) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @03:51AM (#100767) Homepage
    "So is this kind of like Big Blue, I mean if I were to play some of the best poker players with this little programs assistance would I win a majority of matches?"

    In college we played hi-low poker for table stakes and it was... interesting. $100 might change hands in a single "tap" - a lot of money, then. Later I played 5-stud in $2 limit games (that's a loser to the house rake). Win some, lose some, but I do like poker. Haven't played much for years, though. If it's recreation, then don't count the chips. If it's for real money, it takes as much focused concentration as any profession. And as professions go, it's a fairly stressful one. Hacking MVS, networks, Linux is lots easier.

    It's also an unfortunate fact that people do cheat at poker. I sat in a low-ball game once where the guy to my left said "watch this" before dealing me a low wheel (A2345, perfect hand). I raised the open and everyone folded; I took the pot and left. When there's real money on the table, the odds of people cheating in various ways go way up. Be aware. There's even more danger of cheating online in virtual casinos, where you don't know which "players" are shills and which aren't; the server (house) knows your cards.

    Poker isn't like chess, in that it's not just a deterministic game. A simple poker 'bot will be too predictable (below 50% fold, above 75% raise, etc.). The reason it's an interesting game is that human strategies, emotions, and intuition all play at some times in any session. Poker, like playing the stock markets, is 50% money management and 50% picking plays. The similarities are very striking.

    Poker 'bots have been written and played against each other by academics for decades. Best results are obtained by heuristic routines that analyze the moves of all other players and learn from the progression of play, building a 'book' on each from which to calculate odds about bluff or hold. There are many books out about poker (most published to scam wannabe winners out of a few dollars), and not a few academic papers - use Google to find them. Probabilities are easy, strategies are hard, for many reasons.

    But poker is a complex game, especially with human factors added. The complexities are infinite and arguably incalculable. There is no perfect way to play. One of the best session strategies is to bluff on small pots early, have 'em on big ones, then later "on towards morning" reverse the strategy - but like all poker, it's risky and won't work repeatedly with the same group of players, like most poker session strategies. Or, one could reverse the above strategy. These are the two basic possibilities for any one game. If one plays consistently though, others will see it and learn when to duck or push. There are levels within levels, in each session and venue.

    I've been killed at poker, and I've also shut down a small poker parlor by taking every player until no one would sit down with me (400% profit). One good piece of advice I'll offer is... don't play for blood with friends, or especially, coworkers. Those relationships are more valuable than money, and some people take lasting offense at a sandbag. If they give you hands, OK - but don't extract it.

  • I friend of mine wrote some cheapy macro scripts in Win9x to beat some basketball shooting game to win himself a Dreamcast.
  • by nachoworld (232276) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @08:05AM (#100769) Homepage
    Your basic strategy chart [blackjackinfo.com] based on number of decks, DAS, DA2, etc.
    The best blackjack site [bj21.com] for info.
    The most informative site on counting cards for the beginner [gamemasteronline.com]

    Just a few points to help you on the field. Insurance is considered a good bet when the true count is 3 or above. This is regardless of your hand, of course, because whether the dealer has a face in the hole has nothing to do with your hand.

    You're right about the odds just barely being in the house favor (at Foxwoods, CT, where I play, they're 0.33% on the 6-deck high limits and 0.36% on the 8-decks).

    Which brings me to my last point. Fewer decks is considered better, but what matters most by far to a card counter is penetration, where the dealer places that colored card to signal shoe reshuffle. A penetration that's closer to the front of the shoe, the worse it is for the counter.

    BTW, simple increment counting systems, while simple and difficult to get good at, are the systems that the vast majority of counters use.

    ---
  • Randominity?

    It's a perfectly crumulent word.

  • Everyone involved was making money on IPOs and all that jazz,

    You're right, because you don't make any money before you sell a share. Whoever bought shares without profit, lost on the IT-craze. They got suckered in. However, that's their own fault for being greedy.

    - Steeltoe
  • It's supposed to crash your machine. Anytime Windows 95 and 98 (First Edition) tried to access a directory with two device names in it (\con\con, \nul\nul, etc), it supposedly crashes the OS. I've never seen it happen, but I've seen the postings on many security lists.
    Apparently, it can be used to crash a system remotely too, if they're running an FTP daemon (I know the security bulletins speicifically mentioned Serv-U FTP was vulnerable.)
    I think that this problem has been fixed in Win98 SE, because my Winblows machine doensn't do anything when accessing those types of files/directories either. Of course, none of my Linux machines have this "feature". :)
  • I live in Athens, in fact, I live on the UGA campus. I'll have to hunt this guy down and talk to him....
    Just basking in my indirect association with a now famous person.

    Kintanon
  • Sounds like a mathematician's gum to me.
  • I'd think that'd be where the *real* research issues are -- with the added complexity of knowing when to check, call, raise or fold... Not just, say, figuring out which cards to replace...
  • Yes, that's true. But, it all comes out in the end, and we still consistenly pull in that couple of percentage points to make money. I'm not actually one of the math guys that works this stuff out, I'm a Unix geek. I deal with logistics and security. But we certainly don't neglect these things -- there are staff members whose sole responsibility is to figure this out for us. Real-world casinos can get away with neglecting this, because the "pro" gamblers are relatively few-and-far-between. On-line casinos, however, can't. All it takes is one pro with an automatic player running 24hrs/d for a week to make a bazillion dollars. So, yes, we're more than familiar with "perfect" poker playing strategies, and that sort of thing. We do it ourselves, actually. Part of our company's intelligence strategy employs a group that does nothing but play "perfect" poker etc. on all the on-line gambling sites, to see which companies account for it and which don't. Sure, this group (and the automation software) is expensive, but they have no trouble making cash on the side when they find someone that has neglected these details, so they're happy :) When you've got millions of dollars going through the system every day, you catch all the subtleties, and you can easily build up your own statistics on what people really do. We've been doing on-line gambling for three or four years now, and we've put manymany millions of transactions through, so we've mostly figured it out. Sure, there were some slips in the early days, but these were soon recognized and remedied.
  • get this: macro express for windoze. I can't even program. I just made it mimic me playing the game then optomized the timings.
  • by Silmaril (19015) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @12:41AM (#100787)
    Darse Billings and others at the University of Alberta [ualberta.ca]Computer Poker Research Group [ualberta.ca] have done quite a bit of research on computer poker [ualberta.ca]. Their program, Poki [ualberta.ca] (source here [ualberta.ca]) plays a reasonably good game of Texas Hold-Em [holdempoker.com]. This is the primary game at the famous World Series of Poker [binions.com].
  • by Perdo (151843) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @12:46AM (#100789) Homepage Journal
    While not as great an accomplishment, I wrote a macro to play a java golf game online. Since there was some randomness to the game and my reflexes are not that good, I figured it would be a way to get my name in the top ten. after three days running the macro, I had all ten of the top ten spots. The game was pulled on the third day. It has never been back. Computers playing games are always much better than humans if their AI is done correctly. I realized that I had ruined the game for everyone else. Deep blue beat Kasparov, My AMD box beat java golf, Aimbots beat me at TFC, Paul Apostolik beat pogo poker, and the power producers are beating California (with a great weather model/consumpion prediction algorithm) on the energy trading floors.

    Are we are all cheating? Cheating only applies to games and applying enourmous computer power to commodity markets is simply shrewd? Will we one day wake up with zero value in stocks because some bright day trader wrote a miraculous piece of code that makes a billion perfect trades in the course of a day? Cheating by attacking protien folding with petaflop power?

    What are the moral causes for the application of analytical force? When is the right time to spray for moths? When is the right time to let a hummingbird fly over japan? (obscure reference, chaos theory: the ammout of air a hummingbird moves in flight over japan is all that is required to generate a hurricane a month later in florida)

    With IBM predicting a teraflop available on your (or Saddams) desktop by 2004, these questions need to be addressed yesterday.
  • The ONLY "house" game you can play and WIN at with perfect play is Blackjack. You can learn to do it by counting cards, or you can program a machine to help you do it. Both are against most states' gambling laws. Mathematicians MUCH smarter than you have already analyzed Blackjack to death, and the "counting"/"tens richness" strategies are well documented.

    There are no other games, other then the odd progressive jackpot game (when the jackpot becomes high enough, the expected value becomes positive). AND this already assumes "perfect" play, which the average human playing video poker can easily learn and be 100% accurate at. Video poker is an EXTREMELY simple game.

    Craps is close with pass/don't pass come/don't come, but it is still negative. There is NO way in hell any gambling machine (unless poorly programmed) would give a statistically postive payout, unless the programmers are complete idiots.

    I see so much uninformed BS flying around it is fucking amazing. Slashdot may be a good place to get facts on computer/technology based topics, but when it comes to statistics and gambling.. well this is just plain pathetic.
  • I can only assume that the programmers of the online video poker games are morons.. all COMMERCIAL video poker machines have net house gain.. tweakable by the individual rules. Video poker machines offer among the WORST payout expectation in casinos, except for certain progressives.

    And you don't need a computer to play "perfect" video poker. It is an extremely trivial game.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday July 08, 2001 @12:50AM (#100793)

    I have a friend who has written several perl scripts to automatically play online games, the kind that reward you with pseudo-money. (Sometimes you can trade the pseudo-money for prizes, sometimes you can use it in auctions.)

    Some of his programs are quite primitive; he randomly 'clicks' on links that could pay off, and a small percentage do. He wins simply through the massive number of clicks.

    But he has at least one program that plays a trivia game. If the question is new, it guesses, but it "learns" when it has won the question. If the question ever comes up again, it now knows the answer. Pretty impressive for a few hundred lines of perl. (And he's not even that good of a perl programmer!)

    He has been caught several times, and usually gets a 'cease-and-decist' letter (for violating the terms of service you have to sign to get an account), but has never gotten in any real trouble. (A key to not getting caught is to never do TOO good; never be the top winner of the day.)

    Moral of the story: Programmatic attacks on games go on all the time, and my friend has dozens of free t-shirts to prove it.

    Posting anonymously to protect the guilty.

  • They also have the "infinite deck" machines where delt cards are rotated into the shuffling machine as they are played.

    These are sadly becoming more and more common.
  • Good thing this thing doesn't play solitaire for you, if it did what would all the execs and marketing people at my work do all day? Not actual work that's for sure. :)
  • by sg3000 (87992) <[moc.cam] [ta] [cilbup_gs]> on Sunday July 08, 2001 @04:16AM (#100799)

    > After losing several hundred dollars I decided to pull the
    >plug.

    >I did not play enough hands to be sure I didn't have a run
    >of bad luck. Maybe if I'd been willing to lose $10k I'd
    >have eventually gone positive.

    Wow, it sounds like not only did you write a program to simulate video poker playing, but also to simulate a gambling addiction!


  • by Jesus IS the Devil (317662) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @04:19AM (#100800)
    Once a blue moon I had an idea. Here where I live casinos aren't allowed to play as the bank (win people's money), so they have to let the people be the bank, rotating every few turns. These casinos make $ by taking in a "collection fee" of $1 per hand.

    Anyways, some of the games definitely gave the "bank" an advantage. Pan-9 because you could see if people are hitting or not. If they're not, and you have a low-scoring hand, you'll know to hit. I'm too lazy to get into the details, but trust me, there's an advantage for the bank.

    Then there was Pai Gow. Here the bank has this "copy advantage". If a player has equal rank with the upper 2-card hand as the bank, the bank will win that set. Blah blah...

    One more thing. You'd also have to factor in the collection fee into your chances. You'd need to put in enough money per hand to offset the disadvantage created by this fee or you'll lose. Also, I made a vow to NEVER tip those greedy-ass, good-for-nothing, I'll-sell-your-mom-just-to-make-a-dime dealers.

    Anyways, I wrote this program to simulate playing the game from beginning to finish. I ran in on an Apple II GS. Yeah very primitive heh? That's all I had at the time. I did this just to prove that I was right that the bank did have an advantage.

    Since that computer was slow and lame and didn't have a hard drive, I had to have everything printed out to me for record-keeping.

    So day and night this Apple ran. A few days go by so I decided to analyze the results.

    What do you know? There were distinct patterns repeating over and over again. Then it occurred to me, the damn computer's random number generator wasn't really random after all! I had wasted my time with that cheap computer.

    So anyways, off I went to the casino to test my theory out. With $3000 in my pocket I started gambling away day after day... Up, down, up, down.

    I was actually up $5000 for a while (and this was after I'd logged over 150 hours of gambling), but then I got greedy and started betting too big. This proved to be my fatal mistake. Wham in one night it was all gone. Just like that... After a month of hard work it all disappeared. >(

    Anyways, I'd gotten sick and tired of the constant smoking and rude atmosphere. Besides, I wasn't learning anything and it was a HELL of a job (if I can call it that). So I quit cold turkey and went back to school.

    To this day I'm sure there's an advantage there. Maybe one day when I'm really really bored or really really rich I'll try that again.

    What a life.



    ---------
    Did you just fart? Or do you always smell like that?
  • In blackjack it's actually possible to win.

    Not in a casion. Why? They pay 3 to 2. Yes, supposing that you play for 2 to 1 odds and the dealer plays by normal dealer rules (hold on 17 and over, hit on 16 or less) and you are good, you'll make money. However casinos pay 3 to 2 odds. So if you bet $100 you only get $150 back. That's enough to tip the odds back in their favour.

  • Changing the rules on the fly is generally illegal in US casinos- the state gaming boards require certain average payoff levels in all games of chance, and none can be changed after manufacturing.

    They go so far as to periodically show up and probe all one-armed bandits and similar devices to make sure they're within the rather strigent rules. If, on teh other hand, you're playing over the net with a company hosted in pango-pango, i doubt they have such zealous gaurdians of the public.

  • A couple of reasons.
    Firstly, because it makes logical sense. Yes, they COULD be rigging all the games, but if the casino still maintains a 98% payout (ie: They are taking, on average, 2% of what's gambled), I find it hard to see how games are 'rigged'. If they fixed one game to win, they'd have to fix another to lose to keep the numbers working, and what would be the point?

    Thirdly, because I work for an online casino/sportsbook, and if I thought for a moment they were rigging the games, I'd leave.

    And finally, because there is not NEED to rig the games to win. Profit margins for online casinos are higher than those of meatspace casinos; overhead is much lower, and if it ever got out that the house was cheating (and it WOULD get out) you could say goodbye to your business.

    Also, if this was some unheard of firm, I would have suspicition. These casinos go out of their way to have their things audited by the most respected firms out there; those firms do NOT get respect by being anything but impartial; they certainly wouldn't ditch that respect for an online casino; they'd stand to clients that are orders of magnitude larger (like the Fortune 500 companies, say). Online casinos are generally NOT multi-billion dollar operations like you might think.

  • by Sarin (112173) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @12:38PM (#100810) Homepage Journal
    I used to play a game called alien online where you raise stats on your alien by battling other peoples aliens etc. like a bbs game there were many sub-games where you could make money to buy better equipment. There was a nice hangman game, and after playing it a couple of times I realized I sucked at it. So I wrote a program (costed me a couple of days of freetime) in PHP using the excellent Snoopy class file (to navigate over the pages) that could beat any hangman game not by storing all answers but by generating an answer using a large dictionary and making intelligent guesses, my success rate was 85%, not bad.. After running the script for 2 hours I realized their dictionary was very limited and there were only 500 guesswords so I could only make something like 1500 gold.
    I hadn't thought of that, I would had made far more when I just played regular. But my friends were impressed and we had a good laugh.
  • I made several grammatical and spelling mistakes; I'm not fully awake yet.

    That last bit should read 'They stand to lose clients that are orders of magnitude larger .....'
  • The first real useful application of programming for me was writing programs to determine optimal seating positions or hands for all those made up poker games like 'Screw Your Neighbor'. I'd brute force the games on a couple of million decks and later use the stats to fold, stay or just sit out. It was time well spent.
  • by nick_davison (217681) on Sunday July 08, 2001 @11:41PM (#100819)
    All this talk of gambling addictions, I'm concerned I may have a slashdot addiction when the first thing that comes in to my head is... "I wonder if I could write a PHP script that analyses the topic of each new subject then generates a karmawhoring reply for me?"

    Definitely time to go cold turkey. I'll just read one more story before I go.....

  • When is the right time to let a hummingbird fly over japan?

    Not a problem that could be solved with current
    analytical methods, even if you threw the
    computing resources of the planet at it.

    K.
    -

Fools ignore complexity. Pragmatists suffer it. Some can avoid it. Geniuses remove it. -- Perlis's Programming Proverb #58, SIGPLAN Notices, Sept. 1982

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