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All comments by Ben Thompson
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The auction is suggestive both then and now. Even if the then-partner wasn't an enthusiastic 3rd seat opener, everyone has light hands with long that they would open in 3rd. Partner could potentially have his actual hand even today, but he's substantially more likely to have a helpful or holding than a decent long suit.

And why assume the oppos have 25+ highs for their fling at game? People have always been happy to give it a swing red at IMPs, especially with something that looks like a source of tricks.
Dec. 13
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On hand #1, a is a poor lead, even 50 years ago. Partner at favourable in 3rd seat didn't open. There is no chance he has any sort of suit he wants led. A low is just a bad lead, even 50 years ago - it routinely concedes a trick and a tempo. The only real choices are a low and A to have a look (after which you can blame partner's unhelpful signalling for anything that goes wrong).

Players 50 year ago routinely perpetrated pretty awful auctions (although perhaps some were just unconcerned about advertising that they were using illicit information) BUT there were many seriously good card players around capable of thinking their way through an auction on their way to a sensible opening lead.

On hand #2, a is plausible as a semi-passive lead but note (again) that partner failed to overcall 1 at favourable. However, I'd need to know how conservative we are in our overcalling style before giving the lead the yay or the nay.
Dec. 12
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Require anyone previously convicted of collusive cheating and everyone on their entry unit (here, team), as a condition of entry, to be monitored both physically and on camera for the entirety of the event, and for the the tapes to be thoroughly examined and analysed post event.

Said cheater to be required to pay for said comprehensive monitoring as part of their entry fee.
Dec. 12
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This double is clearly … undiscussed unless you've discussed it.
Dec. 5
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Some sort of flexible hand … that wants us to do more competing. For me “takeout” and “some sort of competitive/responsive noise” are close to the same thing in this situation.
Dec. 5
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Presumably one of the clauses was “in Richard's layout I go down unless East has J10 tight in one of the pointed suits, you can thank me later for making sure you didn't make a mistake”
Nov. 29
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I thought your greatest skill as dummy was minimising the time between the final pass and the first drag. It takes a lot of practice to get your cards safely face down on the table whilst heading for the exit at warp speed with a fag in your mouth and a lighter cocked and ready in your hand.
Nov. 27
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Yep, you sprung me Frances, just joking around. Maybe not quite so funny for members of the English team of course.
Nov. 3
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Will England be eligible to play in the European Championships? Will Scotland seek independence (again) just to keep its place in the European Championships?
Nov. 2
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David, your Clever Croupier is quite similar to my Super Shuffler. They both have the option of cheating or not.

The broad principle, at least to me, is that whether you're the casino or the player, if you secretly (unobservably, in a way that the other party has no realistic way to understand) do something to change the way the game is played or the things with which the game is played, and that has a material impact on the odds, then you're cheating.
Nov. 1
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The dealer is the duly appointed agent of the casino - the dealer really is your opponent.

The casino (even a tiny one like Crockfords) has layers of training and layers of staff and surveillance precisely to prevent these sorts of things.

Relatively speaking, bridge tournaments are close to amateur, and the training and supervision of caddies is close to zero. And, as Michael R points out, the caddies and the organisers aren't your opponent.
Oct. 31
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Was Robin Hood called an outlaw because he was a Saxon with some skills in a country ruled by a bunch of Normans with some loot who thought the odds should be perpetually stacked in their favour?
Oct. 30
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Re David's question & comments around if the coup had been perpetrated by someone unknown & unknowable rather than Phil Ivey:

I see this as a question of reasonable expectations about the skill, experience and behaviour of a (supposedly) highly professional operator (in an organisation with about 60,000 staff) in an an environment they operate and control.

All casinos know that visible printing differences on the backs of cards are bad for them. They know a lot of things.

One of the things they should know is that edge sorting is bad for them. They SHOULD, and I do mean capitals, have routinely unrotated (eg alternate the rotation of small clumps of cards as you feed them into the shuffler). Duh.

Another thing they SHOULD know is that someone who suddenly jumps his bet size dramatically to something like the table maximum may think they know something you don't. When that someone starts winning big, you SHOULD suspect very strongly that they do indeed know something you don't. And you should IMMEDIATELY change the conditions - typically by changing the cards, the dealer, the shuffler, the table, and maybe even the maximum bet.

I could just about see giving a shoe or two's worth of losses back to Crockford's, although I don't think one should, but after that they were definitely the authors of their own downfall.

I said elsewhere that you don't get to be a pro and a patsy at the same time. If you are the expert in any field, you are rightly expected to avoid ordinary pitfalls, of the kind that might trip up an amateur.

The fact the Phil Ivey was already known to Crockfords, and his background should have been known to them very quickly even if he weren't, just should have led them to greater caution and a more rapid cutting of their losses. It has no real bearing on their responsibility for their own mistakes, and mistakes they were.
Oct. 30
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Supplementary duck:

If the casino's automatic shufflers randomly shuffled not just the order but also the rotation of the cards, would that be cheating?

What about if the casino's control room could remotely set “random card rotation” on or off for any given automatic shuffler?
Oct. 30
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David, I'll refer you back to the statute and the bit about “actual or attempted deception”. If anyone - casino or player - attempts to secretly alter the state of the deck in any way that they BELIEVE works to their advantage, they are cheating.

The two key differences between the hypothetical secret unrotation and the actual replacement are (a) the secret unrotator KNOWS they are changing the state of the deck to their advantage and (b) they are deliberately doing it secretly when the know they could easily do a variety of things openly to the same or similar effect in terms of the state of the deck.

Back on Ivey & Sun's original rotation request. My contention is that IN THE CONTEXT their request was sufficiently open and the danger sufficiently obvious and the casino sufficiently skilled and experienced that it was not cheating.

Incidentally, Ivey didn't promptly leave the building when the deck was changed. He hung around and randomly asked for card rotation for a while (no doubt investing some of his winnings) before leaving.

The main point of my hypothetical is that cheating a (possible) cheater is still cheating. The secondary purpose is to allow us all to test the logical consistency of our positions through examining related situations.
Oct. 30
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“What surprises me more than somewhat in this case is that people believe Crockford’s to be a prima facie villain for having the odds in its favour in the first place”

What surprises me is that some people (perhaps even those who serve in the courts) seem to think that a casino's right to run games with the odds in its favour comes with the bonus protection that they may not run a game with the odds in the player's favour - even if they try. It doesn't.

There are plenty of reasons to think a casino - or a player - is dodgy without reference to the a priori odds. A casino says “would you like a stiff cocktail that tastes like fruit juice so you don't notice how much alcohol you're consuming, which we know is good for our bottom line” … or does it. A player says “would you mind changing your mechanics in several ways, which I know is good for my bottom line” … or does he.

There are 50 shades of grey, but in the House of Fantasy, it should be no surprise that full disclosure is in short supply. Especially to a professional.
Oct. 30
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But is it cheating to deliberate spill a drink on someone to gain an advantage? :)
Oct. 30
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David, I'd like to suggest you have another think about the relative merits of openly requesting a deck stacking versus secretly unstacking a deck.

Section 42(3) of the Gambling Act (2005) may be helpful:
Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) cheating at gambling may, in particular, consist of actual or attempted deception or interference in connection with -
(a) the process by which gambling is conducted, or
(b) a real or virtual game, race or other event or process to which gambling relates.”

A few things to bear in mind:
- “unrotating” a deck and “rotating” a deck are both examples of arranging, or stacking, a deck - I think we are all clear now that an advantage may accrue to the arranger in either case, particularly if the other party doesn't appreciate what has happened
- to be clear, in my cases A & B, person 1 in A is Phil Ivey; person 1 in B is my hypothetical tween-session detecting casino
- clearly we don't agree on whether or not A is categorically cheating (I think it may be but also may not be), but I entirely agree with you that B is cheating
- in my hypothetical, the casino had many other ways to deal with the situation and could easily have openly unrotated the deck; B is 100% deceptive; the justices determined that A is sufficiently deceptive to be regarded as cheating

To put it more simply - revenge cheating is just as much cheating as original cheating.
Oct. 30
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“a sucker is a sucker and you poured your own drinks”

Worthy of Raymond Chandler
Oct. 29
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Yes, this is related to the Ivey discussion.

First let's make the casino GM 1. ALL casinos do some version of MOST of A through E. MOST casinos do some version of ALL of A through E. The labels and details vary and you can argue about how much that affects naughtiness but the principle is the same.

For example, casinos will very happily feed you energy drinks because they keep you awake and gambling for longer; most players don't stop to think about this although many are aware (ie this is roughly scenario D)

This is not a scientific survey but I think we're all clear that B is cheating. At least some think that D & E are cheating, and I would imagine most of us can see the argument for that, or at least for some versions of D & E.

Now let's make the player GM 1. Does it matter that we stick the casino or player label on GM 1? In my opinion, only in terms of what it is reasonable to expect GM 1 and GM 2 to know. Otherwise it's down to the written and unwritten rules of how the game is conducted.

So let's dig a little deeper on scenario D.

When GM 1 says “here's a pineapple juice” that is in fact a pineapple juice, does it matter if GM 2 knows that pineapple juice is performance damaging? Does it matter if GM 2 SHOULD know that pineapple juice is performance damaging, whether or not they actually do and whether or not it occurs to them when they accept the pineapple juice?
Oct. 29
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