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Pinnacle - RNG Blackjack Casino Game

Ruling

Found for the Casino - The player's hand history is not enough to prove an unfair game and is likely nothing more than poor luck. Verified by Michael Shackleford.

Read our Pinnacle Casino Review.

Player's Complaint

Please view the full complaint and further discussion and notes over at this thread on SBR. They directed me to you. I'm free to answer other questions as needed.

https://www.sportsbookreview.com/forum/sportsbooks-industry/3401344-pinnacle-complaint.html

Read the casino review

3 Responses

User icon
ThePOGG
June 27, 2017

Hi Johnboy85 - welcome to ThePOGG.com!

Having both reviewed the conversations at SBR and WoV alongside having had a quick chat with Michael Shackleford I'm sorry to say you don't have a case here.

For other readers I'll summarise the issue so they don't have to trawl through a mountain of forum posts.

Over a year ago Johnboy85 noticed that one of the Blackjack games being offered by Pinnacle was not playing as described by the rule. The game was offering Early Surrender (Surrender before the dealer checks for Blackjack on an Ten or an Ace) which the help file did not describe. This combined with the cashback that the operator offer provide the player an advantage of 0.31% if they played perfect Basic Strategy. Johnboy85 went on to play a lot (~150k hands) and experienced a loss of ~$45k.

The problem you have here is that the stats don't prove anything. Michael Shackleford has already reviewed your play history and concluded that this is a 2.79 standard deviation swing from the expected results. While this is unlucky, being expected only around 1 in 378 times you play this much, it's still a long way off the deviation required to prove anything. In fact, I personally have seen deviations of over 3SD in both directions when playing perfectly fair games. Unless it's over 4 (or better yet approaching 5) you don't have anything to write home about.

The reality here is that you were playing a game with a very small edge all things considered. A small edge can take a very long time to realise the Expected Value. While you've played a lot, you've not played enough to either converge to the EV or prove the game wasn't fair.

To answer the various arguments that you made:

- The casino should prove you were treated fairly. We live in a society where everyone is innocent until proven guilty. You are accusing Pinnacle of a crime. You don't have sufficient evidence to prove they've done anything wrong. They've no charge to answer. And given that Pinnacle have never been caught before running cheating software, they have an excellent reputation, and hold numerous different licenses and certificates from 3rd parties demonstrating the fairness of their system the starting premise is that their games are fair, not the other way round.

- Pinnacle should refund your losses as a PR exercise because you might have been cheated. Nope. This would be tantamount to the operator admitting that they had cheated you in the eyes of large swaths of the public. Didn't go down too well for Michael Jackson when he paid off the children claiming abuse. Every other player that experienced a negative swing would immediately bombard support demanding a refund of their losses. Rightly no operator is going to open that door without rock solid proof that there's an issue with their game.

- It's suspicious that Pinnacle have now changed the rules of their game and no longer offer the favourable Early Surrender rule. Not really. In all likelihood they have a team member responsible for monitoring various forums and you've posted on 2 of the biggest. You may not have named Pinnacle (to begin with), but they're run by sharp people and spotting a multi-hand Blackjack game that offers Early Surrender when it shouldn't isn't that hard when you know what you're looking for. Your posts have alerted them to the issue and they've then sought to plug that particular loop hole so you (and others) can't continue to use it. It's bad news of an operator/business when one player finds a consistent advantage of this type, but given you've posted in communities full of sharp players who may well start looking at a variety of operators to see if they can find the game themselves, the risk of that game becoming a serious liability just increased exponentially. Of course they're going to want to change the rules. Further to this, this claim actually undermines the original claim that the game wasn't operating fairly. If the game wasn't providing an advantage that it naturally should there'd be no financial risk to the operator and no need to change it. Changing the rules would only be necessary if the game did provide players with an advantage.

- Pinnacle should refund you as a 'finder's fee' for spotting an error in their game. If anything like this were to happen it would be as a good will gesture. But what do they have to feel good will about? The reality is that you found a game that was more generous than the operator realised, played this extensively with the intention of profiting to the detriment of the operator and then accused them of cheating when your losses weren't conclusive of anything other than bad luck. I don't think it's hard to see why the operator aren't going to feel a lot of good will or see you as a valuable customer.

I do sympathise with your frustrations - I've experienced similar losses previously on low player edge games and it always leaves you unhappy and questioning the fairness of the game. But that doesn't mean you've been cheated. Your results don't prove that and that being the case there's no sound ground for us to look to the operator to refund anything.

Sorry we cannot be of more help,

ThePOGG

User icon
Johnboy85
June 30, 2017

Dear Pogg,

Thanks for your thorough response. Let me address some of your points.

First of all the # of hands played is closer to 350k, not 150k.

You state that "the problem you have here is that the stats don't prove anything". But you are making a logical fallacy, an argument from ignorance, where "ignorance" means "a lack of contrary evidence". You are saying that Pinnacle's game must be fair because I can't definitively prove it isn't. And it's a logical fallacy because it's a false dichotomy. There is a third option here, which is that it's currently unknown, or as Wikipedia says "there may have been an insufficient investigation, and therefore there is insufficient information to prove the proposition [to] be either true or false".

You state that people are innocent until proven guilty, and I agree. But in a court of law, both sides make arguments and submit evidence for their case. To date, Pinnacle haven't submitted any (meaningful) evidence to support your (their) claim that the game was operating 100% fairly. The only truth we know for certain right now is that there was a discrepancy between website and gameplay rules. By the same token, a previous record of fairness isn't a particularly compelling argument that this game wasn't in some way compromised, although I think we both agree it was an honest mistake rather than something borne of malicious intent.

Re: the whole Michael Jackson analogy.

LOL. That's a pretty extreme example. The reality is, companies and people settle out of court and with NDA's all the time because it allows them to deny any and all wrongdoing in the eyes of the law, and avoids things being dragged out for the public to see, kind of like...well this.

Re: the rules changes undermining my original claim that the game wasn't operating fairly.

No, it doesn't undermine my argument. It just as easily suggests that they realized the game was compromised and needed to bring the rules in line with actual results.

Thanks for your sympathies. But what I'd really appreciate is some kind of action and response on Pinnacle's part to prove my assertion wrong definitively. I understand and agree that they are the most honest shop out there, but it doesn't and shouldn't give them or anyone else a free pass in matters of disagreement. In lieu of these things, I hope you will reconsider your decision not to look to the operator.

User icon
ThePOGG
June 30, 2017

Hi Johnboy85,

Before you accuse someone of wrongdoing you should have evidence to back up your claim. You don't. It's that straightforward.

No prosecutor is going to take a claim to trial until reasonable evidence is presented to justify the claim. Otherwise the case will simply get thrown out and the prosecutor exposes themselves to the possibility of sanction.

You have no more evidence of wrongdoing that any other losing player. Your position is that the operator should have to prove their innocence despite there being no sound ground for questioning their innocence. If we accept that to be true then every losing player can queue up and demand that every online casino "prove" that they weren't cheated or be forced to return winnings. It's obvious why that is not and should not be the case. If you have so little faith in the fairness of the games that you start from the position that you've been cheated, you shouldn't play in the first place.

As to NDAs - people often settle out of court with NDAs because there's a difference between civil and criminal trials. The Michael Jackson analogy is a perfect example. In a civil case the ruling can be based on the 'balance of probabilities' (i.e. is it likely something has happened) rather than absolute proof. However, with accusations such as those that Jackson was exposed to looking to take the protectionist measures by avoiding a court case because it does not require absolute proof happens to end up looking very like an admission of guilt regardless of the facts. It's a lose lose proposition where you settle and are tried in the media for avoiding the trial or you face a court case you could potentially lose on extremely serious charges without those charges having to be proved absolutely.

In this case not only is there no absolute proof, there's not even enough to say that based on the balance of probabilities it's likely you were cheated. In fact, the most likely explanation is that you've simply been unlucky. Paying you would set a very negative precedent wherein anyone can make a malicious claim, regardless of lack of supporting evidence, and expect the operator to pay simply to stop them making further posts.

If you had a claim that we felt was worthy of further investigation (read "suspicious") we would as we have done in the past.

I'm sorry that you're unhappy with our ruling but we're not approaching an operator to insist that they prove their games function fairly based on what is a relatively unremarkable loss mathematically. There's a reason that Michael Shackleford hasn't taken this issue up with the operator - your claim has no merit.

ThePOGG

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June 27, 2017

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