During the course of putting together content for our soon to be launched sister site, POGGStrategies.com, I spent a lot of time look at the different rules sets available online for a host of different Table and Video Poker games. While doing the research for Baccarat, one software in particular stuck out due to the odds they were offering for the Player Pair and Banker Pair and bets.
For those readers not familiar with the game of Baccarat below are the details of the specific bets that this article will look at;
Player/Banker Pair – These bets are that either the Player hand or the Banker hand will receive 2 cards of matching rank as their first two cards. It’s fairly uncommon for these side bets to be offered online. The only software providers we’re aware of that include these bets for their Baccarat games are Playtech and Dragonfish.
Tie Bet – The Tie bet is offered at every online Baccarat game we’ve encountered. This is a wager that the Player and Banker hand will both end with the same point total. It is paid out at either 8 to 1 or 9 to 1 and depending on the number of decks of cards in play has a House Edge of between 4.48% and 15.75%.
The Player/Banker Pair bets are very unusual online, only being found at casinos using Playtech and Dragonfish software. Playtech offer this bet at 11 to 1 giving a sizable House Edge of 11.25% (Playtech use 6 decks of cards). The improved payout of 12 to 1 at Dragonfish would substantially reduce the House Edge of this bet to only 3.86%, making it one of the lower House Edge side bets available on any table game online. This seemed a little unusual so we decided to test this game to see if it was actually delivering the advertised payouts.
In the gambling universe, the words ‘For’ and ‘To’ can both be used to describe odds but have a subtle yet substantial difference in meaning. A wager paying 5 to 1 is different than a wager paying 5 for 1.
For – when odds are described using the term For this means that the return includes the wager placed. So if I place a wager at odds of 7 for 1 and win, I’ll receive my wager back and another 6, giving a total of 7.
To – when odds are described using the term To this means that the return does not include the wager. So if I place a wager at odds of 7 to 1 and will, I’ll receive my wager back and another 7, giving a total of 8.
To be equal in value to the player, a bet needs to have a payout one higher when described as For rather than To, so odds of 7 for 1 would be the same as 6 to 1.
The below video shows the test where play was continued until a winning Player Pair wager was received.
As you’ll be able to see above a winning Player Pair wager paid a total of 12 where the odds listed on the table (12 TO 1) should have resulted in a total payout of 13. The Dragonfish Baccarat game pays out at 12 FOR 1 (or 11 TO 1) while advertising odds of 12 TO 1.
Given this error it seemed sensible to check the Tie bet as well which is presented as paying 9 to 1 which is again advertised as paying out one more per unit wagered than the majority of the market.
As can be seen in the above video the Tie bet also advertises incorrectly and in fact pays out at 9 FOR 1 (8 to 1) rather than the advertised 9 TO 1.
Seeing the mispays by a major software provider on one of the core bets in such a staple of a table game we decided to look at the small number of software providers that are also advertising a payout of 9 to 1 for the Tie bet, namely Rival and RealTime Gaming.
Below you can see a screen shot of the Rival Tie bet and the Net Entertainment Tie bet pay both paying out on a wager of 10 credits.
In the above screenshots it’s clearly visible that both games pay a win of ‘90’ yet the Net Entertainment game advertises a payout of ‘9 for 1’ while Rival advertise ‘9 to 1’. This could still be misleading though if the win paid by Rival did not include the bet. If this was the case either the balance would not decrease when the bet was placed or the balance would increase by 100 credits on a winning Tie bet. The video below shows a winning Tie bet;
As the video shows that the balance decreases when the bet is place and is only increases by 90 credits on a winning Tie bet and as such we can confirm that Rival have the same issue as experienced at Dragonfish.
Realtime Gaming version again showed a win of 90 credits for a 10 credit Tie bet, but the balance increased by 100 credits, meaning that RealTime Gaming are the only software provider advertising 9 to 1 for the Tie bet and actually paying out at 9 to 1.
Despite 3 separate attempt to email Dragonfish software on the only email address available on their website ([email protected]) we never received any response from their team. As such their casinos continue to misplay players. It's not unusual for software providers to ignore emails from players/affiliates due to the large number of incorrect or unverifiable claims they receive about software fairness. Hopefully they will review this article and make the necessary adjustments.
Note – It is also worth noting that the Dragonfish casino lobby and game help files are inconsistent in the number of decks they state as being used for many card games. Most Blackjack variants are listing one deck less in the lobby than in the game help file.
Rival casino did respond to communication via an associate of the site and replied as follows;
Re baccarat it's just semantics. It's been paying out properly since it was launched 10years ago. 9 to 1 vs 9 for 1. 9 for 1 in some circles may mean 8 to 1. But that's it. Just wording. Will keep it as is.
Our response was as follows;
This isn’t a case of “semantics” nor is it only in “some circles”. This is the standard mathematical language and standard gambling vernacular. Its meaning is not open to interpretation regardless of what Rival software want to believe. As things currently stand Rival are knowing advertising a more favourable bet for players than the rest of the market, but are paying out at exactly the same level.
No response was received to the above.
If anything Rival’s wilful disregard is more concerning that Dragonfish’s failure to respond. Rival are now aware of the issue but wish to pretend that they haven’t done anything wrong. Facts don’t lie and suggesting that this is only an issue of wording or that only “some circles” would agree is utter nonsense. The only “circle” that would know what they’re talking about and would view 9 to 1 the way Rival do is Rival and perhaps Dragonfish. Every other major software provider manages to get this right and all players and mathematicians would see this payout and fundamentally wrong.
It is also worth noting that while looking to contact Rival, looking at the Rival website it was found that Rival have taken casino logo design work from this site without permission rather spending time to create their own logos. The below screenshot shows logos that have been taken directly from our reviews of the casino properties.
It’s clear that this issue has mislead players and ultimately short changed them, however I also feel it’s fairly obvious that this hasn’t been an intentional attempt at deception (it’s far too obvious and easy to catch!). Nevertheless, for groups as substantial as Dragonfish and Rival to fail to understand the different between For and To should rightly be fairly embarrassing. It’s fair to say that everyone makes mistakes from time to time and had either of these groups responded properly to this issue there would have been room for some sympathetic perspective, but the responses (or lack thereof) have left significant questions regarding their operations.
There’s a bigger problem here that these issues are just a symptom of and that is inadequate game testing and relevant gaming theory experience in the Game Development team at Dragonfish and Rival softwares. Unfortunately these groups are not only not unique in this, they are the norm. At the same time we’re publishing this article we’re also publishing an article detailing a game error encountered while playing a Playtech Video Poker game that again is the consequence of insufficient testing before an update of a game was deployed. Only a matter of 2 months ago, Michael Shackleford who is commonly known as the Wizard of Odds, published an article about Soft Magic Dice software (see http://wizardofodds.com/online-gambling/blacklist/soft-magic-dice/) who don’t grasp that A2345 is considered a Straight when playing poker.
None of these groups are unusual in these failing and they shouldn’t be singled out for scorn, though that does not mean they shouldn’t be criticised for these failings. The entire industry needs to reflect on how and when games are tested and all software providers need to ensure that their procedures are robust. These sort of slip-ups hurt everyone involve and undermine trust in the industry.
Casino operators do not have the time or resources to test every game they offer to players. More than simply the time and resources, casino operators doing this job would be a phenomenal waste of resources, as hundreds of operators repeat the same testing of the same games over and over again.
Game testing has to be carried out by software providers.
Up till this point the industry has held to their ‘testing lab certificates’. On a common sense level, if these testing labs were providing the service that players are being told they are issues like this wouldn’t occur. They are occurring so clearly something isn’t working out like it should.
With regard to this particular issue, had someone on staff been familiar with the fundamentals of gaming mathematics been on hand during game development this issue could have been avoided. Had this specific game been properly tested it would have very quickly become apparent that the game results were not correlating with the expected outcomes.
The Playtech issue is the same – had the new version of Pick ‘Em Poker been properly tested across all hand combinations, it would have been easy to establish that the multi-hand versions of this game were not performing within expected parameters and an investigation could have been conducted to find out why. Instead the new version of the game was pushed out without re-testing resulting in players being short changed and damage being done to the reputation of the software platform.
As stated earlier, these issues should not be used as clubs to beat Dragonfish, Rival or Playtech. The issues aren’t specific to these companies. This is an industry wide failing and an issue that the entire industry needs to address. What is more questionable is the lack of response and transparency that’s been apparent over the two issues.
There’s a very basic solution to these problems – software providers need to review their testing procedures and ensure that thorough and rigorous testing is conducted on each and every game both at the time of launch and before any update made to the game is rolled out to players.
As things currently are, these types of game issues often cause significant damage to the reputation of the casino provider where they’re detected and the software provider that developed the game. They also leave players out of pocket. The ‘win/win/win’ situation for software providers, operators and players is for software providers to place greater focus on their responsibility to ensure the products that they provide operate in a fair fashion that conforms to the standards that are advertised. These sorts of slip ups wouldn’t be accepted in the well regulated offline markets and shouldn’t be acceptable online.