BetOnline Live Blackjack Dealer Allegedly Cheats Player
Online blackjack has been around for just about as long as online poker has and while plenty of people have been skeptical of the poker random number generators (RNGs), many more have been skeptical of RNGs used in blackjack. Online operators compete against the players, so even though the odds are in the house’s favor, there is certainly motive to cheat. And when the cards are virtual, one can never been 100 percent certain – even with all the technical verifications and certifications in the world – that there is no way anything fishy is going on.
As a way to ease this trust issue and to make online casinos have more of a “real life” feel, some sites started up “live dealer” games, which are exactly what they sound like: real human dealers are dealing real cards to players over the internet. Players still click buttons to indicate their hit/stand decisions, but the dealers on the screen really put the cards out. It’s not something I’ve ever played, but it’s a decent idea that has gained in popularity in recent years.
Even though live dealer games are partially meant to engender trust, one recent game has shown that even live dealers and/or the online casinos may try to screw customers out of their money. On January 25th, Michael Morgenstern, who calls himself a “blackjack professional,” live streamed a 75-minute session of him playing in the live dealer blackjack games of BetOnline.com. This past weekend, he posted a portion of that video that shows what looks to be the dealer cheating.
Morgenstern did not notice the problem while he was playing; it was pointed out by a viewer in the comments of the YouTube video.
In the hand, Morgenstern made the unusual decision to split Twos against the dealer’s King, something that players rarely do. This seems to be because Morgenstern was counting cards, which he indicates once the hand is over by referencing the “negative” count of the deck. He likely split the Twos because he felt the deck was in his favor.
Morgenstern busted the first of the split hands with a 25 and was then dealt a Nine on the other Two, so he doubled-down. He received a Six on his next and final card, giving him a 17 on the second hand of the split. The dealer then dealt himself an Eight, giving him an 18, beating Morgenstern (normally, the dealer would deal himself both cards when the players are dealt their two initial cards, but apparently on BetOnline, he only deals himself one card and saves the other for after all the players have acted).
What was discovered by the viewer, though, was that when Morgenstern was dealt the Six, the dealer pushed the top card of the shoe up and took the second card to give to Morgenstern. Clearly, the proper procedure was to deal Morgenstern the top card from the deck, not the second card.
It is entirely possible that it was a mistake, but it seems unlikely, as sliding the top card out of the way to grab the second card is not a natural thing to do. It is also obvious that the dealer makes a sort of double finger-flicking motion before sliding the top card out of the way. Internet sleuths believe that he is not just randomly flicking his fingers, but rather rubbing his finger on the card in an effort to feel some sort of marking that indicates the value of the card. The idea here is that the markings indicate that the card is an Eight, which would’ve given Morgenstern a very good 19. The dealer didn’t know what the second card would be, but he allegedly took the chance that it was worse for Morgenstern than the Eight and then the dealer would get the Eight and beat Morgenstern.
Of course, that the dealer cheated is pure speculation right now, but the video is pretty damning. A further question is: did the dealer do this on his own or did someone off camera direct him to do so? If we may further speculate, what seems to make the most sense is that someone at BetOnline told him to do that, unless there was some internal incentive for a dealer to produce losing sessions for players.
The original video for Morgenstern’s session is below. The hand in which the alleged cheating occurred begins at about the 13:30 mark. Warning: there is a lot of foul language in the video.
And here is the edited video that specifically points out the cheating. There is no audio in this one.
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