Blackjack Card Counters Using the iPhone

 

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I can’t believe I just typed that headline. In a recent story posted by Yahoo Tech, card counters are hitting Las Vegas armed with an important weapon. Rather than learn how to determine the count in their heads by adding and subtracting based on what’s dealt, blackjack cheats are using the iPhone to count for them. It’s a really simple idea that has expanded to include mp3 players and iPod Touch units.

A letter authored by Randall Sayre, a member of the Nevada Gaming Control Board, outlined the high-tech highway robbery. The program in question allows users to select from one of four methods of counting: High-Low, High-Op I, High-Op II, and Omega II. A screen shot shown has two buttons to push: +1 and -1. The reason that it’s gone largely undetected until this point is because its users are switching the iPhone into Stealth Mode, which shuts off the screen, but leaves the system running. A passerby would just be led to believe that the person was playing with his phone nervously while hitting, standing, and doubling down. Alternately, the player could stick the phone in their pocket and no one would be the wiser.

The display shows both the True Count to one decimal place and the Running Count. All that is really required is for a user to look down nonchalantly at the display to check out the count. It’s a new way of tackling an age-old problem, although in this case it’s frowned upon by many casinos. An Indian Casino in Northern California tipped off Gaming Control Board officials about the use of iPhones, which led to a letter earlier this month to casinos.

One wonders if the technology could extend to poker. For example, could poker players send information to each other over the iPhone using Stealth Mode? There are no cell phone rules while players are seated at many casinos. However, a person could simply stand up, walk away from the table, use the iPhone to transmit information to other players in the room using Stealth Mode, and then sit back down. Maybe the phone vibrates or the screen turns a certain color. Although this may not give players nearly as much information in poker as it would in blackjack, the notion of players using iPhones to cheat is certainly not beneficial for the future of the industry.

Yahoo Tech noted, “It is illegal in Nevada to have or use card-counting gadgets in casinos, but players are allowed to try to keep count in their heads.” This was news to me, as in information I have seen and read, card counting is against the generally accepted principles of blackjack no matter if it’s in your head or on an iPhone. Whatever the case may be, it’s the latest attempt to explore the entire gamut of the iPhone’s potential. Let’s just hope the MIT Blackjack Team doesn’t reunite bearing iPhones.

Stocks plummeted on Thursday to six year lows. As the global financial markets struggle, so does Apple’s stock. It closed on Thursday at $90.64, down $3.73 on the day (a drop of 3.95%). In the last 52 weeks, “AAPL,” which can be found on the NASDAQ Stock Exchange, has traded in a fairly wide range of $78.20 to $192.24. At the end of 2007, it had traded as high as $199 before plummeting along with the rest of the market. In May of 2008, Apple’s stock was trading between $180 and $190. By September, the company’s value had been cut in half. Rumors of Steve Jobs’ declining health, which culminated in his current furlough from the company, have not helped support its stock price.

iPhones can only be found in the United States on AT&T’s cell phone network. Apple’s latest innovation has received staunch competition from other phone manufacturers, including Palm, which is on the verge of launching its Pre smart. The new gadget, which the Wall Street Journal called “the first serious competitor to Apple Inc.’s iPhone”, will be marketed by Sprint.

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