Big money in social betting games

Games and gambling and social media are combining in profitable new ways:
Bet Tycoon

Crowdpark, a startup developer focused on social betting games, today announced investments totaling about $6 million from Target Partners and existing investor Earlybird Venture Capital. This brings the Berlin-based company’s total amount of funding to approximately $8 million. Waldemar Jantz, partner at Target Partners, will also join the board of Crowdpark.

The funding will be used to enhance the technology, develop cross-platform, create new games, and hire more talent in game design and development.

Crowdpark products offer players the opportunity to bet on real life events in sports, entertainment, business, politics and other topics, and to compete against each other in betting events, using virtual currency. Since the game runs in real time, players can change their bet at any time, as the event or news unfolds.

The company said this is made possible by its patented dynamic betting technology that enables forecasts in social gaming in real-time “similar to how people play the stock market.”

Chris Marlowe @ dmwmedia.com

Vegas uses computers to nab card counters

Counting cards (without outside help) is legal. But casinos obviously don’t like it, because it costs them money. And — surprise! — casinos don’t like to lose money: casinos are in the business of helping gamblers Blackjack Tablelose money. Now casinos are using computers and video cameras to automate the process of detecting card counters:

The anti-card-counter system uses cameras to watch players and keep track of the actual “count” of the cards, the same way a player would. It also measures how much each player is betting on each hand, and it syncs up the two data points to look for patterns in the action. If a player is betting big when the count is indeed favorable, and keeping his chips to himself when it’s not, he’s fingered by the computer… and, in the real world, he’d probably receive a visit from a burly dude in a bad suit, too.

The system reportedly works even if the gambler intentionally attempts to mislead it with high bets at unfavorable times.

Yahoo! Tech, via BoingBoing

Card counting @ Wikipedia

Costikyan on Randomness

Greg Costikyan on Randomness

Greg Costikyan has posted an engaging essay on randomness in game design. It’s a thoughtful, extensive read; here’s a sample to whet your appetite:

One sort of game aesthetic says: Games should be won by skill and not luck. Hence any recourse to randomness by a game is bad.

Curiously, it’s an attitude held by two sorts of gamers who otherwise have very little in common: Fans of abstract strategy games, and fans of first-person shooters.

Greg Costikyan: Randomness: Blight or Bane? @ Play This Thing!

I’m not sure what Costikyan means by “blight or bane” … perhaps he intended “boon or bane” …?

Rational Gambling?

National Lottery (UK)Some interesting observations by Sabik, over at Boing Boing, about rationality and gambling:

… Under some circumstances it is in fact rational to gamble (and to get insurance …). The reason is that the utility of money is not linear.

As one gets more and more rich or further and further into debt, the difference made by an additional pound diminishes. It’s not a symmetrical, simple curve, but overall it’s roughly S-shaped.

Thus, it’s rational to gamble when one is in debt, for a jackpot of not much more than twice the size of the debt; in that case, the pounds won will have bigger marginal utility than the pounds bet.

Of course, one would prefer to play a game that has a good return — UK Lotto’s 50% is not really very good — but even then it may still be rational.

A similar argument would show that it’s rational to insure generally when one is not in debt; however, the curve is not symmetrical and in addition there are the non-monetary costs, so it’s probably rational in a wider range of circumstances.

Sabik @ Boing Boing