Tania Johannisson: 5 life lessons I learned by busting the biggest gaming industry myths
Myth #1: The higher the win, the more compromised the integrity of the game might be.
This commonly-held belief, Johannisson argued, causes operators to believe there is a problem with games when players win big.
The solution? We can either believe in math, or magic, she argued. A player winning €3m on baccarat when betting €500,000 per game is just as likely as someone betting €10 and winning €60 – but the first circumstance is far more likely to arouse suspicion.
What Johannisson learned from this is that when examining a problem, it’s crucial to apply a critical mindset.
Myth #2: The pattern of red and black in roulette can help you predict the outcome of the next spin.
Far from being something believed only by uncritical customers, Johannisson said she was once contacted by a game protection professional claiming he had discovered a new way to beat the game of roulette.
He said he had studied tens of thousands of spins, and identified that if you wait for a certain number of repeated red or black results, and then bet the opposite – you’ll have the advantage.
Of course, the reality is that the roulette wheel has no memory, and the chances of getting red and black is identical on each spin.
The lesson learnt from this is that we must learn the game we are playing.
Myth #3: You can beat the game using strategiesThe problem with gaming strategies designed to beat the game, Johannisson argued, is that they do work – until they don’t.
At the end of the day, players will lose precisely the percentage which the game is designed to hold from their turnover, regardless of the system.
The lesson to be learnt from this is to be adaptive. What works today will not necessarily work tomorrow, so we must learn to be flexible, and be ready to react to the unexpected.
Myth #4: Players who show poor gaming skills are not a threat
Johannisson used the story of Phil Ivey’s $20m Baccarat win, achieved using an extortion technique, to illustrate this point.
After his first big win, the casino operator reportedly responded by saying “It’s OK, we will get him in the end… he is a lousy Baccarat player.”
Little did the operator know, of course, that Ivey was making several requests of the casino which allowed him to gain a competitive advantage.
Lessons learned from this situation include not to underestimate players, regardless of your assumptions, and Johannisson argued it can also teach us a lot about support. It’s important to get support in the areas where you need it most, as everyone needs some support to succeed.
Myth #5: Winning is all that matters
In her experience, she said, it is the betting behaviour itself which shows suspicious intent – not the end result of the session, but the activity throughout.
So, the lesson is, we need to learn to see through the journey – and enjoy the ride. To those who think Evolution has always been successful, she said – think again.
The business has been on an extremely volatile journey to come to where it is today, and the key to its success is that it keeps working harder, whether the business is winning or losing.