Solving the player rating issue

Rating players has always been an inaccurate science, but an important one. Gaming tech company VizExplorer has solved the accuracy issue though by combining table game analysis solution tableViz with ARB LABS’ ChipVue, an optical bet recognition technology – and together they may just change the way we rate table game players for good.

VizExplorer’s strength is in simplifying big data and giving operators analytics and operational insights they can use to optimize various parts of their business easily. ARB LABS’ strength is in its ChipVue bet recognition hardware that is on its way to finding a wider audience thanks to the partnership with VizExplorer.

The combined solution not only gives operators a real view into the value of their table players, but the performance of their tables and dealers.

Jeffrey Hoss, VizExplorer’s VP of Business Development, and Justin Woodard, ARB LABS’ CEO spoke to Casino International about this exciting development.

CI: Why the VizExplorer and ARB LABS partnership?

Jeff: We first saw ARB LABS’ bet recognition technology at G2E 2016 and we were very impressed. We kept dialogue open after the show, and realized there was an opportunity to collaborate and integrate our technologies. The new product is officially called tableViz with ChipVue powered by ARB LABS, and it combines VizExplorer’s operational intelligence expertise with ARB LABS visual recognition experience to create something quite new and exciting.

CI: What is it that makes the product so timely and relevant?

Justin: We’re trying to solve an age-old problem; casino operators have always wanted to rate table games players accurately, like they can for slots players. Slots are easy: player sits down, puts their card in, and feeds the bill validator with cash. You know the coin-in and you know that player’s value.

It’s a very manual process to rate table game players with operators using an antiquated mathematical calculation to try and determine that player’s value. A floor supervisor might watch six to eight games at a time, and they take what they think is the average player wager and multiply that out by number of hands per hour that they think the game speed is for that game. That’s how they get to that average player rating for that player. It’s a very subjective process and we believe that our technology can change all that.

Our hardware, positioned in front of the chip tray, optically recognises every bet wagered. This means the floor supervisor no longer has to watch each player as they adjust their bet up or down to make sure their average is entered correctly into their table management software.

CI: Have other solutions tried to solve this problem?

Historically, there was RFID technology. While RFID is very effective at curbing counterfeiting, it’s expensive and difficult to deploy across all games for the purposes of bet recognition.

There used to be an optical solution called MindPlay that was acquired by Bally Technologies. It placed cameras on the table to read and recognise bets placed, but camera technology was not as robust as it is today. Also, like RFID, it required a special set of chips which is a sizeable investment for the operator. That’s an area where we are different: the tableViz with chipVue solution includes highly accurate camera technology and works with the operators existing rack of casino chips.

CI: Exactly how big a problem is this – how important is accuracy?

Justin: We were installed at a property in the U.S. for five months, with our system running parallel to their manual input rating product. We pulled data from both for a side-by-side comparison to show the operator what the variance in ratings was. We found the ratings that were manually input over five months were off by 50 percent. That doesn’t necessarily mean players were being over- or under-comped by 50 percent, but the accuracy of the player rating––that all important metric upon which all reinvestment strategies are based – was off by that much. And that is significant.

CI: Does tableViz work with existing CMS products or is it entirely standalone, independent analysis? Can it recognise if a player has come across from slots, for example?

Jeff: VizExplorer’s key strength is that we interface with all casino back-end systems. That very question is what prompted Justin to look to our technology. From our standpoint, the VizExplorer platform is data agnostic. We can interface with any data source and have probably encountered them all in our installations at more than 600 casino properties throughout the world. So yes, this means we are able to take both the table tracking data that a system like ChipVue provides, as well as any play associated with slots, and in the CMS we can give a complete, accurate view of what that customer looks like.

Before, you could see a player walk over to a table, but from a marketer’s standpoint they really don’t know much. With ChipVue, we can identify what games they play and whether they are more attractive from a hold percentage standpoint. We can see every single one of their bets, and look at side bet participation. Most tables will have a side bet, and on a poker derivative you might have three or four. They have different odds or a higher house advantage, and we can now see specifically how those games are performing and what players are betting on them. We can see they might like to play a Wheel of Fortune slot, then a bit of Three-Card Poker. Blackjack, then video poker. There are a lot of insights we can garner from this information and having access to the CMS is critical.

The ability to capture side bet participation not only gives operators the ability to provide accurate player ratings for the first time ever, but when it is paired with hand speed, it gives them an unparalleled understanding of the performance of their tables, dealers and the impact that side bets and occupancy can have on the ultimate profitability of the different table games they have on their floor.

Marketers have long ignored table game players as available information was often either inconsistent, or subjective in nature. Additionally, comp decisions were usually made on a limited set of data, as hosts or table managers had a limited view into the real performance of table players. All of this information will be accessible via tableViz with the accurate data provided by ChipVue powered by ARB LABS.

CI: Does this setup use the player’s card for recognition or is it done another way?

Jeff: Yes, the ChipVue setup includes a card reader and a display embedded into the table. When players sit down, they hand their card to the dealer who can immediately swipe it to check the person into a playing position, viewable on the display. Currently, the player card is set to one side, and several hands could be dealt before the supervisor has the chance to actually check that player in. It’s quite inefficient. But because with our system the player is checked in immediately, that gives us great accuracy from the start.

When the customer leaves, the dealer checks the person out of that position, notifies the floor supervisor, who then modifies how much cash was put in or if they walked with chips, then the rating is closed. The closed rating goes into the CMS and that’s how we get that accurate view of what that player played.

CI: What other benefits would operators be interested in?

Jeff: With reliable data about everything happening at the tables, operators are going to benefit from a much broader picture of overall performance of the game, the player and even of the dealer. With details on every hand dealt, actual game speed, and side bet participation, operators can now properly evaluate their dealers and even understand what games they’re best at dealing, and which dealers are most effectively encouraging side bet participation.

Operators will find that a world of possibility opens up with access to slot-like analytics about table games, and with it comes the chance to optimise the table game area and its associated revenue on the gaming floor.