I am, of course, very familiar with the major gambling software producers like Microgaming and Boss, but when I heard rumors of a company whose work appears at some casinos without identification, I decided to be a good reporter and dig out all the info. The result: This is the first public revelation of "Marquis Software".
"Did you name it after the Marquis of Queensbury, whose very name is synonymous with fair play in sport?" I asked its founder, Clyde Hockleberry.
"No," Clyde told me. "I named it after the Marquis de Sade, whose work is honored and remembered in the world 'sadism'. We like to think that we are the people who add 'a touch of torture' to online gaming."
"And people want this?" I asked in disbelief.
"A few, maybe," Clyde replied, "but we would never make a living if we depended on the leather whip set. Most of the people who play our games have no idea that we are behind them. You see, all we do is make some minor adjustments to the software that the big boys produce."
"Like what?" I asked.
"Are you familiar with 'Double Magic', the Microgaming slot game?" he asked. "If you get three blue stars you win 1600 times your bet. Of course, that won't happen if you are playing on a Double Magic game which we have reprogrammed."
"You mean that you have gotten rid of the stars?"
"Don't be silly," Clyde told me. "That would be too easy. We kept the stars -- we just made sure that every time you see them they are either one row above or below the pay line. It drives the player nuts!"
"Do you restrict your work to the slots?"
"No," said Clyde. "We handle all kinds of games. For example, roulette. We keep a careful watch on the player's favorite number."
"And make certain that it never hits?" I guessed.
"No, we make certain that it DOES hit," said Clyde, "but only after the player has given up on it and switched his bet. The next spin of the wheel is guaranteed to hit the number he HAD been betting."
"Do you have any game that you prefer?" I asked.
"Blackjack," he said without hesitation. It offers so many variations that it is a sadist's Garden of Eden."
"Can you give me an example?"
"One of my favorites," he said, "is one I like to call 'Crawling Victory'. In it, the player gets good starting cards, like 8 and 3. The dealer starts with garbage -- perhaps a 6."
"I love it when I get a hand like that," I said. "I immediately double."
"Of course you do," said Clyde. "Who wouldn't? With 'Crawling Victory', you are certain that you are going to win. It also has the advantage of keeping up your hopes. You start out with an 11 and then your next card is a 9. You have 20 and are already counting your money. The dealer starts with a 6, and then gets a 2, 3, and 5. He now has 16 and you are in heaven. Then we throw him a 5 and you go into shock."
"I believe that has happened to me once or twice," I admitted.
"Only once or twice?" Clyde asked. "Then you couldn't have been playing on one of my sites. How about the opposite -- 'Crawling Defeat?' In this one, you get the lousy cards to start with and then they start to look better. For example, you begin with a pair of 3's. Your next card is a 2. Then you get a 4 and you are up to 12. Of course, the following card is a 10 and you bust."
"That must really drive the player up a wall," I said.
"Not as much as 'Project 410' does," said Clyde. It is named for the fact that for 10 straight hands, 41 points will be dealt. Each time the player will get 20 and the dealer 21."
"It seems that you have blackjack tied up from every angle," I said.
"I've only told you about the tip of the iceberg," Clyde responded. "We also have 'Popping Aces' -- just when you are sure you have won, an ace pops up in the dealer's hand and turns it into a winner and 'Slow Death' -- where you 'push' five times in a row before finally losing."
"Which of these is your personal favorite?" I asked him.
"Ah," he sighed, "that would be 'Match'. It is wonderful! We deal a 6 and its matching card, a 5. Or an 8 followed by a 3, or a 9 followed by a 2."
"But doesn't it give the player a big advantage when he gets these cards?" I asked.
"Wash your mouth out!" screamed Clyde. "We would NEVER give a match like these to the player. They are reserved for the dealer. If the player starts with a 3, he can know that the next card will be a 9 followed by a 10. There is nothing like a quick and easy 22 to depress him!"
"I'm afraid to ask," I said, "but which casinos use your software?"
"I'm sorry," Clyde told me, "but they insist on privacy. The way I see it, a software maker is like a priest -- and I've taken a vow of secrecy."
"At least tell me this much -- are any of them advertisers on this site?"
"They don't have to advertise," said Clyde. "They get all the publicity they want for free -- on on all the internet gambling bulletin boards!'"