Monday, October 20, 2014

Bad beat

Remember the nice new car I was so excited about not too long ago? Jackass in an old pickup truck wasn't paying attention on the highway and slammed into it. A line of cars stopped for some unknown reason. Everybody managed to stop safely except for him. After he pushed me forward, I very nearly hit the car in front of me, but fortunately had left j-u-s-t enough room not to.

Submit your guesses in the comments as to what the final repair bill will be. Closest (over or under, not Price Is Right rules) wins--I don't know what.

PokerNews article #36

Does your opponent have that flush? Here's how to tell.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Probability puzzle

This has nothing to do with poker directly, but this week's Sunday Puzzle on NPR is an interesting exercise of your probability-thinking muscles.

Next week's challenge: The following challenge is based on a puzzle from a Martin Gardner book, that may not be well-known. Out of a regular grade school classroom, two students are chosen at random. Both happen to have blue eyes. If the odds are exactly 50-50 that two randomly chosen students in the class will have blue eyes: How many students are in the class?
I got the answer, but it was really difficult. I ended up having to set up a spreadsheet to automatically calculate the number of ways to select two children from a classroom of n students. This allowed me to play with both the number of students and the number of those that have blue eyes, until I found the combination that worked. 

Maybe there's a simpler, more intuitive way of getting at the answer, instead of using brute force the way I did--but if so, it escaped me. I predict that they will have very, very few correct answers submitted. 

Friday, October 10, 2014

Hypothetical questions about Phil Ivey

Suppose Ivey had set up his advantageous situation, with the casino's defective cards, automatic shuffler, etc., but had then had a streak of terrible luck and lost millions of dollars instead of winning millions, and the casino bosses later learned of what techniques he had been using. Would they have rushed to issue him a check to refund his losses? If he sued them trying to reclaim his losses, on the grounds that the conditions of the game were unfair, would they agree and cheerfully pay him back?

Put another way, is it the casinos' position that the conditions of the game were only unfair if they lost?

Daniel Negreanu, on the online poker ecosystem

"You guys don't even want to know what I would do to the VIP programs if I was in charge! I would focus on giving bonuses to the LOSING players exclusively. They'd play more, last longer, and the pros would get the money in the end anyway. I think it's overkill to not only have pros crushing all the rec players, but then also giving them the majority of the bonuses on top of that?" 

Whole thing here

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Video poker

My friend Iggy posted a link to this story on Twitter. It's fascinating. Two guys discovered a bug in the programming of a ubiquitous video poker machine, and exploited it for hundreds of thousands of dollars before being caught. They were criminally charged, but eventually the charges were dropped because it's unclear that they did anything illegal. (FWIW, I agree. If a machine has a glitch that allows a player to get payouts just by pressing the right sequence of buttons--no monkeying with the machine's mechanisms or programming--it isn't cheating or fraud.) Long, but well worth a read.

Home game

Last night I played for the first time in a local home game. It was 10-cent/20-cent blinds, maximum buy-in of $20. That's the lowest stakes I've ever played poker for, other than a few play-money games online.

You know what surprising thing I discovered? Once you mentally reset your expectations, it stings just as much to lose a buy-in of $20 as one of $200, and feels just as triumphant to double up a $20 stake as a $200 stake.

Weird, huh?