Ask the Wizard #142
Ara from Fresno
Thanks for the kind words. I always enjoy hearing from high school math teachers out there because I almost became one myself. Based on seeing par sheets and speaking to industry insiders I can confidently say that if the alternative choices are shown at the conclusion of a bonus round then the game is honest about them. In other words the prizes were randomly determined and what you see at the end is truly how they were hidden. However in games where the alternative choices are not shown the odds are likely similar to a prize wheel, with lower probabilities for the higher wins. I played Price is Right enough to see the Showcase Showdown twice. As you said, the values behind the price tags are revealed at the end. So I maintain that the game is indeed truthful and speculate that you have just been unlucky.
Harry from Houston
In my opinion New Years in Vegas is overrated. If you want to welcome the new-year standing shoulder to shoulder with thousands of other people on the Strip then you will succeed. However inside the casinos about the only difference is people wear silly hats. We locals tend to go nowhere near the Strip on December 31. I’m not an expert on the party scene but I suspect you can find that any time.
Aaron from Tulsa
For the 2 to 1 bets, the largest sample size in which this is a good bet is 14 games. Picking randomly you would have a 39.5264% chance of picking 57% or better, or 8 or more right. You need to have better than a 33.3333% probability for it to be a good bet. 21 is close to fair, but the probability is slightly too small at 33.1812%. The larger the number of picks required the lower the required percentage should be. For example, if 1000 picks were required the greatest number required to have more than a 1/3 chance of winning would be 507. The probability of getting 507 or more right in 1000 picks is 34.05%.
Stanford Wong gives such a basic strategy in his book Basic Blackjack, see table 46. He also said that in 1995 the Bourbon Street casino in Vegas had a promotion in which every 50 minutes the dealer would expose both his cards for five hands. The player advantage during those was about 10%, according to Wong.
Brett from Matawan, New Jersey
The only things that go into the model are scores and home field advantage. Sometimes I seek outside opinions on major injuries, such as Ben Roethlisberger in week 6, or New Orleans playing home games in San Antonio.
Ken from Tallahassee, Florida
The reason the deuces wild game pays more is because a deuce is not normally as valuable as a seven. This is because there are more ways of making straights and straight flushes around a seven. So making deuces wild is a bigger change than making sevens wild. As I show in my section on Anything’s Wild under the same pay table making deuces wild has a return of 96.76%, while sevens wild is only 94.13%.
WM from Ventura
Tournament strategy is not my strongest area. However if a flush pays 3, which is usually the case, I would avoid the PairPlus unless you need a miracle in the last few hands. Otherwise the higher house edge and variance will probably grind you down. Stick to the ante bet when you need to make a move.
Gary from Milwaukee, Wisconsin
There is no particular place. You have to give the chips to the dealer and tell him to put them on the odds. For example assume you make a come bet and the next roll is a nine. The way I do it is I wait until I get the dealer’s attention, put the bet anywhere he can easily reach it, and say "odds on the nine."
Jason from Vancouver, Canada
Thanks. You probably sent this before week four, which was a bad week for me. Now, after five weeks my record is 17 and 13, for a 56.7% average, which is good but not great. I think that as a bonus to my newsletter readers I’ll give my thoughts on all the games.
Steve from Boston
It is hard to improve upon that. I’d give it a 10% probability. However I would concentrate on reeling that fish in as opposed to wondering if it will get bigger.