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Ask the Wizard #75

I have seen various NFL handicappers boast about their percentages of winning picks. What is the probability a random picker would get 50%, 55%, and 60% over 1, 3, and 5 seasons?

Michael from Texas

The following table shows the probability of attaining every percentage from 50% to 60%, in increments of 1%, by each number of seasons from 1 to 5. This is based on a 259 game season. I also assume that the overall percentage is rounded down. For example if a handicapper picked 132 out of 259 games, for a percentage of 50.97%, he would only get credit for picking 50%, since he didn’t quite attain 51%. It would not surprise me if these boasting handicappers are rounding in their own favor.

Probability of Handicapping Percentages in the NFL

Ratio 1 Seasons 2 Seasons 3 Seasons 4 Seasons 5 Seasons
0.5 0.5 0.517523 0.5 0.512393 0.5
0.51 0.354641 0.314437 0.282985 0.257059 0.234993
0.52 0.267178 0.178085 0.125486 0.101366 0.074229
0.53 0.160065 0.086589 0.049447 0.025155 0.015098
0.54 0.106982 0.035817 0.013066 0.004959 0.001926
0.55 0.053095 0.012519 0.002569 0.000687 0.000152
0.56 0.023385 0.00282 0.000373 0.000051 0.000007
0.57 0.012645 0.00067 0.000053 0.000003 0
0.58 0.00453 0.000133 0.000004 0 0
0.59 0.00213 0.000022 0 0 0
0.6 0.000617 0.000003 0 0 0

Do have any knowledge about the policies of online casinos with regards to reporting winnings to the Internal Revenue Service? If so, please provide as much info as you can. Thank you.

Jack from Mesa, USA

I’m quite sure none of them report anything.

I visit the casinos quite frequently and have noticed that people seem to do fairly well on the video keno quarter machines. Do you have any suggestions as to what numbers to play. I have noticed that there are some that come up more frequently than others.

Karen from Antioch, USA

I doubt certain numbers are more likely than others. My advice is to pick anything, it doesn’t make any difference.

With reference to the first table of the Basic Strategy for Spanish 21, I have some questions that I hope you could clarify for me (standard game, dealer hits s17):

Q1. For 17 v A (your reference - Rh). If the player doesn’t surrender (or double down surrender), does he in fact hit? I ask this question because I’m a little unsure - Scoblete’s book says to stand 17 v A, as does Norm Wattenberger’s Spanish 21 strategy table in CVBJ3.

Q2. Your references to the 6-7-8 bonuses. Do all the references apply equally to the 7-7-7 bonuses? e.g. Does * mean "Hit if any 6-7-8 [OR 7-7-7] bonus possible"?

Q3. p20 of Scoblete’s Spanish 21 book says to hit 9 v 6 if player has a 3 card 9. Should I ignore this advice, along with the "don’t double down rescue" advice given in his book?

Sorry to bother you with these questions but I’ve got a Spanish 21 tournament coming up, and need all the help I can get. Many thanks.

Alan from Sydney, Australia

  1. Yes, you should hit. I believe all those who disagree to be in error.
  2. No, the 7-7-7 bonus is only possible with two initial sevens. The proper strategy is indicated in that row.
  3. Yes, you should ignore this advice.

The Kelly strategy for betting requires a positive edge to be effective. I play craps and I give the house less than a 1% edge. Once a week I get comps of $62. I gamble only 1 1/2 hours and my total betting doesn’t reach $3000. Theoretically I earn approximately $30 per session. Would the Kelly strategy be helpful to me?

Jerry from Del Ray Beach, USA

Unless bankroll preservation is very important to you then Kelly betting won’t help. I would just flat bet. Nice strategy to milk the comp system.

What advantage if any does the house have when using a six spot layout verses a 7 spot layout?

Steven from Margate, USA

They can deal more hands per hour in a 7-spot game. However the advantage per hand is the same. Personally I hate these 7-spot tables.