December 13, 2004

The Wizard's News
December 13, 2004

From the Wizard....

More pokering around

Seasons greetings to each and every one of you on my newsletter list — all 6,578 of you. Sorry it has been so long since I last wrote. As you probably forgot in my last newsletter I spoke at length about my adventures in Texas Hold'em. At point I was really wasting a lot of time I couldn't afford playing at Pacific Poker so I cashed out and quit cold turkey for a couple weeks.

Then BoDog, who is a loyal advertiser, opened a poker room so I decided I had cooled off and was ready to try a new venue. The BoDog poker room is very fast and no-nonsense. The players there I would say are stronger and more serious than at Pacific Poker. If you're looking to get in as many hands per hour it would be harder to get any faster than BoDog.

Then we got a new advertiser in Poker Source Online, who have deal where they mail you a nice set of 11.5-gram poker chips for playing 250 hands at Party Poker. I always like to patronize my own advertisers and I've heard a lot about Party Poker so I signed up. The poker chip set giveaway is in addition to the normal 20% bonus for up to $100. So going through Poker Source is just icing on the cake. They also have the same deal for Pacific Poker, but unfortunately I played them before I knew about Poker Source. The poker chip set consists of 300 11.5-gram "dice" or "suited" style chips and an aluminum case. I already have some of this kind of chip and they are pretty close to casino quality. For the best chip I still prefer Paulson but they no longer sell to the public unfortunately.

Party Poker is very much the opposite of BoDog. The players are animated and there are lots of visual and sound effects. The caliber of play of the others players is soft and game play goes slowly.

I read in a poker magazine recently that some men use female names when playing poker online. The article said that other men don't play their best game against women, either going too soft or too aggressive. I tested that theory by playing under the handle Lisa235 and my results seemed to support the hypothesis. Maybe it was just the different venue but most players either went easy on me with good hands or tried too hard to bluff me out with weak hands. So I recommend that all players, male or female, use an obviously female handle.

What's new on the website

I have added a bunch of Ask the Wizard columns since the last newsletter. It seems that readers never fail to think of new questions. Some time ago I answered a question from someone who asked "Is my boyfriend cheating on me?" Then when Bluejay sorted all the old Ask the Wizard columns a few months ago into topical categories like blackjack and craps, he put that question in a category called "boyfriends". It now turns out that that page is the number four match for a Google search on "Is my boyfriend cheating on me?" It is probably because of that ranking that I just got another similar question from another worried girlfriend which I will answer in an upcoming column.

I have been making small additions and improvements throughout the site. I'm especially proud of the video poker section, as I've worked very hard to be the first site that I know of to present full return tables for such difficult-to-analyze games as one-eyed jacks, five aces, and progressive video poker. I also have a new page about sequential royal flushes in video poker.

Another recent addition is my review of a new software brand, Blue Chip Games, which powers the new casino at Pinnacle. I also added my analysis of a new table game called Flop Poker.

Saving the best for last, the most excitement we've had on the site in a long time was that someone finally took me up on my $20,000 betting system challenge. Since 1999 I have offered a challenge of my $20,000 against $2000 that a betting system based on a casino game with a house advantage could not stand up to a one billion hand computer simulation. Daniel Rainsong not only took me up on this challenge but he offered to double the stakes, which I accepted. So did I lose $40,000 or are the laws of math still sound? Find out here.

This spring I will be teaching the Casino Math course again at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and as I prepare course materials on basic probability and its application to casino game analysis I plan to add that to the site as well.

SHOW REVIEW: The Red Piano, starring Elton John

As a big fan of Elton John I have seen him three times before and have been meaning to see him in this Las Vegas venue since he started playing here on a regular basis filling in for Celine Dion. Normally Elton John concerts are no-nonsense affairs that go at least three hours. The only artist I have seen go longer is Bruce Springsteen. The Red Piano is not a typical Elton John concert but is more of a show.

Unlike his other concerts I have seen The Red Piano has an three gigantic video screens, several neon signs, and lots of props that look like something that was rescued from a 1970's brothel. Many of the accompanying videos were from the seventies and many featured a much younger John backstage or at parties. In my opinion the best was candid footage of Marilyn Monroe that of course was played with Candle in the Wind. Another memorable video was one of scantily clad Pamela Anderson dancing with a stripper pole to, if I remember correctly, The Bitch is Back. Unlike his regular concerts John did much more talking, in particular complaining about lip synching and English music critics. Towards the end huge R-rated inflatable things covered the stage. Before the last song John said the theme of the show was love, which totally surprised me. I thought the theme was sex and the seventies. He made a sappy speech before closing with Your Song, another hit I could do without. I thought it was a sudden 180-degree turn but that is just my opinion. Some of my favorite songs he did indeed do including Pinball Wizard, Saturday Night's All Right for Fighting, Daniel.

Tickets for The Red Piano are $100 to $250. The show plays at Caesar's Palace. The auditorium is very high so even the worst seats are decent. I pulled a favorite trick of mine, which is to show up at the time of the show and look for a desperate seller who had a cancellation in his party. I usually offer 1/3 or 1/2 of face value and the sellers are always happy to agree to anything reasonable. If you don't mind seeing shows by yourself I highly recommend this route. Try to avoid scalpers unless there is no alternative. Overall my grade is an A-.

New Advertiser: Acropolis Casinos

Acropolis Casinos to the site. I played at the Stanley Acropolis casino years ago when they had their own unique software, before they switched to Playtech. As I recall I had a good experience and they have always seemed to have a good reputation. The initial bonus is a 100% immediate phantom bonus for up to $200 deposits. The second bonus is a 50% immediate phantom bonus for up to $400 deposits. The wagering requirement is 6x deposit plus bonus in both cases. There is also a monthly 100% bonus up to $50.

For those who don't know, a phantom bonus is one that may never be cashed in and is deducted from your account when you make a withdrawal. Good strategy with phantom bonuses is to set a very high winning goal, like 5 to 10 times your initial balance, or go broke trying to get it.


From Michael Bluejay....

What's new on

I installed a great new feature many months ago but I keep forgetting to tell you about it, so here it is before I forget again: You can now go to the Wizard's analysis page for any game directly by typing into your browser. For example, you can go directly to or How cool is that? Don't answer yet, because if you act now you'll also be able to go to our review of software brands the same way, such as and Now how much would you pay? And don't even think of typing in the WWW — it's not necessary on our site, or on 99% of other websites out there, too.

And let me tell you what's not new on more advertising. I tried to get the Wizard to add just a couple of more ads throughout the site, but he wouldn't hear of it. It's really hard arguing with someone who's not motivated by money. "Come on, wiz," says I, "just a teeny-tiny little ad on a few of the inside pages, like an ad for a craps site on the craps page?" Nope, he wouldn't hear of it.

In fact, the amount of advertising is actually set to decrease a little bit early next year. The details are kind of technical so I'll spare you the big explanation.

Now, it's weird, because even though the Wizard is one of the least greedy people I've ever met, at the same time he's somehow a real cheap bastard. We were at Niagara Falls recently, and I made a wish and threw a penny into the falls. At this point the Wizard announces that he had made a wish too. I said, "But you didn't throw a penny in." And he replied, "I put my wish on your penny." Can you believe that?! I protested, but he said, "I think a penny can hold more than one wish." Well, maybe under normal circumstances, but since we were in Canada it was a Canadian penny and with the exchange rate it was actually worth a little less than a penny (I think the Wizard said 0.83 pennies), so it had an even bigger burden trying to support two wishes. Also, my friend Amanda was there with us, and my wish was for her to always be happy, so now Amanda's pissed that the Wizard might have blown her chance for eternal happiness by bogging down my wish penny with an extra wish.

Bluejay's handy Internet tip of the month

In our last episode I showed you how cool tabbed browsing is. Or at least I tried to — I messed up the image and you couldn't see it. So here's the tip from last time, again.

Here's what you're probably doing before you learned this tip: You're on a page and there are several links you want to follow. Maybe there are three different news stories that look interesting to you, or maybe you're not sure which of the many links on a page will take you to what you're looking for. So you probably follow the first link, then when you're done with that you have to hit the BACK button to go back to the previous page, find the other link you wanted to follow, click it, read that page, then hit the BACK button again and repeat the process.

That's cumbersome and annoying. A better way is to open links in tabs. Let's look at the Mac example first because it's easier. Macs come with a browser called Safari. This time when you want to open one of those three links, you simply CTRL-click the link and then you get a menu where you can choose "Open Link in New Tab". When you do that a new tab appears at the top of the window. You can open as many tabs as you want, and switch among them just by clicking the tab. Look at the picture below to see what I mean. I started on Wizard of Odds and then CTRL-clicked links for our first three advertisers and opened them in new tabs. Actually, I bought me a two-button mouse so I can right-click the links instead of CTRL-clicking them, it's the same thing.

How cool is that?! Now you can have a dozen different pages open in the same window. Previously you'd have to have twelve different windows cluttering your screen. Yuck.

Okay, so now you're asking, "Ooh, ooh, how do I do this with Windows?" Well, you have to download a new browser. Internet Explorer is just old and lame and doesn't support tabbed browsing like the Mac has for years. But there's a new windows browser called Firefox that you can download for free which gives you browser tabs. It's better than IE in many other ways, too. In fact, it's the Next Big Thing in Windows browsers, and FireFox is already taking market share away from IE. With features like tabbed browsing it's easy to see why.

Previous tips:


That's all. Until next time, set your expectations high.