October 22, 2005

The Wizard's News

Texas Hold 'em Bonus

I'm proud to add an analysis to the site of a new game known as Texas Hold 'em Bonus. This is a game I noticed at the Flamingo Hilton here in Vegas about two months ago. I also have received a few e-mails from people claiming to have seen it in Atlantic City. Poker variations are my favorite games to analyze so I went ahead and wrote a program two months ago. However the number of combinations in this game is so vast that it took 56 days of computer time to cycle through them all. It also took quite a bit of human time to program correctly and tabulate all the results. Overall the game has an element of risk of only 1.53%, with optimal strategy, which for a new game is pretty good.

Email Tip: Title Your messages

On a topic unrelated to gambling I would like to add my two cents on titling e-mails. I get 100 to 200 e-mails a day, about 75% of which is spam. It used to be that spam could be easily identified with big obnoxious titles. However most of us are too smart for that and delete obvious spam without opening it. Now spam comes with bland nondescript titles like "hello", "preview", "question", or "you might like this". You take a gamble deleting it because some legitimate e-mails have mysterious titles. However I delete e-mail with such titles on sight, primarily because the probability of it being spam is about 90%, and secondly if the writer doesn't care enough to write a descriptive title I don't feel obligated to waste my time reading it. So my advice is to title your e-mail with something that will identify either you and/or the subject matter. [Bluejay adds: Here, here! Or is it "Hear, hear?" I don't know. In any event, the Wizard is spot-on on this one.]

My NFL picks

Last week I went 1 and 4 on my official picks. My newsletter picks (including the official picks) did better, at 4 and 6.  This comes after another 1 and 4 week two weeks ago. So on Monday I spent all day rethinking how I handicap. The result was a model using data going back to 1994 and I believe is more accurate in the relationship between probability of winning and point spread. The picks are coming back quite a bit different, although I still tend to like the underdogs most of the time.

This will be the first week of the new way, so anything can happen. The web site lists my strongest picks (link removed) but here is the complete list.

2005 Week 7 Picks

Game My Pick
New Orleans Saints vs. St. Louis Rams (-3) No opinion
Green Bay Packers vs. Minnesota Vikings (1.5) Minnesota
Indianapolis Colts vs. Houston Texans (15.5) Houston
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals (-1) Pittsburgh
San Diego Chargers vs. Philadelphia Eagles (-3.5) Philadelphia
Kansas City Chiefs vs. Miami Dolphins (-2) No opinion
Detroit Lions vs. Cleveland Browns (-2.5) Cleveland
San Francisco 49ers vs. Washington Redskins (-12.5) San Francisco
Dallas Cowboys vs. Seattle Seahawks (-3) Seattle
Buffalo Bills vs. Oakland Raiders (-3) Oakland
Baltimore Ravens vs. Chicago Bears (-1) Baltimore
Tennessee Titans vs. Arizona Cardinals (-3) Tennessee
Denver Broncos vs. New York Giants (-1.5) Denver
New York Jets vs. Atlanta Falcons (-7) New York Jets

You can visit NFL.com to see how I did.

Ask the Wizard!

Here's an excerpt from the newest Ask the Wizard, column #143.

Sir, I recently read in a book about odds that the odds of hitting all 20 numbers in keno are a quintillion to one. the book described this by saying that if there was one drawing per week and everyone on earth always bought a ticket, it would take 5 million years to produce a winner. My question is, is there a prize for hitting all 20, and if so, has anyone ever hit it? I've heard that no one has ever hit keno in the history of Vegas, it this true? - Tim from Greenville, SC

The probability of hitting all 20 is 1 in combin(80,20) = 3,535,316,142,212,180,000. So the odds are more like 3.5 quintillion to one. Assuming 5 billion people on earth, and they all played once a week, there would be one winner every 13.56 million years on average. Most casinos pay the same amount for hitting close to 20. For example the Las Vegas Hilton pays $20,000 for hitting 17 or more out of 20. I have never heard of anyone every hitting 20 out of 20, and doubt very much that it has ever happened.

(Read more Ask the Wizard.)

What's new on the site

I've been a busy Wizard. Here's what's new on the site:
  • Ask the Wizard -- Column #143
  • Texas Hold'em Bonus — A poker variation found at the Las Vegas Hilton and some other places. It took my computers 56 days of calculation to crank through this one.
  • Chemin de Fer — This is exactly the same game as baccarat, except the player can stand on five. Should you? Check the link to find out.
  • Double Pay Poker — This is a common video poker variation that pays on the deal and draw.
  • NFL Picks (link removed) — My free picks for NFL games.
Until next time, set your expectations high.