November 7, 2006

The Wizard's News

From the Wizard....

Congress goes after Internet gambling

To quote Bye Bye Birdie, "So, it's come at last. At last it's come, the day I knew would come at last has come, at last." For at least the seven years I have been following Internet gambling there has been legislation to try to stop it. In the past such legislation got bogged down with special interests trying to add exemptions and consequently nothing made it all the way through congress. However, as is often the case in Washington, the anti-gambling act was suddenly passed after being tacked onto a larger, unrelated bill on port security, at the last minute.

The bill doesn't actually ban online gambling, it bans U.S. banks from processing the transactions. However the effect is similar, since as a result of the act many gaming sites are no longer accepting U.S. players. Many of those sites will likely go bankrupt or at least have to fire a lot of employees, since they gave up a lot of their customers.

I consulted with several attorneys and they tell me it's not illegal to carry advertising for online gambling, so we'll continue to carry Bodog's ads. It isn't my intention to flaunt the law, I simply don't think I'm breaking it, because I don't see anything in it that prohibits advertising. Michael Bluejay talks about this in detail below.

I stand in strong opposition to this law and any law limiting freedom to do as you wish, as long as you are hurting nobody but yourself. I'm proud of Bodog for keeping their doors open to U.S. players and am happy to keep them on as our only advertiser.

Craps tournament

On October 21 and 22 I participated in the "Rolling Big Dice" craps tournament at the Mandalay Bay. The top prize was $175,000; with a total prize pool of $300,000. I estimate the number of entrants was about 72. By simple division the average win per person is $4167. However I noticed that about half the entrants had no hope of winning because they played as they probably normally played craps. When playing in a tournament one must use tournament-specific strategy, which generally means putting enough money in action to have a chance at being in the lead if you win your bets.

Each player had three playing sessions, starting each one with $100,000 in play chips. There were 25 rolls, not including a 26th "golden roll" at the end. The winner of the tournament was determined by the sum of the ending balance of all three sessions. In addition there was a $1500 prize for the winner in each of the three sessions.

I knew from past tournaments that to finish in the money you have to be aggressive, going for a big win or bust trying. There were rather low limits on each bet in this tournament so I simply bet all the points across the board, 4, 5, 6, 8, 9, and 10, hoping to avoid sevens.

In my first session I sevened-out about seven rolls, which mostly wiped me out. Another seven closely followed it, which succeeded in bankrupting me. The second session was even worse, where I believe I was wiped out on the third roll. However the third session went all 25 rolls with only two sevens (the expected total being 4.17). Fortunately these said two sevens were not too early on so I accumulated enough money to survive them. About half the other players were more or less doing what I did, but not quite as aggressively. For example they turned off or took down bets at times.

After the 25th roll I had $543,000 in chips, the most at the table. However I knew from the leader board that the top two players from previous rounds had over $1.4 million. I had no shot to finish first or second but could hope for third, which paid $25,000. The 26th roll was the "golden roll" in which you could bet as much as you liked on either over or under seven. In the event of a seven the dice would be rolled again until a non-seven was rolled.

Mathematically there is no difference in better under vs. over, but in sports I bet the under by about a 20 to 1 ratio vs. the over, so on habit and loyalty I went all in on under seven. Up to $25,000 in prize money was riding on one throw. It took a while to count all the chips and record everyone's bet but finally the moment had come. The shooter picked up the special orange dice and made a very unimpressive weak throw, with one die going into the croupier's chips. I could see other die was a three. It took a very long second to locate the other die, which was also a THREE!!!

That hard six put me at least for the moment in third place! However there were two other tables which could have pushed other players up as well. It took almost an hour to certify the results but at last they started calling names from the 10th on up. Not only did I maintain my third place position but also won $1,500 for finishing first in the third session.

In addition to $26,500 in free play chips I was given a nice crystal trophy and had my picture taken with the Mandalay Bay showgirls and parrots, which I hope to get a copy of. It took a while to break down the chips into hundreds, which I then played through in blackjack finishing with $25,000, of which I tipped the dealers $500. I was told it is proper etiquette for big tournament winners to tip generously to the dealers, who otherwise don't get tipped during the actual play.

This is my first win in a tournament and I was obviously very happy. I would like to offer thank you and kudos to the Mandalay Bay for putting on a fun and successful tournament.

We are in a disagreement between workers. there is a bar down the street that has a shake a day, which is you must throw five dice at once and all five must end up being the same, like yahtzee. He gives you three chances at it, but you must pick up all the dice all three times. So the questions is what's the odds to do it in one shake and what's the odds to do it in the three shakes allowed? Thanks , if you already answered this before I am sorry but I couldn't find it. Thanks again -- Dan and co workers at maple island from Forest Lake

The probability of a five-of-a-kind on one throw is 6*(1/6)5 = 1/1,296. This is because there are six different five-of-a-kinds (one to six) and the probability each die will be that number is (1/6). The probability of not getting a five-of-a-kind is 1-(1/1,296)=1,295/1,296. The probability of going three attempts without a three of a kind is (1,295/1,296)3=99.77%. So the probability of getting at least one five-of-a-kind in three tries is 100%-99.77% = 0.23%.

What's new on the site

B3W software caution. The video poker game at a casino using B3W casino is under investigation. I performed some statistical tests on a yet to be named video poker game at the Yachting Casino. The results concerned me. After sharing them with customer support they informed me the next day that they were very concerned and would complete a report soon. They have since told me they are taking this seriously but the investigation is still ongoing. For now I am making no official accusations until the Yachting Casino/B3W has had a chance to refute my findings. The reader may wish to postpone playing video poker at any casino using B3W software until said report is finished.

Until next time, set your expectations high.


From Michael Bluejay....

Is online gambling against the law?

The U.S. Congress recently passed an anti-online gambling act. What does this mean for you, the player? Not much. The bill didn't make it against the law to gamble online, it made it illegal for banks to handle online gaming transactions (and ostensibly for gaming operators to accept money through U.S. banks). But players themselves shouldn't expect to get into any trouble with the feds. Now, a U.S. player might run afoul of their individual state gambling laws, if they live in one of those few states that has an anti-online gambling provision. But that was already the case even before this new act got passed. Anyway, the main way it will affect you as a player is that you might not be able to play at your favorite site any more, since many of them have stopped taking U.S. players.

Many operators (casinos, poker rooms, sportsbooks) reacted to the legislation by refusing to accept players from the U.S. any more. This seems kind of curious to us, because the act didn't make it illegal for them to accept U.S. players. If a player deposits with Neteller, which is based overseas, no federal laws have been broken. Nevertheless, many operators abandoned ship. It's interesting to note that it's the biggest outfits who got out of the U.S. market, and they're all publicly-traded companies who have fearful stockholders. The privately-held companies in general are still accepting U.S. players. (And yes, Bodog is still happy to take your bets.)

What does this mean for publishers, like the Wizard, who carries gambling ads? We don't think it really affects us. We pored over the legislation and consulted with a bunch of lawyers and there doesn't seem to be anything in the law that prohibits us from carrying advertising. There's a longshot chance that the feds could claim we were an accessory to the crime by aiding & abetting, but that seems pretty dubious. We'd also expect to get a warning letter first, like the ones the Dept. of Justice sent out to some big publishers in 2003. If we get a warning letter, we'll take down our ads, at least until we possibly sue the government, like Casino City did. (Casino City dropped their case, but not before a court ruled that simply carrying advertising is not aiding & abetting, which is one of the precedents we're relying on.) We don't think that carrying ads is illegal, but if the feds tell us to stop then we have to stop at least temporarily. The current administration has a frightening disregard for the rule of law, so if the feds say we're breaking the law even if we're not, then there's not much we can do unless we want to try a Casino City-style lawsuit.

We should note that other publishers feel differently. Our friend the Casinomeister is automatically removing the ads from the site when a U.S. visitor goes there. And Casinomeister isn't even located in the U.S. Wow. We're certainly not critical of Casinomeister for being cautious, especially because different lawyers have different interpretations of the legislation. But if you're in the U.S. and didn't like the animated ads on Casinomeister before, then definitely go have a look-see now!

Incidentally, we're obviously not lawyers, so god help you if you rely on this article as a substitute for legal counsel. You'd be well advised to check the legislation covering your jurisdiction, and to check with a real attorney if you want professional legal advice.

For more than you ever cared to know about online gambling law, see my in-depth article Is it legal to carry ads for online gambling?

Vote today

Today is election day in the U.S. Casinomeister sent out a newsletter listing all the U.S. reps who co-sponsored anti-Internet gambling bills, noting that many of those reps are up for re-election today. As a public service we're reprinting that list, except we combined the two different lists into one, and we're listing the reps alphabetized by state rather than by name, so it's easier for you to find the legislators for your own area. Maybe we just love you more than Casinomeister does. (Not that they don't love you a bunch, maybe we just love you extra.)

We'd never suggest that anyone making their voting decisions on one issue alone, but we think that looking at individual votes can help you form your overall picture of a candidate. And it's not like we think that online gambling is the most important issue facing America today, but gambling is our business, so that's what we're covering here.

Sponsors of anti-online gambling bills:

Sen. Jon Kyl [R-AZ]
Rep. James Leach [R-IA]
Rep. Robert Goodlatte[R-VA]


Rep. Robert Aderholt [R-AL]
Rep. Spencer Bachus [R-AL]
Rep. Jo Bonner [R-AL]
Rep. Robert Cramer [D-AL]
Rep. Terry Everett [R-AL]
Rep. Michael Rogers [R-AL]
Rep. Robert Berry [D-AR]
Rep. John Boozman [R-AR]
Rep. Trent Franks [R-AZ]
Rep. John Hayworth [R-AZ]
Rep. John Shadegg [R-AZ]
Rep. Dennis Cardoza [D-CA]
Rep. Elton Gallegly [R-CA]
Rep. Walter Herger [R-CA]
Rep. Duncan Hunter [R-CA]
Rep. Jerry Lewis [R-CA]
Rep. Daniel Lungren [R-CA]
Rep. Howard McKeon [R-CA]
Rep. William Thomas [R-CA]
Rep. Joel Hefley [R-CO]
Rep. Marilyn Musgrave [R-CO]
Rep. Nancy Johnson [R-CT]
Rep. Christopher Shays [R-CT]
Rep. Robert Simmons [R-CT]
Rep. Ander Crenshaw [R-FL]
Rep. Lincoln Diaz-Balart [R-FL]
Rep. Tom Feeney [R-FL]
Rep. Mark Foley [R-FL]
Rep. Ric Keller [R-FL]
Rep. Jeff Miller [R-FL]
Rep. Adam Putnam [R-FL]
Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz [D-FL]
Rep. David Weldon [R-FL]

Rep. Nathan Deal [R-GA]
Rep. John Gingrey [R-GA]
Rep. Jack Kingston [R-GA]
Rep. John Linder [R-GA]
Rep. Charles Norwood [R-GA]
Rep. David Scott [D-GA]
Rep. Lynn Westmoreland [R-GA]
Rep. Madeleine Bordallo [D-GU]
Rep. Thomas Latham [R-IA]
Rep. James Nussle [R-IA]
Rep. Mark Kirk [R-IL]
Rep. Ray LaHood [R-IL]
Rep. John Shimkus [R-IL]
Rep. Dan Burton [R-IN]
Rep. Stephen Buyer [R-IN]
Rep. John Hostettler [R-IN]
Rep. Michael Sodrel [R-IN]
Rep. Mark Souder [R-IN]
Rep. Mike Pence [R-IN]
Rep. Jerry Moran [R-KS]
Rep. Todd Tiahrt [R-KS]
Rep. Ben Chandler [D-KY]
Rep. Ron Lewis [R-KY]
Rep. Rodney Alexander [R-LA]
Rep. Richard Baker [R-LA]
Rep. Charles Boustany [R-LA]
Rep. Bobby Jindal [R-LA]
Rep. James McCrery [R-LA]
Rep. Steve King [R-IA]
Rep. Todd Akin [R-MO]
Rep. Roy Blunt [R-MO]
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett [R-MD]
Rep. Wayne Gilchrest [R-MD]
Rep. David Camp [R-MI]
Rep. Vernon Ehlers [R-MI]
Rep. Peter Hoekstra [R-MI]
Rep. Thaddeus McCotter [R-MI]
Rep. Michael Rogers [R-MI]
Rep. John Schwarz [R-MI]
Rep. Frederick Upton [R-MI]
Rep. Gilbert Gutknecht [R-MN]
Rep. Mark Kennedy [R-MN]
Rep. Collin Peterson [D-MN]
Rep. James Ramstad [R-MN]

Rep. Todd Akin [R-MO]
Rep. Jo Ann Emerson [R-MO]
Rep. Kenny Hulshof [R-MO]
Rep. Roger Wicker [R-MS]
Rep. Dennis Rehberg [R-MT]
Rep. John Coble [R-NC]
Rep. Bob Etheridge [D-NC]
Rep. Virginia Foxx [R-NC]
Rep. Robert Hayes [R-NC]
Rep. Walter Jones [R-NC]
Rep. Mike McIntyre [D-NC]
Rep. Sue Myrick [R-NC]
Rep. David Price [D-NC]
Rep. Charles Taylor [R-NC]
Rep. Jeffrey Fortenberry [R-NE]
Rep. Thomas Osborne [R-NE]
Rep. Lee Terry [R-NE]
Rep. Charles Bass [R-NH]
Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen [R-NJ]
Rep. Heather Wilson [R-NM]
Rep. Sherwood Boehlert [R-NY]
Rep. Sue Kelly [R-NY]
Rep. John Kuhl [R-NY]
Rep. Thomas Reynolds [R-NY]
Rep. James Walsh [R-NY]
Rep. Steven Chabot [R-OH]
Rep. Paul Gillmor [R-OH]
Rep. David Hobson [R-OH]
Rep. Ralph Regula [R-OH]
Rep. Ernest Istook [R-OK]
Rep. Frank Lucas [R-OK]
Rep. John Sullivan [R-OK]
Rep. Peter DeFazio [D-OR]
Rep. Darlene Hooley [D-OR]
Rep. Greg Walden [R-OR]
Rep. Charles Dent [R-PA]
Rep. Melissa Hart [R-PA]
Rep. John Peterson [R-PA]
Rep. Joseph Pitts [R-PA]
Rep. William Shuster [R-PA]
Rep. Luis Fortuño [?-PR]

Rep. James Barrett [R-SC]
Rep. Henry Brown [R-SC]
Rep. Addison Wilson [R-SC]
Rep. Bob Inglis [R-SC]
Rep. Lincoln Davis [D-TN]
Rep. John Duncan [R-TN]
Rep. William Jenkins [R-TN]
Rep. Kevin Brady [R-TX]
Rep. Michael Burgess [R-TX]
Rep. Michael Conaway [R-TX]
Rep. John Culberson [R-TX]
Rep. Thomas DeLay [R-TX]
Rep. Thomas Edwards [D-TX]
Rep. Louis Gohmert [R-TX]
Rep. Kay Granger [R-TX]
Rep. Raymond Green [D-TX]
Rep. Ralph Hall [R-TX]
Rep. Kenny Marchant [R-TX]
Rep. Michael McCaul [R-TX]
Rep. Randy Neugebauer [R-TX]
Rep. Ted Poe [R-TX]
Rep. Peter Sessions [R-TX]
Rep. Lamar Smith [R-TX]
Rep. William Thornberry [R-TX]
Rep. Frederick Boucher [D-VA]
Rep. Eric Cantor [R-VA]
Rep. Jo Ann Davis [R-VA]
Rep. Thomas Davis [R-VA]
Rep. Thelma Drake [R-VA]
Rep. James Forbes [R-VA]
Rep. Virgil Goode [R-VA]
Rep. James Moran [D-VA]
Rep. Frank Wolf [R-VA]
Rep. Thomas Petri [R-WI]
Rep. Shelley Capito [R-WV]
Rep. Barbara Cubin [R-WY]

Sources forHR4411 andHR4477

How NOT to win a Wizard of Odds drawing

Sometimes we can't give the stuff away. Here's what happened last month when I tried to award the free book.

FROM: Michael Bluejay
TO: [Wizard's News Subscriber]

Congratulations, as a subscriber to The Wizard's News you won our random monthly (or so) drawing for a copy of the Wizard's book, Gambling 102. Please send your postal address to:

[email protected]

...and we'll get your book out to you.

Please don't reply to me, since my account doesn't accept mail from AOL addresses.

Congrats again,

Assistant to the Wizard of Odds

FROM: [Wizard's News Subscriber]
TO: Michael Bluejay

I feel that being sent to another sight to give an address to win a "free book" and not being able to find where to give an address on that sight is as big a ripoff as the Wizards article on being ripped off himself!

Was my original message unclear in some way? I don't know how I could have made it any easier.

Anyway, this month's lucky winner of the Wizard's book, Gambling 102, is subscriber #5487, MadScribe. Let's see if (s)he actually claims the book or complains about winning. By the way, we recently passed a special milestone: we now have over 10,000 subscribers to this newsletter. That's more than the New York Times, I think.