November 25, 2006

The Wizard's News

From the Wizard....

Global Gaming Expo report

The week of the Global Gaming Expo is always a busy one for me. This year it was held November 14-16. The show is a gigantic convention center filled with every imaginable business relating to gambling: slot machines, playing cards, uniforms, food & beverage, magazines, table games, signage, locks, you name it. I am particularly interested in new table games and Internet gaming.

This year the big table game companies were still there. Shufflemaster hired lots of models to deal their new games. The small mom & pops with just one or two games was down this year. I am often hired to do the math on new games, so it was nice to actually see games I have worked on. The participation from the Internet crowd was very small. There were only one or two stands that I saw of software companies I never heard of. Microgaming had a non-manned empty stall. Somebody dragged some benches to it and turned it into a smoking lounge. Had I known I would have made an offer to buy their space. I could have sold some books, met some fans, and just had fun with it. I would have brought in my blackjack table to have something to actually do there, with some kind of way to win a book.

There are often celebrities at the gaming show and this year I met and had a picture with Jimmy Walker the actor who played JJ or Good Times. I tried to impress him with my knowledge of Good Times trivia but he would have none of it. He said he never watched the show and evidently didn't like talking about it. I also took the usual pictures with Playboy Bunnies and other models. In this picture the blonde Bunny rebuked me for touching her tail. Michael Bluejay, my webmaster, says she was right to do so.

Elections & Election Bets

This is a non-partisan site so I won't get into my own political views much, outside the area of gambling. However a few months ago I bet $570 to win $500 that the Republicans would maintain control of the House, and $2290 to win $500 that the Republicans would maintain control of the Senate. Boy did I blow it there! In the last newsletter I bragged out my tournament win, but this just goes to show I don't win all the time. At this point I'm sure a few readers will write to say they could have told me the Republicans would lose, however it is easy to say that after the fact, so please don't bother unless you were so sure that you bet on it too.

Finally, I would like to say thank you to the 54% of Nevadans who voted yes on proposition 5. Thanks to you Nevada will join the list of other state banning smoking in restaurants and bars that serve food. This is an issue I feel strongly about. I'm all in favor of the freedom to do whatever you want, but only up to the point that nobody else is being harmed. Secondhand smoke is not only foul but also kills about 3000 Americans a year from lung cancer (source). This was a good step in the right direction.

B3W software update

In the last newsletter I reported about some statistical anomalies I discovered at B3W-brand casinos. I finally heard back from B3W, and they said they found a "modification" with the launch of the 10-play Jacks or Better game. I think this modification also affected the 1-play game but they did not confirm or deny this. They claim both games are playing fine now, and the overall return was always in line. According to B3W the dates in question are October 6 to 16. If you played video poker at a B3W casino during this time, and lost, a refund may be coming your way.

Ask the Wizard!

Here's an excerpt from the newest Ask the Wizard, column #178.

Five persons are in a room. What is the probability that at least 2 of them were born in the same birth month? -Amy

To keep things simple let's assume that each person has a 1/12 probability of being born in each month. The probability that all five people are born in different months is (11/12)*(10/12)*(9/12)*(8/12) = 0.381944. So the probability of a common month is 1 - 0.381944 = 0.618056.

What's new on the site

New video poker analyses. I recently noticed and analyzed three new video poker variations. The games are Double Draw Video Poker, Royal Draw Video Poker, and Ace on the Deal.

Probabilities for 1 to 25 Dice. I get asked a lot for the probability of throwing a total of x with y dice. Hopefully this new section will end such questions!

Ask the Wizard columns #177 and #178.

Until next time, set your expectations high.


From Michael Bluejay....

How to come out ahead on your bet, every time

The Wizard's story about betting on the Republicans to retain control of Congress reminded me of an interesting concept for a way to turn every bet into a winning proposition: Bet on whatever you don't want to happen. For example, say you didn't want Republicans to retain control of Congress. You'd therefore bet that they would retain control of Congress. If the Republicans win, then you're unhappy with the outcome, but you win your bet so the money is a consolation prize. If the Republicans lose, then you're happy because you got the outcome you wanted. And if you're superstitious you can think that the money you lost helped to ensure that outcome. You either get some money or you get the outcome you wanted in the first place. You can't lose!

By the way, don't interpret this to mean that the reason the Wizard bet on the Republicans to retain Congress because he was using this method. First of all, the Wizard is fiercely independent, and I don't even know which party he was rooting for this time, if any. (And I don't want to know. It's safer that way. What I don't know can't be beaten out of me if I'm captured.) Second, the Wizard makes bets when he thinks the odds are in his favor, period. He doesn't bet for any other purpose.

The Wizard points out that this idea is nothing new, and is in fact the whole concept behind insurance.

Survey: Should external links open in a new window?

Help us decide whether the external links on should open in a new window. By "external link" we mean a link to another site outside Wizard of Odds. Should we open it in a new browser window, so the Wizard of Odds site is still behind it? Or should we load the new site in the same window, so if you want to get back to Wizard of Odds you use the Back button?

This has been a burning question for webmasters for a long time, because either decision involves a tradeoff. If we open the link in a new window, then you don't "lose your place" if you want to go back to our site. You can get back easily by just closing the new window when you're done with it. But what if you didn't care to come back? Then we've just cluttered your screen with another window. Plus, some users don't realize that the link opened in a new window and don't understand why their Back button no longer works.

So how should we deal with links to other sites? Let us know.

Update: Voting closed and voting form was removed.

Internet Tip of the Month: Getting specific with Google

In our June 11, 2005 newsletter I showed you how to limit your Google searches to a particular website. (e.g., alaska). Here are a few other tips with Google.

Phrase search with quotes. First, you can search for a specific phrase by putting it in quotes. Let's say you're looking for Anthony Barbella. If you search for anthony barbella then you're gonna get all pages that contain either "Anthony" or "Barbella". That returns over 22,000 pages. But if you search for "anthony barbella" (surrounding it with quote marks), then you got only pages that contain those words right next to each other — just 17 pages, making it a lot easier to find what you're looking for. (Of course, you might also want to search for "tony barbella" to be complete.) Using quotes is especially handy when searching for names, especially your own name, which is called egosurfing. One of the nice things about having the last name "Bluejay" is that when I egosurf myself, I don't have to worry about finding anyone else with the same name.

Exclude words with minus sign. Let's say you're looking for a Michael Richards who is not that controversial guy from Seinfeld. You can exclude the word "Seinfeld" from your searches, which will exclude most pages about the more famous Michael Richards, since most articles about him also mention Seinfeld. To exclude a word just put a minus sign before it, e.g.: "michael richards -seinfeld.

Get synonyms with the tilde mark. Let's say you're looking for an unusual sofa. You could search for that, and then do a separate search for unusual couch, but doing multiple searches is cumbersome. Fortunately Google will find synonyms for a word if you put a ~ in front of it. So searching for unusual ~sofa does both searches at the same time.

See ya next time!