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Last Updated: March 4, 2007

March 4, 2007

The Wizard's News

From the Wizard....

Super Bowl winnings

Wagering on football was my most profitable gambling endeavor in 2006. My areas of interest were divided between college football and NFL props. The two weeks leading up to the Super Bowl were a very busy time for me, as I rushed around town looking for good lines, and analyzing bets I never saw before.

My hard work paid off. In all I bet over 143 different bets for a profit of 17.98%; This may come down slightly because one bet is in dispute, currently scored as a win. I also took on investments from piggy-backers, which won 25.01%. My biggest regret was not being able to bet the $50,000 of my money which is in Neteller limbo. More on that later.

At this time of year I always have to put in my annual apology for not letting my valued newsletter readers in on my hot prop tips. The reason is there are too many of you and too little action to go around. Prop betting becomes more competitive every. Every year I see more competition from other prop bettors, and I don't need any more. I'm afraid this is one of the few times that a play is too good to make public.

Academy Awards bets

Usually the first newsletter after the Academy Awards I report on how I did betting on that event. However with Pinnacle closed to Americans I sadly sat out this year. Here are what my three biggest plays would have been, all of which would have won.

  • Forest Whitaker to win best actor: -612
  • Jennifer Hudson to win best supporting actress: -376
  • Martin Scorsese to win best director: -441

Neteller Woes

In the last newsletter Bluejay mentioned that I had $30,000 in pending withdrawals at Neteller with the withdrawal process stalled after the Neteller founders were arrested. I'm afraid that since then the situation has gone from bad to worse. U.S. authorities recently seized Netellers' customer accounts as evidence, preventing Neteller from processing any more withdrawals. There is no end in sight for this problem.

So it is now day 45 that my $30,000 in withdrawals has been stuck at Neteller. When I log into Neteller to visit my imprisoned money I now have to go back 60 days, because they have fallen off of the default 30-day window. Another $20,000 I fortunately managed to get out via a Peer to Peer transfer, just before Neteller put the nix on those, although that money is still two bank wires away from reaching me. After the Peer to Peer fee, three currency conversions, and fees on two bank wires, a substantial chunk will be missing. However I would gladly do the same with the rest of my money if I could. I'm getting more doubtful every passing day that I'll ever see that money.

Oasis Poker analysis

One question I've been getting for years is on a version of Caribbean Stud Poker in which the player may pay to switch one or more cards called Oasis Poker. This version of the game is popular in eastern Europe and northern Africa. Recently the Pinnacle introduced the game so I finally did a write up. That game required analyzing 837 trillion combinations of hands. It was a project I tinkered with for years and took weeks of computer time to crunch every hand. I'm sure most of you won't care, but I consider cracking this game to be one of my proudest accomplishments.

Ask the Wizard!

Here's an excerpt from the newest Ask the Wizard, column #183.

According to standard BJ rules and perfect basic strategy, how many percent of my DOUBLED DOWN hands should I expect to win, push and lose? - Cameron from Melbourne, Australia

Assuming liberal Vegas Strip rules (six decks, dealer stands on soft 17, double after split allowed, late surrender allowed, resplitting aces allowed), the following are the probabilities of each possible outcome when doubling on the initial two cards. This does not include doubling after splitting.

  • Win: 54.99%
  • Lose: 38.06%
  • Draw: 6.95%

What's new on the site

Trade Up Poker. This is a video poker variant, in which the player can trade his hand on the draw for two.

Double Fortune Baccarat. This is a baccarat game using two shoes that can be found at the Wynn.

Ask the Wizard columns #182 and #183.

Until next time, set your expectations high.

From Michael Bluejay....

Solar Power revisited

A while back a reader asked why he didn't see any solar panels in Vegas, since Vegas is so sunny. The short answer is that schools and utility companies do have solar panels, but that's not where you're hanging out when you visit Vegas. And the reason that homeowners and businesses don't do much solar is that there's a big upfront cost and the payback time is very long. (see the original question & answer)

Shortly after we got that question I snapped this picture of eight (count 'em) solar panels on top of a bus stop on the Strip, apparently used to power the backlighting for the bus stop advertisements at night. (The power is stored in a battery.) If it apparently takes that many panels just to power a little bit of overnight lighting, you can see why solar isn't a panacea. You can easily see these panels if you ride on the second level of the double-decker Deuce buses that run up and down the strip.

But there's some big news in solar now. For years I've said that solar just doesn't make sense financially, leaving solar only for those willing to pay a premium to go green. Well, that's changed. A company called Citizenre has figured out a way to make solar economically viable: They install the system on your home for free, and then you pay them for the electricity it generates. In effect, you're renting the system from them without having to invest your own money in it. All you pay is a $500 deposit, which is refundable and earns interest.

Now, if buying a solar system wouldn't make economic sense for you, why does it make sense for this company? The answer is that they're the manufacturer, so they've cut out the middleman. If you bought a solar system you'd have to pay retail. But Citizenre can install it cheaper because they make the panels. They've eliminated the markup from a distributor and a retailer.

As soon as I heard about this I signed up for my own home. I also liked the idea so much I signed up as a sales associate to spread the word.

Now the caveat: Citizenre is a startup company and they haven't made a single solar panel yet. They've got investors lined up, and they're building a manufacturing plant, but they don't have any history behind them. That doesn't much concern me because if they fail then I'm not out much, if anything. I haven't even paid the $500 deposit, because they don't collect that until they're close to being able to install. And I'm certainly willing to risk $500 anyway.

They say they expect the first systems to be installed in September 2007, but I think they'll probably miss that timeframe by at least a month or two, maybe much longer. Again, that doesn't concern me, because what's important to me is that the systems get installed, not that they get installed on an optimistic schedule.

I have a bunch more info on this program on my Saving Electricity website (which was featured in Newsweek last month, by the way. Go me!)

99.95% game at Bodog

This isn't news, because it's been around a while, but for those who missed it it's worth pointing out: Bodog has a game called Pick 'em Poker with a house edge of 0.05%. That's not 5%, that's five-hundredths of a percent. That means this game pays back 99.95% with proper strategy. The game is a video poker variant called Pick 'em Poker, and of course the Wizard offers the proper Pick 'em Poker strategy.

How good are these odds? Let me try to put it into perspective. If you played the 25¢ denomination with five coins at a time, at a speed of 400 hands per hour, your expected loss is 25¢ an hour. If you can't afford 25¢ an hour — get a job.

Unfortunately, this game isn't available in the Flash casino, you have to use the download casino (link removed). All denominations have the 99.95% paytable except the $5 coinage.

Free book drawing winner

This month's winner of the Wizard's book, Gambling 102, is someone who goes by the moniker "Soup Info" — subscriber #9223 (alphabetically) of 10,683, and who signed up for the list on Jan. 4, 2004. Congratulations, S.I.! Your book is now hurtling towards you through time and space.

See ya next time!