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Last Updated: November 25, 2007

November 25, 2007


The Wizard's News

From the Wizard....

Absolute Poker Scandal

Much of my attention in October was devoted to the Absolute Poker cheating scandal.  In late September I became aware of a flurry of accusations on the poker bulletin boards that some players had "Super User" accounts which enabled them to see the hole cards of their opponents.  I had access to some log files, and could indeed see that a certain player by the handle of POTRIPPER was doing very well.  However, the evidence did not yet convince me beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Then the "bloody glove" hit the web.  One of the accusers, who went by the handle CRAZYMARCO, surprisingly received from Absolute Poker a transcript of a tournament that indicated all kinds of confidential information, including all players' hole cards, and the IP and e-mail addresses of all players and lurkers.  Prior to this, Absolute Poker vehemently denied it was possible for any player to have knowledge of opponent hole cards.  However it was blatantly obvious following the playback of the tournament that POTRIPPER had exactly that, and was milking it for all it was worth.

On October 18 I posted an analysis of the transcript. The day following my posting, Absolute Poker confessed that indeed some players could see all opponent hole cards.  They said it was an inside job, and the consultant behind it was immediately fired.

For more details, please see my Absolute Poker Investigation. At the bottom I indicate other good sources on the story. For now, public confidence in both Absolute Poker, and online poker in general, is significantly shaken.

Ron Paul: Presidental candidate would legalize online gambling

You might be wondering how the presidential candidates feel about online gambling, especially in light of the regulations passed last year which made things more difficult.  I know of only two candidates of have taken a stand on the issue, one in favor, and one against.

Texas Congressman Ron Paul believes that people should be able to freely gamble online. He was one of the few to take a stand against H.R. 4411,  the Internet Gambling Prohibition Act

On the other side, Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee opposes online gambling. He stated in a questionnaire that as president he would veto any bill to reverse the new restrictions on online gambling.

I have more information on my site.

This is not meant to be an official endorsement of Ron Paul, but just information for readers who care about this issue.

My football betting

My main source of gambling income is sports betting, and that comes entirely from football. However this has been a rough season. Between college and the NFL I'm up only 1.95%. This is much less than my perceived expectation, and results from previous years. Combining this small win with my loss on video poker and table game tournaments this year, it's possible that I'll show a net loss for 2007. Even if that happens I will likely still be ahead overall because of successful previous years, but I prefer to win ever year anyway.

Last year I boasted about my good fortune gambling. I'm not the type of gambler who only brags about winnings and says nothing about losing, so there you have it.

Home Robbery

My home was broken into on November 20th during the day, while I was on vacation in Death Valley. The culprits broke a window next to the door, reached inside, and opened the door.

Inside we found most the drawers opened, and items they didn't want all over the floor. There was no malicious damage. They were rather picky and only took my Bose CD player, about $1000 in jewelry, and about $600 in cash. Left untouched were five computers and thousands of dollars in antique license plates. I think the place has been cased for a while. I often saw people sitting in parked cars for long periods of time, or driving around the neighborhood slowly. My neighbor reports that on the day of the incident a woman was sitting in her car near our house for a long time. I think that it was not a coincidence they hit us while I wasn't at home. Normally I ride my bicycle back and forth between the two homes several times a day. The one time I'm nowhere to be seen, I get hit.

The LVPD did a crime scene investigation. First they sent a cadet who filled out a report, and then a investigator who took lots of pictures and dusted for fingerprints. Next, everything will get passed up to detective. The thieves did their homework about when to hit us and were not overly greedy. I would suspect they wore gloves and will probably hawk our stuff outside of Vegas. If I were to set a line, I'd say the probability of an arrest being made is about 10%, at best.

In addition to this, in the last year we've had two bicycles and a child's scooter stolen, on three separate incidents. This, combined with other factors like bad schools and an apathetic community, makes me consider leaving Las Vegas. With the housing market what it is, we're pretty much stuck here until homes start selling again. Still, we probably will stay anyway. However an alarm system is probably a short-term solution, and moving to a better neighborhood a long-term plan.

Ask the Wizard!

Here's an excerpt from the newest Ask the Wizard, column #198.

Do you have any opinions about presidential futures? I.e., betting on which candidate will win his/her primary or the general election? Is there any way of calculating the house edge? Would you ever consider making such wagers for real money? Personally, I think that watching the current betting lines may be better than polls to predict election results. Do you think there's any validity to them? — Gary



Yes, I do indeed bet on elections. In 1996 I made my biggest bet to date on Clinton over Dole at even money. That was also one of the best bets I ever made. I have been betting every election ever since, most of the time against friends. At major online sites that take political bets, I think it is a close to efficient market. In other words, I think the market is basically right, and the odds can be used to estimate the probability of each candidate winning. Currently I think that TradeSports is a good source for election odds. As I write this, on November 22, the odds given equate to the following probabilities of victory. I get these by taking an average between the buy and sell prices.

Republican Primary

Candidate

Probability

Giuliani

45.5%

Thompson

5.1%

Romney

27.1%

Huckabee

8.2%

Paul

6.0%

McCain

7.2%

Other

0.9%



DemocraticPrimary

Candidate

Probability

Clinton

71.7%

Obama

18.0%

Gore

4.6%

Edwards

5.4%

Other

0.3%



Party to Win

Party

Probability

Democrat 63.6%
Republican 34.9%
Other 1.5%


You can use my article on sports futures to calculate the overall house edge of any type of futures bet. For politics, my hunch is that betting on the favorites is probably the better way to go, in general. For example, I would be happy to buy a contract on Hillary Clinton if I had an account at TradeSports. Just my two cents.

What's new on the site

  • Texas Hold 'Em Dominated Hand Probabilities: What is the probability an opponent has similar, and better, hole cards? Nov 21
  • Absolute Poker Investigation: This is a case of alleged cheating I have been following for over two weeks. I am finally ready to go on record with what I have discovered, so far. Oct 18
  • Deuce on the Deal : Deuces Wild video poker game, where the player always gets at least one deuce. Oct 1
  • Video Poker Hall of Fame: Yours truly is the 2007 inductee. Sep 10
  • The Kelly Criterion: Introductory guide to balancing risk and reward for the advantage gambler. Sep 10
  • Ask the Wizard columns #195, #196, #197, and #198.


From Michael Bluejay....

Bodog on the presidential election

Bodog is taking bets on the presidential election, too. Stephen Colbert started as an 800-1 longshot, and then he officially announced his candidacy, and his odds were slashed to 600-1. Then he actually got on the ballot for a Republican primary, and now he's down to a "mere" 225-1. Go, Colbert!

Ron Paul's odds have also been slashed as his campaign picks up more support, going from 25 to 1, then 17 to 1, then 12 to 1, and now just 8/1.

Here are the lines (expressed in the European "for one" basis) as of November 24, 2007:

Republican Primary

Candidate Line

Rudy Giuliani

1.95

Mitt Romney

3.50

Fred Thompson

5.00

John McCain

6.00

Newt Gingrich

8.00

Ron Paul

9.00

Mike Huckabee

15.00


DemocraticPrimary

Candidate Line

Hillary Clinton

1.17

Barack Obama

3.40

Al Gore

6.00

John Edwards

9.00

Dennis Kucinich

21.00

Joseph Biden

31.00

Bill Richardson

41.00

many others, see website (link removed) for more



Partyto Win

Party Probability
Democrat 1.25
Republican 1.91
Unity08

61.00
Reform 101.00
Libertarian 126.00

Any other party

251.00


If you're paying attention, you noticed that the numbers in my tables are in a different format than those in the Wizard's table. What gives? The answer is that odds can be expressed in four different ways:

  • American (e.g., -588, +240)
  • Decimal (e.g., 1.17, 3.40)
  • Fractional (e.g., 1/6, 12/5)
  • Percentage (e.g., 85.5%, 29.4%)

Each example above are the odds for Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama at Bodog. Different methods, same values. Bodog lets you choose your favorite way of showing the odds (American, Decimal, or Fractional), and I chose Decimal. Here's a calculator (link removed) that will convert between the first three formats.

Me, I just joined the brand-new Unity08 Party. I'm skeptical of third parties, but I like the idea behind this one: The members choose what issues are most important to them online, and the convention is actually held online, with the candidates being chosen online. Armchair politics! I love it.

Other stuff you can bet on

Politics is not your cup of tea? No problem. At Bodog you can also bet on:

  • Whether O.J. Simpson will testify at his trial (Yes +170, No -250)
  • The gender of Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony's first child (Boy -110, Girl -130)
  • The name of that child (too many choices to list here, click the link)
  • Which toymaker will have the next recall

...and a bunch of other stuff. Bodog was also taking bets on when the price of oil would hit $100 a gallon, but they recently closed off betting on that item.

You might remember from a previous newsletter that I bet $50 that Congress wouldn't override a presidential veto in 2007. My reasoning was that I'd bet against my preferred outcome, so that I'd be a winner either way. If congress overrode the president, I'd lose my bet, but Whoo-hoo! Congress overrode the president! Yee-ha! And if congress failed to override the president, my consolation prize would be some money in my pocket from the bet that I made.

So did I win? Of course I did. Like I said, I couldn't lose. Congress overrode the president on a water projects bill on November 8, by a stunning margin: 79 to 14. Even most Republicans voted to override the veto, showing just how badly out of step the President is. (And that was why I was comfortable knowing that I preferred a veto override before I even knew what the issues would be.)

It's kind of like this: If I could spend $50 to make a presidential veto happen, would I? Sure! $50 well spent.

The Bodog site does have one problem, though: The Bet History goes back only 14 days. So there's no way for me to see this (or any other) bet that I placed back in May. I can see where that bet was resolved, but it's not obvious: Manage Account >> eCash Statement. (Huh?) And even that only works for bets resolved in the last 31 days. There's no reason that players shouldn't be able to see every bet they've ever placed (as well as the outcome), and I hope Bodog will fix that soon.

Big poker news at Bodog

Two big things are happening at Bodog Poker: a new poker client, and the One Billion Hands promotion.

The new poker software has lots of little improvements that make things cleaner, easier, and prettier, but there are two changes of special note. The first is that you can choose your own table felt color and brightness level. Usually with Internet software it's a one-size-fits-all model, whether it really fits or not, but the better solution is to just let the user choose. And that's what Bodog did here, so props to them. But the second feature I really like: The player's who's on action is indicated by a spotlight. Yes yes yes yes! No more looking around for a countdown timer, it's just nicely obvious whose turn it is now. Even more so than in a live game.

Unfortunately, Bodog Poker still doesn't run on Macs, and probably never will. The casino works fine on Macs for the play-in-browser games, and the political bets mentioned above work fine, but poker is still a PC-only thing.

The other big news is the Billionth Hand promotion. All players at the table where the billionth hand is dealt will split a $10,000 prize. There are also other prizes for other events as well as daily draws. Check it out.

Bodog ahora en Español

(This was translated from English by the Google translator.)

Cansado de todos los Bodog noticias en este boletín de noticias? Mala suerte, Hay más. Bodog es ahora de bienvenida de habla hispana Jugadores con los brazos abiertos. Tienen una especial en español - Idioma de atención al cliente de número (1-866-205-3353), un Español amistoso dirección de correo electrónico (en lugar del servicio@, service@ — lindo), y existen planes para abrir un completo Verdadero español de los juegos ", para que los latinos y Los españoles ya no tendrán que leer que loca gringa Sitio donde todas las palabras son extrañamente carece de todos los Extraordinario de marcas diacríticas.

(The original English version.)

Tired of all the Bodog news in this newsletter? Too bad, there's more. Bodog is now welcoming Spanish-speaking players with open arms. They've got a special Spanish-language customer support number (1-866-205-3353), a Spanish friendly email address (servicio@ instead of service@ — cute), and there are plans to open a full-fledged Spanish-language gaming site, so that Latinos and Spaniards will no longer have to read that crazy gringo site where all the words are strangely devoid of all the special diacritical marks.

Interesting stuff at the online gambling hearing

There were lots of interesting moments in the hearing held by the U.S. House Judiciary Committee on Nov. 14th about the legal state of online gambling:

  • The U.S. Attorney seemed to be unable to make up her mind whether online gambling was legal or not.
  • An esteemed law professor said that the U.S. is breaking international law by not allowing online gambling.
  • A professional poker player bested a member of Congress in a battle of wits.
  • The Family Research Council was outed as actually being opposed to all forms of gambling (even the lottery), not just online gambling.
  • There was reference to new bills filed which would legalize online gambling explicitly, removing any ambiguity.

Let's start with the burning question: Is online gambling illegal or not? If you're confused about that, you're not alone. U.S. Attorney Catherine Hanaway doesn't seem to know either. She gave conflicting answers on that question at the hearing.

She started out by saying flatly that all Internet gambling is illegal, including not only sports but also casino games and even poker. (timecode 00:24) Whoa, that seems pretty clear cut!

It wasn't long before she was forced to reverse herself.

Rep. Robert C. Scott (D-VA) asked, "Isn't it true that in the federal code, it is not illegal to gamble on the Internet, it is illegal to run a gambling operation?"

Hanaway replied, "It is illegal to engage in the business of taking bets or wagers."

Scott countered, "But...there's no prohibition against gambling on the Internet?"

Hanaway: "That's correct." (2:35)

Ah, so gambling online isn't against the law after all. Right after she said it was.

Even Rep. Bob Goodlatte (R-VA), the primary supporter of a ban on Internet gambling, admitted that online gambling isn't illegal:

[T]he only thing that Congress has done is to pass legislation related to the transfer of funds. We have changed no laws related to what is lawful and what is not lawful for gambling. (2:42)

It didn't stop there. Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) said,

If [all forms of Internet gambling are really prohibited], why aren't we prosecuting every lottery director in America? Why aren't we prosecuting everybody who shows up at an offtrack horse-betting establishment in America? Why aren't we prosecuting every fantasy sports outlet in America? Please tell me, where do I have it wrong?

He asked the U.S. Attorney directly,

Has the Dept. of Justice shut down a single e-lottery system in the United States? And if you haven't, why not?

Hanaway said she didn't know, but that she could find out and follow up. She doesn't know?! That's hard to believe. (2:20)

You can see video of the hearing (link removed) on the House of Representatives website, along with all the written testimony provided by the expert witnesses. I also have a detailed report on the hearing with more juicy bits over at VegasClick.com.

Free book drawing winner

  • This month's winner of the Wizard's book, Gambling 102, is Keith — subscriber #5859 (alphabetically) of 11,753, and who signed up for the list way back in March 2004. Congratulations to Keith!

     

    Until next time, set your expectations high.