The Cost of Free Speech (part 1)

Running an Internet forum isn’t easy. If you get one compliment for every ten complaints, you’re lucky. I could write a long list of challenges, but won’t. I will say one of them is finding a balance between keeping discussion consistent with the purpose of the forum and free speech. In the case of the Wizard sites, the goal is to improve the players odds in the casino and promote an appreciate of math. Many posters seem determined to make it seem the purpose is the opposite of that.

One of many challenges came with a poster claimed to have witnessed another player roll 18 consecutive yo’s (totals of eleven) in craps. That odds of this, starting from any one throw, are 1 in 39,346,408,075,296,500,000,000. Numbers that big are hard to visualize, so let me put it another way. The population of earth is 7.674 billion. The rate of play in craps is about 140 rolls per hour. That said, if the entire population of earth played craps 24 hours a day, all on separate tables, 18 yo’s in a row would be observed on average once in every 4.2 million years. Many other posters made similar arguments that the chances of said event were off-the-charts small. However, the claimant never budged and stands by his story, proudly, to this day. In fact, he has claimed to have seen the dice land one atop the other three times in the last month or so, which is about a one in a million chance each throw.

Said claimant engendered hundreds, perhaps thousands, of posts about the 18 yo’s in a row. The forum wasn’t divided about whether or not it happened, there seemed to unanimous agreement that it hadn’t. However, the forum was divided over whether such a claim was deliberately untruthful for purposes of trolling. It didn’t help there is a forum rule against personal insults, so one couldn’t directly say the claimant was lying without being suspended.

All along and to this day, I have allowed the 18 yo’s claim to stand and the claimant remains a forum member with all privileges. I don’t want to say “in good standing,” because I would like any excuse to permanently ban said member, but can’t per my own rules. That is the cost of free speech – you have to put up with speech you find personally objectionable and know beyond any reasonable doubt to be untrue.

Next week, in part two of this topic, I will discuss the latest test to free speech at the Wizard of Vegas forum. It concerns a member whose trip reports seem to be a testament to a never-ending stream of baccarat wins, based on a feel of the shoe alone. This includes winning on the tie bet about half the time (the actual chances of winning that bet are 9.5%). Meanwhile, I maintain, as I have for 24 years, that there is no way to beat games of luck like baccarat without cheating or advantage play. Betting into streaks is not only not an advantage play but doesn’t even help cut the house edge.

More on that test to free speech will be publish in my next newsletter.