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Best of Mark Pilarski
Naming the puck and a keno rarity1 March 2004
When you watch televised poker, you are watching Texas Hold'em played with
as many as 10 players. Look closely at the TV image next time, Tammy, and you'll
notice a small disk (brings to mind a hockey puck but usually white) sitting
just in front of one of the contestants. This disk is called the "button."
The button shows who would be dealing the cards if he or she were actually the dealer. Holding the dealer button is an advantage in Texas Hold'em because the dealer is the last player to act. By acting last, that player has valuable additional information when it's betting time. This positional advantage remains throughout the hand, then passes — clockwise — to the next player for the next hand. Thus, all players in the game have equal opportunities to hold this rotating positional advantage.
The Gambling for Experts school answer is "Hey, Marge, don't you realize
you're making one of the worst bets in the casino, the one with a minimum house
edge of 25%?"
Mathematically, the School is on the ball: the chances of hitting 10 of 10
are one in 10 million at best. Readers of this column know that Yours Truly
has spelled out those long odds and pitfalls of keno with anguishing regularity.
BUT, without even counting your winnings, Marge, I still have the latitude
to salute your play, for a few non-mathematical reasons.
For starters, you are obeying money management rule #1: Betting money you can
afford to lose. Bravo! Also, if you are not winning, at least you are losing
S L O W L Y. With keno games played roughly every 10 minutes, at a dollar a
pop you won't go bust in a two-hour keno stint. And finally, it seems to me
that you're really having fun. If it's fun risking $1 to win $50,000, play.
That's what you're there for Marge, to have fun, right?
Oh yeah, about that cheap buffet at senior prices. Next time you write me,
Marge, don't forget to include place and price. My readers would love to know.
Heck, I'd like to know.
But, back to business: putting your winnings into the equation, I figure you
to be ahead of the game for at least the next four years.
Gambling quote of the week: "Put not your luck in Kings and
Princes: Three of a kind will take them both." —Robert C. Schenck,
Rules for Playing Poker (1880)
Best of Mark Pilarski