Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Less than Twelve Hours

Okay, I admit it: I'm nervous as hell.

I know intellectually that I have nothing to worry about. I'm not the only break-in dealer. There are in fact a whole freakin’ lot of break-in dealers on my shift. And I'm as comfortable as I could be, with the game(s) I expect to deal tonight. (Read: I'm no expert.)

I even know that whatever mistakes I make tonight will be expected, and to some degree, tolerated. I won't be the only one making them.

But I'm still nervous.

Perhaps I can attribute some of it to new-job jitters. That wouldn't quite seem to apply, though: I've been around the property for months, and I know the people I'm going to be working with. Those ordinary causes of new-job jitters don't apply.

You know, suddenly I have an insight: I know that I don't like looking foolish in front of strangers. (Weirdly, I mind less looking foolish in front of people I know.) If I am indeed dealing Baccarat tonight (I don't remember whether I posted that earlier, or not), a bunch of Vietnamese players will be strangers twice removed.

I claim some familiarity with poker players as a class. And we're generally pretty good to break-in dealers, as long as we're not paying time, and helping them out when a situation happens that's new to them. Even when a dealer, experienced or not, makes a significant mistake, then once it's corrected, we generally don't have a problem moving on. I have no reason to expect that players of other games, as a class, are any more or less tolerant or helpful than poker players. Intellectually, this should reassure me.

I might be okay after dealing two or three hands of Baccarat or after two or three rolls of the dice, reassured that I know what I'm doing.

But for now, I'm still nervous.


I've noticed something in a couple of people's reaction to learning that the poker tables at Four Winds will be electronic. Both of the people I'm thinking of are over sixty, and thus didn't grow up in the computer age, and this is probably important in an understanding of their point of view.

Both of these people assume that somebody in the poker room knows what cards everybody has. One person, a man who's probably in his early seventies, assumes that "somebody has to be running that computer" and thus that person knows what cards everyone has and is perhaps responsible for giving them their cards in the first place. Another, a woman who's probably in her early sixties, gets there by assuming that whoever programs the computer either gives everybody their cards or, at least, knows what cards they're going to get.

This is a fundamental misapprehension of how a computer works, but I don't think I could educate them in the space of a paragraph even if I was motivated to make such a speech. More, it bespeaks yet another problem with getting people to accept the PokerPro tables. My forecast that those tables will be seen to have failed in a matter of months, I think is reinforced.

I don't believe that I previously posted that the poker room's bad beat jackpot is being seeded with $50,000 (presumed), including $44,000 (known) into the main (primary) jackpot. It's a state secret what hand must be beat, which leads me to believe that the qualifier is pretty low. I'd be surprised if it's less generous than that Aces full of Tens (AAATT) must lose.

I also heard an unverified rumour last night that there is a very specific jackpot in place in the poker room: According to this rumour, if quad Fours (Four of a Kind, Fours) is beat by a Royal Flush, everybody at the table it hits on, is given one million dollars. Of course, as an employee, I'm almost certainly not eligible for this jackpot if it hits, but I have a specific concern about that jackpot. It's large enough that it encourages cheating.

I can think of at least two ways to cheat that jackpot, one of which is barely cheating and one of which is absolutely, positively cheating. First, the tables’ software runs on Windows XP, and they are controlled by some sort of wireless connection. Assuming the latter is just an ordinary WiFi network, one might be able to hack one's way onto the network. I am far from a Windows guru, but Microsoft's products are notoriously vulnerable and buggy, and it might be possible to exploit those vulnerabilities in order to modify the PokerPro software.

Second, the money is enough that it might be worth it to create a syndicate whose sole purpose is to hit that jackpot. If the stakes are low enough ($3/$6 should be fine), and players fold unless they're dealt pocket fours or suited Broadway cards, they can get a whole lot of hands out in an attempt to hit that jackpot. Some people might remember that when PartyPoker's bad beat jackpot was at $750,000, there were four tables of $3/$6 that were attempting to do exactly that (they failed). Hitting the jackpot would probably require months of play, at least, but for ten million dollars, more than a few people would be willing to do it.

Here's my attempt at working out how likely this jackpot is to hit on any specific hand. The likelihood that a given person will be dealt pocket fours is 1 in 221 (4/52 × 3/51). I therefore assume that the likelihood that the likelihood that one person at a ten-handed table will be dealt pocket fours is 10 in 221, or 1 in 22.1. (That may not be a valid assumption.) Given that those two fours are dead, the likelihood that a given person will be dealt suited Broadway cards is 1 in 30.625 (20/50 × 4/49). Given the same dubious assumption I made about the fours, the likelihood that one of the nine remaining players will have suited Broadway is 9 in 30.625, or 1 in about 3.4. Therefore the likelihood that the deal will give two players jackpot-eligible hands is about 1 in 75 (22.1 × 3.4). In some subset of those hands, more than one player will have suited Broadway, and in an even smaller subset, those hands will interfere with one another, making a jackpot impossible. I'm going to ignore all of that. It also turns out not to matter, for purpose of calculation, whether other players have "stopper" cards blocking the jackpot-eligible hands from winning the jackpot. We only need to work out how likely it is that the board will come with the five exact cards you need to hit the jackpot. For that, I get 1 in 1,712,304 (5/48 × 4/47 × 3/46 × 2/45 × 1/44). Multiply the two together (75 × 1,712,304) and you find that on any particular hand, the likelihood that you will hit the jackpot is 1 in 128,422,800. (For the paragraph below, I'm going to call that number J.)

If we were to assume that the syndicate I posited was able to get 200 hands through in an hour, playing as I suggested, it would take 642,114 hours (J / 200) to play that many hands, or about 73.3 years (642,114 / 24 / 365) of continuous play. If the syndicate filled up the 15 non-headsup tables, they could get that down to below five years, but that operation would require at least 600 people (150 players at a time, in three shifts, with another shift's worth of people for backup and days off), and ten million dollars split 600 ways means that each of those 600 people gets only $16,666, for five years’ work. Of course, it wouldn't be exactly five years. In about 2½ years of constant play, the jackpot would be 39.3% likely to hit at least once [ 1 − ( 1 − 1/J)J/2 ]. In five years, 63.2%. Make it ten years and the number becomes 86.5%. In twenty years of constant play, the jackpot would be 98.2% likely to have hit at least once. (For the later calculations just change the exponent).

The long and short of all that math is that the syndicate idea wouldn't work. So, you'll just have to hack the system.


You're going to be just fine.
I was pretty excited about the new casino until I read that it will have the poker pro tables. They take away from what you go to the casino to do. There is no discussion, and everyone looks like they could fall asleep while playing them. The "credits" are removed even further from being real money, so you get even more stupid calls from people. I hope that they change their mind and get some real tables, with real chips, and real dealers or I won't be going. If I want electronic, then I'll just play online. If I want brick and mortar, then I will just go to the Blue Chip or NW Indiana casinos.
I encourage you to try the new tables. Maybe they'll change your mind. But if they don't, I encourage you to complain loudly and often about them, to everyone you can find in a suit. Or write a letter; the address is on their web site. The vice-president for table games is Giffen Tann, although it's quite likely that I'm spelling it incorrectly (though phonetically).

I don't like the PokerPro tables either, as I've written before, but I should also say that I have a selfish motive, as well: if and when the PokerPro tables go away, I want to deal live poker.

I have a

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