On Your Way to a Casino? Food For Thought

Many think card games are easily beatable by card counting. This is reinforced by the movie “21” and the ‘fact’ that there are only 52 cards in a deck. Make no mistake, when the winning results are based solely on a total, the odds drop. When winning can be based on a total, a sequential order, or any combo therein, it gets complicated FAST.  The thing to really wrap your head around first is each card has a different value that is static. Even without rigging the game, the house always wins. Why? The key is each card being truly unique and  how many combinations that can be produced by 52 cards. That makes 52 (well, duh) factorial combinations. If you didn’t pay attention in your senior year of math, do a search on 52! (keeping the exclamation point) or just search on factorial properties. That will clear up any doubts that those 52 cards produce a truly unimaginable 80658175170943878571660636856403766975289505440883277824000000000000 possible combinations. Look or even stare at that number for a minute. If you use a hand cranked shuffler your Gramma used for Pokeno or diligently shuffle a deck a couple times, that combo in your hand has never come about before and probably never will again. That alternately comforts me or bums me out on depressing Sunday mornings thinking about the nature of life and if any Higher Power really cares about me or us. Then there is the old joke about the mathematician who gets financially clobbered in Vegas. Believing his supposedly superior intellect and post-grad degree would carry him over the odds, he takes his life savings out west and loses it all.  He cries to another tearful loser “Bernoulli’s principle should of carried the day!” in the parking lot of some casino. Having just gambled away his hardware store in Batavia, NY the man next to him is in no mood to listen to a guy in a tweed jacket with fuzzy elbow patches sing the blues. The man gives him a hard look and says “Mister, mob or not, them cards ain’t never heard of no Bernoulli!”

-T

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Yes, I ‘updated’ the joke a bit. Kids grow up so fast. I was born the year the original “Spy Who Came In From the Cold” was filmed and it looks like a hundred years ago. **sigh** Anyhow …

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