Category Archives: Miscellaneous

Straight Names


[SS] “You always hear poker players refer to Broadway and the Wheel1…”, Stan the Stat ventured. “How come none of the other straights have good nicknames?”

[LL] “That’s a good question. And I’ll bet you have some suggestions”, Leroy the Lion remarked.

[RR] “It’s Stan, so he has a complete list, I’m sure”, Roderick the Rock concurred.

[SS] “You know me pretty well, but I actually have two nicknames for each of them. Consider this my holiday gift to you and the rest of the poker world.”

Straight Nicknames

Straight Nickname 1 Nickname 2
AKQJT Royal Straight [includes the Ace, Ten, and three royal cards] Johnny Moss Straight [The Ace-Ten is already nicknamed for him]2
KQJT9 Fido Straight [K9 = “canine”] Sawmill Straight [Cowboy Wolford’s nickname for the King-Nine]
QJT98 Amazon Straight [because the Queen is high] Kuwait Straight [Q8 = “Kuwait”]
JT987 Houdini Straight [for the straightjacket he was famous for escaping] Straight Whiskey [Jack Daniel’s Old No. 7 whiskey]
T9876 Countdown Straight [10, 9, 8,…] Ambassador Straight [Six-Ten sounds like last name of The Ambassador of Poker, Mike Sexton]
98765 Dolly Parton Straight [“9 to 5” movie and song] I-95 Straight [the major highway on the U.S.’s East Coast]
87654 Orwell Straight [“1984” novel] Polonium Straight [for the 84th element, discovered in 1898 by Marie and Pierre Curie]
76543 Hachem Straight [the winning hand he flopped to win the 2005 WSOP Main Event]3 Prime Straight [76,543 is a prime number and, even more specially, a twin prime with 76,541]
65432 Virginia Beach Straight [Virginia’s most populous city’s zip code is 23456] Alphabet Straight [26 letters]
5432A High Five Straight [The Five is the high card, not the Ace] Cribbage Straight [cards sum to 15]

Footnotes:

  1. Broadway is the Ace through Ten straight, while the Wheel is the Five through Ace straight.
  2. See the list of Texas Hold ‘Em Starting Hand Nicknames.
  3. Straights have won the World Series of Poker Main Event nine times, so these would all be good nicknames:
    • King-High Straight: Carlos Mortensen (2001)
    • Queen-High Straight: Johnny Chan (1988)
    • 9-High Straight: Jerry Yang (2007)
    • 8-High Straight: Hamid Dastmalchi (1992)
    • 7-High Straight: Hal Fowler (1979) and Joe Hachem (2005)
    • 5-High Straight: Stu Ungar (1980 & 1997; perhaps the most deserved nickname, since he did it twice then died at his lowest) and Peter Eastgate (2008)

{ The Hold ‘Em at Home blog is brought to you by THETA Poker Pro, the strongest, fastest, and most configurable Texas Hold ‘Em game for iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Apple TV. }

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Poker Mad Gab


[RR] “Are you playing that poker game again?” Roderick the Rock asked Deb the Duchess.

[DD] “Well, as much as I like to play to warm up for these tournaments, today the answer is ‘no'”, Deb responded. “I’m actually beta testing a new game from the same developer.”

[RR] “What is it?”

[DD] “It’s a poker-themed Mad Gab game.”1

[RR] “My kids love Mad Gab.”

[DD] “Well, they might enjoy this version, but I think it’ll be too hard for them. Unless you play poker or are a fan of poker, most of the answers might as well be in Greek.”

[RR] “Hit me with one.”

[DD] “Well, the sample puzzle is:

	They Tub Bow Curb Row"

[RR] “Day Dub Oh… Day Duh Poke… Day Duh Poker something… Oh, of course. THETA Poker Pro.”

[DD] “Yeah, horrible example, but that’s the developer’s Hold ‘Em app. Probably not the best place for cross-promotion though.”

[RR] “How about a good puzzle.”

[DD] “My favorite so far was this word palindrome:2

	Hoe Sake Ants Sake Hoe"

[RR] “Hose A Can’t Say Co… Hoe Say Can’t Say Co… Jose Canseco!”

[DD] “Right. You’re pretty good at these!”

[RR] “I’ve had a lot of practice. What does a baseball player have to do with poker?”

[DD] “He’s a celebrity poker player. I’m sure Stan could tell you for sure, but Canseco played in a couple WSOP Main Events.3

Celebrity Poker Players is one of the main categories. Unlike normal Mad Gab, this game provides hints if you need them instead of using a human coach to help you. The first hint is the general category (e.g., Poker Pro, Player Nickname, Hand Nickname, Poker Phrase, etc.). The second hint can be almost anything.”

[RR] “Cool. Hit me with another one.”

[DD] “Okay, here’s one that alliterates:

	Hair Heap Hotter"

[RR] “Oh, that’s too easy. Harry Potter. He doesn’t play poker, does he?”

[DD] “No, that’s a hand nickname. Harry Potter means J.K. Rowling, and her initials stand for the Jack-King.”

[RR] “Did you hear that she’s publishing another book?”

[DD] “Can’t wait, even though it’s just the script of a play. And Harry Potter and the Cursed Child isn’t out until the end of July.”

[RR] “I’m sure my kids will enjoy it more than Poker Mad Gab, but I’d love to do some more puzzles.”

[DD] “Okay, why don’t you just start a new game on my iPhone? The app’s still early beta, so the puzzles are in alphabetical order for now, but I assume they’ll be randomized later.”

{ Rod quickly plays through the following dozen Mad Gabs. See if you can solve each of these dozen puzzles in under a minute each. Score three points for each correct answer, but subtract one point for each hint you use. Highlight any of the hidden cells to read them. }

Puzzle Category Hint Second Hint Answer Notes
A Knack Or Nick Oaf A hand nickname tennis player Anna Kournikova Ace-King (for her initials). Vince Van Patten claimed this was a particularly apt nickname because both Kournikova and Ace-King “look great but never win”.
Air Hicks Idol poker pro top High Roller Erik Seidel Seidel was the runner-up in the 1988 WSOP Main Event and finished 4th in 1999.
An Need Uke poker pro top female poker pro Annie Duke Duke was the Last Woman Standing in the 2000 and 2003 WSOP Main Events.
And Honey Hand Glee Of Batter Ah hand nickname historical figures Antony & Cleopatra Ace-Queen (“A” for Antony)
Ant Owe Neo West Fund Tee Are He poker pro popular pro Antonio Esfandiari Esfandiari won the 2012 Big One for One Drop for over $18 million.
Ape Hair poker phrase hand type A Pair Two cards of the same denomination
Array Nub Oval Hop poker phrase share and share alike A Rainbow Flop In Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha, a rainbow flop is when the first three cards on the boards have three different suits.
Axe Shunt Tan player nickname Massachusetts native Action Dan Dan Harrington’s ironic nickname given his usually tight play
Ball Beers celebrity player basketball player Paul Pierce The NBA player was Last Celebrity Standing in the 2014 WSOP Main Event.
Barber Of Felt Ton hand nickname actress Barbara Feldon A pair of Nines. Feldon played Agent 99 in the Get Smart television series.
Basque Keen Raw Beans hand nickname food Baskin Robbins Ace-Three. The ice cream chain boasts 31 flavors.
Bathe Hat Mayonnaise Moon Knee movie quote quote from Rounders Pay That Man His Money In Rounders, Teddy KGB concedes to Mike McDermott.

[RR] “Please tell the developer that I enjoyed his game so much I almost wish I had an iPhone.”

[DD] “Cons Hitter Rid Ton.”4

[RR] “Than Cue.”5

Footnotes:

  1. Sorry, although the Poker Mad Gab app has been almost completely designed, no actual development is planned. I would love to actually make the app for iOS and tvOS, but I just don’t have the time because of THETA Poker Pro.
  2. A normal palindrome spells the same thing forward and backward if you reverse the letters, ignoring spaces. A word palindrome is the same thing each way if you reverse the words.
  3. Jose Canseco played in the 2007 and 2008 WSOP Main Events but didn’t cash either year.
  4. “Consider it done.”
  5. “Thank you.”

Related Links:

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Daily Fantasy Sports vs. Online Poker

[RR] “What do you guys think of DFS?” Roderick the Rock polled.

[LL] “I assume you aren’t talking about Distributed File Systems?” Leroy the Lion joked.

[RR] “Daily Fantasy Sports, of course.”

[FF] “It’s just like online poker,” Figaro the Fish opined. “I keep losing all my money there, too.”

[YY] “It’s just like online poker,” Yuri the Young Gun agreed. “I keep making a nice little profit off people like Figaro, who treat the game more like a lottery than an exercise in analysis.”

[RR] “Have you stopped playing online poker then?”

[YY] “Pretty much. I missed the early days of online poker because I was too young, but I got in early enough this time.”

[LL] “Early enough to make some money before government regulation kills it?”

[YY] “And early enough that most people have no idea how to play well. Although there are too many sharks for me to make a lot of money, at least I can get my money safely in and out when I want to.”

[RR] “More than a few of those sharks are former poker pros, like Aaron Jones, Andy Frankenberger, Assani Fisher, Dan Smith, Matt Smith, Max Steinberg, Mike Leah, Ray Coburn, Steven Silverman, Tom Crowley, and Tony Dunst.”

[LL] “Dan Bilzerian and Jason Somerville advertise for DraftKings, and Jonathan Aguiar works there.”

[RR] “Brett Richey and Eric Liu created BlitzPick to sell fantasy data to mobile DFS players.”

[LL] “And even Phil Ivey is throwing his hat into the ring. PhilIveyDFS is supposed to launch next month.”

[YY] “Not surprising at all. The similarities between online poker and DFS are all over the place:

  • You play against other players, not the house, which happily collects its rake.
  • Large player pools turn relatively small buyins into big prizes.1
  • The buyins range from freerolls to entry fees of thousands of dollars.
  • The variety of events is very similar, including big tournaments, sit and gos, 50/50 games, head-to-head contests,2 and qualifiers.3
  • Guaranteed prize pools in some events can backfire, causing an overlay if not enough people enter.4
  • A large luck component means that anyone can win any given tournament.
  • A large skill component means the best players will win the most in the long run, and most players will be losers.
  • Knowing the odds is very important even if many players just go with their gut feel.
  • Both industries boomed with the help of amateurs winning big prizes.
  • Both survived scandals,5 at least for a while.
  • Both were unregulated at first, but once they became big enough, the government jumped in.”6

[LL] “And there are two dominant companies in the U.S.; New York-based FanDuel and Boston-based DraftKings are like PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker. On the other hand,

  • In DFS, you do all your work before an event begins; once lineups are locked, all you can do is root for your athletes to do well. In poker, you have to select your table properly, but every hand presents new challenges for you to solve. A tournament continues for you as long as you still have chips.
  • Poker has a large social component. Even online poker has chat boxes to communicate with other players. Of course, it makes more sense to talk to players while you can still affect a game.
  • It helps to know your opponents, but in very different ways. In poker, if you can figure out how your opponents are playing, you can adjust on the fly to take advantage. In DFS, you score big by picking the undervalued players that others haven’t found (at least, you need more of them in your lineup than anyone else).
  • In online poker, better players and worse players generally don’t play in the same tournaments (separated by buyin amount). In DFS, the pros might enter every contest they can.7
  • At a U.S. federal level, fantasy sports is defined and exempted by the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 (UIGEA), which ultimately doomed online poker.8

[RR] “I’d still say they’re more similar than different, at least in terms of how the government should deal with them.”

[YY] “I’d rather play online poker than DFS, but I’d also rather have just DFS than neither!”

[LL] “It’s time for someone to create a poker DFS site. ESPN has, or at least had, a Fantasy WSOP Draft since 2006. There’s no reason it can’t be done on a weekly basis.”

[RR] “Just because it can be, doesn’t mean it should. Let’s just bring online poker back legally!”

Footnotes:

  1. A $1 million first prize was briefly the Holy Grail, but Aaron Jones just won $5 million in the DraftKings Fantasy Football World Championship.
  2. 50/50 and heads-up events are the grind-it-out-cash-games of DFS.
  3. The prizes in qualifiers are entries into a higher buyin tournament.
  4. Ed Miller analyzed some DFS baseball and found that 1.3% of the players won 91% of the prizes, while 85+% of players lost money.
  5. A DraftKings employee, Ethan Haskell, prematurely released percentage-used statistics the day he won $350,000 in a FanDuel contest.
  6. Black Friday shut down the three biggest internet poker sites in the U.S. on April 15, 2011, while states began banning DFS in 2015 (Nevada on October 15, New York on November 10 [granted a stay on appeal though], Illinois on December 23, and Texas on January 20, 2016).
  7. Both DraftKings and FanDuel have begun to create separate tournaments for beginners only, but so far there haven’t been any beginner-only tournaments with big prizes.
  8. Andy Frankenberger summed up the irony, “It’s a joke that between online poker and daily fantasy, poker is the one that’s widely prohibited in this country. Anyone who thinks poker is not a game of skill probably hasn’t played much poker.”
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Happy Pokerful New Year!

[HH] “What a great idea!” Harriet the Hazy beamed. “A New Year’s poker celebration!”

[AA] “With players from both the home and pub games”, Al the Almost added in affirmation.

[PP] “I appreciate being invited anywhere there’s alcohol…” Patrick the Pickled rejoiced.

[PP] “… I mean, anywhere people are in good spirits”, he reconsideredly voiced.

[YY] “I’ll take poker over pints any day”, Yuri the Young Gun averred.

[NN] “Cards over cocktails”, Nate the Natural concurred.

[EE] “Hold ‘Em over hard liquor”, Elias the Eagle agreed.

[WW] “I say we have both!” William the Whale decreed.

[YY] “If drinking loosens you up, continue to put your glass to your lips…”

[EE] “… While us teetotalers gladly take all of your chips.”

[AA] “As long as we all can have a good time together”, Al recommended.

[RR] “Cheers to everyone for a pokerful new year!” Roderick the Rock ended.

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Poker Themed Holiday Gifts

[JJ] “Rod, I need your help!” implored Joey the Juvenile.

[RR] “How may I be of service?” Roderick the Rock responded.

[JJ] “Well, as usual, I put off buying Christmas gifts too long, and I have no idea what to get my Dad.”

[RR] “Ah, you’ve come to the right person. Benny’s almost a regular here, so anything poker related should make him happy.”

{Roderick types away on his iPhone.}

Card Protectors

[RR] “Okay, how about a card protector? Your Dad doesn’t use one, but he probably should after almost getting his cards accidentally mucked during last month’s tournament:

[JJ] “Not bad, but I think of a card protector as a very personal choice. He might use it because I gave it to him, but he should probably pick out his own.”

Poker Art

[RR] “Okay, how about something for your house?

[JJ] “Those would both be great except that we don’t have a man cave.”

Poker Office Toys

[RR] “Or his office?

[JJ] “Those would probably be better as Secret Santa gifts, I think.”

Plastic Playing Cards

[RR] “Okay then, how about something practical like playing cards:

Poker Chips

or poker chips:

[JJ] “Those would be great if we ever hosted a poker game, but we haven’t done that yet. Maybe in the future.”

Poker Books

[RR] Well, since you can browse his poker library, you can get him any good poker book that he doesn’t already own:

[JJ] “That’s perfect. I’ll find a book that I’d want to borrow, so it could even be a gift that pays for itself. Thanks, Rod!”

Related Links:

  • How to Gift an iPhone App. Of course, we think THETA Poker Pro would make an ideal, if terribly cheap, gift. As a universal purchase, the app will run on every Apple TV, iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch the person owns (tvOS 9.0 or iOS 5.1.1 or higher only).
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Poker Word Search

[LL] “I figured out the first word ladder; wasn’t too hard”, Leroy the Lion claimed.

  FOLD
  TOLD
  TOLL
  TALL
  CALL

[RR] “Good. You can also use BOLD, BOLL, and BALL or MOLD, MOLL, and MALL. Depending on what dictionary you use, you can even do one better with COLD and COLL, an obscure word meaning embrace.

What about the other two?” Roderick the Rock inquired.

[LL] “Just too long. I didn’t even know what direction I was heading halfway through.”

[RR] “Oh well. Here’s one answer for each:”

  TWO
  TOO
  TOP
  TIP
  DIP
  DIM
  AIM
  ARM
  ARE
  ACE

and

  PAIRS
  HAIRS
  HEIRS
  HEARS
  HEATS
  SEATS
  SPATS
  SPITS
  SUITS
  QUITS
  QUIDS
  QUADS

Or using uncommon words:

  TWO
  TWA1
  AWA2
  AWE
  ACE

and

  PAIRS
  MAIRS3
  MAIDS
  QAIDS
  QUIDS
  QUADS

The final puzzle was a word search. But unlike most of these types of puzzles, this one had no word list, just the instructions, ‘Find as many poker words as you can in this grid of letters in ten minutes.’

E  E  R  H  T  B  E  D  M  A  N  I  A  C  U  C  Y  Z  R  P  O  H  C  S

B  N  S  U  I  T  N  H  B  V  D  R  A  O  B  H  V  P  I  P  E  B  N  S

J  V  S  P  A  F  R  H  S  J  W  A  L  K  U  E  P  O  A  I  C  U  O  E

K  F  E  L  F  F  U  H  S  U  F  F  O  T  U  C  D  L  P  H  N  Y  T  V

Q  C  O  Z  K  T  R  W  S  P  L  H  G  I  H  K  Y  F  R  C  A  I  T  E

G  S  U  C  T  I  G  H  T  A  B  F  E  V  I  F  L  A  E  R  L  N  U  N

I  U  A  L  V  N  E  M  W  I  C  T  R  A  E  H  I  S  V  A  A  H  B  K

E  T  T  E  I  Z  Q  W  J  N  D  G  N  P  V  N  H  V  O  I  B  T  U  T

S  Q  R  S  E  M  N  O  I  T  I  S  O  P  B  A  Y  F  E  S  O  O  L  D

U  C  U  E  H  N  I  O  K  D  P  T  E  O  R  G  S  R  R  E  Z  I  R  P

O  P  U  I  R  O  W  T  L  A  Y  C  W  K  M  A  J  B  E  J  T  K  S  B

H  Q  T  U  T  T  T  E  D  P  U  E  M  N  E  E  U  Q  L  O  E  C  E  E

S  P  T  E  D  Y  A  E  J  E  M  L  K  N  B  B  L  B  O  K  V  A  K  T

L  R  S  S  L  K  C  P  D  T  S  I  W  N  B  L  U  I  O  E  I  J  A  E

I  U  P  P  O  L  S  R  B  H  S  O  L  L  O  S  U  E  C  R  T  I  R  I

X  N  L  I  F  Y  E  L  O  L  D  W  E  R  T  D  D  F  C  E  C  H  O  G

P  N  A  R  P  K  E  V  O  W  J  B  E  G  S  A  R  L  F  K  A  E  W  H

R  E  S  T  O  C  E  W  O  W  O  E  F  E  F  T  W  H  E  E  L  Y  J  T

E  R  H  P  A  I  P  H  L  R  R  K  R  L  S  T  R  A  I  G  H  T  B  C

B  L  I  N  D  L  S  X  P  F  O  O  I  A  O  M  T  A  E  S  Y  B  I  I

U  O  M  N  A  B  A  N  K  R  O  L  L  C  I  A  Q  G  D  M  O  N  E  Y

Y  N  U  Y  E  I  O  K  N  A  L  B  L  L  K  L  T  Q  M  D  A  N  T  E

R  I  N  G  A  T  E  Y  Y  E  R  T  A  B  L  E  S  B  T  I  L  P  S  D

P  A  S  S  I  V  E  N  U  T  K  N  A  V  E  H  R  H  E  R  O  E  E  C

And this scoring chart:

  • 30 words or fewer: Donkey
  • 31 to 55 words: Regular
  • 56 to 80 words: Shark
  • 81+ words: Pro”

{Complete list of words can be found in this footnote4.}

Footnotes:

  1. Twa is Scottish for two.
  2. Awa is Scottish for away.
  3. Mairs is Scottish for more. Just a coincidence that all three of these obscure words are Scottish!
  4. The 122 poker words that were intentionally hidden in the grid were: ace active ante balance bankroll beat bet blank blind bluff board boat bubble burn bust button buyin call cash check chip chop club cooler cutoff deuce donkey draw edge eight equity fade five flip float flop flush fold four freeroll gutshot hand heart hero high hijack hole house isolate jack jam joker kicker king knave lead leak limit limp loose luck maniac money muck nine nit nut open overpair paint pair passive poker position post pot prize probe quad queen rag rail rainbow raise rake read rebuy ring river runner seat set seven shark shove showdown shuffle slowplay slowroll spade splash split squeeze stack steal straddle straight suit table tell ten three tight tilt trey trips turn two value walk weak wheel.
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Poker Word Ladders

[LL] “So there was actually a wait for the dentist at midnight?” Leroy the Lion wondered.

[RR] “Yep, poor guy’s tilted opponent got so mad that he flung a poker chip right at his face and knocked out part of his tooth.”

[LL] “A chip from a chip?”

[RR] “Better than a chip from a chair, I suppose.”

[LL] “This took me longer than I’ll admit, but I think this is the answer to the crossword puzzle:”

B
L
U
F
F
O
P
A
A
H
E
A
D
R
N
E
D
O
N
K
S

[RR] “Correct! The next section had these three poker word ladders:

  1. FOLD -> CALL (4 steps)
  2. TWO -> ACE (9 steps)
  3. PAIRS -> QUADS (11 steps)

Change exactly one letter on each rung to get from the first word to the second.”

[LL] “Oh, I know how these work. It was one of the puzzle types in the Page-A-Day Bananagrams calendar I got for Christmas a few years ago. What dictionary were they using?”

[RR] “I don’t know, but you only need to use common words, so it doesn’t matter.”1

{Answers next week…}

Footnotes:

  1. Shorter answers are possible for #2 and #3 if you break out your Scrabble-Fu.
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Poker Crossword Puzzle

[LL] “Hey, Rod, what’s with the long face?” Leroy the Lion offered in greeting.

[RR] “I was playing poker at the new Givusallayamunni Casino when I got this horrible toothache around midnight”, Roderick the Rock replied.

[LL] “Have you been to your dentist?”

[RR] “Not mine, but amazingly the complex where the casino is has its own set of 24/7 medical services, including a dentist.”

[LL] “So they patched you up, but you’re still unhappy?”

[RR] “They only put in a temporary filling, so I still need to go to my actual dentist for a real one.”

[LL] “Two dental services for the price of two, eh?”

[RR] “And they’re my favorite place in the whole world. But at least this one had some interesting reading material while you wait.”

[LL] “Like ‘How to play slots, craps, and keno, and give us all of your money’?”

[RR] “Well those pamphlets too, but what caught my eye was a Poker, Pokerer, Pokerest magazine. Among its many features were some word games like you might find at the back of Highlights for Children.”

[LL] “A ‘Goofus and Gallant’ comic for poker etiquette might be more useful, but I could see how ‘What’s Wrong?’ could work too.”

[RR] “The first puzzle was this crossword:

{Roderick consults his cell phone and scribbles a grid on a napkin for Leroy.}

Here you go.1 You can read the clues on my phone:”

1
2
3
4
5

Across

  1. A magazine more famous than this one.
  2. What cash game players want to be at the end of the day.
  3. Chum for the sharks.

Down

  1. What Texas Hold ‘Em players share.
  2. School where Annie Duke studied for a Ph.D. in psychology and David Sklansky went for an MBA, for short.2
  3. What a player does with 1-Down when an opponent doesn’t suck out.

[LL] “Whoa, that’s definitely a bit too hard for the kids. I’m going to need some time to work on this…”

{Answers next week.}

Footnotes:

  1. Post might not display properly unless you view it by itself.
  2. Both Duke and Sklansky dropped out, leading to their respective poker careers soon thereafter.
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Miscellaneous Posts

Although every Hold ‘Em at Home article is about Texas Hold ‘Em in some way, variety has always been a goal of the blog. Some posts, however, have been a little more varied than the rest:

{ Note: the four trivia game shows of the fictitious Poker Game Show Network probably belong on this list but were already featured on Television Posts. }

Footnotes:

  1. Honorable mention goes to the related One Outer, One Outer (based on a real hand that I was guilty of dealing).
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Shuffling

[SS] Stan the Stat declaimed, “In the 2006 movie The Prestige Michael Caine’s character Cutter explains:”

Every great magic trick consists of three parts or acts. The first part is called “The Pledge”. The magician shows you something ordinary: a deck of cards, a bird or a man. He shows you this object. Perhaps he asks you to inspect it to see if it is indeed real, unaltered, normal. But of course… it probably isn’t. The second act is called “The Turn”. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet. Because making something disappear isn’t enough; you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call “The Prestige”.

[RR] “Interesting parallel to the flop, the turn, and the river in Texas Hold ‘Em”, Roderick the Rock noted.

[LL] “I’ve never heard anyone claim that poker’s turn comes from the magic term, but it makes some sense, as both are in the middle”, Leroy the Lion continued.

[RR] “Magic tricks can certainly flop if the sleight of hand isn’t performed well or the intended result fails.”

[LL] “And there’s plenty of prestige if the river card wins you a big poker tournament.”

[SS] “Good magic can be entertaining even if you know how it’s done. Great magic though, leaves you wondering how they did it.”

[LL] “What makes really great magic are the incredible skills that the magicians practice countless hours honing. Sleight of hand. Misdirection. Physical manipulations that you might have thought were completely impossible.”

[SS] “Like the perfect shuffle. Can you cut a deck of cards perfectly in half, so each half has exactly 26 cards? Can you riffle shuffle1 those two halves so that the cards are perfectly alternated from each half? Can you then execute each of those two skills eight times in a row without a single card getting out of place?”

[SS] “If you started with a sorted deck and did exactly that, you’d be right back where you started.2 And ready to perform any number of card tricks with your seemingly well-shuffled deck. If you did the first five shuffles ahead of time, you could then start the trick by fanning a seemingly already randomly shuffled deck to start with.”

[RR] “What would that shuffled deck look like, so we could spot it if we saw it?”

[SS] “Better yet, here are all eight permutations of a deck that starts with each suit sorted in order from Ace to King:”

0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8
A♣ A♣ A♣ A♣ A♣ A♣ A♣ A♣ A♣
2♣ A♥ A♦ 7♥ 4♦ 9♣ 5♣ 3♣ 2♣
3♣ 2♣ A♥ A♦ 7♥ 4♦ 9♣ 5♣ 3♣
4♣ 2♥ A♠ 7♠ T♠ Q♦ K♣ 7♣ 4♣
5♣ 3♣ 2♣ A♥ A♦ 7♥ 4♦ 9♣ 5♣
6♣ 3♥ 2♦ 8♣ 4♥ 2♠ 8♦ J♣ 6♣
7♣ 4♣ 2♥ A♠ 7♠ T♠ Q♦ K♣ 7♣
8♣ 4♥ 2♠ 8♦ J♣ 6♣ 3♥ 2♦ 8♣
9♣ 5♣ 3♣ 2♣ A♥ A♦ 7♥ 4♦ 9♣
T♣ 5♥ 3♦ 8♥ 4♠ 9♦ J♥ 6♦ T♣
J♣ 6♣ 3♥ 2♦ 8♣ 4♥ 2♠ 8♦ J♣
Q♣ 6♥ 3♠ 8♠ J♦ Q♥ 6♠ T♦ Q♣
K♣ 7♣ 4♣ 2♥ A♠ 7♠ T♠ Q♦ K♣
A♦ 7♥ 4♦ 9♣ 5♣ 3♣ 2♣ A♥ A♦
2♦ 8♣ 4♥ 2♠ 8♦ J♣ 6♣ 3♥ 2♦
3♦ 8♥ 4♠ 9♦ J♥ 6♦ T♣ 5♥ 3♦
4♦ 9♣ 5♣ 3♣ 2♣ A♥ A♦ 7♥ 4♦
5♦ 9♥ 5♦ 9♥ 5♦ 9♥ 5♦ 9♥ 5♦
6♦ T♣ 5♥ 3♦ 8♥ 4♠ 9♦ J♥ 6♦
7♦ T♥ 5♠ 9♠ J♠ Q♠ K♦ K♥ 7♦
8♦ J♣ 6♣ 3♥ 2♦ 8♣ 4♥ 2♠ 8♦
9♦ J♥ 6♦ T♣ 5♥ 3♦ 8♥ 4♠ 9♦
T♦ Q♣ 6♥ 3♠ 8♠ J♦ Q♥ 6♠ T♦
J♦ Q♥ 6♠ T♦ Q♣ 6♥ 3♠ 8♠ J♦
Q♦ K♣ 7♣ 4♣ 2♥ A♠ 7♠ T♠ Q♦
K♦ K♥ 7♦ T♥ 5♠ 9♠ J♠ Q♠ K♦
A♥ A♦ 7♥ 4♦ 9♣ 5♣ 3♣ 2♣ A♥
2♥ A♠ 7♠ T♠ Q♦ K♣ 7♣ 4♣ 2♥
3♥ 2♦ 8♣ 4♥ 2♠ 8♦ J♣ 6♣ 3♥
4♥ 2♠ 8♦ J♣ 6♣ 3♥ 2♦ 8♣ 4♥
5♥ 3♦ 8♥ 4♠ 9♦ J♥ 6♦ T♣ 5♥
6♥ 3♠ 8♠ J♦ Q♥ 6♠ T♦ Q♣ 6♥
7♥ 4♦ 9♣ 5♣ 3♣ 2♣ A♥ A♦ 7♥
8♥ 4♠ 9♦ J♥ 6♦ T♣ 5♥ 3♦ 8♥
9♥ 5♦ 9♥ 5♦ 9♥ 5♦ 9♥ 5♦ 9♥
T♥ 5♠ 9♠ J♠ Q♠ K♦ K♥ 7♦ T♥
J♥ 6♦ T♣ 5♥ 3♦ 8♥ 4♠ 9♦ J♥
Q♥ 6♠ T♦ Q♣ 6♥ 3♠ 8♠ J♦ Q♥
K♥ 7♦ T♥ 5♠ 9♠ J♠ Q♠ K♦ K♥
A♠ 7♠ T♠ Q♦ K♣ 7♣ 4♣ 2♥ A♠
2♠ 8♦ J♣ 6♣ 3♥ 2♦ 8♣ 4♥ 2♠
3♠ 8♠ J♦ Q♥ 6♠ T♦ Q♣ 6♥ 3♠
4♠ 9♦ J♥ 6♦ T♣ 5♥ 3♦ 8♥ 4♠
5♠ 9♠ J♠ Q♠ K♦ K♥ 7♦ T♥ 5♠
6♠ T♦ Q♣ 6♥ 3♠ 8♠ J♦ Q♥ 6♠
7♠ T♠ Q♦ K♣ 7♣ 4♣ 2♥ A♠ 7♠
8♠ J♦ Q♥ 6♠ T♦ Q♣ 6♥ 3♠ 8♠
9♠ J♠ Q♠ K♦ K♥ 7♦ T♥ 5♠ 9♠
T♠ Q♦ K♣ 7♣ 4♣ 2♥ A♠ 7♠ T♠
J♠ Q♠ K♦ K♥ 7♦ T♥ 5♠ 9♠ J♠
Q♠ K♦ K♥ 7♦ T♥ 5♠ 9♠ J♠ Q♠
K♠ K♠ K♠ K♠ K♠ K♠ K♠ K♠ K♠

[SS] “After the first shuffle, the cards are in pairs, with clubs and hearts together and diamonds and spades together.

After the second shuffle, the cards are sorted by denomination.

After the third shuffle, the cards are matched with their opposite denominations (e.g., deuces with eights and nines) and opposite suits.

After the fourth shuffle, the cards are in groups of four, spaced out denominationally, one of each suit.

After the fifth shuffle, the cards are five apart denominationally (decreasing), with suits almost paired.

After the sixth shuffle, the cards are four apart denominationally, with suits in groups of three or four.

After the seventh shuffle, the cards are two apart, with suits together (two batches).

After the eighth shuffle, the cards are back in their original order.”

[LL] “The conventional wisdom is that you should mix the cards using at least seven riffle shuffles,3 but apparently you shouldn’t do it too perfectly!”

[SS] “That advice is certainly useful for people who might only shuffle a couple times otherwise, but twelve or more shuffles should really be your target if you want a truly randomized deck.”

[RR] “Most people just want to play cards, not shuffle all day.”

[LL] “Well, at least cut the deck before dealing. The top card could still be on top no matter how many times the deck was shuffled.”

[SS] “That’s why professional croupiers throw in a strip shuffle after every couple riffle shuffles.4 The strip shuffle also adds randomness, reducing the number of riffles you need to do. My new shuffle routine is seven riffles with a strip after every even riffle.”5

Footnotes:

  1. The riffle shuffle is definitely the best of the six common shuffling methods. The Overhand Shuffle (pulling cards out from the side of the deck), the Hindu Shuffle (pulling cards out from the end of the deck), and the Strip Shuffle (basically just repeated cuts) are very inefficient. The Weave Shuffle or Faro Shuffle (forcing two half decks together along their edges) is too good and not good for the cards.
  2. Specifically, this is an out shuffle, where the top and bottom cards never move. If the top card of the bottom half of the deck becomes the new top card each time instead, it’s an in shuffle. While the out shuffle takes eight iterations to return the deck to its original order, the in shuffle inverts the deck after 26 shuffles and restores it after 52.
  3. Note: there are two main flavors of the riffle shuffle. The common method lifts the short edges of the halves high and merges them together, with or without a subsequent bridge. The casino method merges the corners of the halves together. This is better for the cards and much less likely to expose the card faces.
  4. See the beginning of this shuffling video (longer explanation).
  5. The entire sequence of riffle-riffle-strip-riffle-riffle-strip-riffle-riffle-strip-riffle will produce a shuffled deck random enough for anyone.

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