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I went to several local video game shops right before Chinese New Year. It had been long time since I’d bought or really played any console games, but the Wii was different enough and interesting enough that I decided to get one to play over my two week vacation. For new systems, here were the prices:

  • Standard Wii + 1 left controller + 1 right controller + localized version of Wii Sports: 7400NT
  • Wii with mod chip installed + 1 left controller + 1 right controller + localized version of Wii Sports: 8500NT
  • Extra left controller: 850NT
  • Extra right controller: 580NT
  • Wii Fit and balance board: 3600NT

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The Bushman’s Blogtoberfest meet-up was pretty fun. The food was great, we did some singing and stayed after the meal chatting for hours. Quite a few people from last week’s meet-up were back, and a few others, too.

It took an hour and a half to get to Hukou, but it was more than worth it to see everyone.

Imagine my delight when I heard that there would be a Poker Tournament at Dartmouth! I really used to enjoy playing poker back in the day, before it was cool. For a while, during my senior year at UCBoulder, my friend Matt and I were both writing software to study Texas Hold’em and regularly going to the casinos in the few mountain towns in Colorado were they’re legal. It was a lot of fun.

After graduating and moving abroad, though, I just didn’t have any chances to play for several years. In fact, the only game I can remember playing in my entire time in Taiwan was the “penny” game I set up a couple of weeks ago. It wasn’t a huge priority to find a poker game or anything, but I was definitely stoked about hearing of a tournament.

The Setup

It was a zero dollar buy in, with only gift certificates as prizes– a fun tournament. Potato chips and random junk food were at every table. After checking with Sonia to make sure I was allowed to play, I eagerly headed over to the basement room in which it was being held. I showed up about 10 minutes early, and sat down at the one table that already had a few guys seated around it. They seemed oddly tense for being at a fun game, but they were all pretty friendly. Soon, more and more people came streaming into the room, until eventually about dozen tables were full, with eight to ten people seated at each.

It was a no-limit Hold ’em tournament. We started with a “dollar” (i.e. white chip) small blind, and a four dollar big blind. According to the organizers, the blind would double every 20 minutes, so we couldn’t dawdle too much. That wasn’t a problem at my table.

The First Table

On the very first hand, four people at my table went all-in. I couldn’t believe it. Either they had all gotten some remarkably lucky hands, or I was at a table full of maniacs. I sat the madness out, knowing I wasn’t throwing my chips away on a sub-par hand, but also knowing that nearly half my table’s chips would soon be in the hands of whoever won that hand. And so they were. After he had all the chips, he just leaned on the rest of us, threatening to put someone all-in on nearly every hand, bullying us out of the blind bids.

After the deal had gone around four more times, I was down to two-thirds of my initial number of chips. I was starting to think it would be worth it to bluff, which would have been credible at that point, when I got a great pair of hole-cards, AQ suited. I bet 10, and called a raise of 30 to see the flop. There was an ace, a jack and a three. With the high pair, I bet again, and one of my opponents called, and the one with all the money put me all-in. In the end my pair of aces beat his pair of jacks, my pile of chips was about the size of his, and the other guy was knocked out of the game. At this point, only three of us were left at my table. Not even a single person from any of the other tables in the room had been eliminated yet.

In the next hand, I had garbage, and the opponent without many chips went all in and lost. Then the game organizers announced to us that the blinds would be doubled to 2 and 4. Seeing as my entire table’s chips were divided between me and one other guy, this struck me as funny, but we kept going. Within 5 more hands, I had about 80% of the chips. Then Sonia and her friend showed up and said hi to me. I think the were a little surprised to my table mostly empty, and most of the chips in front of me.

The Second Table

About that time, the organizers noticed we were down to two people, and a couple of the other tables had eliminated players, so they sent us to those tables to take their places! It wasn’t even fair. I showed up at the new with about the vast majority of the entire table I’d come from. They were weaker players than my previous opponents, too. They were betting on inside draws. Some of them were trying to bluff on every other hand. They weren’t raising when they had winners. It took me 15 minutes to wipe out the entire table. By that time, more people were getting eliminate around the room, and people were getting consolidated to fewer and fewer tables.

The Final Table

To make a long story short, the competition was weak. Extremely weak. I knocked out a dozen more people and moved on to the final table with dozens of times more chips than we’d each started with. Unfortunately, that wasn’t quite the right impression to make. As soon as I sat down, one guy at the table said, “Woah, this guy must be a pro!”

I said I wasn’t a pro. Nobody believed me. Somehow, they figured that a professional gambler would come to their campus for their zero dollar buy in poker gave, load up on free soda and Doritos, and try to win a small gift certificate instead of going to a casino, getting comped steaks and cocktails, and winning real money.

“What year are you?” asked another.

I answered honestly that I wasn’t a student at all, and that I was playing in place of my girlfriend I was vising. That didn’t go over very well.

“This is a student tournament!”

“You can’t just invade it and take advantage of it!”

They were really competitive about this game. Admittedly, I’ve never been to a tournament before, and some of them might not have realized that this one was open to non-students. Still, I’ve been in casino games with hundreds of dollars on the table and I’ve never seen people get so worked up like this before. It was really eye-opening. If Sonia had been there, I’m sure she could have smoothed things over, especially being a UGA. As it was, though, it just wasn’t worth ticking everyone off to win. I couldn’t really walk away, either. They’d still feel like I’d wreaked the game.

So, I started doing randomized bluffs, but far too loosely. I continued to bet and play good hands, but I also played every single hand with a diamond of 7 or less. Amazingly, people became more and more talkative as my pile of chips dwindled, and soon they were asking me all about living in Taiwan, and what I thought of their school. Within 15 minutes, I had eliminated myself in what I hope looked like a completely natural performance. Then, without the gift certificate, but in a great mood, I headed over to the animation lab to find Sonia, Adelle and Dawn.

Last night, Sonia and I went to Holly‘s birthday party. First we met up at TGIF for dinner. A couple of guys I knew from Modawei showed up. After dinner, we hit the KTV, where we were wowed by Holly’s singing skills. I particularly enjoyed the song 朋友, by 周華健 (Zhōu Huá Jiàn).

It’s a fun one for KTV.

Ever wonder why so many expert witnesses lead juries astray due to mathematical errors? Or why so many gamblers and investors are so bad at assessing relatively simple probability questions? First imagine that you consider yourself an expert (at something other than math), and then you encounter a question like this…

Imagine there’s a completely random event with two outcomes, say flipping a coin. Each flip has an equal probability of landing heads or tails. Now imagine that we’re interested in seeing how long it takes to get a certain sequence of outcomes.

Pattern 1

Tails, Heads, Tails

Pattern 2

Tails, Heads, Heads

Now, suppose we flip a coin until Pattern 1 is reached, note how many coin flips it took, and then we repeat the process many times and average how many flips it takes to get a tails-heads-tails sequence . After that, we go through the same process to see how many flips it takes to get Pattern 2, a tails-heads-heads sequence. For example if we start flipping a coin for pattern 1 and we see:

tails, heads, heads, tails, heads, tails

Then we reached Pattern 1 after only six coin tosses. Sometimes it will take as few as three coin tosses, but other times it will take many more. If we were to repeat this test thousands of times and calculate the average number of tosses it takes to get Pattern 1 and compare it to the average number of tosses it takes to get Pattern 2, which be the bigger number?

On average, which pattern takes fewer coin tosses?

  • They'll happen equally fast, on average. (78%, 1,775 Votes)
  • Tails, Heads, Tails takes fewer tosses! (11%, 258 Votes)
  • Tails, Heads, Heads takes fewer tosses! (9%, 213 Votes)
  • I can't figure it out. (2%, 36 Votes)

Total Voters: 2,282

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The first correct answer with a valid explanation wins a beer (if you can make it to Taipei to collect).
Update: Two correct answers are in! Ray Myers, with some lisp code to brute force the answer, and Robin with a clear explanation of why. When and if you make it out to collect, drinks at the Taiwan Beer Factory are on me.

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Even Simple Probabilty Puzzles Can Be Tricky
Game Theory and Bluffing
Good God are There a Lot of Morons on Digg