Parligod
Parligod
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August 18th, 2010 at 6:43:22 PM permalink
Hi all,

While this is my first post, I have been an avid fan of this site and wizardofodds since November of last year. When playing blackjack, I pretty much follow wizardofodds religiously, regardless of the size of the bet. Getting to the crux of this post, I do want to emphasize first that this is not your standard conspiracy theory-whine at losing money while gambling. Please read below and then decide for yourself.

Within a three month period dating between November and January I played a significant amount of blackjack online. The amount I had on this particular site was typically around $20,000. This was not all in on session of course, as the table limits were $1-$500 and I usually bet less than $5 per hand. The amount I lost was about $17,000. My concern is that most of this occurred within a very short period of time, after I received a program update.

So far I wouldn't expect the above information to raise any eyebrows, save for the amount of money involved. What does concern me greatly was that the percentage of hands won was approximately 37%, while the hands lost were 63%. It is my understanding that, assuming one plays blackjack "properly," the statistical edge favors the house by about 51%. This does not mean that I should be winning 49% of the time, but simply that I can minimize my disadvantage to 49%. However, I was under the impression my odds of winning any given hand was about 46.3%, while the dealer's odds of winning any given hand was about 53.6%. Is this incorrect? I also recall that Mr. Shackleford, whom I greatly respect in the subject of odds, mentioned in another post that if we saw a variance level exceeding 4% it should raise eyebrows.

So on to the last two crucial pieces of information. First, did I have a significant enough sample size? In answer to this, I requested from the site that I receive all hand history from the period of these losses. They sent me three (3) files with a total of about 16,000 hands. I think this a more than sufficient sample size. Second, they claim they sent me my entire history from this period, but I am very doubtful. The hand histories they sent me only accounted for about $6100 in losses. So unless $11,000 suddenly disappeared from my account - and I know it didn't - then I am missing even more of the hands from this period.

On a related note, I deposited and lost $1000 on two affiliate sites in January of this year, and the statistics were comparably poor. The blackjack program utilized by the other two sites is identical. The worst of which was a 10-loss streak which included dealer blackjack 9 in 10 hands, the 10th hand dealer showed 20. What are the odds of that?

Anyway, I'd greatly appreciate any feedback, whether it's critical or not. In fact, prefer critical comments, as I'm currently looking into an attorney specializing in internet gambling laws.

Thanks in advance for your thoughts.
FinsRule
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August 18th, 2010 at 7:09:27 PM permalink
Critical comments - alright here it goes.

You're an idiot.

What kind of idiot loses 17,000 playing online blackjack? Hopefully it wasn't US money. 17,000 pesos probably isn't that much, so maybe I'm being too harsh without knowing the whole story.

Of course it was fixed. No lawyer would ever try that case.

I'm just hoping you made this story up to get a rise out of people. I refuse to fall for it anymore. You're either an idiot or a liar. I'll just hope it's liar.

Okay, psych is about to come back on.
teddys
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August 18th, 2010 at 7:24:33 PM permalink
<deleted>
"Dice, verily, are armed with goads and driving-hooks, deceiving and tormenting, causing grievous woe." -Rig Veda 10.34.4
Parligod
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August 18th, 2010 at 7:39:01 PM permalink
Thats probably the most useless comment I've ever seen. Your not falling for "it" anymore? What exactly is "it" and how many times have you fallen for "it?" That I have detailed hands histories is not a fabrication. And thats not even the point either. If/should I use the information in a legal setting, the evidence is weighed on its own merits so it shouldn't be a concern for anyone here except for face value. As for the $17,000 - it was made entirely from blackjack. I actually took them for more and was actively pulling when this happened, but thats not relevant to the story.

"No lawyer would ever try that case." Really? Between the two of us I'm guessing I'm the only one who holds a J.D. And I'm already aware of two that are willing. The only real concern is jurisdiction, given that the UIGEA is in effect in the US, so if not here, then it would be tried in Canada.

Given the above troll, let me elaborate. Constructive comments are welcome.
chook
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August 18th, 2010 at 7:41:03 PM permalink
Online, offline - they're all thieves. All the government cares about is their tax cut and their political donations.
You can't trust a dog to mind your food.
Parligod
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August 18th, 2010 at 7:45:12 PM permalink
"First of all, if this is to be believed, you're a total degenerate gambler who has problems beyond your tiff with this internet casino. Seek professional help or a counseling group."

If I'm up substantially even after the 17k loss, does that still make me a degenerate gambler? I shouldn't have even bothered mentioning the amount lost because it's unfortunately becoming the focus of the discussion. My concern is the win/loss ratio over the course of the hands played.
teddys
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August 18th, 2010 at 8:04:29 PM permalink
<deleted>
"Dice, verily, are armed with goads and driving-hooks, deceiving and tormenting, causing grievous woe." -Rig Veda 10.34.4
FinsRule
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August 18th, 2010 at 8:19:42 PM permalink
Quote: Parligod

Thats probably the most useless comment I've ever seen. Your not falling for "it" anymore? What exactly is "it" and how many times have you fallen for "it?" That I have detailed hands histories is not a fabrication. And thats not even the point either. If/should I use the information in a legal setting, the evidence is weighed on its own merits so it shouldn't be a concern for anyone here except for face value. As for the $17,000 - it was made entirely from blackjack. I actually took them for more and was actively pulling when this happened, but thats not relevant to the story.

"No lawyer would ever try that case." Really? Between the two of us I'm guessing I'm the only one who holds a J.D. And I'm already aware of two that are willing. The only real concern is jurisdiction, given that the UIGEA is in effect in the US, so if not here, then it would be tried in Canada.

Given the above troll, let me elaborate. Constructive comments are welcome.




Haha, you're funny. Ok, so you made more than 17K from them in blackjack, playing $5 a hand. Then you lost 17K from them in BJ playing $5 a hand. And you think a lawyer is going to be able to argue that the more than 17K you won fairly, and the 17K you lost, was from cheating?????

Well, good luck with those 2 lawyers. Let me know when you get your 17K back. Laugh out loud.

If you think you're so smart, post a poll. Here's the question:

Parligod is an idiot

True

or

False

We'll see what the results say.
EvenBob
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August 18th, 2010 at 10:17:12 PM permalink
Can somebody name just one case where an internet casino has been sued successfully? There aren't any as far as I know.
"It's not called gambling if the math is on your side."
weaselman
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August 19th, 2010 at 5:15:29 AM permalink
According to Wizard's tables (I did not calculate it myself, but see no reason not to trust his math), after about 20K hands, you are supposed to end up within 604 units from the the expected value with 99.99% confidence.

If you play 16000 hands, betting $5 each, the total amount you wagered is $80000. Assuming a 1% house edge, the expectation is -$800, so, with probability of more than 99.99% you should expect to lose less than $4000 under these conditions.
So, from this point of view, $6000 does seem a bit high.

The std. deviation of 16000 hands @ $5/hand, according to Wizard's formula, is about $961, so your result was about 5.4 std devs from the expected value, which is pretty high too.

But:

1) 99.99% is a high number, but might not be high enough to mean much legally.
2) According to you, you did win even more money from them before you lost. Are you suggesting the game was honest before, and got rigged later?
3) We don't know the actual house edge in the particular game you were playing (maybe, the rules are so crappy, that it was like 5% instead of 1?). What exactly are the rules?
4) We don't know your skills as a player, and even if they are absolutely perfect (which is impossible), 16000 is a lot of hands, and it is unlikely that you were able to play them all without any mistakes.

Would you be willing to send those log files to me (and/or, perhaps, to Wizard if he wants to take a look too), to have them analyzed?
"When two people always agree one of them is unnecessary"
dlevinelaw
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August 19th, 2010 at 5:23:39 AM permalink
I have a JD. Wouldn't touch this with a 10 foot pole.
Parligod
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August 19th, 2010 at 5:52:57 AM permalink
EvenBob - Internet law is still a relatively new area, given that the internet has been around for a limited amount of time. And even the "oldest" online casinos have typically been around not longer than 1997. Thats why its more difficult to find an attorney who specializes in internet gambling law.

Weasel - I mentioned most of my bets placed did not exceed $5, but that certainly doesn't mean I didn't place higher bets. I utilized betting patterns that, I believe, may have worked in the online casino, but I am much more doubtful as to whether they would work in the real world. My belief is that if a casino fails to properly implement a program thats fine, so long as it doesn't disadvantage the player (e.g., if the player ends up winning at a higher % than they should, that is not the fault of the player). However if a program disadvantages the player, I think most agree that is a severe wrong that should be remedied. I did win more money from them than I lost. I think the game may have been otherwise legit or flawed to start, but it's concerning that the win % dropped suddenly over the course of a large sample size of hands after the program update. The rules at the table were fairly generous for the player, in that you could double down in any spots, surrender, split up to 4 times (excepting AA), etc.

I played very well, but you are correct in that I did not play every single hand flawlesly. Even so, I can't imagine that the few flawed hands I played can account for such a large discrepancy. Also - the total amount wagered was more in the range of $1.2 million in the course of that time, this coming from conversations with the site manager. My average hands played was around 7-8 hands per minute (keep in mind online you can play a much higher volume in a given period).
Mosca
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August 19th, 2010 at 6:22:04 AM permalink
[captrenault]I'm shocked, shocked, to hear that cheating is going on in internet gambling.[/captrenault]
A falling knife has no handle.
rdw4potus
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August 19th, 2010 at 6:35:43 AM permalink
Quote: Parligod

Thats probably the most useless comment I've ever seen. Your not falling for "it" anymore? What exactly is "it" and how many times have you fallen for "it?" That I have detailed hands histories is not a fabrication. And thats not even the point either. If/should I use the information in a legal setting, the evidence is weighed on its own merits so it shouldn't be a concern for anyone here except for face value. As for the $17,000 - it was made entirely from blackjack. I actually took them for more and was actively pulling when this happened, but thats not relevant to the story.

"No lawyer would ever try that case." Really? Between the two of us I'm guessing I'm the only one who holds a J.D. And I'm already aware of two that are willing. The only real concern is jurisdiction, given that the UIGEA is in effect in the US, so if not here, then it would be tried in Canada.

Given the above troll, let me elaborate. Constructive comments are welcome.



So wait...you hold a J.D and you actually asked another lawyer (or, apparently, two) to help with your case against an internet casino that you were not allowed to legally play at? Seriously...how does it usually work when a lawyer has to admit to a crime to pursue a civil claim?

I would argue that the "...took them for more..." part is extremely relevant to this story. If you're net ahead at this site, then you need to accept that the $17K was variance and nothing more. You'll win 47% of hands over the long run on average, but that doesn't mean 47 out of every 100 or anything.
"So as the clock ticked and the day passed, opportunity met preparation, and luck happened." - Maurice Clarett
weaselman
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August 19th, 2010 at 6:41:45 AM permalink
Quote: Parligod


Weasel - I mentioned most of my bets placed did not exceed $5, but that certainly doesn't mean I didn't place higher bets.



I think, you are getting defensive unnecessarily (though I can't blame you given the tone of some posts in this thread). I did not imply anything about your betting strategy or try to cast any doubt on the truthfulness of your statements. I simply used the only pieces of info you have provided to estimate the size of your bet. If sometimes you were betting more than $5, that would make the std. deviation of your game somewhat bigger, and consequently, make the loss you are describing somewhat more probable.
If you were making significantly large bets considerably more often, that would, have a larger effect on the std. dev, and make it even less unlikely to lose the amount you mentioned.

Without any data available, it is impossible to make any conclusions or even to state any suspicions. Depending on how exactly long you played and exactly how much you were betting, the chance of losing $17000 may vary from ridiculously small to perfectly normal to exceedingly high.


Quote: Parligod

Also - the total amount wagered was more in the range of $1.2 million in the course of that time, this coming from conversations with the site manager. My average hands played was around 7-8 hands per minute (keep in mind online you can play a much higher volume in a given period).



Well, I was talking only about those 16,000 hands for which you claim to have the logs. Everything else has even less basis for any conclusions. But if you lost 17K after wagering 1.2 million, it's only 1.4% - lacking any additional info, this does not look like an outrageously (or even just surprisingly) high amount.

And if you are saying that the 1.2 million is the amount wagered during those 16K hands, that makes your average bet $75 for the st.d deviation of $14,575, leaving your loss of $16K just outside of 1 std. dev - a perfectly ordinary occurence.
"When two people always agree one of them is unnecessary"
SOOPOO
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August 19th, 2010 at 7:09:15 AM permalink
This is hilarious. So you plan on only showing the court your losses but not your wins? If you are truly ahead of them (HIGHLY doubtful) then all they would need to show is your total is a WIN!!!! But your honor--- when I won it was a fair game, but when I l;ost they must have been cheating.....
Asswhoopermcdaddy
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August 19th, 2010 at 9:48:26 AM permalink
Quote: SOOPOO

This is hilarious. So you plan on only showing the court your losses but not your wins? If you are truly ahead of them (HIGHLY doubtful) then all they would need to show is your total is a WIN!!!! But your honor--- when I won it was a fair game, but when I l;ost they must have been cheating.....



Haha. I completely agree with SOOPOO. You got a tough case to prove that the casino deliberately conspired to screw with your winnings. Besides, have you considered if your betting system was flawed? Maybe the casino recognized a flaw in their random number generator and decided to upgrade it thus negating your betting system.

And since you were up net so far, they would only really be cheating if they didn't allow you to withdraw your money. Now that would suck just about as much as losing $17k or more.
Wizard
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August 19th, 2010 at 10:19:18 AM permalink
Okay, let's look at the evidence. We have:

1. Amount lost about $17,000.
2. Usual bet less than $5.
3. Log files indicate 16,000 hands played.

If we assume each bet was exactly $5, then that would be down 3,400 units. I don't even need to do any math to say that is way beyond the fishy point for 16,000 hands. However, to make a decent case you have to have exact numbers. It could be that your median bet was $5, but you had a small number of huge wagers which threw off your results. I also hate seeing the word "about" used when making a case for cheating.

My advice is that since you have the log files, put them in a spreadsheet, and tell me:

1. Exact number of initial hands played.
2. Units you would have lost if you had been flat betting. You can get at this figure by dividing the amount won by amount bet for every hand, and taking the sum.
3. Rules of the game, so we know how much you should have lost due to the house edge.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
FleaStiff
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August 19th, 2010 at 12:47:16 PM permalink
I'm puzzled.
Less than five dollars a hand at BJ at an online casino? Do they allow that?

I can understand summaries and approximations for ease of communication, but I don't see why precise information is lacking.

The number of losses seems high to me

The integrity of online casinos is lacking and I would expect there would be problems getting tapes from the casinos.
DorothyGale
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August 19th, 2010 at 1:15:19 PM permalink
Wow ...

I know so much about this subject, my head would explode if I started ...

I know a guy who lost about 100k playing blackjack on-line, most of his bets were $5 or so, but one or two were $500 and just maybe once in a while they were $2000. His losses were fair and honest ... and he would have lost a lot more if he was playing B&M.

As for cheating, well ... who wants to go there? You guys think you know, you say these generalizations like "they must" or "everybody knows," but you don't know what you're talking about .. that's ok, I still have a nice dog who thinks I'm smart.

--Dorothy
"Who would have thought a good little girl like you could destroy my beautiful wickedness!"
chook
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August 19th, 2010 at 1:48:51 PM permalink
Toto, I've a feeling we're not in Kansas any more.
You can't trust a dog to mind your food.
Parligod
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August 21st, 2010 at 12:10:25 PM permalink
"So wait...you hold a J.D and you actually asked another lawyer (or, apparently, two) to help with your case against an internet casino that you were not allowed to legally play at? Seriously...how does it usually work when a lawyer has to admit to a crime to pursue a civil claim?"

1. Just because a person is an attorney does not necessarily qualify them for the competent practice of any type of law. As you may or may not be aware, there are several types of law which then have subsets of law within them as well. This ranges from Contracts, Property Law, Family Law, Bankruptcy, Labor & Employment, Torts, Criminal Law, etc. Just because a person is a "mechanic" doesn't mean he can go off and work on a Harley Davidson, then a BMW, then an F-22 fighter aircraft competently.

2. Even if an attorney is qualified (or even one of the best in their field, pro se representation is generally not recommended. Imagine an accused rapist questioning a rape victim in criminal court and the problems that arise.

3. Playing at an internet casino is not illegal. You didn't mention exactly how it was "criminal" so I have to fill in some blanks on your behalf by presuming that your basing your thoughts on the Unlawful Internet Gambling and Enforcement Act (also known as Title VIII of the Safe Ports Act, or UIGEA).
A. Regulation of the UIGEA did not take effect until June 1, 2010.
The time I played at this site was at the beginning of this year. Even though the Bill itself was passed in 2006, Congress agreed to delay implementation and consider exceptions. For instance, an exception for betting on horse racing is explicitly protected under the UIGEA itself and remains legal to this day.
B. Playing in online casinos/poker rooms is not made illegal by the UIGEA. The only apparent illegality created by the UIGEA relates to use of "U.S. Financial Institutions." In other words, it seems they sought to prevent people from using their credit cards or bank accounts to deposit money into online accounts. If your having problems with your banks making a deposit its because the UIGEA is very vague, and forces banking institutions to make a defensive stance for their own safety by prohibiting purchases of anything that even hints at gambling. In my case, I've had (and continue to have) funds on this particular site since 2006.

Its unfortunate that a lot of people have an inaccurate view of the UIGEA, as there are certainly others who view it as you do. The only way to change this is to take an actual look at the UIGEA and its legislative history and I'd highly recommend doing so. I'm not trying to put you down here either. Please take a look for yourself.


"I would argue that the "...took them for more..." part is extremely relevant to this story. If you're net ahead at this site, then you need to accept that the $17K was variance and nothing more. You'll win 47% of hands over the long run on average, but that doesn't mean 47 out of every 100 or anything.

"


1. The amount involved has no relevance whatsoever. If I played 2000 hands where 1996 of them I bet $1 and lost every time but the other 4 times I bet $500 and won, technically I'd still be "up." By your logic, this kind of streak is completely acceptable and okay. I disagree.

2. The whole point of my hand sample is to show that its large enough to eliminate the variance argument. I've literally seen a comment posted by this casino's manager to an unhappy customer, who lost an certain amount over 1000 or so hands. His point to the customer was that 1000 hands wasn't a large enough sample size, and that the customer was just "unlucky" over the course of those 1000 hands. There has to be a point where you don't call it "unlucky" anymore. I agree I shouldn't win 47 out of 100 absolutely. But if there's 10,000 hands and assuming I play proper blackjack, I should start to see a winning percentage close to that 47%.
Parligod
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August 21st, 2010 at 12:21:35 PM permalink
"I think, you are getting defensive unnecessarily (though I can't blame you given the tone of some posts in this thread)."

I didn't mean to come off as overly defensive to you. I do agree with your points though.

"And if you are saying that the 1.2 million is the amount wagered during those 16K hands, that makes your average bet $75 for the st.d deviation of $14,575, leaving your loss of $16K just outside of 1 std. dev - a perfectly ordinary occurence."

I could see my average bet being around $35-40, but $75 seemed way too high overall. To be honest I just have to take a closer look. As far as your point on standard deviation - and I'm not trying to be overly defensive - I think your missing the point. The concern I've listed several times now is that my winning % compared to losing % is significantly off what it should be. Again, I regret that I made any mention of the amount of money involved as its been detracting from the main issue; my winning percentage over that time was significantly under 47%
Parligod
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August 21st, 2010 at 12:24:46 PM permalink
"Besides, have you considered if your betting system was flawed? Maybe the casino recognized a flaw in their random number generator and decided to upgrade it thus negating your betting system."

Hmmm, that might make the random number generator not random then wouldn't it? I don't have a problem with a genuine random number generator, but - as I've mentioned several times now - the winning % should fall reasonably within expectation over time and in this case it did not.
Parligod
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August 21st, 2010 at 12:47:58 PM permalink
Quote: Wizard

Okay, let's look at the evidence. We have:

1. Amount lost about $17,000.
2. Usual bet less than $5.
3. Log files indicate 16,000 hands played.

If we assume each bet was exactly $5, then that would be down 3,400 units. I don't even need to do any math to say that is way beyond the fishy point for 16,000 hands. However, to make a decent case you have to have exact numbers. It could be that your median bet was $5, but you had a small number of huge wagers which threw off your results. I also hate seeing the word "about" used when making a case for cheating.

My advice is that since you have the log files, put them in a spreadsheet, and tell me:

1. Exact number of initial hands played.
2. Units you would have lost if you had been flat betting. You can get at this figure by dividing the amount won by amount bet for every hand, and taking the sum.
3. Rules of the game, so we know how much you should have lost due to the house edge.



They sent it to me via excel spreadsheet (3 separate documents due to the large file size). I'm not excel savvy but I'll work on the numbers you mentioned above, although I think I already mentioned the house rules: Allows split up to 4x (excluding AA), 3 to 2 on blackjack, 2 to 1 on insurance, double down after split allowed and double down allowed in any instance, surrender permitted so long as you don't take a card/split. Dealer hits on soft 17. If I'm missing other significant rules please let me know.

P.S. - Am I crazy to be the only one concerned with the win/loss percentage? Even if the expectation for amount lost over x number of hands is correct given my betting size I don't care. It may well be within reason. My concern relates back to the winning vs. losing percentage.
Parligod
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August 21st, 2010 at 12:56:46 PM permalink
"As for cheating, well ... who wants to go there? You guys think you know, you say these generalizations like "they must" or "everybody knows," but you don't know what you're talking about .. that's ok, I still have a nice dog who thinks I'm smart."

--Dorothy



Dorothy I'm not making a hasty generalization - what I said is that the win/loss percentages over the course of the given hands concerns me. There's a huge difference between person x who throws out an unsupported accusation vs my case where I have a huge sample size to look back upon. There's a particular legal phrase, "Res ipsa Loquitor" in tort law which translates to "The thing speaks for itself." It means that, for instance, if a barrel falls out of a building and hits a person, that some type of negligence - at minimum - is presumed. So, hypothetically, if 10,000 hands were played perfectly in blackjack but the player only wins less than 40% of the time, that in itself should be concerning given that the variance argument is thrown out the window.
Wizard
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August 21st, 2010 at 1:05:31 PM permalink
Quote: Parligod

They sent it to me via excel spreadsheet (3 separate documents due to the large file size). I'm not excel savvy but I'll work on the numbers you mentioned above...



I'll await the results then.
"For with much wisdom comes much sorrow." -- Ecclesiastes 1:18 (NIV)
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