Posted by Wizard
Feb 06, 2011

I made the Washington Post today

Super Bowl Sunday: For Vegas gambling 'sharps,' it's the year's busiest workday.

I hear it this article was on the front page. The writer of the article did a great job at capturing the essence of its subject, who I consider a friend. I laughed many times. The Dogs Playing Poker picture was a gift from me for some tutoring in advanced statistics. The bet mentioned, Green Bay more first downs -2.5 is also one of my plays today.


toastcmu Feb 06, 2011

I saw this today in the paper - Dan Steinberg is a sports writer who has a great sense of humor for the newspaper. Congrats on another article. Hoping Russ does well today.

SFB Feb 07, 2011

Good job... Plugged WOO, not WOV..

That guy is going to be working in LV by the next SB. The bookmakers want someone like him INSIDE, not outside.


Posted by Wizard
Jan 02, 2011

World's Greatest Blackjack Player

My apologies for tooting my own horn, but your humble host just won the trophy for the World's Greatest Blackjack Player at the 2011 Blackjack Ball. Here is an unflattering cell phone picture of me with host Max Rubin.

It is mostly luck that I won. For those who aren't familiar with the competition, here is the executive summary.

The Blackjack Ball is an invitation only event for the best blackjack players, and those who have contributed to the study of the game. I have been going for several years now. There were about 100 people in attendance.

First a 20-question test of blackjack knowledge is given. I was one of the top 6 scores. There is room for 5 at the final table, and I was not eliminated in a tie breaker round of casino knowledge.

Then there were various test of blackjack skill, some important to the game, some more for fun. Some of the events included:

1. Chip shuffling
2. Correctly guessing cut card penetration
3. A blackjack switch round
4. A charades kind of game intended to convey a message to a teammate without using words.
5. Card order memorization
6. Card counting speed and accuracy

I won't bore you with the particulars but the final two were Anthony Curtis (my publisher) and myself. I counted down a deck faster than he did, and WON!

This is a great honor and an evening I will always remember.


Here is a good article about the Blackjack Ball: The Blackjack Ball by Michael Konik.


odiousgambit Jan 03, 2011

Cogratulations, you have wowed us again!

drwls Jan 03, 2011

Now that you are officially the world's greatest blackjack player, will you be banned from playing everywhere ?

Croupier Jan 03, 2011

Wizard of Odds, Wizard of Vegas and now Wizard of Blackjack. Congratulations.

FinsRule Jan 03, 2011

A big congratulations. Very impressive.

gambler Jan 03, 2011

Fantastic news! Great job!

DJTeddyBear Jan 03, 2011


avargov Jan 03, 2011

I read that although the Wiz generally doesn't drink beer, when he does, he prefers Dos XX's. Congrats Wiz!!!

Wizard Jan 03, 2011

Thanks for all the kind words! The comment by DrWLS is from my father, by the way. To answer his question, I fly high above the radar already, so this can't make much difference. My father may remember when we went on a cruise of western Mexico a few years ago and I got backed off from blackjack in the ship casino after one session. The casino manager was kind enough to tell me that his suspicions were confirmed after he Google'd my name.

Nareed Jan 03, 2011

Congratualtions! But to second Croupier, will you be setting up a Wizard of Blackjack page? ;)

AZDuffman Jan 03, 2011

Would you mind telling us some of the "20 Questions" they asked, or at least some greeked examples? I assure you no one here would be bored with it.

EvenBob Jan 04, 2011

Thats funny what your dad said, that was my first thought too.

RaleighCraps Jan 05, 2011

Congrats Wiz. So was the pony board still running this year? If so, what odds did you go off at?

Wizard Jan 06, 2011

I just wrote this up in more detail in my Wizard of Odds blog. That mentions two of the trivia questions. Another one was, true or false, the phone number of the X casino in Jackpot Nevada is 1-800-BAD-LUCK. I don't remember the casino, but not only was it false, there was no such casino in Jackpot. That is one I got right.

I don't recall my exact odds, but I think something like 25-1 for first place.

Ibeatyouraces Jan 10, 2011

Great job. I personally wouldnt go if invited. But I am curious approximately how many people showed up in disguise.

JIMMYFOCKER Jan 24, 2011

Nicely done Wiz

Posted by Wizard
Dec 12, 2010

NFL picks week 14

First, I apologize for forgetting to post my week 13 picks. I don't think anybody will doubt me when I say that I went 2-3. Here they were, for the record:

SF +9.5 -110 l
Cin +6.5 -110 w
Dal +5.5 -110 w
Ariz +3 105 l
TB +3 -125 l

That puts my season to date record at 24-27-1, and dropped me to 5th out of 6 places in a contest I'm in. ROI is -10.0%.

As if anybody cares, here are my week 14 picks.

NE -3 +110
Atl -7.5 EV
Mia +5.5 -110
SF -5.5 -105


Wizard Dec 14, 2010

First, the NYG pick should not count, despite the fact that they won 21-3. The change of venue resulted in all original bets being cancelled, which I think should be the case here too. That is how it was scored in the contest I'm in as well. So, not counting that one I still went 4-0. Yeah for me!

Ibeatyouraces Dec 15, 2010

I went to the game. It was more like a Giants home game than a Vikings one.

Posted by Wizard
Dec 02, 2010

Speaking of Crazy EBay users

I've mentioned a number of times that I'm a devout license plate collector. There is an auction right now for the three license plates used in Smokey and the Bandit. Not only am a license plate fan, but I admit that Smokey and the Bandit is a guilty-pleasure movie of mine. I'd be proud to display them in my house, but geez is the price high already. And there are still two days to go.

Somebody talk some sense into me, I'm tempted to bid.


Ayecarumba Dec 02, 2010


It could be a good investment. I have no idea what the market value of this set would be. Is the reserve well below this amount?


Based on the photo, they are not in very good shape. The real gem is "Bandit's" Trans Am plate, but it looks rusted out. Can the damage be stopped/reversed without spoiling the value?

** I would be surprised if this is the only set of plates. There were multiple cars used in the movie(s). So I would not be surprised if multiple sets of plates exist. This will affect resale pricing.

Ayecarumba Dec 02, 2010

According to Wikipedia, there were three Trans Ams used in the movie.

A Trans Am that may or may not have been in the movie, but was owned by Burt Reynold's is in a museum in Deadwood, South Dakota The picture on the website shows a partial front plate, but I couldn't make it out.

AZDuffman Dec 02, 2010

The GA Flag Plate is nothing special, you could buy a nicer one easily though it is a cool-looking flag plate. (AZ flag plates are coolest IMHO.)

Is there a TX Plate missing? From watching "Dallas" as a kid I thought TX has front plates.

On the pro side, you could buy them then get on TV taking them to the Gold and Silver Pawn Shop................

Wizard Dec 02, 2010

That is a valuable comment about the three Bandits, thanks. It is hard to tell what is on the front of the South Dakota one, but that is where the GA flag plate would have been, which I'm sure is very common. Regarding the condition, the supposed real license plates are just movie props. I'm sure they made them look a little beat up deliberately. The Bandit plates should have looked a little dirty from driving from TX to GA and back at high speed (or did they start in GA?) That fact that they are props also makes me worry there may be others floating around. They could also be more easily counterfeited than a legitimate license plate. Even if they were real, and I bought them, the additional degree of separation between me and the original owner would cause others to doubt the authenticity, depressing the resale value.

Pursuant to my last blog entry about fraud on EBay, I'm always seem people auction the license plate that was supposedly on the Delorean in the Back to the Future movies. I mean I must have seen them auctioned at least 50 times. Somewhere, perhaps Universal Studios, I think they must sell them in the gift shop. I've also seen on EBay a license plate that was allegedly on the moon rover, but why would the lug it back here from the moon?

AZDuffman Dec 03, 2010

There may have been three "Bandits" but not all had plates. If you watch the movie and the scene where they jump the bridge you can clearly see there is NO PLATE on the car they are using at the time.

I'd find it hard to believe they would put a plate on the moon rover. Extra weight and extra bits and bobs to break loose and fly around the cabin.

Wizard Dec 04, 2010

Here is a brief page on the lunar license plate. Here is another page on an auction for a tiny one that was allegedly one "a small number" that were taken to the moon and returned to earth.

Wizard Dec 04, 2010

The good news is that I was the high bidder. The bad news is I didn't reach the hidden reserve. I sent the owner a message about how to reach me. Wish me well in the half marathon tomorrow.

AZDuffman Dec 05, 2010

I stand corrected that they did it, though given some of the other stuff they worried about I remain suprised. Suprised on the technical level, NASA guys seem to have a good sense of humor.

BTW: I work in a town called moon and never seen one! Oh, and the town of "Mars" is 30 mins from my office. I kid you all not.

Very nice link as well.

DJTeddyBear Dec 06, 2010

>> Even if they were real, and I bought them, the additional degree of separation between me and the original owner would cause others to doubt the authenticity, depressing the resale value.

Isn't that what Certificates of Authenticity are all about?

Regarding the Lunar license plate: Astronauts are allowed to bring several ounces (pounds?) of personal items on missions. Remeber the movie The Right Stuff? One of those guys brought rolls of dimes, and planned to use them to score with girls when he got back. The Lunar Plates were very small. Boeing built the rover and made a bunch of plates, which Commander Dave Scott had in a space suit pocket as he drove the rover. The ones being sold have a Certificate of Authenticity signed by Dave Scott. There is no evidence that one was affixed to the rover itself, but then again, I wouldn't doubt it.

Posted by Wizard
Nov 30, 2010

EBay Users are Crazy

This blog entry was inspired by the Natalie Tran (who I adore) video How Fucking Batshit Crazy are EBay Users. Fast forward to the 0:55 point for the part on EBay, but you will miss some great material about clipart if you do. This particular idea was also partially inspired by one of the members here, who auctioned an ordinary $5 bill on EBay, and it sold for $5.37.

So I recently put an ordinary $1 bill on EBay. I started the bidding at 1¢, no reserve, and postage by ordinary mail included. As you can see my clicking the link, it went for exactly $1. Strange. I guess somebody was hoping for good feedback.

What is more interesting is my auction for a $2 bill. I've seen hucksters selling these above face value before. They usually say something like the Treasure doesn't print them any more, so grab them while you can.

As anyone who knows me well can tell you, I love spending $2 bills. Once in a while I order about 200-300 of them from the bank. They are sold to me, at face value, in uncirculated condition, with sequential serial numbers, the vast majority of the time. Spending and tipping with them spreads joy to the world. I love the look on someone's face when they say, "I haven't seen one of these in years." Of course, you get the occasional sourpuss who mumbles under his/her breath as he/she fusses with the cash tray, "where the hell do I put this?"

I made it quite clear in my item description that I easily obtained it from my bank, and anybody else can too. However, surprisingly, it went for $3.94 anyway! I think Natalie was right. If I had no ethics I might auction more of them.


Doc Nov 30, 2010

I was once caught by surprise in receiving a $2 bill as change when purchasing an $18 San Diego Harbor Tour ticket. Then I learned that was their custom.

I have been told that for years the adult ticket price for visiting Thomas Jefferson's Monticello was $17.95. Pay with a $20 bill and your change consisted of a $2 bill and a nickel, both with Jefferson's image on the front and a Jefferson-related image on the back. Today the ticket price is seasonal, at either $17 or $20, so the gimmick doesn't work any more.

I am quite confident that I would not bid $3.94 for a $2 bill. I have plenty of alternate means of wasting my money.

Ayecarumba Nov 30, 2010

There were two bidders competing for your bill. The winner has an extensive history of small bill buying. I don't think there is anything wrong with selling your "surplus". It is meeting a demand, and by covering the postage, you are actually providing a service to those who may not have access to uncirculated bills from a bank, or feel that the hassle of the process is worth the extra $1.94. As long as the description is clear and accurate, you should be able to sell "ordinary" to anyone who wants to pay for it. It's what makes America the greatest nation on the face of this planet.

Note that you have other overhead costs besides postage: Envelope, insurance, time, listing fee, PayPal fee... The $1.94 may not cover it all.

Wizard Nov 30, 2010

It wouldn't be worth my bother to sell $2 bills for $4. However, if anyone else reading this wants to, have at it. I still think it is a bit unsavory, like selling a nickel for 10¢, even if you disclose the fact that is is just a nickel. I hate to take unfair advantage.

Ayecarumba Nov 30, 2010

"Unfair" is the key. If the listing is clear, and the buyer "of his right mind", then why not make a sale?

miplet Nov 30, 2010

I once bought a $100 bill on eBay. It was a star note. I cant remeber for how much, but not enough for the seller to make any money because of the fees.

Wizard Nov 30, 2010

Sometimes somebody will put on EBay California sample license plates with a Ronald Reagan background, which say "GIPPER." The auctioneer will say that the state didn't get enough orders to make them a legitimate license plate option, like the Yosemite or "Whale Tail" plate, but did make a limited number of samples available. What they don't say is that the samples go for a fraction of the EBay selling price at the Ronald Reagan museum web site. It seems dishonest to me to sell a product that is easily available elsewhere at a lower price. Now if you disclose that, and the buyer buys anyway, I suppose we could file that under "a fool and his money are soon parted."

Ayecarumba Nov 30, 2010

The Reagan plate situation is tricky territory. I would not fault Target for failing to inform me that the same television can be had at WalMart for $50 less. The buyer has to do their homework. However, if Target represented the television as "exclusive", or "limited", it would be a problem. The Reagan plate description could be considered a misrepresentation by some.

Mosca Dec 01, 2010

LOL, Natalie Tran. She just gets better and better.

AZDuffman Dec 01, 2010

I read once that one off the biggest users of $2 bills are strip clubs. Think how well this works out. Price a drink at $3 so you give a $2 bill in change. Most guys will say "WTF" either upset or not caring and use the bill to tip the dancer. Now, I have heard the dirty little secret is the average girl at a club has to kick some part of her tips and private-dance-fees to the club. Best part is the club simply re-circulates the $2 when it sells another drink.

I have no problem if you list it and get a premium as long as it is honest--the fool and his money are lucky enough to get together in the first place.

BTW: I find using and liking the unloved $2 is one of those signs of a "fun" personality type. Nonconformist in a good way.

FleaStiff Dec 02, 2010

Two dollar bills annoy cashiers so merchants just try to get rid of them so all these two dollar bills floating around the community can be good "advertising" if the merchants know the source of them. Tourists who get a two dollar bill are likely to spend it locally.

One military base put two dollar bills in their pay packets to dampen some local drive to close the military base.

HKrandom Dec 08, 2010

I don't see this as an unethical arbitrage opportunity, the extra $1.94 is simply the opportunity cost of the time you saved the user by obtaining the bill yourself. It's normal profit.

Ibeatyouraces Dec 09, 2010

I would also suggest people check the coins they get from the bj tables (ones that still use half dollars that is) as a few times you get some that are all silver. I got one once when surrendering a $5 bet, got my 2, $1 tokens and a half dollar from 1956 that I sold for more than the original $5 bet. Speaking of ebay, just watch the Tonight Show and once in a while Leno does a skit of "Things We Found on Ebay". All of which are real items sold on the site.