I speak fairly often at software conferences such as DevConnections, DevIntersection, Visual Studio Live, and Interop. These conferences are usually held in Las Vegas, in part because Las Vegas is designed for conferences. I love going to Las Vegas. It’s the best place in the world for people watching, there’s incredible energy everywhere, there’s always something new, and it’s a fascinating place for a math guy like me.
I’ve been going to Vegas ever since I was a college student at U.C. Irvine. One of my college roommates, Ed Koolish, and I would make the drive through the desert from Southern California to Vegas either in my 1960-ish Datsun 510 or Ed’s 1964 Chevy Biscayne/Deathtrap painted Earl Scheib any-car-for-$19.95 blue.
At a recent conference at the MGM Grand hotel, I walked across the Strip, via a bridge, into the New York New York casino. They had three very interesting table games I haven’t seen anywhere else. The first is called DJ Wild Poker. The game is a poker variant where players compete only against the dealer, not each other. Briefly, the player makes an ante then gets five cards. The dealer gets five cards face down. If the player likes his five cards then he can bet double the ante amount, otherwise he can fold. I played this game for a few minutes and it was a lot of fun.
I didn’t have time to investigate the other two games, but when I got back home I called New York New York on the phone and asked for the casino manager. I was connected to Dolph. He was very gracious and personable, and he explained the games to me. The second unusual game is called PatJack. PatJack (“stand pat Blackjack”) is like regular Blackjack but there’s a side bet where you essentially buy a hand that totals 18. If that 18-hand beats the dealer’s hand, you win your bet. Neat!
The third unusual game is an extension of PatJack called Pick’Em Blackjack. It’s like PatJack except you can buy one or more of three hands: a 17-hand, an 18-hand, or a 19-hand. The 17-hand pays 3 to 2. The 18 hand pays 1 to 1. The 19-hand pays 1 to 2.
I haven’t done the math, but it’s certain that the house has an edge on all three games. I like the idea all three games because there’s decision making involved.
I’m not much of a gambler, for money, but Las Vegas — mathematics, psychology, business — what a place!