The premier casino gaming consulting firm for two generations.
What is Gambatria?
It is a combination of Gambling and Gematria, which is a system whereby numerical values are assigned to letters and/or words. Gematria usually provides two meanings – the ‘revealed’ form which is the straight numerical equivalent of the word and the ‘mystical’ form generally associated with Kaballah (the mystical branch of Judaism that so engrossed Madonna!) This applies to gambling too. Parts of the math are quickly and easily revealed like the payback. Then there are the parts like the strategy and what to expect that take on a more ‘mystical’ flavor.
The company was founded by Lenny Frome, who revolutionized the casino by developing the first analyses and strategies for video poker. He also had a hand in developing many of the table games you see on the casino floor. Working hand in hand with inventors by refining the math and strategy, Lenny assisted in the creation of Three Card Poker, Let It Ride, Spanish 21 and Caribbean Stud Poker.
Since 1998 when Lenny passed away, the company has been run by his son, Elliot Frome. Elliot has made his own marks in the industry by helping to launch Ultimate Texas Hold’em Poker, Mississippi Stud, House Money, Boston 7 Stud, Six Card Pai Gow and Imperial Pai Gow.
Last week, I alluded to the notion that Players play Ultimate Texas Hold'em more timidly than they should. While a portion of this is probably based in the relatively complex strategy of the game, I believe the larger portion is in the decision itself. It takes nerves of steel to put down 4 times your initial Ante wager. Give me a High Pair or a suited A-J and I'm willing to risk it. But what about offsuit A-8 or suited K-10. How good are these hands? Even if the strategy says to Play 4x, UTH allows the Player to wait for more information and then either Play 2x or wait longer. So, why rush my decision?
Last week I discussed the importance of net win vs. expected value when looking at wagers of different sizes. The term expected value was originally used mostly to describe video poker hands. Since the wager size is the same from hand to hand and the payouts are all essentially odds based - meaning they pay a certain amount for each unit wagered as opposed to a fixed dollar amount, using the expected value works fine. But, in a game like blackjack where the Player has the option to double down, we need to look at net win (or loss) and not expected value. We lower our win frequency (which lowers the expected value) when we double down, but we still do so because in the end we win more money, which is the real goal.
What I'm about to write might sound like blasphemy to those of you who have been reading my column for years. But, here goes - it is NOT all about expected value. There I said it. But an explanation has to go with it. No, I'm not talking about the importance of liking a game you are playing, which can also override the payback to a certain extent. In this case, I am not talking about any emotional issues, but a purely mathematical one. Let me explain.