Gambling to Pay the Bills

Two Mathematicians Write the Book on How to Beat the Casinos and Kiss Your Boss Goodbye

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Contributing editor Michael Konik writes Cigar Aficionado's gambling column. At the Tables With Malmuth
Mason Malmuth agrees to play with me in the $10-$20 Hold'em game at The Mirage. This level of poker, where the pots are normally a couple of hundred dollars, is far smaller than he normally plays, but many fledgling professionals attempt to break in at this level, so the action is lively, if not always expert.
Having Mason Malmuth seated beside you at a poker table is like inviting Butch Harmon to ride along in your golf cart. Even when neither of us is involved in the hand, at my request Malmuth quietly provides a running commentary, turning monotony into a private tutorial. The depth at which he explores the possibilities of a poker hand is frightening. I'm almost too scared to actually play a hand in front of him.
Finally, I'm dealt a powerful starting combination--Ace-King--and raise. Two other players call. After much betting, I win a large pot, with two pair. But winning or losing is immaterial to Malmuth. He's concerned that I may have missed an extra raise on the end, costing myself an additional $20.
After a systematic re-creation of the hand, analyzing all of my alternatives, we both conclude that, yes, in fact, I would have been correct to raise.
"You've got to get all the small edges," Malmuth intones.
Alas, for this gambler, it's back to the books.
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