Gambatria: Mix math, Madonna, Kabbalah

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For years, I’ve been asked how my company got the name Compu-Flyers. As many of you know, the company was started by my father, Lenny Frome.

My dad spent decades as an aerospace engineer before retiring with my mom to Las Vegas. It didn’t take long for Dad to get completely bored with retirement. So, he was one of the first people to buy one of the “new” full-color computers/monitors and an expensive color printer.

It was his plan to open up a kiosk at the local mall and print out color t-shirts and calendars. Thus, he registered a company called Compu-Flyers.

My father always found the math behind casino games quite intriguing, and this probably explains why I was programming blackjack on my high school computer when I was about 15.

Before he got a chance to rent a kiosk, Dad was walking through a casino when he came across a video poker machine, which at the time was relatively new to the casino. A short time later he was in another casino, saw a video poker machine with the same paytables, but they were advertising different ones.

“Impossible!” my father thought.

He decided to put his ‘color’ computer to different use. He created the first analysis of video poker. While there were probably a couple of bugs in it, it was based on the same concepts every gambling analyst has used since.

Look at every possible outcome and assign an expected value to each possible play. Whichever play resulted in the highest expected value is the proper way to play the hand.

My father soon discovered there was not much written about video poker, so he began going to some of the gambling magazines and offering to write about the topic. Little by little it caught on.

It was suggested that he write a little tip sheet on video poker. Rather than create another new business, he simply used the name of the one he had already created for any potential buyers.

When the checks started to come in for his 50+ tips on Video Poker, and later on for Expert Video Poker for Las Vegas – the name was a permanent fixture. It had absolutely nothing to do with gambling, but Compu-Flyers was here to stay.

It’s been more than 20 years since then. My dad passed away nearly 13 years ago, but my family decided to keep the company going. In reality, this meant I would keep sending out orders, maintaining his website and try to keep his articles in circulation.

In 2003, I decided to opt for a career change. I left my job as a Senior Director of Information Technology and decided to follow in Dad’s footsteps. I’ve been privileged to write for GamingToday, Midwest Gaming and Travel, Midwest Players, Gaming South and others. I’ve helped launch numerous successful games, including Ultimate Texas Hold’em, Mississippi Stud, Rabbit Hunter, Imperial Pai Gow, Mini Pai Gow and several sidebets for these and others.

It is 2011 and the world has changed a bit. The Internet and social media (Facebook, Twitter, et al.) have changed the game a good deal. The notion of “what’s in a name?” may be more important than ever.

After searching for a new name for Compu-Flyers for a while, I finally came up with Gambatria. Why and 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.

According to Wikipedia, gematria usually provides two meanings – the ‘revealed’ form, which is the straight numerical equivalent of the word, and the ‘mystical’ form, which is generally associated with Kabbalah (the mystical branch of Judaism that so engrossed Madonna!).

This seemed to apply for gambling as well. Parts of the math are quickly and easily revealed, like the payback. Strategy and what to expect take on a more ‘mystical’ flavor. The mission of Gambatria is to de-mystify gaming math.

It may seem ironic that I turned to a word that is at least several hundred years old in order to bring my company into the new decade. The mission is still the same – to do the best I can to educate players about the right way to play all the games in the casino.

The medium is changing a bit. Besides writing my weekly GT column, I’m happy to say I’ve launched my new blog “Gambatria” (Gambatria.blogspot.com) and I hope you’ll all follow me on Twitter (also “Gambatria”).

Probably no surprise, but you can now find my website at (www.gambatria.com), although www.vpheaven.com works as well. I hope you will all bear with me as these sites probably experience some growing pains, and I get accustomed to using these new 21st century social media concepts to keep in contact with all of you and vice versa.

 

About the Author

Elliot Frome

Elliot Frome’s roots run deep into gaming theory and analysis. His father, Lenny, was a pioneer in developing video poker strategy in the 1980s and is credited with raising its popularity to dizzying heights. Elliot is a second generation gaming author and analyst with nearly 20 years of programming experience.

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