Riddles and queries in the poker world

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Riddles are always fun – a brainteaser, a bit of a mystery, and a challenge to figure out. According to my handy-dandy dictionary, a riddle is “a puzzling question to be solved or answered by guessing.” Enough said.

My friend Lucy is quite thoughtful and had a poker riddle for me: What is it that has three hearts on its face, and everyone loves it? If you guessed it’s the Ace of hearts, you got it right.

Here are a few other poker riddles you might enjoy:

Why does the deck you are playing with have only have 51 cards?

Answer: One card was accidentally left in the package. (Not so funny, is it?) Sometimes you will see the dealer check the count of the deck before dealing out the next hand.

My friend, Stan, never loses at the poker table. How come?

Answer: He never plays.

That riddle was presented to me by my co-GamingToday columnist, George “The Engineer.” It actually happened, coming from an elderly gent at the end of a poker seminar George presented about 25 years ago at a local senior citizen center.

The elderly gent smiled as he spoke. George says he will never forget it. By the way, the seminar was titled, “Why poker is good/healthy for you.” I was in the audience and learned why poker is so healthy for us. As Dr. Alan Schoonmker’s new book teaches us, Play Poker, Stay Young.

How about you? Can you offer us a poker riddle? We will publish the best ones received. Please include your name and email address. (Send to [email protected].)

I thought a few intriguing queries should go along with our riddles. See if you can answer them:

What are the odds of starting with a pair of Aces in the hole?

Answer: 220-to-1 against. On average, in the long run, you can expect pocket Aces just one out of 221 deals. (That’s why they are so special.)

Starting with pocket Aces, approximately what are the probability and odds you will win that hand against each of your opponents who stay to see the flop?

Answer: Probability about 80% against each opponent. The corresponding odds are 80 divided by 20. That’s 4-to-1 in your favor. Multiply that 80% by 80% for each other opponent that stays in.

With four or more opponents staying in to see the flop with you, your A-A becomes an underdog. As you know, underdogs usually lose,

If you catch four-to-a-flush on the flop, with both the turn and river to come, the probability (chance) of making your flush is about 35%. What are the odds against it?

Answer: About 2-to-1 against you.

For every three such hands dealt, you can expect to miss twice and connect once. Probabilities apply to the long run. In the short run, it’s just a matter of luck, over which you have no control.

What are the odds against catching runner-runner suited cards to make a flush?

Answer: 23-to-1 against. Out of every 24 hands in which you hold three to a flush after the flop, you can expect to connect with a runner-runner flush just one time. The pot odds would have to be higher than this to make it a worthwhile “investment.”

P.S. According to Warren Buffet (in Forbes magazine), “the marketplace is like a great big casino, and everyone else (other than you, of course) is boozing. If you can stick with Pepsi, you should be OK.” Moral of this story: Don’t play poker – or invest in the stock market – while you are drinking an alcoholic beverage – even a glass of wine.

Can you guess why?

We invite your comments. Email to [email protected].

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