Monday 12 April 2021


 In the mid-90s of the last century Anu Garg was a MSc computer science student in Ohio. While still student, because he had the technical capacity and the interest, he started to deliver A Word A Day AWAD to interested subscribers. As an early adopter of the WWW and e-mail for communication outside of academia he got there firstest with the mostest and now runs Wordsmith and AWAD full time. There are ~ half a million subscribers to AWAD, including me, and this addition to my inbox has generated a few Blobs. That's a lot of outgoing e-mail traffic and there's a lot of incommming as well: some quite shirty and cross. On dit que Mr Garg is a OneMillionaire and his venture employs 4 people. I wish him well even when he is occasionally wrong . . .

Take AWAD 7th April 2021. Yarborough nIn a card game, a weak hand, especially one in which no card is above a nine . . . the occurrence of such a hand [see R]. The actual odds are 1827 to 1. But those odds, that probability, is only true if a card game is Contract Bridge or Whist where a hand is 13 cards. Which was an opening for Clever Clogs to reply It's clear nobody Chez Garg plays cards [and more power to them all!]. The odds mentioned apply to a 13 card Bridge hand. A Yarborough Poker hand [8%; 12 to 1]  is a regular occurrence ; and a Yarborough Blackjack hand [37%; 2 to 1] happens pretty much every deal. It's unlikely Yarborough played Contract Bridge which didn't become trendy until after his death; more of a whist man.

Someone was clearly burning the midnight oil at AWAD head office in Seattle because ek dum I got back: "For the rest of us, you'll have to include what those percentages mean, what "12 to 1" and "2 to 1" mean, and how many cards each hand has in poker, bridge, etc. Thank you."

So I had to beef and butter up my reply for 500,000 Arts Block logophiles: The odds mentioned apply to a 13 card Bridge hand. In the standard 52 card deck, there are 32 cards with values 2 thru 9. The chance of getting 13 such cards is 32/52 x 31/51 . . . 21/41 x 20/40 = 0.00055 = 5.5 chances in 10,000 or, to use a convention commoner at race-courses and AWAD "1827 to 1".  A Yarborough Poker hand [5 cards; is considerably more likely: 32/52 x 31/51 . . . 29/49 x 28 x48 = 0.077 = 8% or 12 to 1] is a regular occurrence ; and a Yarborough Blackjack hand [2 cards; 32/52 x 31/51 = 0.374 = 37%or  2 to 1] happens pretty much every deal if there are a handful of players
This task was considerably lightened with Excel [L, show your working]. It was the first occasion I've had to use the function 
as a shorthand for
= C1 * C2 *C3 * C4 * C5
so I've learned something from the exercise.
But really, without getting judgmental, are there a lot of people who don't know how many cards in a poker hand? Maybe my expensive education, normalised card-playing in an unhealthy way - although I've never played cards for real money.
Afterword: when the AWAD 980 weekly round-up came in late on Sunday, another comment of mine was published about "Apgar", based on my Women-in-Science Blob

Fundraiser: Anu Garg has offered a Covid-troubles moratorium for these coughing up actual money for a sub to AWAD. Only a subset of people are making money during the pandemic while many, many, more are struggling. He'd love for you to spread the word <hoho, see what I did there?> to all your friends'n'relations thus.

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