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Sleepless in Fulham: Rambling and gambling by David Young
Friday, 12 May 2006
Some thoughts on Television
Topic: Television
Utility is non-linear.

'Deal or No Deal' has been a surprise hit. It's such a remarkably simple idea that it's a surprise it hadn't been done before. I've watched bits of it and to be fair, although I know it's drivel, it has held my attention for 15 minutes or so, which isn't bad.

As a gambler, what interests me is how people decide whether to deal or not. Most people are very risk-averse from what I've seen. For instance in the repeat I just saw today, a woman faced five boxes with a combined total worth of #61k. So her 'equity' was just under #12k. She took a deal at #6,125.

Should she be criticised for this? I think many people would take a deal that was below their equity. In fact, I reckon that the show should be retitled to refect that. I propose 'Utility is non-linear'. Catchy isn't it?

It's obviously the case that your happiness would increase more if your net worth rose from nothing to #1m than if it rose from #1m to #2m. But where do we draw the line? What would influence us? I think that the presence of a live audience makes people take poor deals. I think some people are afraid of looking stupid and walking away with 10p after being offered #6k.

"If it's 9.30, then that's not the disease".

I'm a big fan of the medical drama House on Channel Five, Thursday nights. Hugh Laurie is brilliant as the misanthropic doctor - a truly inspired piece of casting. Having made his living playing stupid English men, who would have thought of having him as an intelligent American? Not me, that's for sure.

But much as a I love the show, it has a big flaw that is common to other "detective" stories. You know that the solution will only be discovered three minutes before the end of the show. So when it looks like the patient is only suffering from a simple lung infection and a course of antibiotics will do the trick, you can be absolutely sure he'll convulse on the floor with a bleeding foot fifteen seconds later.

I first noticed this problem when I used to watch WWF wrestling years ago when Dominic shared the flat with me. We could tell that the main event wasn't over by looking at the clock. So the fact that The Undertaker was pinning Val Venus to the canvas at 11.51pm meant absolutely nothing. There was at least 6 minutes left to go. I found there was more suspense when we taped the show and watched it the next day. I'm not sure how that works for House, Morse, Prime Suspect etc. Probably best to watch a tape of it and cover up all the clocks in the room.

Team Poker

I was idly scanning the channels a couple of nights ago when I suddenly realised that I was watching John Kabbaj's wife playing poker. It was part of some dire 'team' poker show. It was such crap that I'm not going to bother looking up its name. Apart from the obvious fact that poker is not a team event, I hated it anyway. In the Russia vs Ireland heat that I was watching, they had given the Russians red shirts to wear ... with the Hammer and Sickle embossed over the chest!

The Soviet Union was disbanded in 1991. Has nobody told Sky this? I felt genuinely embarrassed for the Russians. Some of them may have lost family members to the salt mines of Siberia or the famines of the early 20th century. Will they give the Germans swastikas to wear?

_ DY at 7:31 PM BST
Updated: Friday, 12 May 2006 7:35 PM BST
Post Comment | View Comments (13) | Permalink

Friday, 12 May 2006 - 9:23 PM BST

Mr Zionist,

Something occurred to me. In the Bible doesn’t it say that the Jews will not have their land in response for what they did to Jesus? I am sure it says that they would be wanderers for a certain amount of time. Wasn't that true

Friday, 12 May 2006 - 10:12 PM BST

Name: David Young

Who cares?

Friday, 12 May 2006 - 10:55 PM BST

Well it seems that was true. They run the world now though, till China takes over.

Free Palestine.

Saturday, 13 May 2006 - 12:36 AM BST

Gambler? What an admission!

Surely you are a professional investor or professional sports backer?

Gambler suggests negative expectation to me.

Why shouldn't poker have a team event?

I know you are denser than a neutron star but did you not consider that the hammer and sickle motif was an ironic joke?

And whilst we pick on Soviet faults, here's a question for you.

Which country first forced its Jewry to wear yellow badges to signify them as Jews? Which country was the first to carry out a pogrom against Jews. Which country invented the concentration camp?

Saturday, 13 May 2006 - 12:53 AM BST

I am not sure on this but wasn't britain the first country to invent concentration camps?

Saturday, 13 May 2006 - 1:14 AM BST

"Which country was the first to carry out a pogrom against Jews?"

I am sure that you are clueless on this matter.

Jews have been hated by everyone throughout history. Violent attacks against Jews date back at least to the Crusades. If you want to know the first recognised 'progrom' then this is the 1821 anti-Jewish riots in Odessa.

Saturday, 13 May 2006 - 2:38 AM BST

Name: David Young

I should say 'Professional Poker Player' instead of Gambler, but I hate the alliteration. It's like 'Peter Piper picked a piece of pickled pepper'.

Saturday, 13 May 2006 - 9:32 AM BST

Name: Andy Ward

Because poker's not a team game. When two or more people play together in a tournament or cash game, they're cheating the other players. There are enough fuckwits doing this as it is without showing them how to play as a team on TV (or how not to play in the case of Neville Southall apparently).

While I'm here, gambling with a positive expectation is still gambling, and the time effect comes into play in TV poker. You know the headsup all-in isn't going to lose if there's still 10 minutes left.


Saturday, 13 May 2006 - 9:35 AM BST

"Which country first forced its Jewry to wear yellow badges to signify them as Jews? Which country was the first to carry out a pogrom against Jews. Which country invented the concentration camp?"

The answer is England to all 3 questions.

Sunday, 14 May 2006 - 2:49 AM BST

Name: O. Schindler

Fascinating stuff, thanks.

Sunday, 14 May 2006 - 3:34 AM BST

Name: Moron

"Which country first forced its Jewry to wear yellow badges to signify them as Jews? Which country was the first to carry out a pogrom against Jews. Which country invented the concentration camp? "

Fiji, Micronesia, and the People's Republic of Tooting.

Sunday, 14 May 2006 - 7:33 PM BST

The World According to Young

It's always 1982. Maggie is in power and always will be. War rages in Las Islas Malvinas where the red coats and their stiff upper lips are giving "what-ho!" to Johnny Foreigner!

Money is everything even though he doesn't have much himself and is never likely to have more than a subsistence amount.

If the red coats can't handle it then science and technology can conquer all else. Abiotic oil and uranium are the answer to all problems.

The world as it is today is the way it has always been and always will be.

How dare the darkies enter Europe!

Forget the fact that the first people to enter Europe were dark skinned.

Forget the fact that his diwndling breed of Anglo-Saxons are migrant displacers of a former population.

All relationships are transient. Bought with cash. Terminated "sans montre".

He will always be a poker genius. Nevermind savings. A pox on pensions. He will stagger into The Vic at the age of 70 to collect whilst others queue up at the post office.

Delluded, misinformed, a perpetual journey on a downward slope.

Tuesday, 16 May 2006 - 12:33 AM BST


I think that when you comment on Israel you should also talk about poeple who have different views than yours. An examle would be the Jews who are anti-Israel.

You can read about it here:

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