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The Dealer Checks
 

At most casinos, the dealers do not check hole cards under 10s. This practice was started by Howard Gross-man at Nevada Palace in East Las Vegas in May of 1981, but did not really catch on until started at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas in November of 1982. Before, dealers at all casinos in Nevada checked hole cards under 10s as well as under aces. Here is a reader's letter from 1980:

I would like to compare experiences with other players on the value of toking. I find that with the right dealer it is extremely useful to toke, perhaps especially on the big bets for oneself. When there is a 10 up it is very common for there to be an involuntary gesture concerning the strength of the hand. The eyes sparkle happily for an instant, the jaw tightens almost imperceptibly (oh-oh, better hit that 16), etc. If the benefits concerned only the toked hand, I guess it would not be profitable business, but they tend to flow over onto all the hands, at least in some cases.

This is a letter from Daniel Forbes from back when dealers checked hole cards under 10s:

I keep a website on dealers and their helpful hints. The coldest, cruelest dealer can change with a toke or two, if the toking is done properly.

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Before It tan End with Money, It Must Start with Money
 
For this reason, entrants usually don't know how large the prize pool will be in any given tournament. For events with several years of history behind them, it is usually possible to create an educated guess.

In some very large tournaments, the promoters guarantee a big number for first place. The World Series of Poker drew headlines for a number of years with its $1,000,000 first prize guarantee for the $10,000 buy-in Championship Event, until the number of entrants grew so large that the 2000 guarantee jumped to $1,500,000, and hit $2,500,000 in 2003.
The WSOP numbers have been growing so rapidly that now the promoters simply promise a first prize of a certain round and impressive size based on a given number of entrants. Barring some kind of economic upheaval, first place in 2004 will certainly be at least $3,000,000; I wouldn't be surprised if the number of entrants more than doubles in 2004, which will mean either a $5,000,000+ first prize or (more likely) much better payoffs to other high finishers."

A million bucks just doesn't buy what it used to.
 
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