Sep 16, 2000
TOM: Is the Fall Puzzler Season Officially Launched?
RAY: Well, not quite. This is actually a pre-season warm up puzzler. It's my first at-bat of the season, so to speak. Don't expect any home runs.
TOM: A walk would be okay.
RAY: Thanks. Here it is. My wife and I were sitting at the kitchen table the other day, when she notices a deck of cards. It was from the night before, when I was teaching the boys how to play poker -- trying to win back some of the money they keep borrowing from me.
She says, "I'd like to learn how to play poker. Will you teach me?"
So, I say, "Sure." I explain to her the ranking of the hands, how a royal flush is the best hand... going all the way down to the lowly deuce--and the lowest hand one could have, which is no pairs.
I've got all the cards face up on the table and she says, "Let's play a game. You pick five cards and I'll pick five cards, and let's see who has the best hand.
I say, "That's pretty stupid. I'm going to pick a royal flush and you're going to pick a royal flush, and we're going to be tied."
"Let's play this way," she says, "After you pick your cards, and after I pick mine, you can throw away as many cards you want, up to and including five. And you can replace them all or replace any number of them you like. I'll go first, and I'll beat you."
My wife picks five cards... and she beats me!
What hand did she draw?
RAY: Well, I think the only hand that guarantees her a winner --
TOM: Is to pick four tens.
RAY: Four tens.
RAY: If she picks four tens, no matter what I pick, she will always wind up with a better hand, because she can get a ten-high straight flush, and the best I can do is a nine-high straight flush - a straight flush beating four of a kind. So, if she picks four tens and I pick four aces, four aces loses to ten, nine, eight, seven, six of, say, hearts, for example.
TOM: Yeah. And it's not possible for you, knowing that that's what she's going to do.
RAY: Well, she does it first.
TOM: ...to prevent her from getting, so she picks the four tens, and you see her do that, right?
TOM: Why don't you pick...
RAY: So, I can go ahead and pick the nine of clubs, the eight of spades, in which case, if I do that...
TOM: If you do that, then she cannot get a ten-high flush, straight flush.
RAY: Yeah, but neither can you.
TOM: Neither can you.
RAY: Yeah. So she wins. I think that's the only, I may be wrong, but I think that's...
TOM: Where did you get this Puzzler? Did you make it up?
RAY: I don't remember.
TOM: You don't remember, my foot! You stole it! You know you did! It's very good, though.
RAY: So, do we have a winner?TOM: Yeah. The winner is Lee Arlger from Milwaukee, Wisconsin.