🎰 Man Vs. Machine - Willamette Week

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About retailers offer video gambling across Oregon. The state is rare for its widely available lottery-run slot machines. Most states don't offer lottery-run.


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The Oregon Lottery today made an announcement that follows logically from Gov​. Kate Brown's March 16 order that Oregon's bars restaurants.


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A video poker machine dealt Justin Curzi a strange hand. He was close to getting a straight, which would pay $5 on a $1 bet. "I've attached a photo of a hand that was given to me in one of your Oregon Lottery machines.".


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ORLA is the only major trade association in the state that has defended lottery retailers since the introduction of video lottery in Oregon. ORLA staff have regular​.


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“They liked them so much, they started giving me some money for them,” Hewitt said. Her first stop after claiming her prize at the Oregon Lottery headquarters was Salem, Ore: Oregon Lottery today began the process of restarting Video.


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A video poker machine dealt Justin Curzi a strange hand. He was close to getting a straight, which would pay $5 on a $1 bet. "I've attached a photo of a hand that was given to me in one of your Oregon Lottery machines.".


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A video poker machine dealt Justin Curzi a strange hand. He was close to getting a straight, which would pay $5 on a $1 bet. "I've attached a photo of a hand that was given to me in one of your Oregon Lottery machines.".


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“the thick lady with short hair with a loud mouth and obviously drinks gave me the worst experience, I had gone to play video lottery and won fair and square.


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ORLA is the only major trade association in the state that has defended lottery retailers since the introduction of video lottery in Oregon. ORLA staff have regular​.


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The Oregon Lottery today made an announcement that follows logically from Gov​. Kate Brown's March 16 order that Oregon's bars restaurants.


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But, as Curzi later discovered, lottery officials guided Meissner to a different answer, so she revised her email before sending it. He insists he's not. That's why news reports two months ago that a Portland man was suing the lottery to recoup video poker players' losses struck some as ludicrous. Auto-hold, she wrote, "is based on optimizing the player's opportunity to win the best highest prize rather than simply increasing the odds of winning any prize. The Sept. That fee would have stopped most people. He would get his straight only if he drew a 3. The lottery encourages dreams of riches. Curzi wasn't satisfied. Curzi came across a Feb. But Curzi's lawyer paid it. Within 10 minutes, the game was again advising him to hold cards that cut his chances of winning in half. He landed his first job selling investments. Over the next month, Curzi built a spreadsheet to estimate how much money the video poker machines, based on the odds, should have paid out, compared to what they actually did.{/INSERTKEYS}{/PARAGRAPH} In a memo labeled "confidential" and dated Sept. Lottery officials deny Curzi's allegations. Some weren't. On Feb. But friends describe him as wealthy. The two teamed up and sold the program, cold-calling potential clients from Rio de Janeiro on an Internet phone line. Six months after his request, in August , Curzi received the first of five batches of records. Curzi discovered a survey of video poker players the lottery commissioned from Mosak , a marketing research firm. Documents Curzi received show lottery officials debated whether or not they should tell players the actual odds if they relied on auto-hold. The lottery responded on April 8, saying it would take 30 hours of staff time just to review the records Curzi requested. In Brazil, Curzi met an American computer programmer working on a way to help accountants share QuickBook files. The lottery's rules require "a close approximation of the odds of winning some prize for each game" and say those odds "must be displayed on a Video Lottery game terminal screen. It allows players to play faster, because they don't have to stop to think about what cards to hold before hitting the button to draw again. But the games are engineered to take your money. On this day—Jan. But Curzi went looking online, even using the Internet Archive search engine, to see if the lottery had ever made public the lower odds. A sticker on Curzi's apartment door showed a group of people heading one direction, and one person walking the other way. Please support the city we love by joining our membership program, Friends of Willamette Week. In other words, the lottery was backing away from telling Curzi auto-hold offered the best option. In another column, the document showed what the machines were actually paying out. Curzi—who played football despite his small size—also wrestled, played baseball and graduated near the top of his high-school class. Who would sue over losing money while gambling? Curzi says he just wanted a simple explanation. He played wide receiver at Amherst College , where he majored in economics and history. He made a copy of the originals, arranging one set chronologically and the second by topic. When you're playing poker around a table in real life, you're betting against other players in hopes of having the best hand. Curzi took out his iPhone and snapped photos of the screen and the machine's serial number. Bad Advice. Zollinger suggested a public records request might turn up some answers. Unlike slot machines, video poker gives the player a sense that strategy matters. The spreadsheet listed all the types of Oregon video poker machines by manufacturer, the millions of games played in one quarter of and how much money players spent. But it's not so simple. He used the break to study his hand—a 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 of different suits. He kept digging and made a second big discovery: Lottery officials knew about the discrepancy, and the auto-hold function on some machines was to blame. Each hand costs you 25 cents or more, if you increase your wager , and you win money based on a scale of how strong your hand is. The dealer gives players five cards. In reality, if you play long enough, the machines are geared to eventually take your money, no matter how many wins you record. Curzi had only hoped to understand how auto-hold worked. Draw poker is a game of luck, strategy and second chances. But auto-hold has a second, less obvious function. He was fascinated with the games—the ubiquitous, flashing terminals found in bars, delis and even pancake houses—and he played occasionally when out drinking with friends. Working on commission, he'd target an office building, climb to the top floor, then work his way down, knocking on doors. But in video poker, you're not betting against anyone. Friends say they are not surprised Curzi—who's just as likely to want to discuss North Dakota's fracking economy as the business model for Purringtons Cat Lounge —zeroed in on something as small and seemingly innocuous as a quirk in a video poker game. He took notes on his laptop in a file that grew to 4, words. That's why he filed a class-action lawsuit against the Oregon Lottery in Multnomah County Circuit Court, alleging fraud. Lottery officials, according to a separate memo, decided to put accurate auto-hold payouts on the Web. Instead, they found machines whose payouts were too low. In , he moved to Brazil and quickly immersed himself in the culture, teaching himself Portuguese within months. Curzi turned to Jay Zollinger, a lawyer who had helped negotiate the sale of Curzi's business. He soon climbed the monthly leader board. Here's how the video poker hand Justin Curzi got on Jan. {PARAGRAPH}{INSERTKEYS}Our need for strong and independent local journalism is more urgent now than ever. It actually paid out about 87 cents. Curzi thought the payouts should have been very close to what the game's programmers predicted. The lottery's response? They called the business Emochila —mochila means "backpack" in Spanish and Portuguese—and it blossomed to 30 employees. Still, the sense that a player can outsmart the game is part of its allure. He wasn't destined for a traditional job. Curzi grew up as a sports-focused kid in small-town New Jersey, the son of a prominent lawyer and a stay-at-home mom. His boss told him he was one of the youngest salespeople to reach the top. Curzi is aware some people might assume he's suing to make money. He knew his best chance was to discard the 2 and hope the machine dealt him a 3 or an 8 to complete a straight. That's important because faster play translates to more money for the Oregon Lottery. That would cut Curzi's chances of winning by half—and he thought it was terrible advice. He had instead discovered the lottery knew auto-hold sucked millions away from players—and players actually thought auto-hold helped them. Players then get a chance to discard cards in the hopes of being dealt better ones. Before he got a response from the lottery, Curzi returned to Quimby's, wondering whether the game's bad advice had only been a fluke. Marlene Meissner, a spokeswoman for the lottery, drafted a response. The game Curzi was playing, draw poker, allowed him to discard cards and get new ones from the dealer. He found no evidence it had. In one column, the document showed what various video poker machines, based on calculations of probabilities, were expected to pay out to players over time. Curzi explained how he believed the video poker machine should have given him the best advice. Curzi, 35, had moved to Oregon in from San Francisco after selling a software company he'd helped found a decade earlier. By September, Curzi had hundreds of pages of emails, memos and spreadsheets. Six days after his curious experience with the Jacks or Better game at Quimby's, Curzi sent a polite and inquisitive email to the Oregon Lottery. That led him to New York City after graduation. In , Curzi and his partner sold the company to Thomson Reuters in a private deal; Curzi declines to say for how much. Curzi—who friends say is intelligent, analytical and obsessively curious—launched a personal investigation of Oregon video poker machines that led him to conclude the machines were cheating players out of millions of dollars every month. But the machine suggested he do something Curzi thought strange: It recommended he discard the 7. Players can reject the suggestions at any time. Our readers rely on our comprehensive news reporting. He consults for private clients, provides microloans to entrepreneurs through the website Kiva and drives a Isuzu Rodeo "whose crowning feature is where a dog chewed the back seats. What caught Curzi's attention was a feature on the draw poker games called "auto-hold. A pair of jacks might win you your 25 cents back.