Wednesday, November 10, 2004

My first introduction to Poker via Computer

The year was 1974. At that time my family lived in New Mexico. I was in the seventh grade.
I had blossomed into a good student 2 years before in 5th grade. I especially liked math and science.

At our middle-school they were running an experimental math program -- Hey, it was the 70's. The first half of the year everyone got regular seventh grade math. At the end of the first half of the year there was a math test. If you failed, you would get seventh grade math for the rest of the year. If you passed, you could choose which math class you want.

I passed.

The first 9 week period of the second half of the year, there were choices like Consumer math, beginning geometry, and Probability. I chose Probability. I already knew that probability was like the odds of something happening and I thought figuring out the math behind it would be fun. So we figured out the odds of things. Such as, in a room of about 25 people the odds of 2 people sharing the same birthday was about 50-50. We also spent class time flipping pennies and documenting it. My favorite part of the class was when we started calculating odds on 5 card stud poker hands without wild cards. We actually got to spend class time dealing poker!

The second 9 week period of the second half of the year, we got to switch math classes again. This time I chose "Computer Math". It was taught by the same teacher as the Probability class. He just happened to be taking a "Computer Math" class at the University of New Mexico that year and he struggled to stay 2 weeks ahead of us in his instruction.

For me the highlight of the class for me was when our school borrowed a dial up terminal from one of the high schools in the area and we got to use a computer first hand! The terminal itself was a DECwriter teletype terminal (no monitor - output was printed on continuous paper) with a built-in acoustic coupler (early modem technology) and transfered data to the mainframe computer at UNM at the blazing speed of 128 baud (roughly 128 bits per second).

I made sure my parents drove me to school early every day for the 2 weeks we had the terminal so I could maximize my time. The second morning on the terminal, I found where the games were. I played Star Trek, Tic-Tac-Toe, some kind of cannon game, a moon lander game, black jack, and then I saw it - Poker.

It was a simple game, you started with 100 dollars, ante was one dollar, it dealt you a hand, you bet or folded. If you bet, the computer compared your hand to it's own hand (it never folded) and you either won or lost the bet. I played this game during 3 sessions in that two weeks for about 20 minutes apiece.

I was hooked!


At Thu Nov 11, 02:35:00 PM 2004, Blogger SirFWALGMan said...

I do not know if I ever did the DEC terminals, although I remember most of the games you mentioned on PETs, and other old time systems. You geek! heh. Nice Blog. Keep it up.


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