We had a slightly lower turnout this month than last month but still managed to do some good maths. I dug out some Martin Gardner books and we worked on some of the problems within. We also had a go at some matchstick puzzles, and one fiendishly difficult puzzle involving interlocking plastic pieces that none of us could do. One of our undergraduate members prepared for his finals by explaining the finer points of graph theory to me, which triggered a game of sprouts.

The gamblers in the group worked on a poker problem; I can’t remember the finer details so I hope one of them will come along and explain it in the comments.

It has become something of a tradition to present the bar staff with something mathematical at the end of the evening, so we made another type of cube from the Origami Polyhedra book. Next month I might try something big like an icosahedron.

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The poker problem was “deterministic five card draw”.

All the cards in a deck are placed face up. There are two players. Player 1 picks any five cards. Player 2 picks any five remaining cards. The first player may then discard any number of cards from his hand and draw replacements (the discarded cards aren’t replaced in play, they are dead). The second player discards and redraws. Hands are now compared using standard poker hand strengths, if the hands are the same strength then the second player wins since they less choice. The question is which player wins assuming optimal play?