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How to bet on a tossup
Charles Goren
October 19, 1959
The origin of certain popular terminology is often cloaked in mystery, but there can be little doubt of why an even chance is often referred to as a tossup. As to whether a toss of a coin is ever a strictly even chance—that, my friends, is an entirely different problem.
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October 19, 1959

How To Bet On A Tossup

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The origin of certain popular terminology is often cloaked in mystery, but there can be little doubt of why an even chance is often referred to as a tossup. As to whether a toss of a coin is ever a strictly even chance—that, my friends, is an entirely different problem.

Consider, for example, the case of the penny that has come up heads on 12 consecutive tosses. How would you bet on the 13th toss? If you are a mathematician, you might bet either way, knowing that previous events have no effect on the present odds. If you are with the majority, you might bet on tails, figuring that it was about time for the tide to turn. But if you are a realist you will bet on heads again, figuring—until convinced otherwise—that there just might happen to be a bit more weight on one side of the penny.

The expert's edge at the bridge table does not need to be much more than the ability to sense which side of the tossup happens to be carrying that little bit of extra weight. For example:

Both sides vulnerable South dealer

NORTH

[Queen of Spades]
[9 of Spades]
[7 of Spades]
[King of Hearts]
[5 of Hearts]
[King of Clubs]
[Queen of Clubs]
[Jack of Clubs]
[9 of Clubs]
[4 of Clubs]
[Jack of Diamonds]
[10 of Diamonds]
[3 of Diamonds]

WEST

[5 of Spades]
[4 of Spades]
[3 of Spades]
[Queen of Hearts]
[8 of Hearts]
[6 of Hearts]
[2 of Hearts]
[Ace of Clubs]
[8 of Clubs]
[6 of Clubs]
[King of Diamonds]
[7 of Diamonds]
[5 of Diamonds]

SOUTH

[Ace of Spades]
[King of Spades]
[Jack of Spades]
[10 of Spades]
[6 of Spades]
[2 of Spades]
[Ace of Hearts]
[Jack of Hearts]
[4 of Hearts]
[7 of Clubs]
[3 of Clubs]
[Ace of Diamonds]
[2 of Diamonds]

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