“Only 20% of the staff are squirrels,” Professor Plum said as he entered the mail room, “so I can vote with the 80% to stop buying macadamias.”

He read the mail. (More)

The Squirrel turned in time to see Professor Plum wink. Ms. Scarlet took Professor Plum’s hand and they left to join the resident faculty in the wine cellar library, where they’ll spend the weekend drinking thinking on our motto of Magis vinum, magis verum (“More wine, more truth”).

In the staff poker game, the Professor of Astrology Janitor was also pondering the percentages. He opened the pot by raising with the Jack and Ten of Hearts, and Chef called. He followed through with a half-pot bet when the Queen of Clubs, Eight of Hearts, and Seven of Diamonds fell on the flop. Again, Chef called. By now the Professor of Astrology Janitor was sure Chef had at least a pair, perhaps Queens. He was ready to give up his bluff when the Ace of Hearts came on the turn. Now any Heart would give him a flush, any non-Heart King would give him an Ace-high straight, and any non-Heart Nine would give him a Queen-high straight. Together, those were 15 of the 46 remaining unseen cards. Add the possibility that Chef might fold a pair of Queens if the Professor of Astrology Janitor bet with an Ace on the board, and another bluff was worth the risk.

Until Chef replied with a pot-sized raise. She clearly had a strong hand, perhaps an Ace-Queen for two pair. The Professor of Astrology Janitor was getting 2:1 pot odds to call, but he had a smidge less than a one-in-three chance to win. The difference was less than a single percent, but winning poker is about knowing and acting on such fractions. He sighed and folded his cards.

“Whew,” Chef said, flashing her two Black Tens. “I hoped you were still chasing.”

The Professor of Astrology Janitor began his plaintive mewling and Chef went to the kitchen to make Two Percent Cheater Pot Pies, leaving your lowly mail room clerk to review the week’s correspondence….

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

The media are too worried about the fallout for Republicans if the Supreme Court overturns Obamacare subsidies for states using the federal exchange. Ninety-seven percent of Americans aren’t receiving those subsidies. I’m a ‘no’ on voting to extend those subsidies unless the president is willing to sit down and work with us and fix the problems for that 97 percent.

In my district it’s even less. I can vote with the 98.1 percent. I usually win the election that way. The political influence of Americans who need Obamacare subsidies is vastly overestimated.

Austin in GA and Tim in KS

Dear Austin and Tim,

We applaud your brazenness, albeit not your faux-populism. We note that a January Kaiser Health poll found that 64% of Americans thought Congress should pass a law to restore the subsidies if the Supreme Court overturns them in King v. Burwell. The same poll found that 59% of Americans including a majority of Republicans said their states should open exchanges if that were necessary to continue the subsidies. We further note that an AP/GfK poll last month found that 56% of Americans want the Supreme Court to uphold the existing subsidies, while only 38% want the Court to overturn them. And again, the AP/GfK poll found a majority of Americans want Congress to restore the subsidies if necessary. We conclude that – unlike the two of you – a majority of Americans care about their friends and neighbors.

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Dear Ms. Crissie,

The Professor of Astrology Janitor miscalculated. Any of the three remaining Jacks would have given him a higher pair than Chef’s Tens, so he had 18 winners in the 46 unseen cards. With a 39% chance to win and 2:1 pot odds, he should have called. Also, how do I make Two Percent Cheater Pot Pies?

Calculating Breakfast in Blogistan

Dear Calculating Breakfast,

We agree that the Professor of Astrology Janitor had better odds than he realized. However, poker is a game of incomplete information and Chef’s raise signaled a stronger hand that she held. She was “bluffing with the best hand,” in poker parlance, and it worked.

As for her Two Percent Cheater Pot Pies, first combine a 16-oz bag of frozen vegetables in a medium saucepan with 5 ounces of diced chicken and cook over medium heat until the veggies are tender. Fold in 2 10.75 oz cans of cream of chicken soup and stir in ½ cup of 2% milk, adding salt and pepper to taste. Heat until boiling, then spread the mixture into a lightly-buttered 9″ deep dish pie pan. Separate a can of refrigerated biscuits into layers, spread them atop the chicken and vegetables, and drizzle with melted butter. Bake at 475° for 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are golden brown, then let stand for 15 minutes before serving. Bon appétit!

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Sources:

Austin in GA and Tim in KS; January Kaiser Health poll; AP/GfK poll last month.

Two Percent Cheater Pot Pie recipe.

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Happy Sunday!