Klondike 2011

I still play Klondike Solitaire, but you’ll note there hasn’t been a peep out of me on this topic  in almost two years.

In my last 2009 post I noted that I’d achieved 50% win ratios but had then sunk back down to around 48%. That pattern has repeated itself several times since the 2009 post. I hit 50.4% today and had to check to confirm that’s a new personal record, though I’ve hit 50.3% at least twice before. It won’t last.

I’d also written that I had a new article on Klondike [strategy] in the works, but that I was putting it on hold. Now I’m just going to put it on ice.

The image below shows I’ve played over 3,000 games in the current “session” (and there have been others). So, if I’d been playing for a dollar a hand, I’d be about twelve bucks ahead. Not what you’d call a bell-ringer at the casinos.

Based on my own long experience, it’s my personal belief that Klondike Solitaire odds are close to exactly 50% if you do everything perfectly. I’ve been playng Klondike for the better part of 10 years, and I started saving off results in 2007.  It’s always the same old pattern. There is no mathematically possible way my current 50.4% win ratio has anything to do with a good luck streak or a bad luck streak someplace back in the past. If you start recording a new session, and win the first hand, that’s a 100% “win ratio” – but watch how fast it sinks back down to the same old 50% range!

I read a short story in The New Yorker the other week where the author wrote that he plays marathon Solitaire – a lot of it, like me. To him, it’s not about winning an individual game. It’s about the thrill of  getting on a roll and winning a streak of ten or twelve games in a row.

It is all much like surfing the Sargasso Sea. Once in a while you’ll get to ride a few gentle swells that roll in from a thousand miles away. And then it is over and you are in the doldrums again.

So it’s not about beating the house after all. It’s about relaxing, and maybe it’s about all the things you can think about while “wasting time,” like that book you’re trying to write.

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