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Geeks Do It Better: Blackjack and Math

Staff Writer 06/26/2017 Blog 237 views

Despite of what your high school experience may be telling you right now, math is your friend, especially at the Blackjack table where even the basic knowledge of counting can take you a long way. Not being popular and sharing the cafeteria table with the “cool” kids clique may seemed like the end of the world in high-school, but as it turns out, here in the real world geeks actually do it better – if of course by “it” you mean using theoretical knowledge acquired throughout years of formal education and directing it towards a more practical, profit oriented purpose.

And where best to do that than at the Blackjack table, where the skill of counting cards can reduce the house edge and turn it into dust? Employing skill and strategy more than anything else, Blackjack is one card game that is particularly appealing to the so-called geeks, mostly because it requires knowledge of probability and fundamental mathematics.

So, unlock your Memory Palaces as we go over the most important mathematical concepts every true geek has to master before robbing the house blind at the Blackjack table.

Variance and Standard Deviation

Many feel that this is no more than a politically correct term for luck, but true geeks know better and to them, luck is a laymen term for Variance. Defined as a difference between the expected result and the actual outcome, Variance can be easily illustrated with the following example: theoretically, if you play for 100 hours, winning $25 per hour (known as an Expected Value of the game), you would expect to end up with $2,500. Any deviation from that particular amount would be considered as a Variance, whether it goes over or below the expected result. This brings as to another important concept in Blackjack – Standard Deviation or SD.

Figuring out the SD of the game of Blackjack as well as its frequency and extent, will allow the players to predict their odds and make an accurate estimate about the winning chance within a particular hand.

N0 or N- Zero

This is something only hard core geeks are familiar with and the concept is usually lost on new players. N0 is the number of the hands necessary for the player to go through in order to get ahead of the SD. To get this number, the player has to stick with the same strategy and game rules as to not disrupt the evaluation accuracy.

Represented by a formula, N0 would look something like this:

N0 = Varience/Expected Value ^ 2

Certainty Equivalence (CE)

Certainty Equivalence is an extremely important factor if you are playing for profit and have a limited budget. CE helps the player determine the element of risk and expected win rate. If the total hand payout shows that the risk exceeds the positive outcome of the game, best course would be to retreat, instead of betting over your budget. Of course, this factor defeats the purpose of gambling, since most of its appeal is not knowing, however, if you are reading this article and devising your Blackjack tactics, chances are you are not much of a risk taker to begin with.

Clearly, there is a lot more to Blackjack than simply waiting for your luck to change. So next time you feel like bullying some unsuspecting nerd and handing out a few wedgies, just remember than befriending them can turn out to be much more profitable in the long run.

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