IMPACT OF PLAYING OPTIONS
ON HOUSE EDGE
By Alan Krigman
Alan Krigman, and his poetic sidekick Sumner A. Ingmark, has been illuminating the dark recesses of casino gambling for more than a dozen years. Mr. Krigman is especially well known for sharing his insights into the mathematics underlying the various games (including blackjack), the influence of volatility and skewness as well as edge on bankroll during the course of a session, and the impact of betting as well as decision strategies on expected performance. A searchable archive of Mr. Krigman's prose and Mr. Ingmark's muse is online athttp://www.iconworldwide.com/winningways/search.php.
Highly-informed blackjack buffs know the precise house edge they fight by following the rigorous basic playing strategy. When the rules allow doubling down on any two cards, resplitting to as many as four hands, and doubling after splitting, the house edge is only 0.402225 and 0.429881 percent for six- and eight-deck games, respectively. The edge arises simply from wins by the house when the player and the dealer both bust. But, what do the values mean in a practical sense?
Technically, per $100 booked, the casino bosses earn an average of just over $0.40 in the above six-deck game and a bit under $0.43 in the eight-decker. And solid citizens lose this amount, also on the average, per $100 wagered. But the juice tends to be invisible partly because the amounts are small compared to money won or lost. And partly because the figures are averages and apply indirectly to round-by-round results for any individual.
It may be more intuitively rewarding to know the likelihood of coups when players are favored based on their initial hands and the dealer's upcard. Excluding "nonplayable" rounds, where the dealer has a blackjack, the prospect of winning is...
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