ARE MARGINAL HANDS WORTH THE EXTRA RISK? The Curious Case of A-2 vs. 5, and Similar Iffy Situations by Basil Nestor
Blackjack basic strategy is a valuable tool to help you win. However, basic strategy is not a one-size-fits-all monolithic sledgehammer. It’s actually a collection of intricate parts that work like a set of scalpels. Some moves cut deeper than others. Some actions are wildly profitable, while others simply reduce your expected loss, and a curious few are nearly inconsequential. In those latter situations, it doesn’t much matter what you do, and volatility becomes an issue. Should you risk gobs of extra money if those bets will barely increase your overall return? Consider a hand such as A-2 against a dealer’s 5. If you get this hand, be very pleased. Chances are good that you’ll win. If you receive the hand in an eight-deck game, your average profit will be $13.66 for every $100 you bet Brother, Can You Spare a Dime? Is that a worthwhile bet? Technically, yes. If you make the bet, the dimes add up over time. But really, it will take a loooooooooong time! You’ll see that situation and earn that 9.46 cents about 1 in 1,091 hands on average, or after about 18 hours of blackjack. That’s 180 hours to earn $1, or 18,000 hours to cover the extra $100 you risked on the first bet. In the meantime, volatility may nuke your bankroll. Or it may reward you. Volatility dominates in this situation because the bet is essentially a coin flip. The situation improves somewhat in a six-deck game where doubling A-2 against 5 is worth an extra $0.34 cents. Moreover, it really goes up in a two-deck game where a hit earns $14.59 and a double down is worth $16.92, or $2.33 more for the double down. There are more iffy hands like this. Let’s look at a few, and you’ll see a pattern develop. Consider A-4 against a 4 in an eight-deck game. A double down is worth $6.42. That’s only $0.35 more per $100 compared to a hit. In a two-deck game, the Then there are hands that completely switch depending on the number of decks. For example, in an eight-deck game, if you have a 9 that consists of a 7-2, against a 2, a hit earns you $7.35 and a double down only returns $6.56. Therefore, a hit is worth $0.79 more. In a six-deck game, the hit advantage over a double is $0.60, and in a two-deck game, the double down becomes more profitable, returning $8.64, which is about $0.93 more than a hit. Notice that reducing the number of decks from eight to two has a Selection, Selection, Selection Or to put it another way, your best basic strategy decision may be to pick up your chips and find a game dealt with fewer decks, a contest that pays 3:2 for naturals, and rules that allow doubling after splits. Game selection is crucial. Find a good game, and then apply an optimal strategy to those circumstances. Avoid the drag of starting with a mediocre game. Since this isn’t always possible, here’s a short list of borderline optimal moves that increase your profit by On the other hand, I’m an aggressive bastard, so my personal cutoff is usually 0%. By the way, don’t equate these razor-thin amounts (less than 1% As a point of comparison, here’s a typical no-gray-area optimal move in an eight-deck game: 7-3 vs. 5 - a double down pays $52.39 which is $26.20 more than hitting. See? Those are big chunks that knock down the house edge. The iffy list includes eight-deck and two-deck games when the dealer hits on soft 17. An asterisk indicates that the extra value is also 8 Decks Ace-8 vs. 6 - a double down pays $46.18, which is $0.94 more than standing.* 8-3 vs. ace - a double down pays $11.49, which is $0.87 more than hitting. 9-2 vs. ace - a double down pays $11.25, which is $0.66 more than hitting.* Ace-7 vs. 2 - a double down pays $11.59, which is $0.35 more than standing.* Ace-4 vs. 4 - a double down pays $6.42, which is $0.35 more than hitting.* Ace-2 vs. 5 - a double down pays $13.76, which is $0.09 more than hitting.* 2 Decks 7-2 vs. 2 - a double down pays $8.64, which is $0.93 more than hitting. 5-4 vs. 2 - a double down pays $8.62, which is $0.36 more than hitting. 6-3 vs. 2 - a double down pays $8.45, which is $0.31 more than hitting. Ace-7 vs. 2 - a double down pays $11.95, which is $0.06 more than standing.* Ace-3 vs. 4 - a double down pays $8.71, which is $0.05 more than hitting. Ace-6 vs. 2 - a double down pays $0.24 which is $0.02 Pick your best game, and then learn the intricacies of the strategy. And don’t be afraid to make adjustments based on your preferences. Remember that a mathematically-optimal move may ********** (c) copyright 2011 Basil Nestor
| |||||||||||||

©2015, DeepNet Technologies. No material to be copied without express permission of DeepNet Technologies. |