A Player 16 vs Dealer 10 doesn’t really have the expected value until we take into account what the player is going to do. If he sticks to 16 then the hand has one expected value. If he hits her, then there’s something else. And, if he gave up, it would happen again. This is how we decided how he should play his hand. We review the Expected Value of each option and select the option that gives us the highest expected value.
Why? Well, I think that’s pretty straightforward. The hand is a clunker. In the long run, it’s a definite losing hand. But if you have the choice to play it then you will get back 50%, 55% or 60% of your money, which one would you choose? I know I’ll be using the 60% one. Getting $ 3 back from my $ 5 bet is better than getting just $ 2.50 back!
In my situation, these three options are about the only ones that can be taken with Hard 16 vs Dealer 10. In blackjack, it’s about how many options you generally have – you can press, paste, double, split or give up. Most of the time, at least one will obviously not apply. You wouldn’t use Soft 15. (Although we’ve all probably seen someone do it!)
In video poker each hand has 32 different ways that they can theoretically be played. Starting from holding zero cards to holding all five cards. When you hold all five, it means you have a clap of hands and the expected value is somewhat straight forward. If you are dealt a Straight Card your EV is 4.00 as a Straight Card that pays 4.
If you hold three cards because you have Journeys, the calculations get a little more complicated. For many video poker hands, what to hold is clear, as is the decision in blackjack. But for a large number of hands, you have two or three realistic options. When this happens, we need to move to the expected value to tell us what to do.
More on this in two weeks! I recently learned March 2nd is Blackjack Day. Why? Because it’s 3/2 and this date was chosen to honor a 3-to-2 payout for blackjack which has become very rare. So, next week, I’m going to have a special column on this topic.