Casino - Chance

Seeking Veracity

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Blackjack

So here's something that I never thought I'd be interested in.  It's not the gambling, but trying to simulate what really happens when you bet on an outcome.  And, it started with a discussion about Blackjack.  Apparently, the only way to win at Blackjack is to count the cards so that you know the odds before betting.  This was cracked by a professor in New England back some years ago, but it needed some "administrative controls" to be successful.  That means assaulting a casino with a team.  All members would have their certain assignment so that when a blackjack table was "hot", and an observer member of the team had the count, another team member would come over to the table.  This person would start playing and unbeknownst to the other players or the dealer, would somehow receive the count from the first team member and begin large bets that would result in substantial winnings.  I suppose this was run successfully for quite some time until the casino management finally figured things out.  They watch the players very closely, went from one or two decks to six or eight decks to make counting more difficult.  When a player who had been sitting at a blackjack table and making benign bets would start to make inordinately large bets, it was a signal for the dealer and pit boss to have the person immediately escorted out of the casino and told not to come back.  So that's blackjack.

However, it's come to my attention that there are other approaches to blackjack.  One such idea embodies first, playing according to the best practices that have been widely published by those who have studied the odds.  But second, by paying attention to the win streaks and adjusting the bet amount, one might be able to enhance the earnings.  And third, by playing a great number of hands, sooner or later . . . if one has the stamina . . . favorable accumulated earnings will happen.  I really didn't believe these things, however, the second idea regarding win steaks sort-of got my attention.  So I set out to simulate Streak Betting using Microsoft Excel.

The resulting spreadsheet is constructed using the random number generator.  One can start out by specifying the percentage of Wins, Losses and Ties (in Blackjack this is called a "Push").  Then we just set the generator to work for a large number of sequential Bets, each of which is subject to the three possibilities (win, loose or tie) according to their set probabilities.  The spreadsheet is set for a $100 Unit Bet, 9% Ties, and 45% Wins.  These are inputs that can be adjusted to suit.

The Unit Bet amount can be set to increase with every sequential win.  If a loss occurs, the bet for the next hand reverts back to the original unit amount.   There are three win streak levels for which different increase percentages can be set.  The spreadsheet is set to increase each subsequent bet by 50% for up to 5 win streaks, 100% for 5 to 10 win streaks, and 200% for over 10 win streaks.  However, these are inputs and, for example, can be set for any percentage, even 0%.

The spreadsheet is set to instantaneously generate 500 sequential bets.  The accumulated earnings or loss is plotted as a function of the number of bets.  One can quickly see how your winnings and losses will change back and forth and how streaks play an important role in your luck.  The idea is that by betting up during a win streak overcomes flat betting during a loss streak.  To determine if this theory is really true, one would need to actually play Blackjack and collect a lot of data.  And note that a casino environment is a lot different than playing at home with some of the on-line Blackjack games available.  it is even a lot different than dealing out the cards at home too.  One consideration is that dealing from one or several decks of cards, the odds and the streaks obtained are going to be different that the perfectly random generator within Excel.  Card shuffling is not sufficient to result in random results.

Nevertheless, you can get a quick picture that simulates betting results playing Blackjack.  Actually, the model can be applied to any win-loss betting affected by chance.  Take a look at the spreadsheet and analyze the results by pressing the F9 key.  Then make some adjustments to the inputs and make some runs to see how accumulated winnings or losses can be affected.  Good luck!!!  Click here to go to the spreadsheet.

  
For those of you that would like to collect some Blackjack data either with playing cards or on-line simulators, the next page will provide some information and a link to another Excel spreadsheet designed to do just that.

 

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