Maximizing Your Daily Expected Value
What is it, really, that makes the difference between success and failure in online casino blackjack?
Many would be tempted to call it luck…
… but that’s an amateur’s response!
Of course there are plenty of more serious answers out there.
Some might say it comes down to strategy. A player who knows the right moves to make (and when to make them) will always stand a far better chance than one who is shooting from the hip.
A more detail-oriented player might suggest that winning blackjack depends on altering one’s play style depending on the composition of the deck. This strategic approach – which requires above-average card counting skills – can absolutely have a big impact on a player’s bottom line!
Still others will insist that, while the above factors are important, they’re completely useless without the wherewithal to stay cool and keep your emotions in check so that you can stick to advantage play when it matters most.
All of these are legitimate answers to what is perhaps blackjack’s most important question.
We’d like to suggest an alternative approach, however. From where we’re sitting, the most important factor is clear: daily expected value (EV).
All About EV
What is EV all about, anyway?
Simply put, EV indicates what will happen if a player makes a given choice countless times, rather than just once.
For example: suppose you place a $1,000 bet at the tables, are dealt a hand with a value of 20, and the dealer shows a 6. This is promising situation! Most of the time, you’ll walk away $1,000 richer. Once in a while, however, the dealer will get lucky and draw to 20 (result: a push) or to 21 (result: you lose).
You’ll likely only be in this situation once, and you can’t possibly know the outcome!
But suppose you were to play it 1,000 times in a row. What would happen then?
Well, we’ve run the numbers. Here’s what they say:
- 97 times, the dealer gets a 21. (You lose $97,000)
- 102 times, the dealer draws to 20. (Push)
- 801 times, the dealer draws to 19 or lower, or busts. (You win $801,000).
Combining these results, simple subtraction reveals that, in 1000 identical hands, you would win $704,000.
Or, to put it another way, you can expect to win an average of $704 each time this situation arises.
Still another way: this game situation has an EV of +70.4%.
Daily Expected Value
As the above showed, a game situation can be analyzed to reveal its EV.
But so can a given table…
… or even a given player!
For example, if a gambler sits for 100 blackjack sessions and wins a total $5,000, then their daily expected value is +$50.
With that understood, it should come as no surprise that the key to sustained blackjack success is maximizing daily EV.
What, you ask, are the most important factors for maximizing daily EV at the blackjack tables?
First Factor: Game playability
While serious blackjack players love to scour the gaming world to find the most player-friendly tables available, but game playability isn’t as directly tied to house rules and deck penetration as you might think. The question is simply: is this game good enough for me to play?
This depends on many factors, not in the least the size of a player’s bankroll. (Many more tables will be playable for someone who can bet $500 a hand than for a gamer who can only afford $5 per hand.)
in this gambling environment, there is just no excuse to play tables that aren’t of sufficient quality.
Second Factor: Heads-Up Play
The importance of heads-up play is difficult to overstate. If you’ve been betting the minimum for hours, waiting to finally see that player-friendly count, and are finally read to open up and expose yourself to the maximum risk level, would you rather 60 rounds in that hour, or 180?
By playing at full tables, advantage players might be cutting their hourly win rate by 2 or even 3.
It doesn’t have to be a truly heads-up game, but we strongly advise saving your ammunition for when the tables are not jam packed.
In a similar way, it’s crucial to wong out of negative shoes in favor of freshly-shuffled ones. Why? Though it won’t significantly change your edge, it will make a huge difference in terms of time.
Remember that the goal is not only to win as much money as possible, but to maximize the win rate per day, even win rate per hour. With this in mind, it’s madness to sit betting hand after hand into a deck that has no chance of rebounding. When the count is low, just pick up your chips and move!
Factor Three: Tolerance
For advantage players, tolerance is the single most important external factor. If the casino is going to stop play the moment the count tilts your way, then it doesn’t matter what the house rules are – any game becomes unplayable.
Likewise, an extremely tolerant casino is highly playable, almost regardless of the table rules. Not only is this because it’s easier to take full advantage when the count turns your way – it also means you can play longer sessions, take frequent breaks, and avoid having to travel from one casino to another. What’s more, those longer sessions often lead to better comps. These kinds of things make a huge difference in daily EV!
Factor Four: the SCORE Multiplier
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