Over dinner my teenage son asked if people realized that using proper strategy would win in the long run.
I had to explain to him that while they have a better chance of winning using expert strategy over some others, for most games players will still lose in the long run. He was a bit shocked to hear this.
"Even blackjack?" he asked. I told him that blackjack has a payback of 99.5 percent and any number below 100 means that the player will lose in the long run.
So, if my son who has heard much gaming talk in his life doesn’t fully understand it, I’m guessing there are many people who still don’t quite get it either. So, let me clear up any misconceptions.
Expert Strategy does not mean you’re going to win. There are no guarantees of winning. Period. Expert Strategy means playing the game so that you maximize the expected payback of the game. Unfortunately, in almost all cases, this payback is still below 100 percent and that means the player will lose in the long run.
About the only game in the casino that has a payback of over 100 are a handful of video poker machines. In this case, the more the player plays, the more likely he is to make money and more of it. No strategy can alter this simple law of probabilities.
The longer one plays the more likely he is to find himself playing at the theoretical payback. If that payback is below 100, it means he is more likely to lose. If the payback is over 100, it means he is more likely to win.
This, of course, does not mean that once a game is below 100 percent, the experience will be the same. If you play a 98 percent game, not only are you more likely to lose in the short run, but as you approach the long run, you’re that much more likely to be losing. And the loss is that much more money, relative to playing a 99.5 percent game.
It should also be noted that the difference between playing a 99.99 and a 100.01 is not like night and day. While, technically, a player can expect to lose in the long run with the former game and win with the latter, it will take a long time before there is a noticeable difference in returns.
So, if Expert Strategy doesn’t guarantee to make you a winner, what is the point? Expert Strategy allows you to maximize the payback of the game. In the case of a game with a payback below 100, it means that you will have a greater chance to win in the short run and lose less (and potentially far less) in the long run.
In the case of a game with a payback above 100 percent, not only might it increase how much you win, but could make the difference between winning and losing in the long run.
If you play a video poker machine that with Expert Strategy plays at 100.6 percent, but because of the strategy you choose to play (it only plays at 99.4), then you’ve turned your winner into a loser by not using Expert Strategy.
Expert Strategy may not make you a winner, but it should make you lose less and give you a much better chance to win in the short run. This is about as much as I can promise. No false promises about guaranteeing to make you a winner. No one should be able to make you that promise unless they know how to change the basic laws of math.
My teenage son celebrated his birthday by passing his driver’s license exam. In life like our favorite games, without struggle there is no progress.
Question? Comment? E-mail me at: Elliot Frome
You can also try out your strategy by playing our video poker game.