What is EV & how does it affect your bankroll?
Experienced blackjack and poker players mention expected value (EV) often, but what does it mean? Mr Blackjack shows how EV can be crucial towards measuring your long-term performance.
We hear expected value, or EV, mentioned a lot in poker, but it also appears in blackjack. All players should be aware of EV, as it helps you measure your winnings over time.
What is expected value (EV)? It is the long-term result of a decision based on a particular situation. In simple terms, it is the expected total you will win or lose when you play. The key thing to remember is that this is the long-term result.
For instance, expected value says if you played a hand 100 times and you made a specific decision, the odds state you would expect to win 40% of the time.
You should always decide with the highest EV, even if your gut tells you otherwise. Your decision should always be based on basic strategy in blackjack.
The math has already been calculated for you and will tell you exactly which decision will give you a positive expected value.
So, in practice: say you have 13 against a dealer 10. You have two choices: hit the 13 or stay on the 13. If you stay (we call this 'stay and pray' by the way), your expected odds of winning, or EV, is 32%.
If you hit, your chances of winning the hand go up to 36%.
Granted, this is not an excellent situation for you. However, you must make the proper decision based on the expected outcome of not only this hand but the next 100 hands like this.
And if you play consistently using basic strategy, the math will even out and make you a winning player.
To put this into perspective: if across 100 hands you are betting $20 per hand and you are making choices that reduce your EV, it can change your odds by 7.5% on average, depending on the situation.
Over the 100 hands played, you will win some because you got lucky, and you will lose hands for the same reason. But the math always evens out in the long run, and those bad decisions you make will cost you $150 more on average than if you would have played correctly.
You're probably wondering why we should care about expected value. Casinos do because it is how they make their money.
If you don't use any basic strategy or card counting, the casino's advantage is just over 50% in blackjack. So, if you go to the casino and get lucky at the tables at first, the casino won't mind.
They know you'll keep playing in hopes of winning more, and eventually, they will win back any money they initially lost in the long run.
If you're using basic strategy and card counting, you can reverse the casino's edge in your favor. Expected value will tell you how much you can win in the long run, depending on your skill. This is why all skilled blackjack players need expected value.
What this lesson covers
- What expected value is
- How this metric works
- - how EV can help you make smarter decisions in blackjack
Meet Mr Blackjack
With a career spanning two decades, Mathieu Blake knows his way around a blackjack table. He's taught and entertained over 100,000 subscribers on his YouTube channel NeverSplit10's . In this series he'll take you through basic strategy, card counting, and bankroll management. Take a seat with Mr Blackjack and become a winning player.
- Does expected value measure my short-term results?
The decisions you make in the short term contribute towards your expected value, however this metric focuses on the long-term results of your decision-making.
- How do I find my expected value?
Multiply the probability of an event happening by the number of times the event happens.
- Do casinos use expected value in blackjack?
Yes, casinos use expected value to determine how much money they will make off of players in the long run depending on the blackjack odds of the game.
- Do any casino games have a positive expected value for players?
Casinos design their games to have a negative expected value for players. There are ways in some skill-based casino games though where players can reverse this. In blackjack, applying perfect basic strategy and card counting can give you a 1% edge over the casino and subsequent positive expected value.
- What casino games will give me the best odds of winning?
Look for casino games that require some skill, like blackjack, poker, or craps. These games have some skill or strategy you can use to increase your chances of winning. Our blackjack odds guide shows which games have the best and worst odds for players.
- Is expected value the same as mean then?
Expected value measures the average you expect to appear before you collect any data, and is applied to probability. Mean calculates the average of a collected sample of data.
- What games have the most positive expected value for casinos?
Casino games based on luck and high volatility, like slots, give casinos the highest positive value.