Don't Gamble with Your Data. How to Stack the Cards in Your Favor

Blackjack is a game that many people believe offers the best chances to win in a casino. Because it is a game where the odds of any particular outcome can be determined somewhat accurately ... if you have the right data. The best players in Blackjack do not make winning any particular hand a priority, but strictly make the best moves based on the probable outcomes, and the data they have through card counting.

If you played "basic strategy" in blackjack, you would be executing based on odds and probable outcomes, not gut feel. If you are familiar with the rules of blackjack you'll likely make the correct decision in this following scenario:

Let's say you are one-on-one against the dealer at the table and have been dealt these two cards: 10 and 6 totaling 16.

YOUR HAND TOTALS 10 + 6 = 16

YOUR HAND TOTALS 10 + 6 = 16

IF YOU HIT AND GET 7, 8, 9, 10, FACE CARD (K, Q, J) YOU WILL BUST AND LOSE

IF YOU HIT AND GET 7, 8, 9, 10, FACE CARD (K, Q, J) YOU WILL BUST AND LOSE

And the dealers up card is a Jack, value of 10. Do you Hit? (take another card) or do you Stand? (stop and take your chances and hopes the dealer busts)

The odds favor you taking a card.


Why? Because there are 5 cards that can improve your hand. Ace, 2, 3, 4, 5 (giving you 17, 18, 19, 20, 21 respectively) and only one card, a 6 that can really hurt you. That is because the cards 7, 8, 9, 10, J, Q, K are irrelevant because if you take them you bust (go over 21), but if the dealer gets them he/she gets 17 or better and you lose anyway.

So the odds are theoretically 5 cards to 1 in your favor. Even though the dealer's advantage is that you are going first, you must hit 16 against a dealer 10 or face card, otherwise you are basically giving your money away to the Casino.

DEALERS UP CARD SHOWING A VALUE OF 10

DEALERS UP CARD SHOWING A VALUE OF 10

Under what circumstances might you decide to go against these odds? If you happen to be a card counter and you've kept track of all the cards that have come out of the deck thus far, and know exactly what's left in the deck, allowing you to "predict" at a higher-level of certainty to go against the odds and conventional wisdom of the hand.

Ironically, this simplified blackjack strategy highlights how you might be gambling with your data.

Firstly, if you don't have reliable data , i.e. you don't really have a good handle on exactly what cards have gone before, or are still remaining in the deck, you can't be sure any decision you make will yield your preferred outcome.

Second, you can collect as much data as you want, such as the history of the dealer, the skill of your fellow players, the way the table has been paying out tonight, and even extrapolate that across all the tables in the casino, but that doesn't offer the relevant insight at this specific moment in time, which is what you need if your objective is to beat the dealer.

Finally, why does the Casino offer Blackjack as a game, if it's common knowledge that if you play according to the odds, you stand a chance of winning? Well, apart from the fact that it still retains the edge because the dealer gets to go last, and there are other esoteric rules that tilt the odds back in the house's favor, they know that most people don't have the knowledge, or the recommended action to take based on the situation.

Just like playing blackjack without reliable data, your business decisions are a gamble, regardless of the analytics and visualization tools you've invested in. Most applications and data warehouses end up operating on inaccurate data. BI and analytic tools still require you to sift through mounds of irrelevant data to find what you need. And process-driven apps like CRM, don't encapsulate the best practices or offer recommended actions of what to do given even the most common scenarios.

Reltio has helped leading companies stack the cards in their favor by showing them the Reltio Modern Data Management PaaS, with Data-driven applications to tilt the odds in their favor way. If you'd like to know more, contact us, and we'll send you an actual professional tournament deck of cards that could save and make you and your business a fortune.