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Star Trek: The Next Generation - Data Is a Bad Blackjack Player
In the episode "Casino Royale", the crew arrive at a recreation of an old casino as described in a novel left behind by an ancient astronaut. Mr. Data comes across a lady playing blackjack, and the lady has a 12 (ten, 2) against a dealers face-card. When the lady asks for advice on her hand, Data says "The odds favor standing."
As any mildly seasoned blackjack player would know, this is *such* a horrible play as to defy description, and pretty much deflates all credibility of Data as being halfway intelligent. It is on the order of Data not blocking a potential winning play by his opponent at tic-tac-toe, or throwing away a piece for free in a chess game.
PS for completions sake, BJMATH.COM gives the expected values for T,2 v T as -37.29% for hitting and -54.028% for standing in a standard 4 deck shoe game.
Special Requirements:
Knowledge of blackjack strategy
Avg. Rating:    5.7 of 10 - (76 votes cast)
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Contributed By:
GravyTrain on 12-01-2000
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GravyTrain writes:
I *knew* someone would mention this :) and I should have added this in advance. Without going into too much detail about card-counting, suffice it to say that there are some plays which are never correct to do, regardless of the "count" (such as doubling down hard 14 against an ace, or standing on hard 5 against anything). It's kind of like trying solve the equation X^2 = -1 for some real number X. Rest assured that, among all the various counting systems in the universe, standing on 12 vs 10 is never correct. How can I be so certain? Card-counting involves giving each card a value based on the "effect of removal" (how much your chances improve or worsen based on the removal of one card). Removing 10's and aces worsen your chances (so they are given negative values). Removing 2's through 6's increase your chances (so they are given positive values). The simple one above (Hi/Lo) has values of -1 for 10,J,Q,K and A, and values of +1 for 2,3,4,5 and 6. Some more complex one's take into account the extra impact of the 5's and aces (giving them values of +2 and -2) and some further incorporate the minor changes of the 7 and 9, giving you something like: 2= +1; 3=+2; 4=+2; 5=+3; 6=+2; 7=+1; 8=0; 9=-1; Face = -2; Ace = -2. Notice that, even as you get really complex, the 8 is given a 0. That's because 8's are almost exactly as helpful to the dealer as to the player (their "effect of removal", to 3 decimal places, is 0.000 :) So, no counting system in the world gives you any information about how many 8's are left, since they aren't "reckoned." In 12 vs 10, the 8 is such a critical card. Not only does it give you a 20 if you hit, but it gives the dealer an 18 if he gets it (which, if you make your hand, is much easier to beat than a 20). Since the # of 8's remaining plays such a critical role, the correlation of the count to the play is very weak, since (as mentioned) it contains no information about the number of 8's. Therefore, no matter what the count, we never vary from the strategy of hitting. Analogously, when using the Hi/Lo system (which contains no information about the # of 7's in the deck either), it is never correct to stand on 14 against a 10, for similar reasons. **** Besides, when Data comes to the table, he has only seen those three cards (the two tens and the 2). Suffice it to say, even with those cards removed, the odds still favored hitting :)
10 of 14 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
mortystouffer writes:
Actually, its "The Royale" not Casino Royale, and its a hotel.
4 of 4 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
GFiendish writes:
Re: Data's Card "Counting?" Not according to the strategies I know for playing blackjack! Data would have to work out the values of approximately 210 cards (52 cards * 5 decks (the usual number of cards in a standard card "Shoe")- the number of cards already played)for him to make a accurate estimate of probablity! Note:Casinos take a VERY dim view of this,as this is counted as cheating, and casino security would be down on Data like a ton of bricks! Also note the casino is in the Royale Hotel, therefore it MAY be with the bounds of the management to call it the "Casino Royale !" (Just as long as a load of people calling themselves "James Bond 007", don't turn up & cause trouble by trashing the place in a climatic comedy fight! Especially Jimmy Bond, who as Dr.Noah has just swallowed a little pill, along with his vintage, rain cooled, Tattinger Champagne, which contains 400 little time-fused nuclear bombs!!! Heh! Heh! Heh! Or should it be Oops?
2 of 3 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
ReVeLaTeD writes:
I don't really consider this a "Slip up" per se, more like bad scripting. Without needing to go into detailed math, common sense can tell you that Data's judgement is somewhat flawed, ONLY BECAUSE of what the dealer is showing. However, his judgement was based on what she had showing. In the dealer's case, the only way he could have lost would be to pull anything less than face card value (10) and then take another card. To pull another card, she was already in the doghouse, because all she'd have to do is pull anything greater than 9 (which is, in a standard deck of cards, 16 different possibilities out of 52) to bust. To hold with 12 puts the heat on the dealer. If the dealer would have pulled a 7, he would have had to pull again, increasing chances of busting. If the dealer pulled a 2, he'd have to pull again, same thing as the girl. To bottom line the above into one sentence, with those two hands, the odds favored her taking a hit and chancing getting a 9 or less. Her chance of doing that were high. 36/52 vs 16/52 - yeah, she should hit.
1 of 1 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes
Evilmeteors writes:
Maybe Data had been counting cards, in which case maybe the odds DID favor standing :)
5 of 10 people found this comment helpful. Did you? Yes

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