Sunday, July 27, 2014

TMC My Favorite "Absolute Value Blackjack"

At TMC14, I presented three "My Favorites"  I have added a blog post for each.  If you have any questions about this activity, please tweet me at @aanthonya.

Absolute Value Blackjack

As a statistics teacher, I find it almost necessary to address gambling in my classes.  In fact, during my stats classes we sometimes have casino games!  Green felt tables, chips, everything except for real money.  This helps students to grasp the concept of probability.  All casino games are designed around probabilities.

I found that it generally accepted to do these events as part of statistical games with 12th graders since they are 17/18 years old.

Playing gambling games with younger students is a slippery slope so I decided to keep the rules of blackjack, but add in the idea that red cards are negative and black cards are positive.

General rules:
Play with standard blackjack rules with the added idea that reds are negative. Use the absolute value of ending hands for comparison.  A negative 18 beats a positive 17 because the absolute values of both hands are 18 and 17.  The dealer busts with a -22 or lower or a 22 or higher.  That simple.

You may add complexity by limiting the amount of cards to be drawn, or add in a twist like a "0" is as good as 21 or -21.

The problem with this game is the real probabilities go out the window, BUT it gets lower grade students to do mental math like maniacs!


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