by EricZalas » Wed Nov 13, 2019 4:25 am
=====================================================================Hello Gary Davis,
I am Eric Zalas, author of the Power Euchre five volume series of books. First allow me to address the comments of the person Dlan who responded. I have no idea who Dlan is and I can assure you that I did not "consult" with him/her during the 9 year period in which I researched and wrote the 1400 page Power Euchre series of books. I've had some conversations and email exchanges with euchre players but all of those engagements were very positive. I did have 105 people around the world complete my Euchre Research Self-Assessment (ERS) instrument. Maybe Dlan is one of these individuals but that is not a consultation. The ERS is a research tool - not a quiz Dlan -which identifies the trump naming frequency of players based on the baseline hands used to name trump in my model.
It is true that my analysis of euchre is very mathematical. As I mention in my books I consulted with several statisticians with advanced degrees and MBAs with an emphasis on statistical analysis. I have earned several advanced degrees. My research methods were validated by a team of experts. I have taken great pains to be extremely detailed in the presentation of data in my five volumes, presenting experts with more than 600 data tables of information to review. To date, not a single mathematician or statistics expert has reached out to me regarding problems with my data or analysis.
I would suggest that this person named Dian commenting below may be a terrific person and a wonderful human being but is simply ignorant in mathematical analysis. My model is simply a series of algorithms which dictate game decision making for three computer players. The biggest difference in the computer players is their frequency in naming trump. To really analyze the mathematical foundation of euchre one must use a computer model. I analyzed a total of 1.72 million hands during the writing of my five books. Approximately 300,000 of those hands were analyzed on my model to generate macro understandings on euchre. For some hands I gathered up to 55 different variables per hand. This type of analysis would be impossible to complete IF the data had to be gathered from real human players. Even in that case, which players would you select to analyze? Hence computer modeling is the only reasonable way to accomplish the analysis. Clearly Dlan does not understand this. That doesn't make him/her dumb, just ignorant of mathematical analysis.
When you spend nine years - close to 10,000 hours - writing five books and analyzing 1.72 million hands you are a very, very experienced person in the game of euchre and probably a world expert.
Much of my work on euchre was simply asking basic questions about the game and creating experiments to find the answers to those questions. For example, should you count on your partner to take a trick when you name trump? My research indicated that no other euchre book author, blogger or web site owner had ever considered such a question. I seemed to be the first. This is actually a very simple analysis to conduct which requires no computer model or "bots" as Dlan erroneously suggests. You simple play lots of hands and count how many times the partner takes a critical trick. It turns out that when you have an Ultra Aggressive Euchre player, who names trump at every possible opportunity, his partner only takes a meaningful trick to help win the hand about 40.9% of the time (n=2448 hands). This is the highest theoretical rate that a player can help his partner who names trump by taking a meaningful trick. Therefore this old-school conventional wisdom axiom - treated as the gospel truth by every euchre book, blog and website - is dead wrong. On average my partner helps me only 23% of the time to take a meaningful trick when I name trump.
I shared that story simply to emphasize that the vast majority of my euchre work is not related to my computer model but simply basic statistical analysis of card play. Anybody could reproduce my results.
Your original question was about my Z-Score system. The Zalas Score, or Z-Score, is simply my system to guide me when to name trump while playing euchre. I have asked four euchre book authors, "When should you name trump?" Every expert had difficulty explaining their answer to me. In fact one of my books discussed that the different experts offered, as I recall, something like 29 different answers to that simple question. Some of the experts even disagreed with one another's responses. So I analyzed this question to find the answer. My answer to that question is very simple: "I consider naming trump when I hold a hand with a Z-Score strength = 9 or higher." This question of when to name trump in euchre is very, very complex. Sometimes I will play alone from seat #1 with certain Z-Score 8 hands; other times I always pass with certain Z-Score 9 hands. Therefore experience comes into play - which is all explained in my books. Nonetheless, I compared my Z-Score system against two other systems (Perry Romanowski System and a system developed by a C++ programmer in Seattle) and analyzed the three systems in parallel against a long series of identical hands. The results of this analysis demonstrated that the Z-Score has the lowest variance and hence, is the best system. The Z-Score takes five factors into consideration when measuring the strength of your hand: bowers = 3 points; all other trump = 2 points; non-trump Aces = 1 point; void one suit = 1 point; void two suits = 2 points; order your partner then add the value of that card to your hand total; and order your opponent, subtract that card value from your total. A really experienced player can see that the Z-Score is not perfect because both trump bowers have the same point strength and we know this to not be true. However in euchre hand strength quantification systems one must trade-off accuracy with ease of use.
The system works extremely well. It takes me about 2 seconds to calculate my Z-Score. I have received very nice compliments from players in the US and Europe on how the Z-Score system has changed their game performance in a great way.
Now I only name trump about 17% of the time. I have never found another player who names trump at such a low frequency. In fact the average trump naming frequency for euchre players around the world is about 36% based on my ESA instrument. So the average euchre player is naming trump twice as often as I do. Nonetheless, I find this strategy optimizes my chances of winning. I typically generate 1.5 points per hand when I name trump and generate lots of euchres on my opponents as well as help my partner win when he/she names trump. My best performance ever was generating 1.68 points per pick over a nine game tournament. I've never finished worse than second in a tournament (net points winner) so the system works very well. As I tell my readers, I like to win. If naming trump 33% of the time would help me win more, I would do it. If naming "next" would help me win more, I would do that also. But these inferior, losing strategies do not work and the mathematics prove that very nicely.
I tell all my readers that euchre is a game - have fun! Enjoy yourself. I never tell players how to play the game. Play in the manner that gives you most enjoyment. What I do tell my readers is the optimal strategies and approaches to the game and support those conclusions with statistical analysis. I simply tell my readers what the data says.
I suspect Dlan may be one of those old-school players who likes to name trump on 35%-40% of all hands played, expects his partner to always take a trick, names "next" often, and never orders his partner to pick up a Bower. Dlan may be a person motivated by "instant gratification" and get a rush out of taking risks. I don't have a problem with that style and I love to play against players who play that style. Naming trump at such high frequencies is really an ego thing, a control thing. Some players "imagine" and truly believe that they are the quarterback, and the only way to win is for them to control the game and name trump with really marginal, thin hands. In reality all of these old-school strategies don''t work and in fact make you lose when playing against Power Players. It is difficult for players who have played euchre using these old-school, conventional wisdom axioms to accept change. As I have said many times in my books, you can win at euchre playing a loose, highly aggressive style by naming trump at high frequencies approaching 35%-40%. All you need to do is play against cognitively challenged players who play with the same style. But this style does not work at all against Power Players and I cite many, many examples provided by other euchre book authors who caution highly aggressive players to play much more conservatively when playing against a Power Player.
So in closing my mathematical analysis of the game is probably not for every euchre player out there. It's a game - have fun! My books are for really good players who wish to take their game to the next level, a championship level. If Dlan wishes to reach out to me I would be happy to patiently answer any questions to clear up his misconceptions regarding my work. I think that Don the owner of this site can direct you to me. I look forward to hearing from you.
Kind regards, Eric Zalas, MBA
Thanks Eric for the post. I agree with you that mathematics does play a huge role in the game of euchre, it's not end all or be all in everything euchre. Euchre is indeed a simple game at first glance. Calling trump, trying to make three tricks to score a point. Trying to make an alone hand to gardner 4pts. Or even the exciting 2 point euchre hand. Yes there is Five trick march with your partner for 2pts. That is always fun too but less thrilling then an actual set/euchre of your opponents.
With all that being said. As we delve deeper into the game of euchre, we find that there are many different variables in the game. I'm going to list some here now(mind you not all of them). The many variables which keeps making euchre an interesting game and often never the same situation. You may find yourself in similar situations but each situation depends on a lot of things......... Like, your opponents playstyle, Ie: agressive or passive. Players tendencies. When I speak of these I mean not just your opponents but your partners as well. All this information can convey critical information that you would take in for analyasis. Score is another variable in determining what you should or should not do, or what you may or may not do. As you mentioned there are conventions like calling next/hoyle to factor in. Eric you claim that it is inferior. At the inappropiate time it is the wrong call to make but it is also another factor, to consider to take in when making a call or non-call/order. I've just briefly touched upon some variables to consider. Conventions, opponents/ partners playstyle tendencies and score.
So what am I getting at, whats the point in my reply to you Eric? There is a lot of what you say above which I disagree with. Not just with the facts you present but the style and feeling you express it. It is your opinion and I respect that so I am not here to attack that. I am not hear to promote myself in anyway either. I am just here to offer other ideas, and thoughts to what you may not have given consideration too. There is more to the game of euchre than just mathematics and the point system you offer is another rule of thumb to play by or take into consideration just like anything else. Just like anything else any one thing by itself is not complete. For me, To be a complete player at the game of euchre one must consider and employ everything you have learned and be open to new information and data that comes your way via, either by your playing experience, other authors, other players experience to name a few. One must be flexible and not so rigid in ones game of play.
I hope to hear your thoughts about anything I may not be taking into consideration from the above post you made, Eric. Or anything I said, or you think I'm implying. Discussion and critical thinking I think is one of the leading factors in coming to understanding in things. Not just in Euchre but also in life.