Betting Progressions and Blackjack

When playing blackjack you always want to go into playing with a playing strategy and a betting strategy. And while basic strategy is an easy to use playing strategy, not all pieces and parts of blackjack strategy are that simple. But some players think all parts of blackjack strategy should be easy. These would be the players who fall into using betting progressions, calling it a betting strategy.

Let’s get one thing straight from the start: betting progressions are not betting strategies for blackjack.

Think of this phrase: “Progression to depression.”

That phrase is exactly where a betting progression will leave you, not only in blackjack but in any casino game.

An example of a commonly used betting progression is a positive betting progression. In this progression the player doubles the amount of their wager each time they win, only returning their starting amount when they lose. Let’s say that you start out with a $10 wager. Here is what it would look like:

Round 1: $10, win, Round 2: $20, win, Round 3: $40 win, Round 4: $80, lose, Round 5: $10

The problem and the reason why players should stay away from any betting progression, positive or otherwise, is because you stand to lose in the long run. This is because the house has the edge. In the above example, the player won three times in a row. This is not a likely scenario. Yes, it can happen, but you are then betting on chance rather than the statistics of the game. Betting on chance is how you lose money.

In blackjack, your odds of winning are only 48% each round. This means that the likelihood of getting on a winning streak that is long enough to make a profit off of any progression is slim. A more realistic example looks like this:

Round 1: $10, win, Round 2: $20, lose, Round 3: $10

You would have won $20 in Round 1 and then lost that $20 in Round 2. Over time you will lose more hands than you win. Yes, basic strategy will help you to win more hands than you would if you played without it, but the house edge is still against you.

The real trick to winning in blackjack is taking advantage of money making opportunities, such as double downs. Betting progressions in blackjack are the sure way to lose money over time.

Your Bankroll and Card Counting

For players who do not know much about card counting—real card counting, not the stuff that they show in movies—there is pervasive idea that card counting blackjack players are rich and that they win every time which is what makes them rich.

This would be an inaccurate idea about card counting.

Now a betting system, those require a large bankroll due to their need to double and double and continually double wagers in order for the system to be used. Note that I said ‘used,’ not ‘work.’ That is because betting systems do not work.

Anyway. Card counting bankrolls.

The beauty of card counting is that you can use any size bankroll. No joke. You can play with $100 or $10,000. It boils down to what the table minimum is and how much you are betting per round.

If you are starting out with a smaller bankroll you need a blackjack table with a lower table minimum. That minimum will be you base wager. As the count swings up into the positive slowly begin to raise the amount of your wager. Do not jump from $10 up to $50. That is called a give-away. It is bad and it tips the dealer and pit boss off that you are up to something. Then they will watch you and watch you and put pressure on you until you either quit counting or they will escort you out.

The point is that you can start out with a small bankroll and slowly work your way up. You are not going to win every single hand in blackjack if you are card counting. But if you follow the count and subtly increase you wagers as the count goes positive, you can increase your bankroll. Being rich is not a necessity with card counting.

Blackjack and Betting Strategy

I have to admit I am sighing a little as I write this. I keep hearing about blackjack players who not only continue playing with betting systems, but that they also insist this is the best way to manage one’s blackjack betting strategy.

But there is one little problem with those betting strategies. I do not care if you are playing with a positive betting progression or a negative betting progression, they are still systems. And systems will in the long run, cause you to come out with less than when you arrived.

Think about this for a moment. A betting system totes the notion that it can overcome the house edge by allowing the player to walk away with a profit from blackjack.

But these betting systems are based on an infinite line of betting, meaning they do not tell the player when to walk away from the table. They are designed so that the player keeps playing and playing and playing. Without knowing when to walk away from the blackjack table anything you win you can lose. And with a betting system you can lose it very quickly.

Rather than using a betting system that has you increasing your wager without any guarantee that you will ever recoup your losses, stick to flat betting and set yourself a goal to reach in winnings.

Having a goal to reach in winnings will allow you to know when to walk away from the blackjack table. If you tell yourself that you are going to play until you have won $150, it gives you a stopping point.

And by flat betting to reach it your, winnings and your bankroll or more solid. Losing $20 in one round is easier to swallow and make up for than losing $320 in one round because your betting system’s progression has taken your wagering that high.

Betting systems for blackjack have their appeal in that they appear like a fast way to make your profit from blackjack. But in truth the flat betting as the basis of your betting strategy will make your bankroll more solid and steady, causing you to come out ahead. Think of it like the tortoise and the hare—flat betting is the tortoise and betting systems are the hare.