Blackjack Bankroll Control

Yesterday I talked about how betting systems don’t work in blackjack. All they really have is the potential to seriously hurt your bankroll.

Imagine that you’re in a blackjack game using a progressive betting system that has you doubling your wager after you lose a round. Imagine that you have lost several rounds in a roll. You have the potential of having most of your bankroll on the line, with not enough left to follow that progressive betting system if you lose this round. You can easily go from making a $10 wager to one as big as $320 after six losses in a row.

If you are playing blackjack in a land-based casino you have another option. You can learn to card count. Yes, it does take more effort and practice than a betting system does. But card counting can tell you how much to bet and when. It can also, if you’re playing according to basic strategy, even out the odds and even possibly turn the odds in your favor.

Card counting helps you keep track of what types of card have been played in a game of blackjack. In the simplest counting system, the Hi-Lo system, you count low cards (2-6) as a +1, and you count high cards (10, face cards, Aces) as a -1. In each round you count the value of the cards that are played. Those cards are discarded at the end of the round and are then out of play.

If you have a count that goes positive, as in +3 or +4, it means that a larger number of low cards have been played; you have counted more positive cards. This means that there are a larger number of high cards left in the deck waiting to be played. So the chances of being dealt a strong hand or a natural blackjack. In that instance you would raise the amount of your bet since your chances of winning are stronger.

You would reduce the amount of your wager if the count went negative, indicating that more high cards have been played.

See how card counting offers a better gauge of how to bet and when? It’s more accurate than a betting system for blackjack at any rate.

Blackjack and the Problem with Betting Systems

Many times you will hear blackjack players swear by a betting system. And in most cases they’re wrong.

But first a betting system is not the same thing as a betting strategy. A betting system is a method that tells you when and how to raise or lower your bet. A betting strategy is a part of your blackjack strategy, and is used to control your bankroll.

The two most common variations of a betting systems are ones in which you raise and lower your bet based on whether you won or lost the previous round. These are progressive betting systems. They will usually work like so: you lose a round so you double your bet in the next round, and you keep doubling until you win a hand.

That is the progressive betting system that is based on a losing streak. The one based on a winning streak works the same except you double your bet win every time you win a round.

The problem with both of these betting systems is that they don’t work.

In blackjack, and this also applies to blackjack online too, is that you will only win 43.5% of the time.

So you sit down at a table for a round of blackjack. You have a 43.5 % chance of winning that round. So that round ends and the next begins. You also have a 43.5% chance of winning. And you have that same chance for the next round. And the next and the next. And so on.

And because the chance of winning is the same each round it doesn’t make any sense to rely on a betting system that doesn’t factor in that 43.5% chance. These betting systems are based on the premise that a previous round will affect the next round. And that 43.5% illustrates that previous rounds don’t have any influence.

And that is why blackjack players—those who play online blackjack or land-based blackjack—should avoid betting systems.

Online Blackjack and Card Counting

If you play blackjack in a land based casino it is to your best advantage to teach yourself card counting, and to become good at it. Not only do you want to be good so that your counting skills are more sound, but you don’t want to get caught either.

So you would think that card counting when playing blackjack online would be the most opportune place to do so. Nobody’s watching. No one will know. You could even open up your computer’s calculator and do your math there so that your adding and subtracting is free of errors.

But before you get too carried away imagining the glory and money to be had from card counting in online blackjack there is something you should know first.

You cannot count cards in online blackjack. At all.

Playing blackjack online means that there isn’t a dealer to shuffle the cards. For that matter, there aren’t any cards either. What you see on your screen is an image sent to you by the game’s software.

Because online blackjack is entirely electronic with no real cards, cards are not discarded at the end of a round. Yes, they fly off the opposite of the screen from where they are dealt, but it doesn’t mean that they are out of play.

Online blackjack can be compared to playing blackjack at a land based casino with a continuous shuffle machine (CSM). When a round of blackjack ends, the cards that were just played are returned to the deck, shuffled and then dealt for the next round. Since none of the cards are discarded and all are in play, it’s impossible to have an accurate count. And since none of the cards are discarded the rest of the deck can’t be rich in high or low cards.

The best you can do online is control your betting by betting the same amount each time. A progressive betting system might seem like a good idea here, but it isn’t because you can still run through your bankroll like you could at a land based casino. Stick with betting the same amount in online blackjack since you can’t count cards online.

Parts of a Blackjack Strategy—The Second Half

So now that we’ve covered the first half of what you need for a blackjack strategy, how to play to impact the house edge and your odds, let’s take a look at the other half—the money part.

The money part is better known as your betting strategy. This is how you control the flow of your bankroll. It has an impact on your blackjack game because blackjack is a gambling game. It’s because of the gamble that you need a playing strategy in the first place. So it’s not wise to overlook your betting strategy.

A betting strategy is used so that you know how much to bet and when to bet it. A fair number of blackjack players advocate using a betting system, usually a progressive one.

There are two progressive betting systems that are most often used. In one you would double your bet each time you lost until you won, then returning to your original amount. This one is designed to overcome a losing streak. The other is the opposite—you would double your wager each time you won, returning to your original amount when you lose. This one is designed to make the most of a winning streak.

But there’s one problem that both of these general betting systems have.

They both assume that previous hands have an impact on future hands. That if you lose or win enough you will make up for what you have lost. And there is no guarantee that you will win enough to cover your losses and still make money.

So what can you do?

What you need to know in order to turn a profit in blackjack is know when to bet higher and when to bet lower. And there’s only one way to know that: card counting.

While card counting won’t guarantee that you will win all your larger bets, it will let you know when the remaining cards are rich in high cards that are good for strong player hands, or rich in lower cards. If you know that the remaining cards are rich in high cards, you have a stronger chance of winning so this is when you bet more. And you would reduce your bets when the remaining cards are rich in low cards.

The other benefit of card counting is that, if you are using basic strategy (and you should be), you can even out the odds, and even get a bit of an edge on the house.

Yes, card counting requires more practice and effort. But is by far a better betting strategy than using a progressive system that isn’t as accurate and can cause you to run through your bankroll—which doesn’t really allow you to control the flow of your bankroll. Card counting allows you to control it and also impact the game at the same time.

Blackjack Betting Strategy that Can Work

I was thinking about my post from this morning about quitting early so that you can win more the next day. Specifically I was thinking about the part about the betting strategy.

Blackjack players will often try to find a good betting strategy. For that matter, so do most gamblers, but then a good many of them think that gambling is easy money. And they would be wrong. Gambling isn’t easy money. It’s a fun activity to do.

As for betting strategies and blackjack, the one I was talking about in my last post was the Paroli method. In short, blackjack players who use the Paroli method double their wagers every time they win. If they bet $10 on a hand and win, the next round they will bet $20. And so on until they lose, at which point they return to $10.

The problem with this betting system is that you stand to lose as much as you win. Using the above example, let’s say you have won five hands in a row. You would be betting $160 on round six. And if you lose, you just lost $160.

There is also a betting strategy in which you double your wager each time you lose. This one might be a little better because you’re doubling on losing. However if you wind up on a losing streak, you can run through your bankroll very very quickly.

There are many other betting strategies for blackjack. The one thing they have in common is the idea that they are an easy way to make money off of blackjack: do exactly as they say and make money. And you shouldn’t be fooled.

You betting strategy is just as much a part of your overall blackjack strategy as your strategy for how to play your hands is. And strategy requires practice and effort.

The best thing that you can do for if you want to use a betting strategy is isn’t going to break your bankroll is to count cards. Yes, it takes some time to learn this skill, and to become good at it. But if you can count cards you will know whether the remaining unplayed cards are rich in high cards or not. And when you have counted a deck to be rich in high cards, you pretty much know that those high cards are there—after all, the low ones have been played.

This is when you raise your wager because when you have a greater chance of getting or building a strong hand. And while card counting isn’t a 100% fool proof way to make money in blackjack, it is a lot more accurate than the Paroli and other betting systems. And you won’t run through your money too fast either.

Blackjack Philosophy No-No’s—Part IV

This one is kind of similar to the last blackjack philosophy no-no. You remember? The one about playing two hands at the same time. Yes, that one.

But this one is about outsmarting the game. Or Lacy Luck if you will.

Some players believe that if they quit after winning a little that they will have greater chances of winning more the next day. Yes. There are players who believe and play according to this philosophy.

There are no cards or computer gaming programs that will keep track of what you win. But the casinos and online casinos will of course. They want to keep tabs on how much of their money you’ve won and how much you’ve given them. But as for the game itself, no. Cards and blackjack software don’t have the ability to recall how much you won. Nor are they capable of adjusting themselves so that you will win more the next day.

And, no, Lady Luck won’t remember either. She has a lot of blackjack players to watch over to remember each and every one.

There is nothing that you do on one day that will influence how well or how poorly your games the next day will go.

The thing that I see about this blackjack philosophy is that it’s most likely used by progressive betting players. In fact, they’re probably using a system where they double their bet each time they win. Say, they’re betting $10 and win; the next hand they would bet $20. And so on until they lose a hand.

The reason I think a progressive betting blackjack player says to walk away when you’ve won a little so as to have a greater chance of winning the next day is that other betting systems double on consecutive losses; or players are betting randomly or according to the count of the cards.

A player who is building their money on doubling on their winnings will be concerned about stepping away when on a winning streak. Because if they don’t, they’ll lose quite a bit when they do lose.

But understand that there is nothing that says if you quit a winning streak early that you’ll do better the next day. The best that you can do is beat evenly or learn card counting and bet according to the count.

Keep an eye out for Blackjack Philosophy No-No’s—Part V

Word on Blackjack Betting Strategies

I’m sure in your time online, while either searching for a good online casino or looking for blackjack tips (always abide by basic strategy, by the way), you’ve seen multiple theories on betting strategies. And, I’ll be honest, I’m not a fall really of them. I rather like my card counting. However, that’s pretty much useless when playing online blackjack. So what’s a blackjack player to do?

Well, there is a couple betting strategies that we can look over.

First, let’s look at the Martingale approach. In this betting strategy for every hand that you lose you increase your bet by a hundred percent. The only time you return to your original bet is when you’ve won a hand. In other words, this strategy is aimed at trying to beat losing streaks. Obviously you need a large bankroll to handle this one though, which could be a downside to using this strategy. Let’s say you are playing at a $10 table, and you’ve lost the first nine hands. That means on the tenth hand you would need to bet $5120. And there’s no guarantee that you would even win that hand. Seems to me that in using the Martingale approach you stand to lose a fair amount of money—more than I would personally be comfortable with. And if your bankroll isn’t outstanding to begin with, you could have a short night in playing blackjack. However, there is a definite benefit to winning back what you lost and making quite a gain too. Let’s say that you won that tenth hand with a natural blackjack—your payout would be $7680.

Now let’s look at the Paroli blackjack betting strategy. Whereas, Martingale seeks to overcome a losing streak, Paroli seeks to make the most of a winning streak. This is accomplished by doubling when you win a hand, but you return to your original amount once you lose a hand. This betting strategy doesn’t require a large bankroll, which is nice for those who don’t wish to risk a lot. Using the same scenario as above, after nine hands you will have only lost $90. But, despite this method being safer risk-wise, it doesn’t seem to me to have the high yield potential that the Martingale method does.

Mostly it comes down to your own personal thoughts towards blackjack and gambling in general. Are you a glass half full or a glass half empty sort of person? Me, I will admit that I’m the half empty sort. I approach blackjack with the mentality that I have a greater chance at losing. I’ve heard that this is smart, as players who believe that they can’t possibly lose tend to be over-confident and lose more.

It never hurts to try both methods in an online casino’s free play version. This way you can try both methods and see which one seems to suit you better. I believe that if you’re willing to risk and the bankroll, the Martingale has a better chance of giving you a larger payout, even though the Paroli is a safer methods. But nothing ventured, nothing gained, right?

What is Real and Imaginary in Blackjack? Part V

Hello again. Are there more blackjack “rules?” Yes, there are more blackjack rules! But you wanted to know, yes? Yes. Then we’ll continue.

  • You’re a cheater if you see the dealer’s hole card and don’t say a word.

– No, you aren’t a cheater so rest easy. You did nothing wrong. The dealer did. Seriously. This isn’t writing off a heck of a tip-off on how to play. If a dealer is sloppy it’s the casino’s fault for hiring a sloppy dealer, or the dealer’s fault for not being more cautious. You have no effect on the dealer at all (this includes the magical third base chair too). Remember, no effect.

If you want to think that real luck is involved with blackjack, then this is it. Seeing the dealer’s hole card because of their mistake is a lucky break for you. Otherwise there is no luck in blackjack. There’s chance in how the cards are dealt, but not luck. The only luck is when the dealer messes up. And it’s the casino’s responsibility to run herd on their dealers, not yours.

  • You are a cheater if you accept a winning blackjack bet that you actually lost.

– Again, no, you’re not a cheater. This one also falls under “Dealer Sloppiness.” It’s the dealer’s responsibility to pay attention to whether you won or he won. If you didn’t and he gives you the payout anyway, you again, have done nothing wrong. You didn’t tell the dealer to pay you when you didn’t win. For whatever reason, the dealer is paying you anyway despite losing that round of blackjack. You do not run herd on the dealers, the casino does. And  a dealer who can’t pay attention enough to payout only when he is supposed to won’t be a dealer for long.

Now. Whether you accept the payout or not is up to you. This one isn’t like seeing the dealer’s hole card; once you see it, you can’t un-see it. A payout you didn’t win may be accidentally awarded to you, but you don’t have to take it. This one depends on your ethics. If you’re are comfortable in your heart by taking it, then take it—it was the dealer and casino’s mistake. If you aren’t comfortable with taking the payout, speak up, tell the dealer that, hey, he made a mistake. There is nothing that says you have to take the wrongly given payout. Accepting it is up to you and your ethics and your conscience.

  • Progressive betting systems will overcome the house edge.

– No. No, no, no. This one has nothing to do with the dealer or casino either. This one is all you. No, there isn’t a progressive betting system that will overcome the house edge in blackjack. It’s true that you might win more, but you can also lose more too.

Other than basic strategy and card counting, there isn’t a system that will change the odds. Progressive betting can cause small fluctuations in your bankroll but that’s about it. With an unlimited bankroll on their side, casinos don’t think twice about system players—other than card counters, they really don’t like them. The problem with a progressive betting system is that once you think you’ve found one that works, greed will rear it’s ugly head. You will think your system is unbeatable. Math will catch up with you and you will lose and lose big. And that’s how casinos have an unlimited bankroll.

You can’t overcome the house edge in blackjack. The best you can do is whittle it away to give you the best odds. Do so with basic strategy and card counting—but don’t get caught counting cards!