Blackjack Betting Strategies

It’s reasonable to assume that the history of betting systems is just one day shorter than the history of gambling, which goes back to 2300 B.C. Since the early days, people tried various strategies to beat the house. Naturally, casino games with higher winnings odds, such as Roulette and Blackjack, where the main targets. Here we will review most popular blackjack betting strategies, analyze their pros and cons and explain how they can be used in Blackjack.

Before we start, two important things you should know:

1. Many players assume that if you are using a system, the specific game rules are not important – meaning there is no difference if you play a Single deck game or 8-deck, cause the system will protect you. That’s not true.  In either case, picking blackjack games with the lowest house edge is extremely important. Eventually, that might be the difference between winning or loosing your pants.

2. Naturally, using a system is frowned upon by many real and online casinos. Of course, it’s always important to pick the most reputable online casino, but it becomes 10 times more important while using a system. If a good casino decides to ban you for using a system, they will usually pay you your winnings. A bad one will just terminate your account with your winnings in it. The best way to determine the good ones is to pick a casino with the fastest cashouts and long history of operation. For them their brand name is more important than anything and they won’t risk it for few thousand dollars.

Now, we are ready to dig in…

Popular Blackjack Betting Strategies

Martingale System

Negative Progression System

Complexity: Very Simple

Risk: High

Paroli System

Positive  Progression System

Complexity: Simple

Risk: Medium

1-3-2-6 System

Split system

Complexity: Simple

Risk: Medium/Low

Oscar’s Grind System

Unique positive progression

Complexity: Medium

Risk: Low

Labouchere System

Negative progression

Complexity: High

Risk: Medium

D’Alembert System

Negative progression

Complexity: Simple

Risk: Medium

Flat Bet

Not really a system

No complexity

Risk: Usual

What is a Progressive Betting System?

The idea behind all progressive systems is quite simple. You adjust the size of your bets according to the result of your previous bet. How you do it varies according to the strategy you decided to use, but what’s common to all is that all your bets are predetermined (vs. increasing/decreasing your bets as you feel like it).

Progressive strategies are usually used on casino games which offer binary type of bets and wins: meaning if you win – your stake is doubled. For example black/red and odd/even bets in Roulette, and in the basic game in Blackjack. You can not use progressive systems on games or bets where the win is not constant, such as slot machines or various Blackjack side bets.

There are 2 types of progressive betting: positive and negative and then various combinations of the two.

What is Negative Progression?

The rules of negative progression are very simple: If you win – you remain with your original bet. If you loose – you double your bet until you win. Then your return to the original stake. That’s it. Negative progression can be seen as a defensive system where you “protect” your losses by betting enough to win the money back.

The idea is simple: no matter how long is your loosing streak – you will win at some point; so if you double the bet after each loss, when that win comes – you will get back all the money you lost +1 original stake.

Negative progression is the most popular betting system, but that doesn’t mean that it’s the best one to use. Actually, quite the opposite. The reason why systems like Martingale are so popular is that they are the simplest ones to understand and to use. On first sight, Martingale makes such a perfect sense that people are convinced they’ve found the sure way to bring the house down.

Of course after losing enough they understand the flaws and why eventually it will cost you money, sometime a lot of money.

Example

Let’s say that your initial balance is $100.

bet result next bet balance
$1 win $1 $101
$1 loss $2 $100
$2 loss $4 $98
$4 win $1 $102

Current balance: $102

Bottom line: You won $1 in each cycle.

The Flaw of Negative Progression System

Negative Progression System Chart

Negative Progression System Chart

The chart on the right pretty much explains it all. The vertical axis is your balance (starting at $100), while the horizontal is your bet size. Ask yourself what will you do on the next bet…

You can see, that as long as you don’t stumble upon a long loosing streak – everything goes well and you will be adding $1 (or 1 initial betting unit) with each cycle.

But once in a while, that unfortunate streak will come and then you are in trouble. Big trouble.

Here there are two options: you can run out of funds (as on the chart) – when you simply don’t have enough money to double your bet. Of course this is something you can solve.

However, what should really worry you is that you will hit the table betting limit and then there is nothing you can do. Is there a solution to that? Not really. You might move to high roller table, but once in a while even that won’t be enough. Obviously, such long loosing streaks don’t come often, but when it happens, you will loose all that you earned before and more.

Positive Progression – Pros & Cons

On the other side of the scale we have the positive progression systems. If in negative the idea was to defend your losses, here we are going into attack mode.

The basic concept here is that we maximize our profits during winning streaks while keeping the bets on minimum during the cold ones.

Therefore, what we will do is double our bet after a win, while keeping the minimum bet after losses (see the table).

Now, what is important here is that we set a point at which we go back to our original betting unit. The common one is after 3 consecutive wins. Of course, if you don’t afraid of some volatility and would like to be more aggressive, you can increase it a bit, but we don’t recommend going above 4-5 consecutive wins.

Pros

1. The main advantage of positive progressive strategy is that unlike the negative one, you’re risking pretty much the same amount as you would without it.

2. As you know, there is no system that is capable to negate the house edge, so in the long term, you will loose more hands than you will win. The good part is that here, it’s enough to get few 3-bet streaks to overcome dozens of loosing hands.

Example

Your initial balance is again $100.

bet result next bet balance
$1 loss $1 $99
$1 loss $1 $98
$1 loss $1 $97
$1 loss $1 $96
$1 win $2 $97
$2 win $4 $99
$4 win $1 $103

Current balance: $103

Bottom line: Despite loosing more times than winning, you ended up wining 3 units.