n How to bet
I’m going to look at the different ways that recreational players bet when they play blackjack and offer you my opinion on which way is best.
Always Bet Same Amount
A player who always bets the same amount is known as a “flat bettor.” Regardless of how much he wins and loses, he always bets the same amount of money (chips) on each hand.
This is a conservative way to bet at blackjack, but most players don’t find it very exciting. However, if you have a limited bankroll and you want to get the maximum playtime, flat betting is the way to go.
It’s easy to calculate your theoretical hourly loss when you flat bet. You simply multiply the number of hands you will play per hour (let’s assume 100 hands) times the amount wagered per hand (assume $10) times the 0.5% house edge (assuming you are using the basic playing strategy accurately), yielding $5. If you play a total of four hours, you theoretically should lose $25.
The big advantage of flat betting is that you decrease the swings in your bankroll, meaning you won’t win a lot nor will you lose a lot of money in each session. However, even though you will have winning and losing sessions when you flat bet, in the long run your losses will exceed your wins (that’s because the house has the mathematical edge).
Many recreational players want a little more excitement when they play blackjack so they use a betting progression, meaning they will vary their bets based on the results of the previous hand. Most players use a “win progression” where they gradually increase their bets following a winning hand (say from $10 to $20 to a maximum of $30). Anytime you lose a hand along the progression, you revert to the starting $10 bet.
First let me unequivocally state that any betting progression will not change the 0.5% house edge one iota. Moreover, when a player uses, say, a $10-$20-$30 win progression, his average bet is no longer $10 per hand. Yes, sometimes he will be making a $10 bet, but other times he might be betting $20 or $30 on a hand. His average bet will be higher (about $15 in our example); therefore, compared to the flat bettor (who only averaged $10 per hand), the progressive bettor will theoretically lose 1.5 times more money (about $38 over a four-hour session compared to the flat bettor’s $25 theoretical loss).
I don’t recommend that player’s use a betting progression because they will simply lose more money in the long run compared to flat betting. However, if you are hell-bent on wanting to use a betting progression, I’d recommend a very conservative one (like a $10-$20 progression). (Better yet, keep reading for the best way to bet at blackjack.)
Only Increase Your Bet When You Have the Edge
This seems like the logical way to increase your bets when you play blackjack; namely, when you know that you have the mathematical edge on the next hand. The question, however, is this: How do you know when the edge swings in your favor during the play out of the shoe? The answer is this: You’ve got to watch the cards as they are played from one round to the next and only increase your bets when you’ve seen a lot of small cards (2 through 6) in previous rounds compared to big cards (10, picture cards, and aces). If this sounds like card counting, it is, but before you tune me out listen to what I have to say about it.
There is, and always has been since the 1960s, only one mathematically proven way to gain the edge at blackjack and that is by card counting. However, most recreational players don’t have the time or energy to spend learning a full-blown card-counting system. What I’m proposing is a lot simpler and easier. Learn Speed Count or the Ace-Ten Front Count. You can learn either card counting system in about the same time it took you to learn the basic playing strategy. Moreover, get this: When you use them, you will completely wipe out your theoretical hourly loss by flat betting or using a progressive betting system and replace it with a modest theoretically win every hour you play blackjack. (Meaning, you will have the slight edge when you play blackjack.)
Note: You’ll find the details on Speed Count in Frank Scoblete’s book, Beat Blackjack Now, and the Ace-Ten Front Count in Fred Renzey’s book, Blackjack Bluebook II.
Henry Tamburin is the editor of Blackjack Insider Newsletter (www.bjinsider.com), Lead Instructor for the Golden Touch Blackjack Course (www.goldentouchblackjack.com), and host of www.smartgaming.com. For a FREE three-month subscription to his blackjack newsletter, go to www.bjinsider.com/freetrial.com. To receive his FREE Casino Gambling Catalog, call 1-888-353-3234 or visit www.smartgaming.com.
Author: Henry Tamburin
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