The Paroli betting system is yet another way of using progression betting in blackjack to make a profit. It stands in contrast to the Martingale, which demands a player chase losses by increasing their bet. In the Paroli system, the only time you will be increasing your bet is when you win. In this sense, the Paroli system falls under the heading of a positive progression.
The actual history of the Paroli method is a little bit sketchy, but the system seems to have originated in France. As a matter of fact, many blackjack betting systems can be traced to the work of a man named Blaise Pascal. Pascal was not a gambler; he was a mathematician. A friend approached Pascal for help in solving a gambling problem, and Pascal became one of the fathers of what we now call probability theory. The foundation of any betting system is essentially making decisions regarding uncertain events.
What the Paroli system proposes to do is remove the decision-making process by taking advantage of streaks. Winning and losing streaks are common in blackjack. They happen many times over the course of a blackjack session. Blackjack is also a game of decisions. Players must decide what actions they will take on their hands, and they must decide how much they will bet on each hand. In the Paroli system the need for decision-making regarding the size of your bet is eliminated because the system follows very hard and fast rules.
To begin the Paroli progression, players make a wager of one unit. All bets are doubled following a winning hand. Whenever three consecutive bets are won, the progression ends and starts over with a one unit bet.
Here’s an example:
We need to understand a few basic things about the Paroli system from the above example. First, in order for the Paroli to be effective a player must complete multiple winning streaks of three hands in a row. That doesn’t seem to be an outrageous demand. Surely a blackjack player could manage many three-hand winning streaks during a session. The problem comes from the fact that the player will also encounter many losing streaks during the same time, some of them longer than three hands. Second, the Paroli system is very simple to learn and execute. This make is popular with beginners. The fact is, however, that it is too simple to be effective at blackjack.
Using a betting system like the Paroli does nothing to reduce the house’s edge in the long run. In other words, there is no mathematical benefit to using the Paroli system such as the one found in the Kelly Criterion. All the Paroli does is seek to take the guesswork out of deciding how much to bet.
In blackjack, bet sizes are a complex matter. They cannot be mechanically applied, and the reason for this is because being successful at blackjack mandates that a player count cards and use basic blackjack strategy. Ultimately, the true count is going to determine your bet size. There is no accounting for this in the Paroli system. For example, suppose that you are counting cards at the blackjack table and the true count soars up to +8 or +9. This is the kind of deck you have been waiting for. With a deck this heavy you need to be making large wagers to take advantage of your chances of hitting a blackjack and being paid 3-2 odds on your money. If you are using the Paroli, however, you’re going to be locked into a mechanical bet size which only changes based on whether or not you win or lose a hand.
This is the underlying problem of the Paroli system and other betting systems like it. You may have noticed that the Paroli system is very much like the Parlay, another system which has players attempt to pyramid wins and play with their profits. The flaw in the Paroli is having the player double the previous wager after each win. This is known as a “Let It Ride” strategy. The bottom line of the Paroli system is that you are either going to complete the three-hand progression for a small profit, or you are going to lose the profits from two hands.
If you owned a business, how long could you remain open if you willingly gave up 2/3 of your profits on a regular basis? Well, blackjack is a business and in the Paroli that’s what you will be doing again and again. When it comes to seriously playing blackjack, the Paroli is a bad business model. Pass it up in favor of systems which increase the bet size by units, not by mandatory doubling.