It is just as important to manage your money properly at the blackjack table as it is to make the correct play on every hand. In fact, all of the strategic skill and understanding of the game you can muster won’t matter very much if you manage your wagering money poorly. You need to know when to increase your bets and when to reduce them. You need to understand which bets are sound and which ones are not. Understanding how to manage your money at the blackjack table can greatly improve your chances of walking away with a nice profit.
Here are the quick links:
Simply put, your blackjack bankroll is the money you have set aside for playing blackjack. Your bankroll is one of your two most potent weapons against the casino. The other one is your knowledge of the game and the ability to apply proper strategy.
These two weapons—your bankroll and your knowledge—are dependent upon one another. One cannot exist without the other. If you have no bankroll, all of your knowledge doesn’t matter. If you have no knowledge, a fat bankroll is just more money that you will ultimately lose.
Your bankroll is a separate amount of money that is dedicated solely to your gambling activities. It should not include the rent and bill money. If you cannot afford to set aside an amount of money that is disposable and reserved for playing blackjack, don’t play. Wait until you build the necessary funds.
There is an old proverb in gambling which says scared money never wins. The proverb is true. When you gamble with money that you cannot afford to lose, lose you will. The reason is because you will lack the confidence to apply proper betting strategy and maximize your potential winnings. It is a lot easier to double down that hard 12 against the dealer’s six when you know that losing the hand won’t get you evicted.
The size of your bankroll will determine the table limits at which you are able to successfully play.
Here is a general rule: always buy-in with at least 50 times the minimum bet. No exceptions. In other words, to play at a $5 minimum bet table you need to buy-in with $250. At a $10 table you need $500, and so on.
Why 50 times the minimum? The reason is because a bankroll of that size will enable you to endure the swings that inevitably come in a game of blackjack. Blackjack is a game that is most often played with six-to-eight decks shuffled together and mixed in a shoe. Whether that shoe is favorable to the player or to the house largely revolves around one factor—how many ten-value cards remain in play.
What you need to understand in regards to money management is this: a shoe will vacillate between being favorable, or “hot”, to the player and favorable to the house. In order to make a profit you need to be able to withstand the deck that is favorable to the house until it swings back in favor of the player. With the proper size bankroll you can withstand the storm of a “cold” deck and still take advantage of opportunities to maximize your profits until things swing your way.
The amount you should wager on a single hand of blackjack is determined by a few factors, and is largely affected by your ability or inability to count cards in blackjack. Counting Edge was created to give you the information you need to count successfully, and we recommend you read the information presented on various methods of counting.
If you are a skilled card counter the amount of your bet on each hand becomes a relatively simple matter. You are going to increase it when the deck is in your favor, and decrease it when the deck is not. The more favorable the deck becomes to you, the bigger your bet gets.
Those who want to gain a greater understanding of how to bet when using a counting method should begin by reading our counting articles. Let’s say, for the sake of our discussion, that you have little or no counting experience. Is how much you bet on a hand of blackjack still a big deal? Of course it is. You can’t just stroll up to the blackjack table and start carelessly tossing money around. That is a sure way to the poorhouse, or the doghouse. Thankfully, there is a way for you to bet properly even if you do not know how to count. It is a way that is guaranteed to keep you in the hunt until you catch a good run of cards. The method is called the Up and Pull.
First off, let’s define what a unit is. In this case a unit is an amount of money equal to the table minimum. At a $5 minimum table one unit equals $5. Two units would be $10, and so on. If you will get into the habit of thinking in terms of units instead of an amount of money, the system we are going to describe can be used on any table.
Here is how the Up and Pull betting method works. It consists of a cycle of that ends whenever you lose a hand. As long as you are winning hands the method continues, but as soon as you lose a hand you must start over again at the beginning of a cycle
To begin, you make a bet of two units (twice the table minimum). If you win this first hand you will reduce your bet on the next hand to one unit. In other words, you pull back a one-unit profit on that first winning hand. If you lose the next hand, guess what? You are still even with the house because you locked in a profit on that first winning hand. You then start the cycle over again with a two-unit bet. What if you win that second hand with your one-unit bet? On the next hand you increase, or up, your bet to two units again. If you win this hand, increase the next bet to three units. Keep increasing you bet by one unit each time you win a hand.
The moment you lose, however, you must return to your original bet of two units and start over. So, what is the benefit of the Up and Pull method? Very simply, it allows you to take advantage of good swings in which you win multiple hands in a row by progressively increasing your starting bet. It also keeps your losses to a minimum when the deck is unfavorable. These two advantages will give you a fighting chance to survive a bad swing until the cards really turn in your favor. When they do, look out. You’ll have the chips to really knock the house for a loop.
Some betting methods, like the Up and Pull, can greatly increase your odds for success. There are others, however, that should be avoided at all costs. Among these are any methods which call for you to double the amount of a losing bet on the next hand.
Here’s an example. You bet one unit on your first hand at the blackjack table and lose. On the next hand you double the bet to two units and win. You broke even on the two hands. That’s great, right? Not so much.
Let’s take a look at what happens when you lose multiple hands in a row. On the first hand you lose one unit. Your next bet is two units, or double the amount of your loss. This second hand is also a loss. Now you double the bet to four units and lose again. Your next bet is eight units and you better hope you win this one because from here forward things get ugly. Lose your eight-unit wager and the next bet in your progression calls for 16 units. Lose that one and it will take 32 units on your next bet to bring you back even. Surely you can see the danger in this method of play.
The example above details what happens when you lose just six hands in a row. Anyone who has ever played blackjack will tell you that it is very possible to lose 10, 12 or even more hands in a row when the deck is unfavorable to the player. Trying to double up a losing bet on the next hand will catch up with you sooner or later and you will no longer have the necessary funds to make the bet that you need to win in order to get even.
These types of betting systems have many different names. Some of them are even repackaged and sold over and over again as new betting systems. Don’t make the mistake of betting this way.
If you are just a casual blackjack player who enjoys going to the casino every so often for a few hours of play blackjack, there is a very simple rule of thumb when it comes to betting.
This rule of thumb does not depend on any betting or counting system and it works very well. Increase your bets when winning, and reduce your bets when losing. That’s it. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again.
Blackjack is a game that is all about the swings. If you are red hot and winning every hand you’re dealt then push the action. If you start to lose multiple hands in a row, this is a pretty good sign that the deck has cooled and is now favoring the house. In this case, reduce your bets to the table minimum until the action heats up again.
Always remember that some type of plan–any plan–is better than no plan at all. Make a betting plan!