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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.

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What Is A Bankroll?

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.

How Big Should My Bankroll Be??

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.

How Much Should I Bet?

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.

The Up And Pull Betting Method

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.

Betting Methods To Avoid

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.

Blackjack Betting Rule Of Thumb

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!

If you enjoyed this page, you should also read about how Making Bad Plays Destroys Your Edge.   Blackjack Players worst enemy and also  How to make $100 last at Blackjack

6 Response Comments

  • JamesJanuary 6, 2014 at 6:34 am

    I have a question on the “up and pull” method. If you begin your bet with 2 units, and lose, do you keep putting out 2 units until you win and then drop to 1 unit? If so, I suspect that this would be the downside to the method right? You could potentially lose many times in a row before you finally win.

    • countingedgeJanuary 7, 2014 at 4:59 pm

      You are exactly correct. The flaw in the Up and Pull is that one could lose many bets in a row…but…that is why we gave the caveat to only start using the method when the count becomes positive. Until then one bets the minimum. This reduces the chance of multiple losses at the beginning.

  • StephenNovember 21, 2016 at 1:10 am

    How to apply this method when double down and split the cards? Thank you very much.

  • countingedgeNovember 29, 2016 at 4:57 pm

    Hey, Stephen! Thanks for being a Counting Edge reader and asking your question. If we understand it right, you’re asking about how money management and bankroll applies when you are faced with a double down or split opportunity. This is one of the primary reasons we recommend having a starting bankroll of 50X the table minimum. Let’s say, in theory, that you sit down at a $5 blackjack table with $50. On your very first hand you bet the minimum and are dealt a pair of 8’s. Basic strategy mandates that you split these cards. As luck would have it, you then receive a 3 on each 8 for two 11’s. Basic strategy now says that you should double down each hand. You do that and receive a 4 on one hand and a 5 on the other. Ouch! The dealer then turns over a 20 and beats you on both hands. So, your original $5 bet turned into $10 and then into $20 on your first hand, which you lost. You have been at the blackjack table for five minutes and lost almost half of your $50.

    You should always apply our suggestions in cases of a double down or a split, but our suggestions only work if you have the right starting bankroll. We recommend 50x the table minimum because it will help you avoid situations like the one we just described. If you had sat down with $250 at that $5 table and lost $20 on your first hand, you would still have $230 left. No big deal. The key is to always be properly funded when you play blackjack so that you can take advantage of those opportunities when they come. In the example we gave, the player lost. There will be plenty of times, however, when you will win a big lucky hand like that and you want to have the money available to make the necessary bets.

    Remember, never play with scared money! Keep reading Counting Edge and good luck at the tables!

    • StephenNovember 30, 2016 at 1:56 am

      Thank you very much. As my understanding, with “The Up and Pull Betting Method”, we should regard “a double down or split” as an isolated bet, right? Let’s use the example that you mentioned, someone splits a pair of 8s ($5->$10) and then doubles down for both splits after he receives 3s for each split ($10->$20). Then, fortunately, he gets two 10s and makes 21 for each hand and wins (net profit of this round is $20). So, next bet, will this lucky guy bet $15 (regards last hand as a 4-game winning streak) or $5 only (regards last hand as one single hand)?
      And, another question is, if I split a pair of 8s and get one 3 (11) and one 6 (14) against dealer’s face card 6. I double down on 11 and stand on 14. Then, I receive a 10 to make the first split 21 and the dealer gives himself an Ace (s17). Therefore, I win the first split and lose the second one. In this situation, the net winning is +1 (win split+double down and lose another split). Should I regard this hand as win or loss?
      Thank you very much.

      • countingedgeDecember 4, 2016 at 8:03 pm

        Stephen, you are correct! When using the Up-and-Pull, double down and split wagers are always an isolated bet and made independently of the initial wager. That’s what makes the Up-and-Pull a good money management strategy! No matter where you are in the sequence when a double or split opportunity happens, stay with it if you win the wagers. You will lock in a big profit that way. If you lose the double or split, begin the Up-and-Pull sequence again with 2 units and start climbing again.

        The Up-and-Pull method is designed to keep you in the game with small gains until you can capitalize on one of those big hits, and it will happen if you are patient and stick to the plan. Remember, greed is the enemy of every blackjack player. Slow and steady wins the race. It seems like you are on the right track, sir. Good job!

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