One of the most important decisions you make when playing casino or real money mobile blackjack is how to bet. There are several popular betting strategies that players use, but none of them are guaranteed to beat the house in the long run.
In this article, I will discuss the most common blackjack betting strategies and give you an overview of how they work, and the pros and cons of each one.
I will also explain why no staking system can be effective in the long term, and how those who follow them will always lose their bankroll sooner or later.
The Martingale System
The Martingale is the most popular and best-known blackjack betting strategy. It is a progressive system where you double your bet after every loss. The theory behind it is that eventually, you will win, and when you do, you will recoup all of your previous losses and make a small profit equal to the size of your original bet.
Unfortunately, the logic behind the Martingale is flawed, particularly when applied to blackjack.
See my tutorial on the Martingale Blackjack Strategy for a full analysis of what is wrong with this system. But here is a summary:
First, the system assumes that you have an infinite amount of money. If you hit a losing streak, your bets can quickly get out of hand and you can end up risking a very large amount of money to chase significant losses. Second, every casino blackjack table places a limit on the size of bets you can make, which can prevent you from using this system effectively.
- The Martingale System is easy to understand and use.
- Can sometimes be effective in the short term.
- Profits can increase if you win with a blackjack after a losing run.
- Losing streaks can quickly get expensive and deplete your bankroll.
- Requires nerves of steel to place rapidly increasing bets.
- A losing run can see you hit the table limit (maximum bet), meaning you cannot continue with the system.
The Labouchere System
This is another popular blackjack betting strategy. With the Labouchere system, you start by writing down a sequence of numbers. You then add the first and last numbers in your sequence together to determine your bet size.
After each loss, you add up the first and last numbers in the sequence and add the new bet amount to the end of the sequence. After a win, you cross off the first and last numbers in your sequence. You then recalculate your next stake.
The Labouchere system is far more complex and it can become difficult to keep track of your sequence unless you’re particularly good at mental arithmetic. It also doesn’t protect against a run of losing bets, and like Martingale, stakes can become very large quite quickly if you have a sequence of losses.
- The Labouchere System is flexible and can be adapted to any size bankroll.
- You can recover losses quickly with this system. It can yield profits even when you lose more bets than you win.
- This system can be complicated to understand and use.
- If you have a long losing streak, the bets can get out of hand.
The Paroli System
The Paroli System is the opposite of the Martingale. With this system, you double your bets after each win instead of after each loss, but only for a limited sequence.
The stake is doubled after every win, for up to 3 wins in a row, and then reverts to its original size irrespective of whether the third bet wins or loses.
- You don’t need a large bankroll to use the Paroli System and it won’t be wiped out after a run of losses.
- Runs of winning bets can lead to big profits.
- A loss on the third bet in the sequence wipes out the profit made from the previous two winners
- This can make the Paroli less profitable than betting to level stakes.
The D’Alembert System
The D’Alembert System is similar to the Martingale, but with this system, you make small increases to your bets after each loss instead of doubling them.
Starting with a basic stake of one unit, you increase your stake by one unit every time you lose and then decrease it by one unit every time you win.
- The D’Alembert System is easy to understand and use
- You can recoup some losses with this system in the short term
- The same flaws that apply to the Martingale System also apply to the D’Alembert System.
- Losing streaks can quickly get expensive and the casino may limit your bets
The Fibonacci System
The Fibonacci System is similar to the Martingale, but with this system, you increase the size of your bets according to the Fibonacci sequence.
The Fibonacci sequence is a mathematical number sequence in which each number is the sum of the previous two numbers. So, the sequence looks like this: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, etc.
To use this system, you start by betting the amount corresponding to the first number in the sequence (1). After each loss, you increase your bet to the next number in the sequence. When you eventually win, you go back two numbers in the sequence.
- The Fibonacci System is easy to understand and use.
- The bet sizes do not increase as quickly as they do in Martingale, meaning your bankroll will last longer.
- No staking system can beat the house, and a run of losses will still eat your bankroll.
- For example, a run of 7 losses will require you to bet 21 x your original stake.
Oscar’s Grind Betting Strategy
Oscar’s Betting Strategy (sometimes referred to as Hoyle’s Press) was created by mathematician Allan Wilson in the 1960s. It is a positive progression system, which means that you increase your bets after each win instead of after each loss.
The idea behind it is that you choose a goal, an amount of profit you want to make, and “grind” your way to it by a sequence of progressive bets.
To use this system, you start by betting the amount corresponding to the first number in the sequence (1). After each win, you increase your bet to the next number in the sequence. After a loss, you keep your bet size the same.
- Easy to understand and remember.
- Bankroll lasts longer than more aggressive betting strategies.
- The system will usually achieve a sensible profit goal if the bankroll is large enough.
- Cannot beat the house edge, the player will lose money over time.
- Can take a long time to achieve the desired profit.
The 2-1-2 (Manhattan) Strategy
The 2-1-2 (Manhattan) Strategy is a positive progression system that was created by Manhattan Slots Casino. It is similar to Oscar’s Betting Strategy, but with this system, you increase your bets after two wins instead of after each win.
To use this system, you first decide on what the size of your unit bet will be (say $5) and start by placing a bet of two units.
If the first bet wins, then the next bet is one unit. After two wins, you increase your bet back to two units. After every subsequent win, you increase the bet by a further one unit. When you eventually lose, you go back to the start of the sequence.
- Takes advantage of long winning sequences.
- Does not deplete bankroll by chasing losses.
- Long winning runs are rare in blackjack.
- Does not take into account runs of losses.
Using a Bankroll Management Strategy
A bankroll management strategy is not a betting system, per see, but it is still a good idea to use one if you are going to be playing blackjack. Instead, it is simply a plan for how you are going to manage your money while you are playing, to make it last for as long as possible.
There are many different ways to approach bankroll management, but a good rule of thumb is to only bet a small percentage of your bankroll on each hand. For example, you could bet 2% or 5% of your bankroll on each hand. This way, you can stay in the game even if you have a losing streak.
If you choose to adjust the percentage according to your bankroll size, then in theory this staking system allows you to stay in the game indefinitely – although in practice you would eventually fall below the table minimum bet.
Even if you choose not to reduce the stake when your bankroll shrinks, you still know that you can play at least 20 or 50 hands, depending on what percentage you choose.
Another important aspect of bankroll management is to set a loss limit. This is the amount of money you are willing to lose in a single session. Once you reach your loss limit, you stop playing. This helps to prevent you from chasing your losses and losing even more money.
Why Most Blackjack Betting Strategies Don’t Work in the Long Term
No staking system can beat the house in the long term – it is mathematically impossible.
This is because the house always has an edge over the player. This cannot be overcome by any betting or staking system.
A blackjack betting strategy may work in the short term and yield small profits, but probability dictates that eventually a longer run of losses will occur, and this will wipe out your entire bankroll, eating up any previous profits and leading to an overall loss.
Learning to use basic strategy can reduce the house edge, but it cannot beat it.
The only way to overcome this edge is to create a positive long-term expectancy, which is to actually turn the odds in your favor.
In blackjack, unlike other casino games, this is possible. But the only way to do it is to learn a card counting technique.
It is dangerous for gamblers to follow a betting system and achieve short-term success because this inevitably means they believe that their system is infallible. This can breed false confidence, lead to over staking, and inevitably leads to disaster in the long or medium term.
Last Updated on October 11, 2022
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