Blackjack Betting Strategy – How to Win the Most
Are you looking for ways to win more in the blackjack game but aren't quite sure what it is you are doing wrong in the first place?
Blackjack can be a somewhat complicated game at times, with many variables coming into play. This is why you need to learn how to play your cards as well as how to make bets in the game.
In this guide to blackjack betting strategy, I am going to cover the basic strategy, which is the cornerstone of the game, along with several popular blackjack betting strategies that you can apply to size up your bets.
By the time you are done reading, you should have a very good idea of how to bet in a classic game of blackjack with six decks, as well as when to stand, hit, split, double, or surrender.
Before we get into the actual strategies, it's important you understand why we have these strategies in the first place and what their end goal is.
Why Do I Need a Blackjack Betting Strategy?
Blackjack is a game of chance, and in theory, you could win relying on luck along on any given night. However, in the long run, your results will heavily depend on the way you play your cards.
In live casinos, you often see players playing by their “gut feeling.” The truth is they are only giving the casino a bigger chance to beat them by deviating from the optimal strategy.
In reality, blackjack is very much a solved game. Its variables are limited, and there is a perfect way to play every hand and get the best possible results over the long run.
Don’t get me wrong, the best possible long-term result is still a loss, but a very slight one of just 0.5%. This means you could be having all the fun and using all the casino perks while only losing less than 1% of the money you wager.
To get there, you will need to apply the perfect blackjack basic strategy, and the blackjack betting systems I am going to teach you here will only help make things more fun and more profitable on the winning nights while limiting your losses on the losing ones.
Before we go into learning some great blackjack betting systems, let’s talk about the basic strategy real fast and find out how it will affect our results.
What Is the Blackjack Basic Strategy?
The basic strategy is the name given to the overall set of blackjack rules for how you should play your cards. While it's called basic strategy, it encompasses the entire game and every move you should make in every situation.
This means that the basic strategy is actually a very important part of the game, and without applying it, you may end up losing a lot more than you need to.
This guide has a strong focus on the blackjack betting strategy, so I am not going to go into the specifics of the basic strategy, but you can see the entire strategy in the table below.
Use the legend below the table to interpret the table and either learn it by heart or bring the table with you the next time you go to play blackjack in a casino (most casinos don’t mind).
- S = Stand
- H =Hit
- SP = Split
- SU = Surrender (hit if not allowed)
- Dh = Double if allowed or hit
- Ds = Double if allowed or hit
|Dealer's card >||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||A|
|Dealer's card >||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||A|
|Dealer's card >||2||3||4||5||6||7||8||9||10||A|
Blackjack Betting Strategies Revealed
Once you have mastered the basic strategy, which is something you will have to do before you can play blackjack seriously, you will need to develop a sound blackjack betting strategy.
Going into the game, you need to know how much to bet and how it is going to reflect on the resulting house edge.
Thankfully, you won’t have to actually invent a new blackjack betting system, as there are plenty of those that work well and that are already being used by players around the world.
I am going to introduce some of the best blackjack strategies and explain how you may benefit from them, as well as any weaknesses they may have.
Steady Betting Strategy
Probably the most boring and least used blackjack betting strategy, the strategy of steady bets is very simple and extremely easy to apply.
This strategy will have you start your session with a certain number of betting units and a plan to never deviate in betting unit size, regardless of the results.
What I mean by this is that if you are planning to bet $10 on your first hand, you should also plan to bet $10 on every other hand of the night, no matter what happens.
What this strategy ensures is that you will have a lot of fun and be able to spend a long time at the casino while significantly limiting any potential losses.
Don't get me wrong; bad streaks will still come, as well as the hot ones. However, unlike some players who may increase their bets when winning or losing, your losses and wins will be more consistent.
This kind of betting strategy is probably good if you plan to play blackjack often and you enjoy playing the game and making sure you always apply the optimal strategy without any mistakes. A little luck can take you a long way even if you apply this approach.
The Martingale Betting Strategy
The Martingale betting system is one of the most popular ways to bet in any gambling game, from roulette, over baccarat, to blackjack.
This famous blackjack betting strategy is based on the idea that you will double your bets when losing and return to your initial betting unit when you finally win.
The end result of this strategy is that every win you get will actually give you profit. It will immediately restore any losses from previous hands, along with one betting unit of profit.
Martingale works pretty well in blackjack because there is also a chance to get blackjack, which pays 1.5:1, but you should also know that you will not be winning 50% of the overall hands.
Here is a quick example of how you would play the Martingale system in blackjack:
- You bet $5, and you lose (total -$5)
- You bet $10, and you lose (total -$15)
- You bet $20, and you lose (total -$35)
- You bet $40, and you lose (total -75)
- You bet $80, and you win $160 (total +$5)
As you can see, you will always win one initial betting unit, regardless of how many steps it takes to book a win.
The big problem with the Martingale blackjack betting strategy is the fact that sometimes it may take many hands to win, which can cost a lot of money compared to your initial stake.
If you consider the example above, you are risking a total of $155 to win just $5. Things can get even tougher than this, so tread carefully with this strategy and make sure you have a gambling bankroll that can support it.
Oscar’s Betting Strategy
First mentioned in the 1965 publication “Oscar’s System” by Allan N. Wilson, Oscar’s betting system is a fairly conservative approach to the game that lets players play for a long time with limited risks.
The point of Oscar's blackjack betting strategy is to try and win one betting unit at a time. Whenever you end up winning a whole unit, you would restart the system and go back to betting your initial unit.
When losing, you should keep betting one unit at a time, trying to recuperate your losses steadily. However, when winning, you can double your bets and invest your winnings to try and reach the goal you set for yourself.
Of course, this goal should be something realistic if you want to have a good chance of achieving it. Simulations show that the system has great chances of decent-sized wins in streaky games like blackjack.
Positive-Progression Betting Strategy
When looking for the best blackjack betting strategy, players who love taking risks will always tell you that positive-progression betting is the only way to go.
As the name suggests, this is a betting strategy that includes increasing bets when things are going well. After every winning hand, the plan is to wager all the newly won money and try to double it.
Positive-progression betting can be an absolute goldmine when you catch a great run of cards. Five or six consecutive winning hands can win you a small fortune.
However, this blackjack betting strategy is also highly volatile, with a great chance of losing a lot of money in a single session.
Since you will always be wagering your whole win on the next hand, the swings will be huge. For that reason, you should limit how far you want to take it.
Normally, most players who apply this strategy will stop after three or four winning hands, especially if one or more of them are won with a blackjack.
Negative-Progression Betting Strategy
Opposite to the positive-progression betting system, the negative-progression suggests raising your stake when you are losing.
This system means that you should increase your bet after losing a hand of blackjack, but unlike Martingale, it does not dictate exactly by how much.
You don't always have to double your bet, as you can try to recuperate your losses in two or more hands. However, by increasing the bet after a losing hand, you are trying to win back the loss in a faster way than you would in a steady betting progression.
Unlike positive progression, this system is less volatile and usually tends to keep you more balanced in terms of the overall bankroll, lowering the variance and making your results more consistent.
Create Your Betting Strategy
The truth is that there isn’t one optimal blackjack betting system that works for every player. You should try to build a system around your preferences and desires as a player, but the five systems I presented each have some merit worth considering.
You can start by playing one of these strategies to the letter and changing it as you go and as you see which parts of it suit you well and which may not be ideal for you.
In either case, on top of the strategy itself, here are a few pro tips that I can give you regarding betting in blackjack and how you can make the best of it:
- Keep a healthy bankroll: Depending on the blackjack betting system you choose to use, you should make sure to keep a bankroll that can support it. The more volatile your strategy, the more betting units you should be looking to keep in your bankroll.
- Supplement Your Bankroll with Bonuses: Casino bonuses and promotions of all sorts can be found in both online and live casinos. These can make all the difference to your blackjack strategy, so make sure to get every last cent of free money you can get your hands on.
- Always Play Perfect Basic Strategy: When using various aggressive or passive betting strategies, players tend to also change how they play their cards. Never deviate from the basic strategy regardless of your bet size and the number of card decks in play, as it is the optimal way to play each hand of blackjack.
- Decide Your Betting Unit Carefully: The size of your initial betting unit is what is going to shape up your entire blackjack betting strategy. Make sure you always bet what you can afford and what makes sense for the bankroll you have at your disposal.
- Try Keeping Count: If you can count cards during the game, this may give you an edge over the casino. Learn how cards can be counted and see how deep the dealer goes into the shoe. If the casino doesn’t shuffle too often, you may be able to benefit from raising your bets when the count is positive.
That's about it! You now know how betting in blackjack works, why you should always follow the basic betting strategy, and what types of strategies you can apply in your game to get the desired results.
The few strategies and systems I presented here are just the tip of the iceberg, and I highly recommend picking the one that is best for your playing style, as none of them is actually superior to the others in terms of expected value.