Betting Systems for Blackjack
New to blackjack or maybe want to up your game? Try out some of these betting systems to see if you can find a winning strategy!
Blackjack seems like a simple game at first, but it requires quick math skills and a bit of strategy to play successfully.
In addition to strategies like knowing when to split or when to hit, as well as maybe even trying to count cards, players also add another level of complexity to the game with betting systems. These systems work to calculate how much you should bet on any given hand, depending on whether you’re winning or losing.
Each betting system does come with its own potential flaws, though — so remember that you’re still always playing at your own risk (and at the risk of your bankroll). But some people swear by their own favorite betting systems to help with making the most of that bankroll.
Feel free to try out some of these blackjack betting systems to see which method you’re most comfortable with. If you need some practice, you can try out all of them while playing at an online casino so you can keep detailed notes.
When it comes to betting systems for blackjack, flat betting is going to be your most straightforward one. With this method, you wager the same amount on every hand, irrespective of any winning or losing streaks. Here, you can easily track your money in and your money out, making it simple to stay within your budget.
To make the flat betting system work, you simply look at your budget, divide that by how many hands you want to play, and you’ll have calculated your bet size.
The major drawback to this system is that you can miss out on some big payouts if you find yourself on a winning streak. On the other hand, though, you won’t be taken to the cleaners if you hit a losing streak.
Progressive Betting Systems: Positive and Negative
Progressive betting systems have grown to be very popular with many gamblers. Many of them have some straightforward rules, while others are a bit more complicated. Their popularity also comes from the belief that they can guarantee huge winnings.
Their basic premise is to adjust the size of your stake based on whether or not your previous hand was a winning one. How you adjust those stakes depends on whether you’re using a positive progression or a negative progression.
Positive Progression Betting
In a positive progression betting system, you follow two rules:
- Increase your wager when you win.
- Decrease your wager when you lose.
The theory behind using positive progression bets is that you’ll be able to maximize your profits if you’re on a winning streak — and you’ll protect your bankroll from getting decimated if you hit a losing streak.
Remember that positive progression systems won’t affect your overall chances of actually winning a hand in blackjack, of course. But they aren’t as potentially dangerous to your bankroll as negative progression systems can be.
Negative Progression Betting
In a negative progression betting system, you follow two rules:
- Decrease your wager when you win.
- Increase your wager when you lose.
The theory behind using negative progression bets is that you’ll have to get a winning hand eventually and that all your wins will come at higher stakes than your losses — and hopefully result in more overall profits.
There is an inherent danger in negative progression systems, though. You can never know when a losing streak will actually end, and you could lose huge amounts of money fast. You’ll have to keep a careful eye on what you can afford and how close you’re getting to the table’s maximum bet amount.
Paroli/Reverse Martingale – Positive Progression
Like all positive progression systems, the Paroli system is meant to take advantage of winning streaks. For every win along a streak, you double your stake. You get to choose how long your predetermined streak will be and how much your initial bet will cost.
As an example, you choose to use a $10 initial bet (which is a common minimum bet at many blackjack tables), and you want your winning streak to stop at four. Your first bet is $10 and you win. Your next bet will be $20, and if you win again you double that to $40. After your fourth win in a row, that’s your stopping point. You then roll back to your original $10 stake and proceed from there. Also, any time that you lose a hand, you go back to your initial bet.
By keeping your predetermined streak lengths short, you don’t blast through your bankroll too quickly and you keep yourself from betting too carelessly. Of course, there’s no guarantee that you’ll win anything big either.
One Half Up/50% – Positive Progression
This is a more conservative approach to positive progression because the increases and decreases in stakes are in smaller increments. You start with a flat bet, and you bet the same amount until you win two consecutive hands. Then you’ll increase your bet by 50% of your initial stake.
If you start with a $10 initial bet and win, then you bet $10 once more to hopefully establish a streak. If your second hand is a winner, then you add half of your initial bet to your next wager, so your third bet will be $15, your fourth will be $20, and so on. If you lose a hand, then you start all over again at $10.
This is a good starting betting system to try because it’s simple and easy for beginners. It’s also the more cautious of the betting systems and doesn’t force you to take unnecessary risks.
Oscar’s System/Oscar’s Grind – Positive Progression
While this is a positive progression betting system, it doesn’t rely on streaks to increase your wagers. Instead, you simply continue to add another unit to every wager if you win or stick to the same amount if you lose (you do not revert back to your original bet).
If your base unit is the $10 minimum bet and you win, then your next wager should be $20. If you win again, then you’ll bet $30 next. But if you’d lost the hand with that $20 wager, then you simply wager $20 again. You can walk away once you’ve won back your original unit size in profits.
While you’re not increasing your stakes with every loss like you would with a negative progression, you can still lose a lot of money if you find yourself having to grind through a losing streak.
Martingale – Negative Progression
This is the most popular negative progression betting system out there, and it’s used for a variety of casino games, including roulette. You start at your minimum wager (let’s say you’re starting at $10, the common minimum bet in blackjack). After every loss, you double your wager. So, if you’d started betting with $10, then you’d bet $20, then $40, then $80, and so on if you kept losing. If you do win a hand, you restart the entire process and bet that $10 minimum on the next hand.
The idea behind this betting system is that, when you eventually win a hand, you’ll get back the money you’d lost plus some profit. You can make some profits this way, but they’re usually small and you still risk hitting the table’s maximum bet amount if you’re on a really bad losing streak.
Labouchère – Negative Progression
This system is also called the Split Martingale or the Cancellation system. While it’s less dangerous to your bankroll as the regular Martingale, it can still get risky and complicated. You’ll also need a pencil and paper to keep track of everything.
You start by choosing any sequence of numbers that you like, and they don’t have to be directly sequential. Let’s use 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8 as our example sequence. Each number in your sequence represents the amount in units that you’ll be betting. You’ll then add up the outside numbers on the sequence — in our example, that would be 1 + 8 = 9. If you’re doing $10 hands in blackjack, then you’ll be betting $90. If you win that hand, then you remove those two numbers from the sequence, and it’ll look like this:
1, 2, 3, 5
Now, you’ll add together the new outside numbers for your betting units: 1 + 5 = 6. So this would be a $60 bet. If you lose, then you add that number to the end of your sequence, so that it would look like this:
1, 2, 3, 5, 6
Then your next wager is 7 units (or $70), and so on.
The benefit of using the Labouchère betting system is that you are guaranteed profit if you manage to complete your sequence. The drawback is that, if you keep losing, you continue to add numbers to your sequence and get yourself further into a hole. You may be locked into a very long series with big losses until you ultimately get to your profits (if you haven’t decimated your bankroll, that is.)
D’Alembert – Negative Progression
This is a far less aggressive form of negative progression and easier to keep track of. You start with your base wager and, if you win on your first hand, then you’ve completed the system and you can walk away right then and there. If you lose on your first hand, though, you move through the system like so:
- For every time your bet loses, increase your wager by one unit.
- For every time your bet wins, decrease your wager by one unit.
- Once you’ve profited, the system is complete.
The D’Alembert system is not only easier to track but also keeps you from having your bets get extremely high if you hit a losing streak. On the other hand, its more leisurely progression does mean that you’ll recover your losses more slowly.
Fibonacci – Positive or Negative Progression
This is a system that you can flip to be either a positive progression or a negative progression. It comes from the mathematical Fibonacci sequence, in which you always add the sum of the previous two numbers in the series:
0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34 …
When using the Fibonacci betting system, you start your first bet with a single unit (let’s say your base stake unit is $10). As you progress through the sequence, you multiply that base unit by wherever you are along that sequence. Are you all the way over to 13 on the sequence? Then you’re betting $130.
You can make this a positive progression by increasing your wagers along the sequence with every hand that you win. If you lose a hand, you go back two places on the Fibonacci sequence and start again.
To make this a negative progression (its more popular form), you increase your wagers along the sequence for every hand that you lose. If you win a hand, you go back two places on the sequence and start again. If this causes you to fall off the sequence, then you walk away a winner.
If you’re using this as a negative progression system, then you need to keep an eye on your bankroll — things can get really expensive if you’re on a losing streak. If you’re on your eighth losing bet, you’re going to wager $210 while already being down by $330.
2-1-2 (Manhattan) – Mixture of Positive and Negative Progression
While the 2-1-2 system does focus on streaks, it incorporates a mixture of positive and negative progressions into its process. You start off with two units, and as you hit a winning streak, you either increase your stake by two units or by one unit.
You begin with two units, and if you win, you reduce your wager by one unit. If you win this second hand, your next bet will be two units. Then, you keep increasing your wagers by one unit each time that you win. If you lose, you revert to your original bet of two units.
Let’s say that you start with $20 if you’re dealing with a $10 minimum blackjack bet. If you have a winning hand, you drop your stake to one unit, or $10. If you win a second time, you up your stake by another two units, so now you’re up to a $30 wager. If you win once again, you increase your wager by another one unit so that you’re wagering $40.
If you lose a hand, you go back to your original two-unit bet of $20.
This is a system that tries to build in a bit of safety for players because you’re not losing money too rapidly. But you definitely need to keep track of where you are in the series so that you’re increasing or decreasing your wagers accordingly.
Are Blackjack Betting Systems Worth It?
No matter which betting system you choose to use for blackjack, you need to plan carefully. Be honest with yourself about what you’re willing to lose, and stick within that given bankroll. If your wagers are getting too high to fit within your budget, cut your losses and don’t try to chase that one big win.
That being said, you might find that some of these blackjack betting systems are worth the time and effort. If you’re new to trying out any of them, it’s best to experiment while playing online blackjack so that you can go at your own pace and can keep all of your notes spread out in front of you (instead of taking over the table at a casino).
Choosing a blackjack betting system will give you a clear plan for how to approach the game, so feel free to try any and all of these systems for yourself. Maybe you’ll find your favorite with the help of this list.