Blackjack Systems Guide
Unlike most casino games where your success depends strictly on the luck of a draw, roll of the dice, or spin of the wheel, winning at blackjack takes skill. From basic money management to card counting, parlay betting, and progression techniques, all successful players have a favourite system. Although there are no guarantees in blackjack, understanding the most popular systems can dramatically increase your play. Discover which systems are right for you and make them your own. It definitely beats playing randomly and hoping for the best.
Compared to other casino games, blackjack offers the best odds. Although the house has an inherent edge, you can reduce the dealer’s advantage to less than half a percent simply by playing correctly. We mean correctly in a strictly mathematical sense. Forget running your own experiments or trusting your untrained guts. Statisticians have already crunched the numbers and can tell you exactly what to do. All you need to do is consult a quick reference strategy table.
Whether you should stand, hit, double down, or split depends on your hand and the dealer’s visible card. Every hand has a correct decision. Making the right move doesn’t guarantee winning but it will put you in the best position with the highest probability of winning. You’ll want to refer to a strategy table as you play, but in time you’ll know the correct move like the back of your hand. Playing correctly will form the basis of whatever system you end up using.
The Martingale System
The Martingale system is arguably the most popular blackjack system but it can be applied to roulette and other games just as easily. Start by making your usual bet. Let’s say £2. If you lose, you’ll double your next bet to £4. If you lose again, you’ll bet £8 and so on. When you win, whether it’s on the first time or hundredth time, you’ll return to your original £2 wager. The idea is that your losses are cancelled out by the eventual win and your profits will come from the hands that win right off the bat.
You might describe this method as classic double or nothing strategy. It works well initially, at least in theory, except you run the risk of running out of money if you have a lengthy losing streak. Also, tables have limits. That means if you lose a £1024 wager you might not have the opportunity to wager £2048, which is what it would take to win your money back. Despite these glitches, most players love this method until it fails them.
The Paroli system is often known as the reverse Martingale. Instead of doubling your bet when you lose, you’ll double your bet whenever you win. If you lose you’ll return to your original bet.
If you start with an original wager of £2 and win, you’ll bet £4 on your next hand. If you win again, you’ll bet £8 and so on. Whenever you lose, your next bet will be £2. The trick here is to set an upper limit so you don’t get greedy and lose everything. The Paroli system is more suitable for players with smaller bankrolls. Make sure you play properly, as explained above.
Blackjack systems can help you up your game, but won't guarantee you winnings.
When you place a parlay bet, you’ll be using your profits from one hand to fund your next hand. Suppose you wager £2 playing blackjack and win. Rather than bet £2 again, you’ll add some of your profit, £1 to £2 in this case, to your wager. That means you’ll bet between £3 and £4. When you place a parlay bet, you’ll never wager more than your standard bet plus your most recent profit. When you lose you’ll return to your original £2 wager.
This system will give you the opportunity to make large bets without depleting your original bankroll. It’s affordable and effective even if it isn’t foolproof. It is possible to lose your initial cash if you end up on a long losing streak.
The Labouchere system begins with deciding how much money you hope to win. Let’s say your aim is to win £200. Next create a sequence of numbers that will add up to your goal of 200. Let’s start with a common eight-string example of 10, 20, 30, 50, 30, 30, 20, 10.
When it comes time to place your first bet, take the first and last number on the list and add them together. In this example you would wager £20 (10+10). If you win, you’ll cross these bets off your list and wager the remaining first and last number on the list or £40 (20+20). If you lose you’ll add your loss to the end of your list. In this case your new string would be 10, 20, 30, 50, 30, 30, 20, 10, 20.
The idea is to stick to the system until you’ve hit your goals by paring down the list. If you place the large bets in the centre of your list, as we’ve done above, you can avoid making big bets before you’ve won a series of small bets.
Oscar’s Grind System
Grinding lets you win small amounts of money with minimal risk provided you are willing to put in the time. The idea is to aim for small profits that add up over time. Start with an affordable bet. Let’s say £1 for simplicity. Whatever your bet is will be considered your profit goal for the session. If you lose your first bet, you’ll bet £1 again. If you lose a second time in a row, you would still wager £1. In fact keep wagering £1 until you win, even if it takes you ten or twenty times to win.
When you finally do win, raise your bet by the original £1 for a total of £2. With each win in a row you’ll add an extra £1 to the amount you bet until your total profit for the session is £1. When you do reach your goal, reset your counter and start a new session betting £1. As you can see the profits are small, but the risk is low.
How Card Counting Works
If you’ve seen films like Rain Main or 21, you know how compelling card counting can be. It’s easily the most celebrated way to beat the casino, at least in legends and on film.
Card counting systems vary widely but the basic approach involves assigning good cards a positive value and weak cards a negative value. Every time you see a card, whether it’s the dealer’s, another player’s, or your own, you’ll add or subtract 1 from your running total. After several hands you’ll be able assess the quality of the cards remaining in the deck. If your running number total is -4 or less, it’s a good idea to increase your bets. If your count is positive then the right move is to bet less.
Card counting won’t actually predict what card you’ll be dealt, but it does give you an incredibly valuable big picture. When armed with this info you can bet more when the decked is stacked in your favour.
Issues With Counting Cards
Although you don’t have to be autistic or a scholar to count cards, it’s no longer a guaranteed way to win. Casinos are in business to make money and don’t want you to have the upper hand. That means if you dramatically raise your bets when the deck is in your favour and always win, you’ll be easy to spot. Casinos frequently kick out card counters, even if there are no formal laws against the act.
Perhaps of greater consequence is that card counting doesn’t work online. Every blackjack hand uses a full freshly shuffled shoe. That means your odds are exactly as advertised and you’ll need to find a fresh approach.