Blackjack is the most popular casino table game in the world, at both the best online casinos and brick-and-mortars. It’s easy, it’s fast, it’s fun, and the house has only a small edge. That small house advantage means you will hear a lot about surefire blackjack betting strategies. Which ones work best? Let’s analyze to figure which the top strategies could work for you.
Blackjack Progressive Betting Strategies
All blackjack betting strategies are some variation of progressive betting. You start the game with a low bet, and following some formula, gradually increase or decrease your bet with each hand. The theory is that you will win more money when you win and lose less money when you lose while playing this live casino blackjack game.
A positive progressive betting strategy increases the bet after a winning blackjack hand and decreases the bet after a losing hand. A player theoretically wins more money during winning streaks because the bets are increasing, and loses less during losing streaks because the bets are decreasing.
A negative progressive betting strategy increases your bet after each losing hand and reduces the bet after winning a hand. Theoretically, the player can wipe out all the losses of a losing streak in one or two hands. If losses can be consistently zeroed out, then the player walks away with all the money they’ve made on winning hands.
Do Progressive Blackjack Betting Strategies Work?
The answer is an unqualified “yes” and “no.” All progressive blackjack betting strategies that do not involve counting cards may reduce, but never erase, the house edge. Because of the house edge, in the long run progressive bettors lose money at the blackjack table just like everyone else.
Types of Progressive Blackjack Betting Strategies
However, some progressive blackjack betting strategies significantly reduce the house edge. The two betting systems that most significantly reduce the house edge are the Oscar System and the Manhattan (also known as “2-1-2”) System. If you want to win at blackjack more than you do, it is worth learning these two blackjack strategies.
• The Oscar System
The Oscar System is a positive progressive betting system that uses a simple, easy-to-learn set of rules. To use the system, think of a blackjack session as a series of hands rather than individual hands. The purpose is to end each series of hands with a “win.”
You begin each series with a minimum bet, say $10. If you win a hand, you double your bet. If you lose a hand, you bet the same amount as the losing hand. The goal is to end the series $10 ahead. Here’s how it might look at the table:
Game 1 Bet: $10 Lose -$10
Game 2 Bet: $10 Lose -$20
Game 3 Bet $10 Win -$10
Game 4 Bet $20 Lose -$30
Game 5 Bet $20 Win -$10
Game 6 Bet $30 Win +$20
The series ends with you ahead. You now start over with a $10 bet. The most statistically successful version of the Oscar System involves setting a maximum stake and banking your winnings. You bet only from the stake and never bet your winnings. Eventually, given the house advantage, you will lose your stake during one of the series; however, having banked your winnings, you’re much more likely to leave the blackjack table with more money than you started with.
• The Manhattan System (2-1-2)
The 2-1-2 system is designed to maximize the money you make on winning streaks by continually increasing your bet until you lose a hand. It’s harder to master than the Oscar System, but it also takes a noticeable dent out of the house edge. Start by setting a minimum bet.
For the first hand, you bet two times that minimum (the first “2” in “2-1-2”). If you win the first hand, you reduce your bet to the minimum (the “1” in the “2-1-2”). If you then win that second hand, you increase your bet to three times the minimum. If you win the third hand, then increase the bet to four times the minimum, and so on until the dealer wins and you lose a hand. When the dealer wins, you reduce your next bet to two times the minimum (the final “2” in “2-1-2”), and then the sequence starts over.
Here’s what a series of hands might look like if you were using $10 as your minimum:
o Game 1 Bet: $20 Win +$20
o Game 2 Bet: $10 Lose +$10
o Game 3 Bet: $20 Win +$30
o Game 4 Bet: $10 Lose +$20
o Game 5 Bet: $20 Win +$40
o Game 6 Bet: $10 Win +$50
o Game 7 Bet $30 Win +$80
o Game 8 Bet $40 Lose +$40
o Game 9 Bet $20 Lose +$20
o Game 10 Bet $10 Lose +$10
In this sequence, the player won five games and lost five games but ended $10 ahead playing live blackjack. If the player had bet the same amount for each game, there would be no winnings.
The Blackjack Betting Strategies You Should NOT Use
Many popular blackjack betting strategies utilize negative progressive betting strategies. This includes the oldest and most popular of blackjack betting strategies, the Martingale. The rules of the Martingale Strategy are simple:
• You bet your minimum bet after each winning hand.
• You double your bet every time the dealer wins.
The Martingale and every other negative betting strategy can help you recover from a losing streak quickly – in one hand, actually; however, if the losing streak goes on long enough, you can lose your shirt very quickly. For instance, if $10 is your minimum bet, after eight consecutive losses, you’ll be staking $2560 on the ninth hand. Ouch.
Most of the time, you will walk away a little bit of a winner. Some of the time, though, you will walk away a big loser. This makes the Martingale Strategy one you may not want to use.
The Truth about Blackjack Betting Strategies
Outside of counting cards, the only sensible blackjack strategy is to set a reasonable stake – the maximum amount you’re willing to lose – and don’t bet your winnings. If you combine this fundamental strategy with the Oscar System or the 2-1-2 betting strategy, you will walk away from the majority of blackjack sessions a winner whether you play live online blackjack games, basic online casino blackjack, or in a brick-and-mortar casino. You will be more likely in the long run to break even or come out ahead, but the real secret is knowing when to walk away from the table.