Some players follow perfect basic strategy each time they take a seat at the blackjack table but still end up being long-term losers. They have taken the time to study the game in depth and learn all optimal plays. Yet they still lose while fellow players seem to win consistently.
This is what normally happens when you do not manage your money adequately. Money management is one of the most important ingredients in the recipe for success at the blackjack tables. If you lack the necessary discipline and self-control to exercise proper money management, you are doomed to failure no matter how skilled and competent you are.
In the context of gambling, managing your bankroll means keeping a close track of the money you spend while playing your favorite casino games. Its absence, along with the lack of knowledge about the game, is what causes many recreational blackjack players to go broke at the tables. In this article, we lay the foundations of adequate money management in blackjack to help you become a smarter gambler.
Set Up a Blackjack Bankroll
In order to play blackjack, you need to have a blackjack bankroll. Under no circumstances should you gamble with money you need for your everyday or monthly expenses like your mortgage, car loan, electricity bill, or your daughter’s ballet lessons. You need to set aside a bankroll that consists of money reserved solely for playing blackjack.
It is up to you to decide on the exact amount. The bottom line is you should play with money that you can afford to lose financially and emotionally. This way, if the worst comes to the worst and you end up depleting your entire bankroll, this loss is not going to lead to a financial crisis in your life.
You should also divide your bankroll into smaller increments instead of taking it all to the casino. You can even open up a separate account reserved exclusively for blackjack. When you feel like visiting the casino, take out a certain sum to use at the tables. It is not advisable to take your entire blackjack bankroll to the casino because if you experience a losing streak, you might get tempted to chase your losses and blow all your money away.
Make Sure You Do Not Overbet Your Bankroll
The second rule of thumb is not to overbet your bankroll. Suppose you can afford to set aside only $150 for a single session. There is a good chance you will get wiped out quickly if you decide to join a table where the minimum bet is $25. A succession of six losing hands and you are done.
It is of utmost importance for any smart blackjack player to bet in proportion to their bankroll. If you have a smaller amount at your disposal, you should scout for tables with lower limits you can afford to play at. The recommended amount you need to take to the casino is at least fifty times the table minimum.
Provided that there are no landbased tables with low enough limits where you live, you can always take your action online. Betting in some of the virtual games starts at as little as $0.10. A smart blackjack player never stretches their arm further than their sleeve will reach, so to speak.
Know Your Limits
Self-control is of utmost importance in all aspects of life but even more so when it comes to gambling. Setting limits for yourself is the best way to preserve your blackjack bankroll. Too many players end up giving whatever profit they have turned back to the casino because of greed.
On the other side of the spectrum are those who experience devastating losing streaks. Instead of quitting, they stubbornly chase their losses until they deplete their entire bankrolls. Neither approach is adequate, obviously.
Many professional players describe the game of blackjack as a marathon, not as a sprint. This basically means you cannot expect to amass a fortune during a betting session or two. It takes discipline and persistence to become a long-term blackjack winner.
You should choose a win goal for each betting session and quit playing as soon as you reach it, as difficult as this may sound. If you feel like the table is too hot to leave, you can split your net profits into halves. Use one half to continue playing and keep the rest.
Know Your Limits – Additional TipsYou determine your own win goal in proportion to your session bankroll but make sure you are not shooting for the starts. It is best to settle for small but consistent profits. Your win goal should be reasonable at around 20% of your session’s starting bankroll. Quit as soon as you reach it, or as soon as you reach your loss limit.
You should never continue playing until you are down to your very last dollar. Suppose you are sitting at a table with a minimum bet of $5. You have experienced a very bad streak of losses and are down to your final red chip. You stubbornly toss it into the betting circle and are dealt a pair of Aces against the dealer’s 6. And this is where you hit a snag – you are no longer able to follow basic strategy because you do not have enough money to split your Aces.
As you can see, chasing your losses not only leads to the complete depletion of your bankroll but it also prevents you from playing optimally in certain cases. To prevent this from happening, you should choose a loss limit as well as a win goal. Choose a percentage you are comfortable with but generally, it should not exceed 40%. So if you start a session with $200, for example, you should get up and leave when you lose $80 of this amount.
Stay Away from Progressive Betting Strategies
Many inexperienced players lose their entire blackjack bankrolls by using the so-called progressive betting strategies. Some of these are based on negative progressions and require you to increase your wager after each loss. Others rely on positive progressions so you are expected to raise your bets after a win.
Both “strategies” are bogus because they attempt to take advantage of losing and winning streaks. Streaks are inherent to gambling, but unfortunately, there is no way for us to tell precisely when they will occur.
These strategies do not affect your odds of winning a hand. Whether or not you have won or lost the previous hand has no bearing on your chances of winning the next one. These systems are also powerless when it comes to reducing the house edge of the game.
Stay Away from Progressive Betting Strategies – Additional TipsAnother reason why they fail to work is because they do not take into account your bankroll size and the table limits. Let’s take the infamous Martingale as an example. This is a very steep negative-progression “strategy” which requires you to double your bet after every single loss and drop back to your base betting unit when you register a win.
If you start with a $200 bankroll, your bets will progress in the following way should you suffer five consecutive losses: $10, $20, $40, $80, $160. Obviously, you need to bet $320 after the fifth loss. Ah, but we forgot! You are unable to do it because you started with a bankroll of $200 only. You will be unable to recover from your previous losses if you deviate from the progression and reduce your bet before you register a win.
Even if you did have more money on you, there is still the possibility of reaching the table maximum before you win and drop back to your starting bet of $10. But this also upsets the betting progression and renders it ineffective.
The only strategy you need at the blackjack table is basic strategy. If you are looking to further increase your profits, you can do so by learning how to count cards where you vary your bet size depending on your advantage and not on the basis of previous wins and losses.
Avoid Spending Money on Side Bets
At most blackjack tables, players have the opportunity to experiment with different side bets. There is a huge variety of those to choose from, with some of the most popular options being Lucky Ladies and King’s Bounty.
On the surface, it may seem these were introduced to increase the excitement and the entertainment value of the game. This could not be further from the truth. The only thing side bets are guaranteed to increase is the casinos’ revenue.
Some of them offer very appetizing payouts so you might be tempted to give them a go. This is a bad idea. Most side bets give the house such a monstrous edge over players that they will inevitably grind down your entire bankroll if you make them consistently. The only way for you to exploit side bets successfully is to use a card counting system.
Play Rated if You Use Only Basic Strategy
Playing rated is a great way for basic strategy players to increase the overall value they generate at the blackjack tables. First, you need to get a free player card. When you take a seat at the table, you give this card either to the dealer or to the floor supervisor so that they can rate your play. This enables the casino personnel to track your action, including how long you play and what your average bet size is.
All this information is then saved in a computer and proves useful when you decide to ask for valuable comps like free show tickets, free rooms, or free meals. Comps are valuable because they help reduce the overall house edge you are fighting. However, if you plan on counting cards, it would be best not to have your play rated.
Forget about Complimentary Drinks
Casinos certainly have a way of enticing customers. In fact, everything on the floor aims at enticing you, from the dimmed lights and soothing music to the scantily-clad cocktail waitresses serving free beverages.
Many casual players indeed enjoy the complimentary drinks they are served and there is nothing wrong with that. After all, some people gamble purely for entertainment reasons and are not there to generate consistent profits. At the end of the day, it all depends on how you approach the game.
If you are serious about blackjack, however, we suggest you consume only non-alcoholic beverages while you play. Few people, if any, are able to win at blackjack while inebriated. Alcohol, especially in excessive quantities, will inevitably cloud your judgment and cause you to make basic strategy mistakes. Often it causes you to loosen your purse strings which is just as bad. You need a clear head while at the blackjack table so if you insist on drinking, be sure to do it in moderation.