Many casino players are drawn to blackjack because the house has a very small edge. However, it gets trickier when you’re playing multi-deck games. You may need to change your betting strategy, as multi-deck games make it far harder for players to predict the outcomes.
Why You Need a Winning Betting Strategy
If you’re playing more than a couple hands of blackjack, then your betting strategy can significantly affect your winnings. That’s why it’s so important to be aware of the different strategies available to you, and to choose the one that’ll maximize your returns.
The house edge in blackjack for multiple deck games is about 0.5%. The betting strategy you choose does not technically change the house edge, so some blackjack pros recommend against using them. But even though it doesn’t change the house edge in any way in the long run, savvy players can capitalize on a shrewd betting strategy in the short term.
The two main betting strategies to be aware of are progressive and regression betting.
Progressive Betting Options
Progressive betting is one of the most popular betting strategies used by experienced players. The strategy is incredibly simple: you increase your bets after winning hands, and lower them after losing hands. As a general rule of thumb, most betters will double their bet after a winning hand and reduce it by half after losing.
Walter Thomason, the author of [21st Century Blackjack: New Strategies for a New Millennium] offers an overview of the strategy and why he believes it’s best. Thomason states that the odds of winning two consecutive hands are about the same as losing two consecutive hands. If you increase your bets after a winning hand, then your average winning bet will be higher than if you left your bet unchanged.
On the other hand, if you lowered your bet after a losing hand, then your average losses will be lower if you lose two or more hands in a row.
In this way, the progressive betting system effectively limits your average losses and increases your average winnings. Your average bets will even out if you alternate between winning and losing hands.
Regression betting is the opposite of progressive betting: you lower your bids after a win, and raise them after a loss. Once again, the standard rule of thumb is to double bets after a winning hand and halve them after a loss.
The premise behind this system is to make up for a long losing streak. If you have a couple of losing hands and keep doubling your bet, then you’ll get a handsome payout when you finally win. The advantage of this system is that your winnings will eventually exceed your losses if you play long enough.
However, there is a downside. Your losses can rack up very quickly if you’re doubling your bet after each losing hand. You will need to start with a low bet and have at least $155 on hand in case you lose five hands in a row. Progressive and Regression Strategies in Practice
The theory behind these strategies can seem a bit complicated at first. Here are a couple examples to make things clearer:
You find a blackjack table that requires a $7 minimum bet. You play a hand and lose. You double your bet to $14. You lose a second hand and double it to $28. You win on this hand, which means that you get to claim your $28 in winnings.
You have won $28 and lost $21. This means that your net winnings are equivalent to your initial $7 bet.
Let’s assume that you used a regression betting strategy for the same hand. You lose your first hand after betting $7, so you keep your bet the same. You lose again and keep your bid the same. On the third hand, you win back $7.
You are still staring at a $7 net loss, but you’re feeling confident since you won the last hand. Believing that you have a good system, you double your bet to $14. You win this hand as well, which places you in the black. You start feeling cocky and decide to double your bet again to $28. You win a third time, which means that you have earned $35 in net winnings.
At this point, you’re debating whether to double your wager again or walk away from the table. If you double your bet to $56 and lose, you’ll have a $21 net loss. On the other hand, if you win your fourth hand, you would be ahead by $91. A lot would be riding on this hand. Which Betting Strategy is Best?
We recently discussed progressive and regression betting for roulette players, stating that regression betting is statistically the safest option, because any winning streaks are due solely to chance.
Blackjack is different, however, because it is a game of skill; there’s a more legitimate possibility that you could have winning streaks if you have a good strategy. If you notice that you’re consistently having several-game winning streaks, then the progressive betting strategy may be a better choice, as you’ll maximize your earnings from winning hands.
However, it may also be a good idea to taper back your bets if you feel like they’ve risen too high, as you could lose on the next hand and wind up at a loss.
Regardless of the approach you take, the viability of any betting strategy declines the longer you’re playing. You can boost your winnings and reduce losses with a good strategy, but over time, your winnings will be more strongly affected by a combination of your playing strategy, ability to count cards, and sheer luck.
Are you a progressive better or a regression better when it comes to multi-hand blackjack games? Share your preferred approach – and your reasoning behind your choice – by leaving a comment below: