When it comes to casino games, players will stop at nothing to find a method that beats the casinos. This (usually) means finding a simple, easy-to-learn shortcut.
Like betting systems. Betting systems are guidelines that tell you when and how much to bet, depending on whether you’ve won or lost your last hand.
Now, I don’t want to waste your time. So before moving on into explaining what types of betting systems there are, you should know that they’re a waste of time. I cover this in more detail below, but in short, betting systems do not reduce or eliminate the house edge. If you want to do that, then you need to learn basic blackjack strategy or card counting systems.
With that out of the way, lets move on.
Types of Blackjack Betting Systems
There are two types of betting systems. The umbrellas that all betting systems sit under. One system is known as (positive) progression systems, and the second is known as (negative) regression systems. They’re easy to understand.
A (positive) progression betting system will tell you to raise your bets following each win, or a string of wins. The idea is that you’re funding your larger bets with money that you’ve won, not your bankroll. So you’re taking a risk (and possibly winning large sums of money) at no cost to you.
A (negative) regression betting system suggests that you raise your bets following a loss, or string of losses. The idea is to quickly make a comeback, preferably to 0 or slightly ahead. The danger with regression systems is that you can go broke quickly if you hit a streak of bad luck.
Now there are tens, maybe hundreds of betting systems that fit under one of these two categories. Instead of listing them all here, I just want to highlight the more well-known systems that theoretically work for blackjack players.
Martingale – The Martingale is a regressive betting system. What you do is double your bet after each loss. For example, if you made a $5 bet and lose, your next bet would be $10. Lose that one and your next bet would be $20. The idea is that your first win will cover all of your losses, plus put you one (original) unit ahead.
Parlay – The Parlay betting system is (nearly) the opposite of the Martingale. What you do here is setup a spread, say, from $10 to $100. Starting at $10, every time that you win, you will double your bet. Once you lose, you reset back to $0. Once you hit the $100 mark you’ll take your winnings and reset back to $10. The idea here is to take advantage of hot streaks, while minimizing your losses and the possibility of losing the money earned during said hot streak.
D’alembert Method – This is for multiple unit bets. If you win you decrease your bet by a unit, and if you lose you increase your bet by a unit.
Do Blackjack Betting Systems Work?
In the long run? No, betting systems do not work, for blackjack or any other casino game.
The reason why betting systems don’t work is because they don’t affect the house edge. In other words, the game is the same. How much you bet has no affect on what cards are in the deck, whether or not the dealer stands on a soft 17, how many decks are in play and so on. Variables that actually impact the house edge, and ultimately, how much you stand to win or lose in the long run.
Betting systems can be misleading though, because they can work in the short run. Not because they change the odds or house edge — that never happens — but because if a player decides to use a betting system and then runs into a stroke of luck, his “system” will help him to capitalize on that.
But it’s all smoke and mirrors. An illusion. The betting system isn’t helping him to win. He has the same odds no matter how much he bets.
If you wanted to improve your odds at blackjack, you’re much better off taking the time to learn basic strategy. Time consuming? Sure. Boring? Maybe. But that is your best bet if you want to reduce the house edge. In fact, if you play perfect basic strategy than you’ll reduce the odds to almost nothing, which means that in the short run (what most people care about), you can possibly see some swings (wins) in your favor.
Card counting would be the next step. That’s much harder to learn, but you’ll at least put the edge in your favor. You can beat the casino if you learn how to count cards.
However, for a lot of people basic strategy or card counting isn’t “fun” or “exciting.” It’s “boring” and it’s “work.” So what you got to do is decide what you want — do you want to win, even though it may not be seat of your pants exciting, or would you rather take big risks, play blackjack using betting systems and, ultimately, just gamble?
Either way is fine. It’s your money. In fact, I encourage you to use a betting system if that’s what’s going to make the games fun for you. Then once the games become boring, then you can quit for the day, trip or whatever. Just know that blackjack betting systems don’t work, and the only way to bet and be profitable at blackjack is to use mathematically sound and proven blackjack strategies.