In Australia and elsewhere, when learning to play Blackjack, many beginners adopt a wagering strategy known as “flat betting.” The idea is to always bet the same amount on every hand. If the decks run favorably and a sound method of card play is adopted, this approach should result in a slow building of profits. But even if the cards favor the dealer and mistakes are made in playing the hands, flat betting is an excellent way of limiting losses.
The trick, of course, is not to lose at all, so intermediate players may soon abandon their flat bets to try out one or more Blackjack betting systems, such as the ten popular ones listed below. Note that none of these systems actually affect the odds of winning, but they should provide a way of keeping the player’s bankroll under control.
Martingale – Also referred to as “doubling up on a loss,” this is a form of “negative progression” that requires the player to increase the wager by a factor of two after every loss until a win is achieved. Once the player wins, the progression begins again on the next hand with the original wager. The concept is for one win to pay for all of the losses that preceded it and produce a profit. Although Martingale may be successful over the short term, whenever a long losing streak occurs, it can become quite costly and risky.
Anti-Martingale or Paroli – This is a form of “positive progression” requiring the player to double the wager after each win until a pre-determined goal is met. The object is to win a number of consecutive bets, typically three or four, to secure a large net profit and short winning streaks will supposedly cover any losses that occur.
d’Alembert – Based on the so-called “Law of Equilibrium,” this betting system assumes the number of winning and losing hands will, over the long term, be very close equal. After each loss, the player increases the wager by one unit. After each win, the bet is decreased by one unit. The progression ends when the wager required becomes zero, and then it starts again.
Contra d’Alembert – Here’s the opposite of d’Alembert. Rather than increasing the bet after a loss and decreasing it after a win, the wager is raised by one unit after a win and reverts to the initial wager following a loss. The object is to maximize profits during winning steaks, while limiting losses during downturns. It is up to the player to decide at what point in a series of wins the progression should be restarted—typically three or four.
Parlay Betting System – This form of positive progression require the player to “let it ride” after each win, staking the original wager plus all winnings until a series of three or four consecutive wins occurs. Upon success completion of the progression, or following any loss, wagering returns to the original bet.
1-3-2-6 Betting System – The object of this system is to win four hands in a row, wagering one unit until it wins, and then increasing the bet to three units. If this wager wins, two units are bet, followed by a wager of six units after a third win. Any loss returns the progression to one unit.
One Half Up or 50% Betting System – After each winning hand, the bet is increased by half of the previous wager. After each losing hand, the bet returns to whatever was wagered initially. One conservative variation of this system is to increase the wager by half only after two consecutive wins.
Insurance Betting System – This is the opposite of the One Half Up system and could be thought of as “One Half Down.” It requires the player to reduce the wager by half after each loss and return to the original bet following a win.
Labouchere – Sometimes called the “cancellation system,” this is form of negative progression requires bets to be increased when losses occur. It begins with a series of numbers, such as 1+2+3+4. The player bets the first and last numbers and, upon winning, crosses off those two numbers wagered. Then, the remaining two numbers are bet. Upon a loss, however, the amount lost is added to the end of the series and the first and last numbers are wagered. This process continues, in this way, crossing off two numbers each time a win is recorded or adding to the end of the series each amount lost, until all the numbers have been crossed off.
Fibonacci – Much like Labouchere, this negative progression uses a cancellation method to determine how much to wager. However, instead of betting the first and last numbers in a series, the player wagers the amount of the last two losses, crossing them off from the series when a win occurs and adding any newly lost amount to the end of the series. Crossing off numbers twice as fast as they are added, eventually all of the numbers in the series will be crossed off and the progression begins.
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