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Is progressive blackjack betting the right system for you?

A blackjack hand at the casino by Images_of_Money, on Flickr

When you play blackjack, it’s a good idea to develop a betting strategy that you can stick to. But in order to know what works for you, you have to try different systems out. The professional players all have their favoured systems which have been worked out over years of playing.

While many people stick with flat betting – where every bet is the same – others swear by progressive betting systems when playing blackjack. There are so many different systems in use around the world, some of which are really simple while others are very complex. The idea behind having a system is that the player will have more paths leading to a win and fewer paths to a loss.

The one big advantage of playing with progressive betting is that you will do well on a winning streak. However, progressive betting will backfire if you don’t experience streaky play – when you have a win followed by a loss all night. In that scenario, you would lose more money with progressive betting than with flat betting.

There are two types of progressive systems – increase as you lose systems and increase as you win systems.
Increase as you win

As you might expect with this system, after every win, you increase your bet. For example, bet one unit, win, bet two units, win, bet three units, lose, bet one unit. The principle is simple, having a bet that increases by one unit after each win and returns to the original bet following a loss.

Increase as you lose
This works the other way around, with players increasing their bet following each loss. For example, bet one unit, lose, bet two units, lose, bet three units, win, bet one unit. The player increases the bet with each loss and returns to the original bet when they have a win.

Which is better?
With the increase as you lose system, the advantage is that when you win a hand, you recoup all your losses and will be up by one bet unit. However, should you have a long streak of losses, the bet would increase quickly to impossible levels. For example, if you start off with a $10 bet then have a run of seven losses (not uncommon), you could be losing thousands. The potential payoff of one unit versus this level of risk does not seem worth adopting this strategy for.

With the increase as you win system, there are some advantages. The most obvious is that you only increase the risk following a win. So it is the casino’s money you are playing with and not your own. And if you happen to have a long winning streak, you will have made a heap of money. For example, if you bet $10, win, bet $20, win, bet $30, win, bet $40, bet $50, lose. After four wins and one loss, this progressive system will have won $60, whereas a flat betting system would only have won $50. So the potential wins on longer winning streaks could be huge. However, if you go through a period of alternate wins and losses, you would end up losing more money using this system than you would with flat betting.

Try out different systems while you play in practice or demo mode. That way you are not actually putting real money at risk. However, wins will feel pretty pointless in demo mode as you will not win any real cash. You will gain in experience, though.

Whatever betting system you decide to use, the important thing to remember is that every bet involves real money. This is something that is not always easy to remember when you are playing online. The main safety net for any gambler is never to bet with money that they cannot afford to live without.


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