Blackjack betting systems - Part 1
Most people who play online blackjack don't really have a clue about who to play their hands properly. They may think they do when they play blackjack online, but invariably these people will sit in front of their computer and ponder their decisions for absurd lengths of time, with a high degree of uncertainty until the entire hand has been played out. I've actually seen players who timed out at an online blackjack table because they couldn't figure out what to do with their hands when they endeavored to play blackjack online. For many people what they see as the result of the immediate hand is the sole determinant of whether or not it was the correct play. That philosophy represents a short-run way of thinking, which is perilous. Blackjack games are long-run propositions, and when it comes your playing strategy, consistency is the key to winning, or at least having a chance to win.
And meanwhile, as far as online blackjack is concerned, "long run" is the key word - computer programs have run trials of millions of hands, calculating the odds on every conceivable result. Out of this research a "Basic Strategy" is derived, which is perfectly appropriate when you play blackjack online. The Basic Strategy, for online blackjack and in fact any form of blackjack, is "basically" a set of rules outlining the best possible decisions you can make regarding each and every possible card combination between player and dealer when you play blackjack online, that is, if you are not involved in the process of counting cards, which is not really possible in online blackjack games, which use a random shuffle. Whatever level of skill you have reached, the Basic Strategy provides a solid foundation on which to make any decision at the blackjack table. It's advisable that it be used 100% of the time, without variation, and please keep in mind that in discussing strategies in blackjack it is something that takes hold over the long-run. Also have a look at our blackjack tips section.
Generally for online blackjack, if you memorize the rules, you're going to be playing a better game of blackjack. The "nutshell" version makes you easily aware of it when you play blackjack online. Understand that online blackjack is very similar to "table" blackjack, so when you play blackjack online, the Basic Strategy will be just as relevant. Of course, you're going to hit when you are dealt a two-card 5, 6, 7 or 8. When you have a 9, you'll double against a dealer's 3-6 up card. With 10, you double against a dealer's 2 through 9. With 11, double against dealer's 2-10. Otherwise you hit in all these cases. With 12, you stand on 4, 5 or 6; with 13 through 16, you stand against a 3-6, otherwise you hit. Soft hands are handled as follows: A2 and A3 - double against dealer's 5 or 6; A4 and A5 - double against 4, 5 or 6; A6 - double against 3 through 6. Otherwise hit in all cases. For an A7 it's a bit different. Here, you double against the dealer's 3 through 6, stand against a 7, otherwise hit. Always stand on A9 and A10 (of course). Splitting pairs is easier. Split a pair of twos, threes or sevens against 2 through 7, a pair of fours against the dealer's five or six, and a pair of sixes against 2 through 6. Anytime else, you hit. Split nines against the dealer's 2-9, stand against seven, otherwise hit. Always split aces and eights. Always stand with a pair of tens. That's it, very plain and very "basic."
Paroli Betting System
Many blackjack players have used various betting systems to improve their skills and odds at winning blackjack games. One of the most common is the Paroli betting system. This is very similar to the Parlay system. Paroli is the opposite of the Martingale system and has a positive progression betting system which allows players to bet more money each time they win a hand of blackjack in a casino.
The Paroli system uses positive progression, so any sized bankroll is accepted. The system will begin by making a minimum wager requirement for a bet on a blackjack game. When the player wins a hand, all of the profit that was made on the original bet can then be wagered. Basically, this system allows players to double their bet on each hand they have won. The major difference between this system and the Parlay system is that the Paroli system uses 100% of the profits won. For example, if a player bets $1 on a game and wins, they would then have $2. In the next game, they can wager the $2 and win $4, and so on. The winnings will keep doubling each time a hand is one. However, if the player loses their initial $1 bet, their next bet must be $1 as well. The idea behind the positive betting system is to allow players the opportunity to increase the amount of money that is bet when the player progressively wins hands at casinos.
When a player is new to online casino gambling, they should seek out a casino that offers this type of betting. It is one of the safest ways to make a wager when playing blackjack games. The one thing that players will often do is keep betting their winnings. Players should realize when to bet again and when to cash out their profits. The main disadvantage to this system is that if a player is on a winning streak and they keep betting their profits, the streak will come to an end and the player will lose everything. All it takes it top lose one hand in the streak to lose profits.
The system works like a ladder, allowing players to win more with each consecutive win. The odds of winning multiple hands in a row on any casino game are very low. This is why players must know when to stop and walk away with their winnings. Unfortunately, many online gamblers get caught up in the excitement of winning multiple hands and they desire larger winnings. This will often lead to the player walking away with nothing at all.
Various casino strategies, such as counting cards when playing blackjack can make the Paroli betting system work for the player. If a player is able to get an advantage over the house, they will usually win in the long run. This betting system can let players double their winnings for each consecutive hand they win at blackjack, but these streaks do not typically run for very long and players will soon lose what they have won if they
1-3-2-6 Blackjack Betting System
Blackjack betting systems are strategies that can work at online casinos or brick and mortar casinos in most cases. Blackjack betting systems basically tell players what moves to make if they have certain cards in their hand, and in some cases depending on what the dealer’s face-up card is. The 1-3-2-6 like two of the other most popular betting systems Paroli and Parlay betting systems, this is a positive progression system. These blackjack betting systems have players only increase their bet when they are winning.
The name of this blackjack strategy comes from the unit bets that players should make as the game progresses. The unit betting is hooked to the Paroli blackjack betting system and it is a safer method as winning streaks remain limited to prevent losses at just 4 blackjack hands. The reason it’s a safer system is because it does help players to avoid going on large winning streaks and then losing it all after the fact. In the 1-3-2-6 betting system, players start by betting 1 unit, then 3, 2, then 6.
Essentially, the way this system works is that with each bet you have the opportunity to play, if you win, you bet the next unit amount. With the first bet, players bet a single unit (of whatever denomination that they choose), then the next time a 3 unit bet, then a 2 unit bet and then a 6 unit bet. With the later bets, because players only follow the system if they win; they don’t bet all of their winnings and still keep a profit if they lose.
Here’s an example of how the 1-3-2-6 betting system works. If players choose to bet just $1 per hand in this form of blackjack – then that would be their 1 unit bet to start with. If they win, their bankroll will be doubled. Since the next unit bet is 3, players will bet just a little bit more than they actually won because they will need to put $3 on the line and will only have $2 from their original bet and winnings. The next bet offers some insurance to players, if they win the last bet they will have $6 in total available to bet with. The idea in this circumstance is not to put it all on the line. They bet simply $2 and keep $4 which allows them to get back in on the game later on, or gives them money to walk away with. If that bet is won, then players place a $6 unit bet, which again, is not their complete bankroll from the game.
With this blackjack betting system, players stop the progression as soon as they lose a bet. This doesn’t mean they are out of the game, but rather, start again with the 1 unit bet to offer more insurance in case of a loss. Of course, since this is a fairly safe betting system, there are some downsides and the major one is that players will never win huge if they don’t bet huge, but they do walk away with more money!
For those who want a safer betting option; this is a great choice that gives players guidance for betting and also keeps them on track to reduce losses and hopefully walk away with some money in their pocket!
Parlay Betting System
Many casino strategies that are used by players will be based on the type of betting system a particular online casino uses. When playing blackjack, casinos will often use the Parlay betting system. This is when the player will bet all of their winnings on each and every progressive bet. This system is based in a positive progression strategy. This system is also referred to as the let-it-ride betting system. Any sized bankroll can be used with this system. The benefit to placing wagers with this system is that it is a very safe way to make wagers.
With the Parlay betting system, players will win more money each time they win a progressive hand of blackjack. It is very similar to the compound interest betting system of blackjack. The Parlay system is sometimes referred to as pyramid betting because when a player wins a hand, their next wager will be the amount f their original wager plus some of the profits made from the previous winning hand. This type of betting is commonly used when players are planning their blackjack strategy.
If a player placed a $5 bet on one hand of blackjack and won that hand, they would win $10. Their next bet would be $10. If they won this hand as well, their winnings would then be $20. Each win will be double the amount of the original bet for as long as they player continues to win hands. Players are basically progressing their bets as their bankroll grows with each win. The one thing that makes this system different from other betting systems is that players are not required to bet all of their profits. For example, if the player placed a $5 wager and won $10, they would not have to bet that entire amount on the next hand. Instead, the player could bet the original $5 plus 50% of the profits won.
If players lose their original bet when using the Parlay system, they can continue to bet the original amount of the wager. However, players who are on a winning streak must know when to stop because it is possible to lose all of the winnings from previous hands. It just takes one losing hand to deplete a bankroll. This is especially important if the player has decided to wager 100% of their profits from previous games.
To prevent losses when playing blackjack games using this system, players must cash out their winnings frequently. If the player chooses to continue betting, they will run the risk of losing 100% of their profits. No player wants this to happen, so they must have a set cut off limit in which the profits are cashed out and the player walks away from the game.
When playing casino games online, this is one of the best types of betting systems. It allows players to seriously increase their bankroll. It is also one of the safest ways to make blackjack bets.
Canfield Expert System
This blackjack system came to light in the book "Blackjack Your Way to Riches," which was published in 1977. The listed author of the book is one "Richard Albert Canfield," which is actually the name of the man who was perhaps this country's first great casino operator, albeit a clandestine one; he died in 1914 and there is a form of Solitaire called "Canfield" that is named in his honor.
Allegedly, "Canfield" is actually John Hinton, a former pit boss and veteran player, and he brings his team of "contributors" to the table, all of whom also sport creative aliases like "Grinder" and "Hungry." I don't know about all that, but the book is nicely written and packaged and there are a lot of nice tidbits of information contained within.
The authors set forth a number of criteria that the one-level system they were going to introduce had to meet, and they share those criteria with readers. They say that the system had to be pretty simple, pointing out that just because a system is more complex, that does not mean it is more powerful or efficient. It had to be easy to learn, so that the student could begin playing it within a reasonably short period of time; it had to be an uncomplicated device to implement under actual casino playing conditions; it had to be equally applicable to both single and multiple-deck games, it had to flexible enough to adjust to changing casino conditions, it had to be something that did not produce fatigue on the part of the player, and it had to count the Ace as a neutral card.
In the Canfield Expert Blackjack System, the 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7 are all counted as +1, with all nines and ten-value cards counted as -1, and the Ace, two and eight all neutral.
The two has always been a tricky card, and it has a tendency to help the dealer make a lot of hands. Even though its removal helps the player a little, it is still not outrageous that it be counted as neutral.
The authors conceded that the Ace acts as a high card for betting purposes, and that is my basic beef with all betting systems that make it neutral. Betting variations is so much more important than playing variation that it is kind of silly to discuss whether it is efficient, or worthwhile, to make the Ace neutral. It should be counted as a high card, and then if someone wants to do a side count for other purposes, including insurance, so be it.
Of course, because we have a balanced count and we are usually playing in blackjack games that have more than one deck of cards, this Running Count has to be converted into a True Count. In the book they don't call it a "true count," but instead refer to it as an "Exact Count," and for the multiple-deck game you are going to simply divide the running count by the number of blackjack decks remaining. Ace adjustment is allowed for, as it must be when you are not going to count it; as a result of your side count you are going to be adding or subtracting fractions like 1/4. 1/3 or 1/8 to or from your Exact Count, which is a bit awkward.
Canfield Master System
I always look with a suspicious eye at authors who not only don't use their own names when they write, but who actually appropriate the name of someone else who existed at one time. So it's with a little pause that I would read a book called "Blackjack Your Way to Riches" by a Richard Albert Canfield.
The real Canfield was an operator of gambling dens, first in New England, then in New York City, back in the 1800’s. His establishments were not for street urchins; they were luxurious and well-appointed, and played host to high-stakes blackjack games. Of course, this didn't mean that he couldn't get raided every once in while; it's just that perhaps one of the city's elite politicians might be playing inside at the time. Canfield later purchased a resort at Saratoga (NY) and turned it into one of the premier gambling destinations in the country.
I guess my point is that when an author (or series of authors collectively) take a name like that, they might be regarded with a certain degree of skepticism.
The "Richard Alan Canfield" who wrote "Blackjack Your Way to Riches" was reportedly someone named John Hinton, and Hinton sought to sell his "Canfield Master Count" – a blackjack betting system to win at blackjack.
This is a balanced count, which means you will have to keep a side count of Aces. Obviously, that is why they are classified as a "neutral" card and not counted.
They tried the "takeaway" technique: "My contributors decide how many will be sold, and to whom. They can withdraw from the offer of selling anytime they wish, no matter how few have been sold." I don't know how few were sold, but it was priced at $250 and that was more than thirty years ago.
The Canfield Master System uses the following values:
* 2, 3 and 7 are counted as +1 * 4, 5 and 6 are counted as +2 * 9 is counted as -1 * Ten-value cards (10, J, Q, K) are counted as -2 * Aces and eights are neutral, and are not counted
These are not unique values; Peter Griffin's two-level count has the same values, and one must assume that research he conducted had something to do with the formulation of this blackjack system. These same card values appear in Bryce Carlson's Omega II betting system.
Even though it has been said that the Master System works best with single decks and is of diminishing use in the multiple-deck format, the developers of this system claim that it works well in both the single and multiple-deck game of blackjack. It claims to identify favorable situations as quickly as any system, that it does not promote mental fatigue, that it produces more of a return than other more complicated blackjack systems, and that it had been tested under actual casino conditions for a decade prior to its publication.
In the book it is written that the authors will gladly take on any challenge from other blackjack strategy and system sellers, and this is among the conditions:
"Any blackjack game must be for a minimum of $500,000. No publicity may accompany any contest which has as a prize an amount from $500,000 to $2 million. Those low prices are simply not worth losing our anonymity for." That doesn't seem to be someone who wants to take on any challenge.
Omega II Betting System
Blackjack author/player Bryce Carlson unveiled something called the Omega II blackjack system in 1992 with the publication of his book "Blackjack for Blood," and it was considered by many to be a strategy of play that ranked right up there with the best two-level blackjack systems of the time. Carlson himself called his Basic Omega II "the most accurate and powerful Level 2 count ever devised."
Carlson, who says he was taught to play blackjack by none other than the legendary Lawrence Revere, does something not a lot of blackjack authors normally do, which is that he goes through a section in his book where he painstakingly demonstrates how he came to the card values in the Omega II, and points out that when you are constructing the optimum blackjack count for betting purposes, playing purposes and insurance purposes, you are not necessarily going to come up with the same results for all of them. Any count system, he points out, has to be something of a compromise between all three, and he will take the reader step-by-step in explaining this.
In the Omega II, the 2, 3 and 7 are counted as +1, with 9's as -1. The 4, 5 and 6 are counted as +2, with all ten-value cards (10, J, Q. K) as -2. Aces and eights are neutral and are not counted.
This is a two-level blackjack betting system, because there are values of plus or minus 1 and plus or minus 2 in the count. True count conversion is done on the basis of half-deck multipliers. Without ace adjustment, you're looking at a system that has a betting efficiency rating of .92 and a playing efficiency figure of .67.
Carlson points out that to attain the ideal level of efficiency, card counters would have to keep a number of side counts, but that is simply not practical for the human brain to process all at the same time. So inasmuch as keeping a number of different side counts is, at best, a pipe dream, he suggests that a side count of Aces is not only the most practical, but really optimizes the count's performance as far as betting efficiency is concerned.
In fact, an Ace side count, according to Carlson, brings the Omega II to a quotient of .99 in betting efficiency, which obviously is not far from perfect. The ace adjustment that must be made is not much different than some of the other multi-level blackjack systems; you will add +2 to the count for every extra Ace and subtract -2 from the count for every Ace that it is "short." A notable distinction is that you would be doing this on the basis of a quarter deck, not a half deck or a full deck, as other systems might require.
There is some discussion in the book as to what can be gained by employing a three or four-level system as opposed to one that is two levels (such as the Omega II). Carlson's answer is, well, "efficient." He points out that the player needs to strike a balance between power and simplicity, and that the two-level system seems to find that balance rather nicely for those who want to take the time to learn it. Besides he says, he has played the Revere 14 Count, which is a four-level count, and the Omega II was more efficient overall.
When Lawrence Revere published "Playing Blackjack as a Business," it wasn't very long after Dr. Edward O. Thorp had first introduced blackjack strategies for counting cards and playing blackjack for profit in his own book "Beat the Dealer." Revere's book, which first appeared in 1971, was a revelation, and it’s still is a must-have for anyone who wants to be serious about the game of blackjack.
I happened upon Revere's book by accident, as I was staying at a friend's house in Las Vegas when I was very young; in fact, too young to even play in a casino! When I finally read it, I had discovered something that I could really sink my teeth into.
Revere surely was not the only man who was winning money at blackjack, but he did a good job convincing you that he was the one who won the most. His text explains a number of different systems. One go them was a primitive system that could be picked in a few minutes by the average player, and it was based on counting fives. Of course, that wasn't going to have any real affect, so for those people who were a little more dedicated to picking up a long-term edge over the game he also presented the Revere Plus-Minus.
This was a one-level counting system where the values resemble a lot of which has come since (or is it the other way around?). The "small cards" were 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6, and they were counted as +1 as they were removed from the deck. The Aces and ten-value cards, which include the 10, Jack, Queen and King, are counted as -1, while the 7, 8 and 9 are determined to be neutral and not counted at all.
Revere explained that his count was very similar to Thorp's count, but there was one significant difference - while Thorp simply presented his one-level count as a mechanism by which to determine betting strategy and suggested that the player follow Basic Strategy, Revere included a playing strategy with his system that outlined variations from the Basic Strategy that were dependent upon how positive or negative or positive the count was.
For example, Revere told the player that when the count was +1 or higher, that he should not stand on 12 against a dealer's 3, 4, 5 or 6, but instead hit. The same went for 13's against a dealer's 2, 3 or 4. Doubling down decisions also changed. With a nine in hand, the player would double against any dealer upcard from a 2 through a 6, according to Revere's Basic Strategy, but he refined it in the Plus-Minus, where a +1 or higher had to exist for the player to double against the 2, 3, 4 or 5. There are obviously plenty of other strategy variations.
Revere's betting philosophy, of course, called for the player to wager in accordance with the count. Regardless of the limits of the blackjack game were, the player was advised to bet one unit with the count at +1 or less, then two units at +2 or higher. If there was a win on that hand, the player would parlay if the count stayed at +2 or better, and continue to bet four units while the count was +2 or higher. Sure, blackjack betting strategies may have become more sophisticated since then, but the Revere Plus-Minus was a very good system for its time.
Revere 14 Count
Lawrence Revere was one of the first blackjack experts to put his strategies out there in a way where people could easily understand and comprehend what it took to win at blackjack, and he was able to communicate how to go about implementing a system for maximum effectiveness. He was a man who worked on both sides of the table, as a player who, according to his own account, was playing successfully long before Edward O. Thorp published "Beat the Dealer." In the early 1970's, he set about compiling a book that would put some of his techniques for teaching students into print.
Revere's landmark book was called "Playing Blackjack as a Business," and it was significant for a number of reasons, namely because it presented a number of different blackjack systems, for the beginner all the way up to the aspiring professional, and also because it included a number of color-coded charts that facilitated learning.
Revere was one of the first true blackjack "entrepreneurs." One of the betting systems that was not in Revere's book was called the "Revere 14 Count," which goes back as far as 1971, and was sold separately by Revere and continues to be sold years after his death by his family. The 14 Count may have been one of the more effective blackjack strategies of its time, but it was also one of the more complicated. It is, in fact, a level-four count, which these days would be considered somewhat obsolete because of the balance between the ease of learning and implementation and its effective power.
As you can see, the card tags for the Revere 14 Count have you doing a lot of mental gymnastics. Here, the 2, 3 and 6 are counted as +2, while the 4 as counted as +3 and the 5 is +4. Also, the seven is counted as +1. All ten-value cards (10, Jack, Queen, King) are counted as -3, with 9's at -2. The eight is neutral and is not counted. Revere also has the Ace neutral in this count, and you would have to keep a side count of Aces here.
The 14 Count was one of the favored counts on the part of blackjack professionals back in the "early days." It is very strong when it comes to playing efficiency, identifying 65% of situations where a variation in the Basic Strategy is necessary, and has an "insurance correlation: of .82, which probably ranks it among the best systems available in that regard. It is in the betting correlation that the Revere 14 Count comes up rather weak; it is only .92, meaning that it plugs you into 92% of betting situations.
Certainly, given advances in technology (and the earlier systems were developed with the help of computer researchers like Julian Braun), other counts have been created that can bring better efficiency in betting with better ease of use. That being the case, the usefulness of the Revere 14 Count is rather limited, but it is of a great deal of historical interest to the game of blackjack nonetheless.
Revere Advanced Point Count
For those who thought the Revere 14 Count was complex and difficult to learn, the Revere Advanced Point Count may be even more complicated.
Revere's bio, as it is presented in his book, has him dealing blackjack at an early age in his home state of Iowa, sometime in the 1930's, then going to the University of Nebraska, and using some of the mathematical principles he learned there to become a demon at blackjack. He worked in the casino business, he said, working as a dealer and pit boss, and expresses in his first book, "Playing Blackjack as a Business," that he was the first author of any blackjack book to make a considerable living on both sides of the table.
In "Playing Blackjack as a Business," he presents a number of systems for the aspiring player to learn. Among them are the Revere Five Count, the Revere Ten Count, the Revere Plus-Minus and the Revere Point Count. They essentially take the reader from one step to another as far as power and difficulty are concerned.
In the book he also includes a come-on for his Revere Advanced Point Count, which was the most powerful blackjack system in the world, not only then, but from one perspective, even today (we'll get to that in a moment). Revere claimed that nobody except him had ever sold a "mail order system" that was accurate, and none of the system sellers had been successful in actually winning money from the casinos. This may or may not have been true, but Revere's claim is that he only started to sell his systems after he was barred from playing in all the Nevada casinos.
Revere says that it cost him over $25,000 to develop, and most of that came from computer programs that ran millions of hands to test the system.
The card tags for the Revere Advanced Point Count required that the player count 2 and 7 as +2, the 3, 4 and 6 as +3, and the 5 as +4. All ten-value cards (10, Jack, Queen, King) were counted as -3, while the Ace was counted as -1 and the 9 as -1. This is a pretty accurate reflection of what the card values are to the player. Revere stated that with his Advanced Point Count, the player could win with a flat bet, but that moving up to betting two units was an option, and would increase the player's advantage (Revere says the players advantage would go to 4.24%).
His blackjack systems sold for a couple of hundred bucks and included blackjack strategies for one and four-deck games. There are a lot of playing strategy charts, and this system emphasizes playing variations a great deal. At the same time, the system has a betting correlation of 1.00, which means it is perfect, or close to it, in identifying betting situations.
For that reason, the Revere APC holds up pretty well with some experts today. It most likely served as the basis for some of the other multi-level counts that have come since, and that constitutes a great deal of its historical significance.
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