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Best of Walter Thomason

Gaming Guru

 

Follow The Logic: Why Progressive Blackjack Betting Works

29 August 2000

There are four different types of blackjack players: idiots, flat bettors who play basic strategy, progressive bettors who play basic strategy, and card counters. Idiots are those who have no knowledge or appreciation of the intricacies of the game, bet on the basis of inspiration or perspiration, and play their hands on a whim and a prayer. Flat bettors are those who bet the same amount each time but play the correct basic strategy for their hands. Progressive bettors play basic strategy and raise and lower their bets based on the results of the previous hand. Card counters are players who raise or lower their bet based on the number of high or low cards remaining in the deck(s). It goes without saying that card counters play correct basic strategy and even vary their hitting and standing decisions based on the count.

Discounting the idiots, who probably account for about 35 percent of the players, the other types make a serious effort to understand the game and to win. Most basic strategy players are either flat bettors or progressive bettors. A very small minority of players have mastered the art (or science?) of card counting.

However, for the past 30 years, the overwhelming majority of the literature about the game has focused on card counting. Little has been said about flat betting or progressive betting, except to state that both betting styles result in the same long-term outcome--both types of bettors will win or lose the same amount in the long run if the aggregate of their action is exactly the same.

I disagree, and offer the following explanation as to why progressive betting can be superior to flat betting, and can often be more profitable than card counting.

Back in 1982 to 1984, there was a running debate between blackjack experts on both sides of the progressive betting equation. The card counting contingent of experts concluded that there was no mathematical justification for increasing the bet after either winning or losing the previous hand. They based their argument on Bayes' Theorem which, when applied to the game of blackjack, states that "the chance of a winning hand being followed by another winning hand is no more likely than a losing hand being followed by another losing hand." Based on this logic, there was no reason to increase a bet after winning the previous bet. Over the years, the majority of the blackjack authorities have bought into this line of reasoning and have dismissed any and all inquiries into whether or not progressive betting actually works in practice.

Ironically, Bayes' Theorem is the principle reason why I believe that progressive betting works.

Follow my logic:

  1. The chances of winning one hand and then losing or winning the next hand are about the same.
  2. Consequently, the chances of winning two consecutive hands or losing two consecutive hands are about the same. Or winning three consecutive hands and then losing three consecutive hands are about the same and so on.
  3. Consequently, the long-term probability is that any blackjack player, regardless of his betting method or the rationale behind it, is likely to win--or lose--about the same number of consecutive hands.
  4. Consequently, if you are betting more money after a winning hand and less money after a losing hand, your average amount wagered during consecutive winning hands will be greater than your average amount wagered during consecutive losing hands and your profits from play will be greater than your losses. It's that simple!

What about flat bettors? The player who bets the same amount each time will always win less or lose more than the progressive bettor, given the same cards in the same order of play. The opportunity to have larger bets during consecutive winning hand runs doesn't exist for the flat bettor. But losing runs will result in the same loss for both the progressive and the flat bettors.

And what about card counters? Studies that I've conducted (which are published in my book 21st Century Blackjack: A New Strategy for a New Millennium!) indicate that there is no relationship between the number of consecutive wins and losses based on the count. The card counter is just as likely to lose the next bet (in spite of the major increase in the amount wagered in favorable counts) as the flat bettor or the progressive bettor. Other studies that I will publish indicate that the bankroll required for the progressive bettor is less than for the card counter, and the opportunity to quit play while winning is also much better for the progressive bettor than it is for the card counter.

I have no doubt that card counting works, but I also have no doubt that my system of progressive betting works as well!


For more information about blackjack, we recommend:

21st Century Blackjack: New Strategies for a New Millennium by Walter Thomason
The Ultimate Blackjack Book by Walter Thomason
Best Blackjack by Frank Scoblete
The Morons of Blackjack and Other Monsters! by Frank Scoblete
Winning Strategies at Blackjack! Video tape hosted by Academy Award Winner James Coburn, Written by Frank Scoblete
Walter Thomason
Walter Thomason is the best-selling author of Blackjack for the Clueless and the editor of The Experts’ Guide to Casino Games and The Ultimate Blackjack Book.

A long-time casino gaming enthusiast, he is a frequent contributor to
The New Chance and Circumstance, Midwest Gaming & Travel, and Heartland Casino News.

His new book is
21st Century Blackjack: A New Strategy for a New Millenium. He can be reached
at PO Box 550068, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33355.

Books by Walter Thomason:

Blackjack for the Clueless

> More Books By Walter Thomason

Walter Thomason
Walter Thomason is the best-selling author of Blackjack for the Clueless and the editor of The Experts’ Guide to Casino Games and The Ultimate Blackjack Book.

A long-time casino gaming enthusiast, he is a frequent contributor to
The New Chance and Circumstance, Midwest Gaming & Travel, and Heartland Casino News.

His new book is
21st Century Blackjack: A New Strategy for a New Millenium. He can be reached
at PO Box 550068, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33355.

Books by Walter Thomason:

> More Books By Walter Thomason