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Best of Walter Thomason

Gaming Guru

 

Why Blackjack Progressive Betting Works

13 November 1999

There are only four different types of blackjack players: Idiots (who have no knowledge or appreciation of the intricacies of the game and bet on the basis of inspiration or perspiration), Flat Bettors (who bet the same amount each time), Progressive Bettors (who raise or lower their bets based on the results of the previous hand), and Card Counters (who raise or lower their bets based on the number of high or low cards remaining in the deck(s).

Discounting the Idiots, who probably account for about 35% of the players, the other types have some knowledge of Basic Strategy and make a serious effort to understand the game and win money while playing. Most players are either Flat Bettors or Progressive Bettors, and some players have mastered the art (science?) of card counting.

The literature written about the game has focused on card counting for at least 25 years. Little has been said about progressive betting or flat betting, except to state that they result in the same outcome -- both types of bettors will win or lose the same amount in the long run.

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. One group of experts concluded, based on a theoretical concept known as "Bayes' Theorem," which -- when applied to the game of blackjack -- stated 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." Thus, there was no mathematical justification for increasing the bet after either winning or losing a hand. Based on this logic, there was no reason to increase a bet after winning the previous bet.

Ironically, this rationale is the principle reason why progressive betting works!

Follow my logic:

  1. The chances of winning one hand and 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, etc.
  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 winning or losing hands.
  4. Consequently, if you are betting more money during a series of winning hands, and less money during a series of losing hands, your average amount wagered during winning consecutive hands will be greater than your average amount wagered during consecutive losing hands, and your profits from play will be greater than your losses from play. You're not increasing or lowering your bet in anticipation of a streak; you're increasing or lowering your bet because of the inevitability that streaks will occur.

What about Flat Bettors? The player who bets the same amount each time will always win less or lose more than a 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. Losing "runs" result in the same loss for both Progressive and Flat Bettors.

What about Card Counters? Studies that I've conducted indicate that there is no relationship between the number of consecutive wins or losses based on the count. The Counter is just as likely to lose the next bet (in spite of the major increase in the amount wagered) as the Flat Bettor or the Progressive Bettor. Other studies that I've conducted indicate that the bankroll required is less, and the opportunity to "quit play while winning" is much better for the Progressive Bettor than it is for the Card Counter.

I invite comments or criticism from anyone who questions the logic presented in this simplified presentation of my opinion. E-mail me at waltersbj@aol.com, or write to me at P.O. Box 550068, Ft. Lauderdale, FL 33325.


For more information about blackjack, we recommend:

Twenty-First 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:

> 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