Stay informed with the
Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski

# Progressive blackjack

15 September 2019

Blackjack Bob and I communicate fairly regularly, mostly via e-mail along with the occasional phone call or lunch out.

One thing we don’t do very often is play blackjack together. But our schedule meshed on an early September morning, and that gave us a chance to compare notes on a couple of systems.

While we were playing, one fellow was using the slowest progression either of us had ever seen. And when we talked it over in the coffee shop later, Bob told me about another player he’d watched raise his bets at a ridiculous extreme.

The slow-player came first as Bob and I left the table.

“Did you notice that progression?” Bob asked.

“It’s not going to create many big wins,” I replied, “but it’s not going to cost him much, either.”

The progression player was starting with the \$10 minimum table bet. He left his bet at \$10 until he’d won three times in a row. Then he bet \$20, and added \$10 after each win.

With average results, you’ll win three hands in a row on about 10% of trials. This player’s progression can into effect only five or six times in an hour.

The biggest streak we saw him have brought three wins at \$10, one each at \$20, \$30 and \$40, then a loss at \$50 for a total profit of \$70.

If he’d bet \$10 each time, he’d have won six \$10 bets and lost at \$10, making his profit \$50.

“He was just making sure he had a profit for the streak before raising his bet,” Bob said. “If he won twice at \$10, then progressed to \$20, a loss on Hand 3 would wipe out the two wins.”

“Right,” I said. “You and I have both seen more aggressive progressions. Some start increasing the bets earlier in the sequence, some make bigger increases.”

Bob chimed in, “And none of them change the house edge. Progressions can create bigger wins than betting flat, but the house keeps the same percentage of your money.”

“They create bigger wins in good streaks, but more frequent losses when results are choppy,” I added. “Progression players lose the same percentage of their money as flat bettors, but the raw loss in dollars is higher if you bet more money.”

Bob had seen a different kind of system that created raw losses for sure. “You wouldn’t have believed it,” he said. “It was a Martingale on speed.”

In Martingales, players double their bets after losses so that any win gives them a profit. Bets can get very large, very fast, and one bad streak can wipe you out.

“This was worse,” Bob said. “Apparently this guy figured go big or go home. He was TRIPLING his bets after losses.”

I shuddered at the thought.

“He bet \$10,” Bob said. “If he won, he bet \$10 again. If he lost, he bet \$30. A win there, and he had a \$20 profit and he dropped back to \$10. But after two losses in a row, he increased to \$90, and after a third loss, he raised to \$270.

“The guy won a few \$30 bets. He won one at \$90, so a \$50 profit after \$10 and \$30 losses. But when he lost a \$270 bet, he either came to his senses or lost his nerve. He said, ‘Wait, that would be, um, \$810.’ He reached for his wallet, then said, ‘No, deal me out.’

“The total loss for four in a row was \$390. At least he didn’t go for a fifth.”

Recent Articles
Best of John Grochowski
John Grochowski

John Grochowski is the best-selling author of The Craps Answer Book, The Slot Machine Answer Book and The Video Poker Answer Book. His weekly column is syndicated to newspapers and Web sites, and he contributes to many of the major magazines and newspapers in the gaming field, including Midwest Gaming and Travel, Slot Manager, Casino Journal, Strictly Slots and Casino Player.

Listen to John Grochowski's "Casino Answer Man" tips Tuesday through Friday at 5:18 p.m. on WLS-AM (890) in Chicago. Look for John Grochowski on Facebook and Twitter @GrochowskiJ.