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Blackjack Bankroll

Gambling bankroll management is one of the most important but overlooked aspects of blackjack play. Although players will spend dozens of hours learning perfect basic strategy, they often neglect their bankroll, or fail to prepare for their casino visits.

If you have ever invested in the stock market, or put money away into a 401K or similar retirement account then you understand the importance of planned saving. But should you save for a gambling adventure? Before casinos were found in so many countries, a trip to the casinos really was an adventure. Most players had to save a long time for a vacation before they went to Monte Carlo or Las Vegas. Today it’s different, especially with games available on the internet. However, it’s even more important to consider your gambling as entertainment and budget your expenses.

Why Players Lose at Blackjack

The most common reason players lose at blackjack is because they don’t quite understand the rules of the game and the importance of sticking with a solid way of playing. The second reason is because they play way too much and the hourly toll wreaks havoc on their pocketbook. As a smart gambler your can learn and stick to the rules of the game and then limit your play to a reasonable number of hours. And, you can manage your bankroll to avoid the third most devastating gambling problem: undercapitalization. If you think that means you should simply take all of your cash to the casino, well, we better start over.

Casinos hold, or win, about 20% of the money that players use to buy chips with at the tables. And, one of the main reasons (aside from the  fact that they make many bets, not just one) for this is that players have only a finite amount to bet, and when that’s gone, they go home.

Think of it this way: if you have $50 to play blackjack with and the table minimum bet is $10, how long will it be before the casino gets ahead of you by five bets and you lose your cash? Not long. Your goal is to play nearly even with the house, unless you count cards and can expect to have a small edge to exploit. Either way, the odds are almost the same as flipping a coin – 50-50. Try that and see how long it takes before either heads or tails is five bets ahead.

Safety in Numbers

There really is safety in numbers, and with respect to gambling, that safety comes with having an adequate bankroll. While you are learning to play blackjack and keeping an eye on the house advantage and getting ready to play for real money, do a little saving first. Treat your gambling like a business. You have to setup a savings plan and put away some cash every week for your gambling entertainment.

Make sure the money you save to gamble with is “extra” cash and really for entertainment. Don’t spend your household bill-money at the casino, and don’t use your credit cards to get more cash when you lose your bankroll. That leads to disaster and further bad decisions. Save up, and you’ll find that having at least 100 units in your bankroll really helps you make sound decisions and keeps you from trying to hedge your bets or not make the right plays. And remember, you don’t want to take your entire bankroll to the casino!

Bet Size to Bankroll Size

Your chances of going bust are tied directly to the size of your bankroll. Obviously if you have only enough money for one bet, you’ll lose it, at least 50% of the time. If you have 10 units, do you think your chances are higher or lower of losing it all compared to a bankroll of 100 units? Yes, of course, the 100 unit bankroll is safer. Just remember that it isn’t $100 – its 100 units, or bets.

You’ll always want to keep your bet-size in line with your bankroll size. Wagering $1 when you have $1,000 is painless. Wagering $100 when you have $1,000 is suicidal. It might be exciting and it might leave you a big winner, but the odds say you’ll go broke about 90% or the time. Be smart with your money.

If you really need a definitive number to work with, no amount is ever safe because you are playing against a house game where you don’t have the advantage. However, if you were to follow the chart below, your chances of staying very close to even over the course of ten visits to the casino (or playing online) are very good.

Bankroll Rules

  • Don’t play until you have 150 bet-size units
  • Only take 50 units with you per trip
  • Only play three hours or less per trip
  • Always bet one-unit until you are ahead for this trip
  • Once ahead, increase your wager by one-half unit each hand during a winning streak
  • Return to 1 unit after a single hand loss
  • Don’t spend your winnings, put them back into your bankroll and let it grow
  • Reassess your bankroll after each trip and then keep it close to 200 units if you can
  • Raise or lower your bet size between trips to keep close to 200 units

Will these rules make you a winner? Mathematically, no, but you’ll be about as close as you can get to playing even with the house as possible without counting cards.  And, there is a chance that you’ll have a few nice winning streaks where you win substantial amounts in three hours and go home a big winner. The extra cash in your bankroll will last a long time if you know your overall plan is keep your total units at 200 or more units. That means you keep increasing your bet size as your bankroll grows ad reassess your average bet to stay close to 200 units. If you are doing great, don’t be afraid to make increase your bankroll to a higher unit number, that’s a long term goal for any gambler.

Developing and maintaining a card counting bankroll is a similar process, and a winning player or team expects to double their starting bankroll 95% of the time. That means they only lose their seed money once in 20 tries!

You’ll never be guaranteed that kind of success while playing just basic strategy, but you can certainly clear some online bonuses and have a lot of fun while keeping your entertainment cost pretty low. Treat your bankroll with respect and it’ll be with you for a long time! I suggest reading about Bankroll and bonuses if you are going to play online and claim a casino bonus.

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