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Best of John Grochowski

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Betting progressions

14 May 2015

Betting progressions are nothing new at blackjack. Ever since the game was devised, players have been trying to hit on a magic formula for when to increase their bets.

Truth be told, there is no magic formula. Without a card counter’s knowledge of deck composition, raising and lowering your bets can’t dent the house edge.

Nevertheless, players try, and a virtual friend of mine recently came across a betting scheme he’d never seen. I say “virtual friend” because we’ve never met, but for 15 years or so we’ve both posted to a message board centered around our college alma mater.

He found himself at a $10 blackjack table, sitting next to a player with a four-step progression/regression. His neighbor started with a base bet, and after one win he tripled it. If he won again, he dropped to a bet double his base. And if he won the third in a row, he upped his next bet to six times the base. After four wins in a row, he’d drop back to his base and start again. He’d also start fresh at his base after any loss.

Let’s look at that using a table-minimum $10 bet as a starting point. After a winning $10 bet, the next wager would be $30, then $20, then $60.

My friend decided to give it a go, and won $650.

“I tried it, and it coincided with a ridiculous hot streak on the table,” he wrote. “I got a little uptight on a 6x bet when I got a pair of 8s against the dealer's 6, then got a 2 on one and a 3 on the other (creating two double-down situations after splitting the pair). I had a lot more money out than I would normally be comfortable with, but it was all house money at that point, so it wasn't going to end me. I got two faces, thank goodness. Dealer cooperated – he had 16 and dropped a King on it, but for a minute there I was a little verklempt. I'm normally a tight, tight player, so 6x betting once was a jump for me. Doing it four times on one hand might have been the biggest blackjack bet I'd ever made.”

I told a progression like that can lead to some spectacular wins, but it also leads to a larger percentage of losing sessions, and some sessions that are bigger losses than normal.

Let’s look at the pattern in pieces. If you win $10 and lose $30 on the second hand, that’s a $20 loss, whereas flat-betting $10 break even after a win and a loss. With two wins and a loss, the progression has a $20 overall win. That beats the $10 win you’d have after flat-betting two wins and a loss.

With three wins and a loss, you win $10, $30 and $20, but then lose $60 and just break even. The big jump to a 6x bet means you’re better off with two wins in a row before a loss than with three. Flat betting three $10 wins followed by a loss brings a $20 profit, also better than this progression.

It’s not till you win four in a row that the progression pays big. Wins of $10, $30, $20 and $60 total $120, three times the $40 you’d win with flat $10 bets. If you’re having one of those all too uncommon nights when the wins are fast and frequent, this 1-3-2-6 progression will fill your wallet. On an ordinary night, well, let the buyer beware.

Look for John Grochowski at www.casinoanswerman.com, on Facebook (http://tinyurl.com/7lzdt44) and Twitter (@GrochowskiJ).
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.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

> More Books By 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.

John Grochowski Websites:

www.casinoanswerman.com

Books by John Grochowski:

The Craps Answer Book

> More Books By John Grochowski