Blackjack betting and bankroll risk for the basic strategy player<br>This article discusses blackjack betting strategies and how they affect normal runs of luck. It provides complete charts for bankroll risk management for blackjack basic strategy players at various betting levels. Blackjack betting strategies and bankroll management are especially important in online casino play. For more information on blackjack betting and blackjack betting systems, see Oscar's System, in the Blackjack Forum library.
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Blackjack Betting and Risk

 
Blackjack betting and bankroll fluctuation for the basic strategy player
 
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Blackjack Betting and Risk of Ruin for the Basic Strategy Player

By Brother William
(From Blackjack Forum Vol XV #3, September 1995)
© 1995 Blackjack Forum

[Editor's note: Brother William's article about fluctuations in your blackjack bankroll when flat betting and playing basic strategy have a new relevance for players who are taking advantage of online casino bonuses or loss rebate plays. If you are a basic strategy player for any reason, study the article and chart below to get a handle on the normal fluctuations you can expect in your blackjack bankroll. --Arnold Snyder]

In the June 1995 issue of Blackjack Forum, I suggested that it would be helpful to basic strategy blackjack players to print detailed risk charts indicating standard deviation (fluctuation) for flat betting when playing basic strategy. I think there is a danger for players who are milking comps and promotions in not understanding these risks.

In an attempt to remedy this problem, I have created an all-purpose risk chart for the basic strategy player. I hope basic strategy blackjack players will study this chart carefully.

How to Use the Blackjack Basic Strategy Betting Risk Chart

Assumptions:

1. House advantage over the basic strategy player is 0.54% (which would correspond precisely to a 6-deck shoe game with Strip rules, but works pretty well for most games available anywhere, as the house edge is usually set around ½% over the basic strategy player).

2. 60 hands per hour of play. (This is pretty close to what you’ll average with a full table.)

3. Flat betting 1 unit per hand.

Regardless of what your unit size is, you may use this chart simply by multiplying. If you were playing $1 per hand, then all of the chart entries in units can simply be read right from the chart in dollars and cents. Example: betting $1 per hand for 16 hours of play, as per the assumed game conditions, you would have an expected loss of $5.18. You will be within one standard deviation (SD) of this expectation 68% of the time, which translates to an actual result between a loss of $39.27 and a win of $28.90. You will be within three standard deviations 99.7% of the time, which translates to an actual result between a loss of $117.80 and a win of $86.69.

Using a $100 betting unit, if you intend to play a total of 16 hours of basic strategy in this game and you’re willing to accept a risk level of three SD’s, simply move the decimal point two places to the right. You would expect to lose $518.00, but your actual result 99.7% of the time would fall between a loss of $11,780.00 and a win of $8,669.00.

So, if you can stand the thought of losing somewhere around $12,000 every rare once in a while in 16 hours of play, you can afford to flat bet this game with black chips.

The charts are very easy to use with flat bets of $1, $10, $100 and $1000, because you simply have to move the decimal point. For flat bets of $5 or $25 or whatever, just use a pocket calculator.

Note that the entry in the “expected loss” column can be used to estimate what you are actually “paying” for any comps your action buys.

Blackjack Basic Strategy Risk Chart
# hoursexpected
loss (units)
SD %SD levelsloss
(units)
win
(units)
10.3214.21    68%
2    95%
3    99.7%
4    100%
8.84
17.69
26.53
35.39
8.20
16.39
24.59
32.79
20.6510.01    68%
2    95%
3    99.7%
4    100%
12.70
25.40
38.09
50.79
11.40
22.80
34.21
45.60
30.978.201    68%
2    95%
3    99.7%
4    100%
15.73
31.46
47.19
62.92
13.79
27.57
41.36
55.14
41.307.101    68%
2    95%
3    99.7%
4    100%
18.34
36.67
55.01
73.35
15.75
31.49
47.24
62.98
82.595.021    68%
2    95%
3    99.7%
4    100%
26.69
53.38
80.08
106.77
21.51
43.02
64.52
86.03
123.894.101    68%
2    95%
3    99.7%
4    100%
33.40
66.81
100.21
133.62
25.63
51.26
76.88
102.51
165.183.551    68%
2    95%
3    99.7%
4    100%
39.27
78.53
117.80
157.07
28.90
57.80
86.69
115.59
206.483.181    68%
2    95%
3    99.7%
4    100%
44.59
89.17
133.76
178.34
31.63
63.25
94.88
126.50
247.782.901    68%
2    95%
3    99.7%
4    100%
49.52
99.04
148.55
198.07
33.97
67.93
101.90
135.86

Again, I hope any basic strategy blackjack players out there will study this chart carefully. The bankroll you save my be your own. Good luck! ♠

For information on professional gamblers' betting strategies for blackjack, see Arnold Snyder's Blackbelt in Blackjack.

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