How to bankroll when playing blackjack

Blackjack bankrollSome people think good strategy and a bit of luck are all you need to win at blackjack. But proper bankroll management is the often-overlooked key that allows canny punters to turn sound strategic play into long-term profits. By making calculated decisions about things like how much you want to bet per hand and how much you can afford to lose, you can make even the most modest bankroll last for hours. This might not matter much to casual punters who are just out for a bit of fun, but it can make all the difference for a keen blackjack player who wants to maximise their winning opportunities.

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The bankroll tips in this article will help make your betting balance go that little bit further whenever you play real money blackjack online or at a land-based casino. We’ll also explain why bogus ploys such as betting patterns don’t work and should be ignored altogether.

Bankroll management basics

When you gamble at any casino or bookmaker, the money you set aside just for betting is called a bankroll. This balance should be made up entirely of expendable funds (i.e. disposable income which won’t be too sorely missed should you suffer a rotten run at the tables). Never bet with cash that eats into your essential living costs, as such practices may well put you on the fast track to the poor house.

Bankroll management is about self-regulating your wagering so that your betting money lasts as long as possible. By setting up strict boundaries and giving them the same level of attention as basic blackjack strategy, clever punters can minimise losses while creating opportunities for steady wins over a long period of time.

How big should my blackjack bankroll be?

The ideal size of your bankroll depends on one thing alone: how much you are willing to risk. There are, however, a few theories on how to calculate the minimum amount you should bring to the table.

Some basic strategy blackjack and pontoon players like to start by calculating their expected probabilistic losses over the course of a session. To do that, you would use a formula such as this:

(Hours played x hands per hour) x (bet size x house edge) = expected loss

So, for example: let’s say the house edge is 0.50 per cent and we expected to play 70 hands per hour, at $10 per hand, over four hours. Thus:

(4 x 70) x (10 x 0.005) = 280 x 0.05 = $14

To determine the minimum required bankroll from here, the rule of thumb is to multiply by 10. So if we project an expected loss of $14, we would need to start with at least $140.

But there is an even simpler method: just take your average bet and multiply it by 15. So if we wanted to play $10 per hand, we would start with at least $150 in the kitty. This ensures that your coffers won’t dry up completely even if you suffer five, six, seven losses on the trot.

Win-loss limits

Setting up a win threshold and a stop loss is arguably more important than the actual size of your bankroll. These are strict self-imposed wagering limits which determine when you should call it a day, thus protecting your bank balance from catastrophic cold streaks and impulsive over-betting.

As with figuring out your bankroll amount, there is no iron-clad rule for precisely where you should set your win-loss limits. Many experts on the matter suggest a blackjack stop loss should be around half your starting bankroll, while a win limit should kick in when you are around 30 per cent up.

If we started with $150, for example, we would stop playing when either:

  • Our total bankroll slumped to $75 (50% of $150)
  • Our total bankroll reached $195 ($150 + 30%)

The obvious appeal of this system is that you never go home empty handed, even if you’ve had a stinker. And by walking away once your profits reach a certain threshold, you eliminate the risk of over-stretching and losing it all back – the most likely scenario in the long run.

Bad blackjack strategies

Gamblers are a superstitious lot on the whole, and there is loads bad advice out there which panders to such insecurities. The well-travelled lines below are all complete myths, so don’t pay any heed to anyone who trots out this kind of bull.

Betting strategies can guarantee wins
FALSE. Betting systems don’t work. In fact, most negative progressions (e.g. the Martingale system) are more likely to drain your bankroll dry. Anyone who says they’ve concocted a ‘100 per cent guaranteed’ betting strategy for beating blackjack is a liar.

Side bets are good investments
FALSE. Blackjack side bets may offer juicy payoffs, but the odds simply aren’t worth the extra risk. These optional wagers can increase the house edge tenfold, so ignore them if you want your bankroll to last the distance.

Land-based casinos have the best blackjack games
FALSE. While brick-and-mortar casinos keep nudging up the house edge on their limited range of 21 tables, online blackjack sites offer better odds across dozens of popular variants. To start playing real cash blackjack online, check out our list of secure casino sites:

For the best odds and the lowest house edge, play real money blackjack online at our top-rated blackjack sites listed in the table above. We recommend as our top-rated casino site for players from United States, which has some excellent welcome bonuses available for new players along with a great range of blackjack variants and other casino games.

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