Popular Blackjack Strategies and Why They Don't Work

Why Blackjack Strategies Don't Work Banner


Blackjack is a staple casino game, seen in real-world casinos, online casinos, and, more recently, as live casino games too. From when the first casino games started to take off, to the modern day, players have extolled the virtues of various strategies, and Blackjack is no exception. 

Join us as we look more closely at some of the most popular blackjack strategies and why they might not work as well as you think, thus dispelling some common Blackjack myths in the process.


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Blackjack Strategies and Betting Systems - Why They Don’t Work

Some sites will try to hoodwink players by promising ‘sure-fire wins’ or stating that this is the way ‘pros’ play blackjack.

However, there is no strategy for blackjack or any other casino game which can guarantee wins. All casino games are games of chance (and in the case of digital variants RNG software is used to ensure random outcomes), and therefore there is no feasible (or legal) way to ensure predictable outcomes. 

Blackjack strategies are highly subjective, some players swear by them, while others will never use a strategy in their entire gaming life. All strategies have positives and negatives designed to suit specific player types and some are preferred for blackjack gameplay over others.

Many blackjack strategies are centred around making theoretically optimal decisions or managing the bankroll. Despite this, the facts will always remain the same; the odds of winning your next blackjack hand do not change regarding whether or not you won the previous hand, which makes a progressive betting system ineffective. It is impossible for any betting system to overcome the house's edge over long-term gameplay. 

Keep on reading as we examine the effectiveness of some of the most popular blackjack betting systems.

The Martingale System

How does it work?

This is a well-known betting technique with a fairly straightforward concept, making it appealing to newbies. This is a progressive betting system where a player doubles their wager each time they lose, and reset their wager each time they win. For example, if a player wagers £1 and loses, their next bet will increase to £2, if they lose again it will become £4 and if they lose again it will be £8. However, if the player then wins, their £8 stake will reduce to the starting value of £1 for the next hand.

Why it doesn’t work

As you can probably tell, despite being a simple concept for new players, this betting strategy requires a large bankroll which most new or casual players don't have. As stakes are raised with each loss, the emphasis is placed on the losing streak which can lead to a negative overall playing experience, which can lead to impulsivity and loss-chasing which is an irresponsible gambling practice. 

The Fibonacci System

How does it work?

The Fibonacci System is based on the mathematical Fibonacci sequence and compared to the previously-mentioned betting system, is much more complicated, though its impact on your bankroll is very similar. The Fibonacci Sequence is an increasing system of values where each number in the chain is the total of the two numbers before it. This looks like this; 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, which is formed with the following calculation; 1+1 = 2, 1+2 =3, 2+3 = 5, 3+5 = 8, and 5+8 =13. The next number in the sequence would be 21 (8+13) and on and on. 

How this looks in a betting strategy is as follows; the player assigns a unit value to their bet, for simplicity, we'll say each unit is £1. If you lose your hand then your wager will increase to the next unit in the sequence, which will once again be £1. However, your next loss will require you to increase your bet to £2, and then £3, and so on and so forth until you achieve a winning combination, in which case you return to the start of the sequence and repeat the process.

Why it doesn’t work

One of the obvious reasons why this system isn’t great is how confusing it is. It took us two paragraphs to clearly explain the system whereas the Martingale system could be explained thoroughly in a few sentences; yet both are progressive betting systems with the same outcome. This makes playing using the Fibonacci System a mental workout which detracts from your overall enjoyment, while still aggressively decreasing your bankroll. Just like the Martingale system, this type of betting system makes losing hands and streaks a focal point, which can lead to bad gaming practices.

cards in blackjack table

The Labouchere System

How does it work?

Also called the cancellation system, the Labouchere method is another overcomplicating counting system where the number at the beginning and the end of each wager are added together to form the required bet, instead of the previous two numbers in the sequence (as seen in the Fibonacci method). Players first need to come up with a range of numbers, for example, 1-5 (which will be written down as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5). Players will need to apply an integer value for the numbers in the sequence, which, for simplicity, we will declare is £1. 

So, with the Labouchere System with a range of 1-5 and an integer value of £1, your first bet will be 1+5 (as they are either end of the sequence), which is 6, so, 6x£1, makes your starting wager £6. If you lose the hand, then you cross off the 1 and 5, and add the 6 to the end of the sequence so it now looks like this; 2, 3, 4, 6. Now you add together 2 and 6 (as these are the new ends of the sequence), making your wager £8. Lose again and the sequence becomes 3, 4, 8, making a total bet of £11. If you win the hand then you don’t mark off any numbers, meaning that your sequence remains as 3,4,8. Once all numbers have been marked off you can repeat the system.

Why it doesn’t work

If the Fibonacci System was needlessly complex, then the Labouchere System definitely gets the crown. We’re sure that for other games, this number sequence system might be helpful to some types of players, but as blackjack is already such a straightforward and accessible casino game, the numerical sequence and cancellation system just seems arbitrary and adds needless complication to the game. This not only leaves players with a headache but a depleted bankroll too.

Reverse Martingale System

How does it work?

As you may have guessed by the name, this is simply an inverted version of the Martingale System with players doubling their wagering value when achieving a winning hand, and resetting its value when losing.

Why it doesn’t work

While this system does have the benefit of placing the emphasis on winning streaks, it is incredibly easy for your winning streak to come to a painful end, due to the exponentially increased wagering requirements. This can mean that one hand can take you right back to square one, or even deplete your bankroll to less than it was when you started. 

Mimicking the Dealer’s Move

Some players swear by adhering to the same house rules the dealer is required to follow. While these may vary slightly between variants, in general, the dealer is required to hit in a hand that is 16 or lower (as well as a soft 17) and stand on anything which is a hard 17 or higher. In this strategy, the player follows this process too.

Why it doesn’t work

While this is certainly a beginner-friendly approach, the whole point of the dealer adhering to these rules is to standardise the overall house edge. By following the same rules as the dealer, the player statistically increases the house edge. A great alternative to this is to use a blackjack strategy chart, which isn’t a betting system, but a numerically calculated chart which indicates the statistically best option for the player. (Of course, a statistic can only be used as a guide due to the nature of chance which is integral to all casino games).

Never Bust

There are blackjack players who I've seen that never bust. The highest ‘hard’ card combination (a hand without an ace), where players are guaranteed to never bust is a hard 11, as by drawing the most valuable card (10, J, Q, K) their total will not exceed 21. Therefore players with this strategy will never hit if they have a hard 12 or above. Not only is this a horrible idea when you look at the odds and statistics, but it's also a lousy decision based on common sense. It’d be the same as placing all your money on a single straight-up bet on your first round of roulette - it might pay off, but more than likely you’re going to end up embarrassingly leaving the table without anything to show for it. 

Why it doesn’t work

The dealer busting is your only chance to win if you stand with a seven and a five and the dealer has an ace showing. The dealer can defeat you in a game where they have a soft 17 by drawing any card from six to king. This leaves just aces through fives, and even if they draw one of those cards, their chances of winning still remain based on the card they draw after it.

You can benefit from any card from an ace to a nine with a total of twelve; the only cards that can harm you are tens to kings meaning that statistically choosing to hit is in your favour as only 4 cards will cause you to go bust.

bets and cards in blackjack table

Card Counting

How does it work?

Keeping a mental count of the cards dealt is an age-old method that lets you know details about the cards that haven't been dealt. Contrary to popular belief, card counting is not prohibited in any country. However, casinos strongly disapprove of it and will promptly ban any player they believe to be experimenting with it. Card Counting gained some international attention thanks to popular movies and an experiment made by MIT students.

Why it doesn’t work

While technically card counting is one of the few casino strategies which could minimise house edge by a few micro percentiles, it is nearly impossible in practice. For one you’d need to be playing thousands of games and have the bankroll to fund this (MIT required $89,000 for their test), but you’ll also need to not only learn how to count cards but have the memory skills to retain information from thousands of games.

Yes, you can argue that card counting isn’t illegal, but it is a serious casino faux pas, and will result in you being banned from your chosen casino and likely blacklisted with any other affiliated brands. All this risk for the minuscule probability of increasing the house edge by 0.01% is way more effort than it’s worth.

Play The Finest Blackjack Games on Lord Ping

So, what have we learned? Betting strategies do have their place within the online casino world, and some players genuinely enjoy using them as a way of shaking up their typical betting strategies, but they are not the be-all and end-all of a good casino experience as some articles would have you believe.

One of the most beautiful things about Blackjack is how simple and yet fun it is. It is easily accessible to new players and doesn’t require any learning curve. Therefore applying needlessly convoluted strategies to such a superbly simple game defeats the purpose and the beauty of Blackjack which centuries of players have fallen head over heels for.

To play the finest selection of blackjack games, including online and live blackjack titles, sign up and play today at Lord Ping.



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