Almost one-in-five casino players say that blackjack is their favorite game. Betting strategies, however, are varied. There’s flat betting, where the same amount is wagered every single hand. There’s gut instinct, where wagers can vary wildly. Then there’s progressive betting where wagers are either raised after a loss or win.
In negative progression systems, players raise their bets when losing. Negative progressions, based on the theory that winning must happen eventually, are not conducive to small bankrolls. In positive progression systems, players raise their bets when winning, or as some players call it, “betting the house money.” This system is based on taking advantaging of winning streaks.
Here is the breakdown for some of the most popular variations for each system:
Negative Progression Systems
Martingale: The most known Negative Progression System is the Martingale, originating more than two centuries ago in France. The idea is to double a bet after a loss and to keep doing this until a win. Once the player wins, it’s back to the original bet. Like most negative progression systems, this strategy is not viable with long losing streaks and table limits.
Fibonacci: Financial markets use this system, which comes from Leonardo Fibonacci, a 12th century Italian mathematician. Author of the Book of Calculation, Fibonacci created a number sequence with each number being the sum of the previous two. A player begins with one unit, the first number in the sequence. If the player wins, he bets again with one unit. However, if he loses, the player bets the next unit in the sequence. After every win, the player crosses off two numbers of the sequence until he is back to the first number. In terms of betting strategy, the theory is that a win will make up for any losses. In terms of practicality, table limits may not work with the higher end of the sequence.
D’Alembert: Jean le Rond D’Alembert, an 18th Century French mathematician who studied limits and equilibrium, theorized that all positive and negative events eventually balance out. With this betting system, a player raises his bet by one unit after each loss and lowers his bet by one unit after each win.
Labouchere: Also known as the “cancellation system,” the Labouchere strategy is a simple series of numbers, such as 1,2,3,4,5, where each number represents units to bet. The player’s initial bet is the sum of the first and last numbers of the series. If the player wins, he crosses out those two numbers and bets the new end numbers. If he loses, he adds that number to the end of the series. Winning all the end numbers is called a “coup” and the sequence begins again.
Positive Progression Systems
Anti-Martingale: As the name implies, a player doubles wagers only after wins, instead of after losses. With this system, a player can lose all his winnings in one hand, but only risks winnings instead of his session bankroll.
Dahl’s Progression: Donald Dahl, author of Progression Blackjack, created this system where bets are raised one unit after each win. After a loss, players return to the beginning. Win a double down or split and skip two steps. Players who reach the top bet stay there until they lose.
Oscar’s Grind: This strategy, credited to a craps player who preferred a pseudonym, is designed to win one unit per sequence. A player starts with one unit. If he loses, he continues with the same bet. If he wins, the player adds one unit to the next bet. The idea is to “grind” one’s way to small wins.
Up and Pull: A player begins with two units. If he wins, the player then “pulls back” to one unit. If he wins that hand, he then bets two units, and continues until a set stopping point or table limit.
Remember, progressive betting systems, whether positive or negative, do not affect the odds against a player. For that, players are encouraged to consider BlackJack Basic Strategy and Card Counting to attain advantage play.