Lesson 8 – Money Management – Part 2

A Few Words on Single Deck

In the previous lesson, I taught you how to figure the “true count” for a multi-deck game, but I want to emphasize that the concept of true count also applies to single-deck games as well. The conversion is done a bit differently, but the result is the same; you end up with a standardized count per remaining deck. If you see just one card in a single-deck game, a 5 for example, you now have a “running count” of 1 and a true count of one. That, of course, is because there’s only one deck in the game to begin with and we determine the true count by dividing the running count by the number of remaining decks. If, after playing several hands the running count is 6 and there’s three-fourths of a deck left to be played, we must divide the running count by .75 in order to determine the true count. In this instance, the true count is 8. If we were at the halfway point of the deck, the true count would be 6 divided by .50 = 12. Got the concept of that? In a single-deck game, you have to divide by fractions, and that isn’t easy to do, so all you single-deck counters need to practice this in order to figure it properly when you play.

Betting With the True Count

For each increase of 1 in the true count as figured by the Hi / Lo counting method, the player’s advantage increases by about .5% in the average Blackjack game. If the casino has an edge over the basic strategy player of .40% (6 decks, double on any first two cards, double after splitting pairs, dealer stands on A-6), it takes a true count of just about 1 in order to get “even” with the house. Being even means that the player who utilizes proper basic strategy will win as much as s/he loses — in the long run — at a true count of one. A true count of 2 gives the counter an edge of .5% over the house; a true count of 3 gives the player an edge of 1% and so forth.

It is the edge that a player has on the upcoming hand which determines their bet. Counters bet only a small portion of their capital on any given hand, because while they will win in the long run, they could lose any one hand. By betting an amount which is in proportion to their advantage (called the “Kelly Criterion”), they are maximizing their potential while minimizing the risk. A lot of people misinterpret the Kelly Criterion by assuming that the amount bet is in direct proportion to the advantage. They think that if you have a 1% edge, you should bet 1% of your “bankroll” and that is incorrect. What they are forgetting is the doubling and pair splitting which goes on in the course of a game and that increases the risk or “variance” of a hand. For a game with rules like those listed above, the optimum bet is 76% of the player’s advantage. Here’s a table of optimum bets which will work well for most multi-deck games:

True CountAdvantage% Optimum Bet
-1 or lower-1.00% or more0%
0-0.50%0%
10%0%
20.5%x76%.38%
31.0%x76%.76%
41.5%x76%1.14%
52.0%x76%1.52%
62.5%x76%1.90%
73.0%x76%2.28%

By using this table, you can determine the optimal bet for any bankroll; just multiply the figure in the last column by the amount of the bankroll. Thus, for a bankroll of $3000, the optimal bet for a true count of 2 is .0038 X $3000 = $11.40.

Some Practical Considerations

First and foremost, it isn’t practical to bet in units of less than $1, so a betting schedule must be rounded off. Secondly, it is more appropriate to bet in units of $5 so that you’ll look like the average gambler, plus it cuts down on the calculations you need to make. Further, it is impossible to refigure your optimal bet while seated at the table, even though it should be recalculated as the bankroll varies up and down. Finally, it just isn’t possible to play only at shoes where the true count is 2 or higher; you will sometimes have to make bets when the house has an edge. All of this rounding and negative-deck play cuts into your win rate, but by knowing the conditions which can cost you money, steps can be taken to minimize their impact on your earnings.

The Betting Spread

A single-deck game with decent rules in which thirty-six cards or more are used before a shuffle can be beaten by a 1 to 4 spread. A two-deck game in which seventy cards or more are used before the shuffle can usually be beaten by a 1 to 6 spread. A game with four decks or more will require a spread of 1 to 12 in order to get an edge. We’ll discuss the evaluation of games in a later lesson, but I wanted to lay the foundation for your money management by giving you an idea of what it takes to play winning Blackjack. The spread is expressed in betting units, so if you play with $5 chips, you’d be spreading from $5 to $60 in a six-deck game. Since a counter should have a bankroll consisting of a minimum of 50 top bets, a spread like this will require a bankroll of $3000.

With a $3000 bankroll, a betting schedule could look like this:

True Count Player’s BetOptimum Bet
0 or lower$5$0
1$5$0
2$10$11.20
3$20$22.80
4$40$34.20
5$50$45.60
6$60$57.00

A betting schedule like this allows you to “parlay” your bets as the count rises, thus making you look more like a “gambler”.

YOU WILL SAVE A LOT OF MONEY AND FIND MORE PROFITABLE SITUATIONS IF YOU LEAVE A TABLE WHEN THE COUNT HAS GONE DOWN TO A TRUE OF – 1. BUT LEAVE ONLY AFTER LOSING A HAND; NO GAMBLER WOULD LEAVE A TABLE AFTER A WIN.

So, have I got your brain spinning? If so, just hang in there as I’ll be wrapping all this up in a nice, easy-to-understand package in the coming weeks. As always, get your homework, then you’re outta here.

Homework

None. How’s that for a break?



All material in the Blackjack School is © Copyright 2007 The GameMaster Online, Inc.

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JACK
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JACK

Can the 1-12 bet spread be covered in two hands of a 1-6 where two hands are played only during an advantage count? Any advantages or disadvantages to doing it this way?

Tyler
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Tyler

Recently I went to a casino where they offered A $5 min bet 8 deck game. They offered a rule that I haven’t seen discussed in the books I own or on this website, from what I’ve seen anyway. The dealer would deal the first card to each player plus herself. If you had a ten or a face card (maybe an ace, but I’m not sure) you had the option to put down an additional bet of up to 5x your original bet. Sometimes this seemed profitable when the dealer showed a 5 or 6, but I didn’t take… Read more »

newbie825
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newbie825

Hey Ken,

I’m confused… I thought, with all else being equal, your advantage is highest in a single deck game because the penetration is naturally better since you are already starting out with one deck. So why would you keep smaller spreads in a one deck game? That’s where the money’s at… right? I get that you’re referring to the spreads that are necessary to “beat” a particular game, but it just seems counterproductive because you’re missing out on an opportunity. Or am I way off…

Jim
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Jim

Roger that. Thanks Ken!

Do you think you could do a lesson on Hi-Lo vs. KO vs. RE-KO? I’d love to know how the systems statistically compare in different circumstances.

Jim
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Jim

Hey Ken. Quick question. I want to try out the casinos in my hometown ~ $5 minimum, 6 decks, H17, ds, late surrender ~ which (depending on which strategy engine I look at) gives the house odds of either 0.58% or 0.66%. Assuming the higher number (worst comes to worst), I calculated out the advantage with different counts, multiplied it by 0.76 as above, and calculated my optimum bet for each true count. But here’s the problem! ~ you said a 6 deck BJ game can be beat with a 12:1 split, but using my calculations, the only time I… Read more »

Thomas
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Thomas

So I believe I found the flaw, and it was in my calculations. I’m just going to put this here for anyone who stumbles across it that and has the same question. In my calculations for High Low, I factored in the disadvantage off the top (a generic .5% for te house) whereas I didn’t for the hi lo lite. That makes sense why the advantage was .5% off. Snyder isn’t quite as straight forward in his book about factoring in the advantage off the top into the true edge count as this website is, but I guess he leaves… Read more »

Thomas
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Thomas

Something I’m confused about. I compared the Hi Low here to the HiLo lite in calculating the edge. And with each hypothetical situation I worked out based on TC and decks remaining, the HiLoLite gave me an edge that was 1/2% more than the HiLow. Is this a known difference or may I be doing something wrong in my calculations? If I’m doing this right, should they come out the same? And if there is a difference, which one would be more preferable?

TEMO
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TEMO

The casino here in my place only has 8 deck minimum $15 dollar table. Is it mean I should prepare $10,000 in bankroll in order to make money? The problem is I don’t have too much money…

Jason
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Jason

@Glen,

You may be pleased to know that Tunica Roadhouse, next door to Horseshoe Tunica, has a $3 table with normal beatable rules.

stefan
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stefan

i have also hitting in negative counts my 13 and 14 againt dealers 3/4/5/6 and most of the times i saved all the players but thet never remember this they only remember when i took the “bust ” card instead to leave it gor the dealer.i dont even try to explained them ….

anonymous
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anonymous

You’re doing this wrong in principle. You see there are two things here. Risk of ruin, and optimization of the expectation of the logarithm of your bankroll. Bottom line: if you have less than 10 thousand dollars, do NOT use your bankroll in the calculation of your bet amount. Bet as if you had 10 thousand dollars. That’s under GOOD conditions. 15 dollar min bet on a 2-deck game, 5 dollar min bet on a 6-deck game. This depends on the exact conditions you’ll meet, of course. The minimum bet completely ruins the assumptions you use to produce these results.… Read more »

anonymous
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anonymous

Also, almost never leave in the middle of a shoe. You can do it occasionally, if you have a decent excuse, like you’ve been playing a while and it’s not unreasonable for you to leave and take a break. It’s the quickest way to be banned from a casino. That’s how I got banned from my first casino. You need to sit there and take your punishment. Continue betting the minimum, all the way through the shoe, no matter how negative the count gets. You can minimize your losses by memorizing the NEGATIVE decision thresholds. Like I can tell you,… Read more »

Bill Swann
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Bill Swann

I Agree, though when the True Count hits a minus 2 or 3, it is tempting If I am at a high limit table, over 200 , I would leave with a TC of minus 2, However. On occasion negative counts win,

Stefan
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Stefan

Excelent answer thanks alot

Stefan
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Stefan

Thanks 4 your answer !!!

Stefan
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Stefan

O ken o ken !!u know what i understand?and please feel free to tell me if i am wrong.its very very hard to beat the game !!what i mean …u tell that to beat 6deck game we need large spread.very logical.but large spreads bring heat to the table… and except bankroll someone needs perfect counting and a lots of hours and some little but some good luck/variance most for mental support !how ever the world of card counting and the how u see the game after knowing is priceless.for one more time thanks a lot !

Glen
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Glen

Hi Ken, I see under recent comments that you replied about the KO system, but I cant see the last few replies. I refreshed and restarted my computer but it seems I can’t see the last few relies, what can I do?
Thanks,
Glen

Glen
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Glen

Hi Ken.
I had stated my plan earlier, $2500 Bank, $20 at TC+1 up to $50 at TC+4 on $10 min. table. You had said this is a reasonable approach, but after re-reviewing this lesson would it be more reasonable to wait until TC+2 before going to $20 as if I’m correct TC+1 would be even with the casino. My thinking on this is that the bank would last longer if there’s a negative streak.
Thanks,
Glen

Stefan
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Stefan

0.76 i think is for canculating the optimum bet based on your true count.

terry
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terry

HI KEN!what is the meaning of advantage?for example,when true count is 5 the advantage is 2.0%x76%,equal to 1.5%,is that means we have 51.5%/48.5% Winrate,or just 50.75%/49.25% winrate?thank you very much!

Stefan
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Stefan

Ken great site u have !!its my second home here !!!i dont get it sith the bets!!may be my english sucks !!.until tc 1 i play only minimum bet for example 5 euro.if the tc goes 4 should i bet 4×5euro?

Glen
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Glen

Hi Ken. I’ve been enjoying your site. Thank you. I’ve been studying and practicing using your BST. My plan is to start with a $2500.00 bank, betting $10 min bet to $50max w/ + 9 or better true count a hand. Playing at Mohegan Sun, currently 6 decks,S17,DAS,peek,late surrender. My goal to start is+ $100.00 for the day then stop playing. My question is what should my stop/loss be for the day, -$100.00? It doesn’t seem practical to deplete my entire bank to attempt this goal. Also would it just be better to use the $2500.00 bank with my $10… Read more »

Stev
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Stev

Hi, if the optimum bet in the shoe game, for a single hand, is 76% of the player’s advantage, for 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 hands how much money should bet?

John
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John

Hi Ken,

Say for example I was at a $15 minimum table, would you recommend using the same spread like the one listed. So $5 would be $15, $10 would be $30 etc etc?

Also, say for example I had a bankroll where I could afford to bet $20 – $240. If I was at a $5 table should I just bet $5 when the count is 1 or less and then jump to $40 when it get to 2. Other than maybe raising casino interest in your play, would this be a good strategy

Jose
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Jose

I have a question. What is better: bet $100 in one place or $50 in two places at the same table, considering a positive count?

I believe that at the same table there is a high correlation among the hands. On the other hand, the risk of playing two places at the same hand is fewer.

Stev
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Stev

Hi Ken,
have a question. if i play only with positive counts (TC>=2), my bankroll could be smaller than 50 top bets adviced in this lesson?

Naoufel
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Naoufel

and can you show me what’s the different between this chart http://www.blackjackapprenticeship.com/resources/blackjack-strategy-charts/ and yours

thanks

Naoufel
Guest
Naoufel

any advise for a bankroll of 500$ ?

Ram
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Ram

how can you calculate DD BJ T/C positive or negative count is only few cards to deal.thanks

Kaloyan
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Kaloyan

so is this the way you should bet when you are counting cards?

Joe
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Joe

Hello Ken,

Of how much would the minimum you advise my bankroll should be and at what point would I start winning? Also, at what point would I convert my running count to true count on a 6 deck shoe? After the first deck played, after half of the first deck, 2nd deck. What difference does it make?

mofa
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mofa

Hello Ken
One question : If I do not have that large amount of money in my bankroll should not play??

kel
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kel

Hello and thanks,

after this explanation I understand that the 76% should be taken as a not changing fixed percentage.

Also Thanks for the explanation of the 1/4 with is interesting for me in EU as well.

kel
Guest
kel

I didn’t get the 76% calculation. In the later lessons we learn to calculate the house edge. And we did three examples with the results 33%, 33% and 30%. Ho do we calculate now our bets? 80%-10×0.4%=76%???? for the mentioned above? and why?