Lesson 8 – Money Management – Part 2

Last Updated: February 18, 2020

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.

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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%

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

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


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.


None. How’s that for a break?

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2 questions:
1-I saw you mentioned (on the website) is better to play alone. When playing with others just leave at negative counts but alone can’t do that.Is it still worth to play the negative counts as will play more hands per hour?
2-some casinos require playing 2 boxes (hands) when playing alone. How do I account for these in the units betting. I have been place most casinos are like that so what should I do?


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?


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 the offer at all because I figured what I had bet with originally was what I should stick to. It was also a full table and when I got dealt a ten, there were other tens on the table as well, so the count was decreasing. I’ll also note when this occurred for me, the count was never very high. Maybe TC of 3 at the highest, but I kept my sessions short and didn’t get much playing time anyway. My question is this; when is it profitable to take that extra bet after the first deal? The only way I see it really benefitting is if the table is full, and everyone else’s cards increases the count while I still have a ten. Otherwise I just stick with the original bet I put down based on the TC at the time before the deal.


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…


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.


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 get anywhere close to betting $60 a hand (12×5) is when the true count hits the 11-12 range, which I don’t see happening very often.

Plus there’s the fact that I might not have $3000 bankroll ~ $1500 is more likely.

So do you have any suggestions for what by betting spread should be? Thanks!


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 that up to the reader to assume.


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?


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…



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


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 ….


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. Imagine if you only had 1000 dollars and the minimum bet was 25, 2 deck game. Chances are good you’re going to lose your money. BUT you’re definitely playing a losing game if you decide your optimal bet is 5 dollars (half a percent of your money) for every 1 the true count is past 1! (It’s actually more like 1.8, I just use 2). You won’t even bet more than the minimum except very occasionally if you do that, and you need to frequently bet more for the odds to be in your favor. It should stand to reason that’s a losing game there. There are two methods of play – you can minimize risk of ruin, which means betting as if you had about 10 thousand dollars no matter how little or much you have, and in that case, you can expect linear gains, but exponentially decreasing risk of ruin. OR – you shouldn’t do this unless you have more than 10k – your bet size is dependent on your bankroll, in which case you can expect exponential gains, and linearly decreasing risk of ruin as your bankroll grows. You have those 2 choices. Now me, I have little money, and I play to minimize risk of ruin. And let tell you the correct way of doing this, to do that. You are forced to bet the minimum no matter what. But what you should do is bet twice the minimum bet in addition to that for each 1 the truecount is past 2, in a 2 deck game, and thrice the minimum bet in addition to that for each 1 the truecount is past 2, in a 6 deck game.

So if the min bet is 25, in a 2 deck game, you bet 25 if the true count is -2, or -1, or 0, or 1, or 2. If the true count is 3, you bet 75. If it’s 4, you bet 125.

If the min bet is 5, in a 6 deck game, you bet 5 if the true count is -2, or -1, or 0, or 1, or 2. If the true count is 3, you bet 20. If it’s 4, you bet 35. If it’s 5, you bet 50.

That’s how you minimize risk of ruin. I have done extensive calculations to arrive at this result. The minimum bet completely ruins the simplicity of calculating kelly optimality, it makes risk of ruin something positive instead of 0, just like stock market broker fees ruin strategies that are strictly in proportional to your bankroll in the stock market, if you don’t have enough money, you need to make bigger bets than you would otherwise make, in either case.


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, hit on hard 14 against 2, 3, 4, 5 if the count goes to -4, -5, -6, -7. Pray you never need to use that information. I actually HAVE. I remember, I hit on a hard 14 against a 5 once, and the next card was a 2, and I said “even I’m not that crazy” and I stood. The irony was that the 2 would have made the dealer bust though. But on average, I did the right thing.

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,


How could a 2 make the dealer bust??


Dealer had a 5 showing. Then turns over a 9. Then takes a 7. If the player hadn’t taken the 2, the dealer would have got the 2 and with a total of 16 have to hit again. The 7 would have busted the dealer in that case.


Excelent answer thanks alot


Thanks 4 your answer !!!


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 !


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?


Ok, NP, Thank you.
You said “….this course from the GameMaster targets Hi-Lo…” so does the Basic Strategy or Betting Sequence/Spread different if I decide to use KO?
Thanks again,


I did buy the book, but I’ve been practicing with Hi-Lo on your trainer and am almost ready to give it a go. But in trying to find an easier approach (eliminating the division/deck count)
during casino play I came across KO and am not sure if I want to invest more time and effort in practicing all over again. Anyway,
Thanks yet again,


Sorry, not during casino play: during research after casino play


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.


It’s very hard to find a $5 table these days in the East, so I could do $10 (and that’s getting hard too) to $120. So then would the bet spread at TC+2 $20, TC+3 $30, up to $120 at TC+12?

Also would the bet spread or TC change at all if using the KO count instead of Hi-Lo (I just bought the Knock Out book)?

And last, I was thinking of taking a shot (like you said) at increasing to a new level using this small (Not really that small to me) bank and if I lose this bank, practice more while raising another bank. OR should I keep practicing while raising the correct bank ($6000 I believe) for this spread?

This site, your quick responses, and professionalism are very refreshing!
Thank you!


Sorry, my first question was suppose to read: So then would the bet spread be TC+2 $20, TC+3 $30, up to $120 at TC+12?


Thanks, you responded before I even posted my correction, lol.
And though I will read the entire KO book ( I know the formula already), I also just wanted to know if the KO TC becomes the same as in Hi-Lo?
Also, just to make sure I have it right, TC+2 $20, +3 $40, +4 $80, +5 $100, +6 $120?


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


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!


hi ken!I have seen other forum posts,says increase tc+1 has 0.5%advantage,instead of 0.5%x76%,Which one is right?thank you very much~~~~


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?


All these with spread 5 /60 ????? If yes for each tc plus 1i raise two betting unit ?if was playing 10/100 spread that woud be twice times the numbers up?


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 to $50 bets and use an hourly plan, I mean if I play 2 or 3 days a week and stop regardless of gain or loss at a certain time, like 4 hours (I understand that my bank could be lost in this time with a bad streak and that negative decks are the time to ask to hold my place and use the restroom) ?
Thanks, have a great Memorial Day!


Thanks Ken. My idea was to start at $10 min bet and add $5 at each +1 true count, +1 = $15, +2 = $20, up to $50 at +8. But I could go with $20 at +1, $30 at +2, up to $50 at +4. I would also start at a $5 table if I could find one for betting low while the count is negative. I will also try to do 3 one hour sessions with breaks for rest and
some food or coffee in between.
Does this sound like a good plan to get started?


Thanks Ken


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?

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