The Importance of Using a Blackjack System
Blackjack players can be divided into three categories. Many play strictly for fun. They see Blackjack purely as a form of entertainment or a social event, drinking and chatting, happy when they win, but not overly concerned when they don’t. To them, losses are just the cost of having a good time. They play their hunches and have no use for Blackjack systems.
Then, there are the serious players who see Blackjack as a business. They will put in long hours at the table and use advanced techniques, such as card counting, to gain an advantage over the house. They study charts and tables, keep exhaustive records of their play, and avoid playing at tables with the party people. To them, system play is the only way to play.
Everyone else fits somewhere in between, deriving enough enjoyment from the game to accept any losses, but looking for ways to improve their play and win more frequently. They realize that Blackjack is more fun when making money than when spending it, so the time required for learning a system or two is a good investment.
Playing without a Blackjack System
Those who truly believe that winning at Blackjack is a matter of luck do not need a system for betting or card play. Theirs is a self-fulfilling prophesy, because having no system of wagering, betting simply with one’s gut instincts, really does turn Blackjack into a game of pure chance.
In fact, casinos depend on these “system-less” fortune hunters for their profits. They are constantly coming up with new versions of the game that give the house a greater advantage and attract those with more money than common sense.
Oddly enough, most of the players who claim they do not have a system actually do—albeit a poor one. It is most commonly called “flat betting.” The player wagers the same amount on every hand without variation. If every player used this “system,” casino management would be overjoyed. They would be guaranteed of raking in 0.4%~1.5% or more of every wager. The house cannot lose against flat betting.
As for the “lucky” player with no system, who plops down a huge stack of chips and hopes to walk away with a bundle, the casino welcomes the big bets. Such players are expected to “be lucky” roughly 99 out of every 200 times. It’s already built in to the house advantage. Management knows that anyone who plays this way will lose over the long term. Spectacular short-term wins simply fuel the myth that Blackjack is all about luck.
Advantage Blackjack Players
No Blackjack betting system can promise a player will never lose. But if nothing else, playing with a system removes some of the element of “luck” from the game. It helps a player manage his/her bankroll, limit losses, and take advantage of situations where the cards are favorable. When pit bosses notice a player using a Paroli, Martingale, or Labouchere betting progression, they are unconcerned about losing much. To them, it only means it may take a little longer to gain their profits.
What the casinos really do fear—so much so that they train surveillance personnel to look for them—are so-called “advantage players.” These are the Blackjack players who use systems and strategies to gain a mathematical advantage over the house. It is not easy, but it is absolutely possible to turn the house edge to the player’s favor.
Using an advantage betting system, such as plus/minus card counting, is not illegal, although casinos may eject players caught using it. The more enlightened ones will suffer low-rolling card counters and make application of the system difficult by frequently shuffling or changing dealers, fast-playing or slow-playing the hands, and changing table minimum.
Blackjack systems work. Some work better than others, but any system that accurately tells a player how much to bet is going to eliminate many losses and lead to bigger wins. Not using one is tantamount to paying the casino a tariff for sitting at the table.