Betting on Bets
Knowing how to bet can be one of the most mystifying aspects of blackjack for new players. The intricacies of basic strategy pale in comparison. Most newbies know enough about the game to realize that sticking with minimum bets will simply keep them in the game. But being in the game isn't all when it comes to blackjack. To really derive the full pleasure out of the game, you have to know how to bet appropriately. This includes:
Knowing when to stick to minimum bets
Knowing when to increase minimum bets, and by how much
Knowing when to decrease bets, and by how much
It can be extremely frustrating to watch other players vary the size of their bets on various hands when you don't know the rationales they follow for making such moves. That's right, rationales. The truth is, there isn't one single approach or method when it comes to betting on blackjack.
Why Betting Is Complex
We can predict with certainty the kinds of plays to make based on basic strategy. The formulas for these plays have been tested millions, if not billions, of times. Therefore, we're assured of them working as they should if we use them correctly. Even card counting is based on a specific set of proven, tested approaches that, when applied correctly, can result in increased returns from our bets. However, there is really no one perfect approach, no black and white, no sure thing when it comes to betting on blackjack. Because of this, a lot of betting approaches are simply that — approaches, not theories that can be subjected to scientific scrutiny.
Due to their structure, some betting systems will move players out of their comfort zone. If you're worried about betting outside your limits, you'll want to avoid the betting systems that require large variations in betting.
Betting on the Count
Many blackjack players believe that the only way you can know for sure how to bet on blackjack is by knowing when the cards are in your favor. In other words, you have to be a card counter to be a big winner.
There's some truth to this, as knowing when you're more likely to win a hand is definitely a factor in feeling confident about increasing your bet amount. But what if you don't want to learn how to count cards? Can you still come away a winner? Absolutely. There are tons of blackjack players who do just fine at the tables and don't count cards. They do use basic strategy, though, and they follow betting patterns that work for them, including:
Never betting on hunches or gut feelings
Using basic strategy to guide betting decisions
Never betting more than they can afford to lose
Setting a limit on the amount of money they will lose that day
The third and fourth points were discussed in some detail in Chapter 11, but they are both good points to review here as they are tough for many people to stick to. Setting a betting limit is one of the best betting strategies you could ask for. People who fail to set a limit on how much they'll lose during a gaming session simply pile up more losses than those who have developed this discipline and follow it.
Why do people have such a tough time with this? There are plenty of reasons. Ask your fellow players, and you're likely to hear things like this:
“It's only money.” Sure, but why lose more of it than you need to?
“I just know the big win is right around the corner. I can feel it in my bones.” Bone (or gut) feelings usually don't pan out, although they sometimes do.
“I gotta go for the big win.” Why? Many smaller wins are better than one big loss.
“It's found money since I won it. Why not keep going?” Money is money. Regardless of how it comes to you, it has the same value.
“Aw, I would have blown it on something else anyway.” Probably so, if this is your attitude.
As you learned in Chapter 11, money management is essential to gambling success. You need to know how much money to keep in your bankroll, how much to bet, when to increase bets, and when to decrease bets. The bottom line: never bet what you can't afford to lose. The aftermath simply isn't worth it.