Quick & Easy Soft Hand Strategy

Probably the most misplayed hands in blackjack are the soft hands.  The casual player gets easily baffled about when to hit or double.

A good rule to follow with soft hands is to “Always count your Ace as an 11 first.”  You do that until your total is over 21, then make it a 1 and play your hand like it is a hard hand.

 

Doubling Down with soft hands:

As a start, you always want to double down when the dealer is showing a 5 or 6, if you have a soft 13-18. The idea behind this is to maximize the return on your bet.  When you double down, you believe you are more likely to win the hand than lose the hand.  With a 5 or 6 showing, the dealer is going to have to take a hit, with a greater probability of busting and you winning.  You want to take advantage of that by making a bigger bet through doubling down.

The strategy charts will tell you the only other times to double with a soft hand is when the dealer shows a 3 or 4.  When the dealer shows a 3, you double with a 17 or 18, when the dealer shows a 4, you double with a 15-18.  Other than those instances, you’re going to just hit or stand.

The strategy behind doubling down also entails that the play must also return a greater profit than playing that hand in any other manner!  So, with many soft hands against a weak dealer’s up-card, you make money over time regardless of whether you hit or double.  But with certain cards, just hitting makes more money because it gives you the ability to take a second hit if your first hit is low.  Doubling down with the wrong soft total can make you go from favorite to underdog, so playing the cards right is essential.

Rule of 9

This is the final easy way to learn the correct times to double down with soft hands.  First, you definitely have to have A/2 – A/7 (13-18) before thinking about doubling.  What you then do is add your kicker card (the non-Ace) to the dealer’s up-card and if the total count is nine or greater, you double down on your bet. If the sum total is less than nine, you just want to hit your hand.

The Rule of 9 is only correct 94% of the time though because of the situation of A/4 against a dealer’s 4.  The rule says you should just hit that (sum total is 8), but mathematically you’re actually about a half percent better off if you double down on that. It’s a borderline call, and based on thousands of hands played, “in the long run” doubling down in that situation pays off more often than not. It’s an exception to the rule.  If you can remember this exception, playing the Rule of 9 will have you doubling down on soft hands, with precision. 

Final Thoughts

Learning to play correct soft doubling can add .10% advantage to basic strategy.  That may not seem like much, but over time, that can make a big difference in your profit/loss.  There are 3 easy rules to follow when deciding on soft doubling. They are: Always soft double against a 5 or 6, Never soft double against a 2 and if the dealer has a 3 or 4, go with the Rule of 9. 

Casual players make the mistake of doubling down against any dealer small up-card.  Don’t slip up like that!

There is “correct strategy” for when to double down with a soft hand…learn it!  Trust the charts!

 

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Blackjack Betting Progressions – Is a Negative a Positive?

In my previous post, I touched very quickly on negative progression betting.  This type of betting is when you increase the size of your bet after a loss. Let’s go over the good and bad of it.

Is It Effective?

One of the most well-known and used negative progression betting systems is The Martingale method.  With this system, the amount of your next bet, after a loss, is “double” the previous bet.  That is probably the biggest problem with this method.  There are other negative progression systems that don’t require doubling your bet size after a loss, but the principal is still the same, increase your bet after a loss.  The good thing about it is, that more than likely,  you’ll end up ahead or at least at a break even, if you win that next bet after a loss.  However, you’re headed for sure disaster with just a few losses in a row.

Can Negative Progression Betting Work?

Here’s a projected outcome using a negative progression system.  I’ll use the same run of ten dealt hands that I used in my previous post on positive progression systems.

    • Hand #1, Bet $15, win, win $15, cumulative win/loss = $15
    • Hand #2, Bet $15, win, win $15, cumulative win/loss = $30
    • Hand #3, Bet $15, win, win $15, cumulative win/loss = $45
    • Hand #4, Bet $15, lose, lose $15, cumulative win/loss = $30
    • Hand #5, Bet $30, lose, lose $30, cumulative win/loss = 0
    • Hand #6, Bet $60, lose, lose $60, cumulative win/loss = -$60
    • Hand #7, Bet $120, win, win $120, cumulative win/loss = $60
    • Hand #8, Bet $15, win, win $15, cumulative win/loss = $75
    • Hand #9, Bet $15, lose, lose $15, cumulative win/loss = $60
    • Hand #10, Bet $30 win, win $30, cumulative win/loss = $90

While this outcome is favorable, it is that way because I have only projected a maximum of 3 losses in a row.  What is more likely to happen at a casino is 5 or 6 losses in a row!  Think about that using a negative progression system with a minimum bet of $15 and 5 losses in a row.  The betting progressions would be: $15, $30, $60, $120, $240, for a total of $465 in just 5 bets.  Your sixth bet would have to be $480, and if you finally win with that sixth hand, you’re up $15.  Keeping that in mind, your starting bankroll would have to be almost $1000, just in case your session started with 5 losses in a row. Not being a professional, I would never have my starting bankroll that high. Yes, that is an extreme example of what could happen, but it is an easy way to show the negative about the negative progression betting. But that’s why they call it gambling.

Can You Afford It?

As stated earlier, doubling up on losses is the basis of the Martingale betting system.  Now of course you can modify the system to fit your own gambling style by increasing your bet by a lower percentage (not doubling) and then you can withstand more losses in a row.  Unfortunately, you never now how long a losing streak will be.  Since the casino will always have a slight advantage, you have to realize that you will probably be losing more hands than you will be winning. That’s the inherent risk in gambling of course. The question to ask yourself is: Can your bankroll handle 5 or 6 losses in a row, if you increase your bet after each loss? How many times are you willing to double up on your bet?  What is more  likely to happen though, is that you will reach the table maximum in allowed bet size, so you may not be able to make your money back with that next bet, even if the next hand is a winner for you.  Remember, the reasoning behind doubling your bet size after a loss, is to win back your lost money with the next hand that will hopefully be a winner. In my experience playing blackjack, it’s not too often that a session of blackjack goes “win a hand, lose a hand, win a hand, lose a hand,” and so on. Blackjack is definitely a game of streaks of wins or losses.

Winning With Negative Progression

Professional blackjack players will tell you that negatve progression betting is risky because it is sort of based on what is known as “The Gamblers Fallacy.”  The Gamblers Fallacy is the mistaken belief that, if something happens more frequently than normal during a given period it will happen less frequently in the future.  Negative progression bettors wrongfully rely on the belief that there won’t be a lot of losses in a row.  I can’t rely on that.  I’ve seen too many times, players losing 6 or 7 hands in a row.  Now hopefully they would get up after perhaps 5 losses in a row, but they “have a feeling” the cards are due to turn around in their favor and they will win the next hand.

As shown in my example above, a nice amount of money can be won, but only if there is not a long streak of losing hands. With a relatively small run of losing hands (5 or 6), a lot of money can be lost very quickly.  In my area, the cheapest minimum bet blackjack table is $15, so doubling up on bets can add up to a lot of money very fast. I’m not a professional. I enjoy playing for fun and hopefully making a little side money.  In my opinion, there is definitely too much risk and too much money involved with using a negative progression betting system.   A negative progression betting system can be good, if you’re willing to start with a large bankroll,  just in case you run into a bad run of cards.

Conclusion

In my mind, a negative is not a positive. I’ll stick with a positive progression system where you can probably play for a little longer, despite a bad run of cards.  I believe a negative progression betting system should be left to the true professional player to use because it does involve taking a big risk that you don’t have several losing hands in a row.  That’s too big a gamble for me…leave it to the professionals!

 

 

 

 

Winning Blackjack Betting Strategies-The Good vs The Bad


Having a strategic betting system when playing blackjack is the best way to ensure a winning session.  The problem lies in figuring out which one is best for you.  There are so many to choose from, keeping in mind the different deviations that can be played, that you should pick the one that’s the easiest for you to learn.

Basic Types of Blackjack Betting Systems

For the most part, blackjack betting is done with progressive betting, which is choosing to raise or lower the amount of your bet based on winning or losing the previous hand. Blackjack betting systems are defined as either Positive Progressive Betting or Negative Progressive Betting.  With positive progressive betting, you raise your bet after a win.  With Negative Progressive betting, you raise your bet after a loss.  I personally like and use a simple positive progressive system because I don’t want to use something that is inherently negative!  I try to always think positive!

Positive Progressive Betting – The Good

This type of betting is quite popular with blackjack players because you increase your bet as long as you’re winning and go back down to a minimum bet when you lose.  This can be an effective strategy when the game play is “streaky,” as often is the case. In playing blackjack, there can definitely be streaks of several winning hands in a row or losing hands in a row.  When you are on a streak of several winning hands in a row, it’s great because you’re raising your bet after each win.  Once the winning stops, you go back to the minimum bet, If the losing streak continues, you’re only losing the minimum amount.  What’s good about this is that it would allow you to probably play at the table for a while without a big loss if streaks are consistent.  You’re going to be winning a little more with each wining hand in a row, and only losing the minimum with each losing hand in a row.  Let’s take a look at how I would use this system, on a run of 10 hands:

    • Hand #1 – Bet $15, win, win $15, cumulative win/loss: $15
    • Hand #2 – Bet $20, win, win $20, cumulative win/loss: $35
    • Hand #3 – Bet $25, win, win $25, cumulative win/loss: $60
    • Hand #4 – Bet $30, lose, lose $30, cumulative win/loss:  $30
    • Hand #5 – Bet $15, lose, lose $15, cumulative win/loss: $15
    • Hand #6 – Bet $15, lose, lose $15, cumulative win/loss:  $0
    • Hand #7 – Bet $15, win, win $15, cumulative win/loss: $15
    • Hand #8 – Bet $20, win, win $20, cumulative win/loss: $35
    • Hand #9 – Bet $25, lose, lose $25, cumulative win/loss: $10
    • Hand #10 – Bet $15, win, win $15, cumulative win/loss: $25

This scenario is assuming all winning hands were even money wins, no blackjacks or double downs that pay more.  You can see that with just 3 wins or losses in a row, I could still be winning with this relatively conservative positive progessive betting system.  I find that I generally don’t have more than 3 winning hands in a row, so my betting rarely goes over  $30. Since I don’t do this as a profession, that’s okay. Also keep in mind that if some of the wins were doubled or blackjack wins, I’d be up even more.

Does Progressive Betting Work?

Many blackjack players swear that progressive betting doesn’t work in the long run, because it does rely on streaks to work effectively.  So, my theory behind using a positive progressive strategy is to know when to get up from the table.  Sure the pros say it won’t work in the long run, I say, use it in the short run.  My strategy is “don’t be greedy.”  I live close to a casino, so I keep it a rule that if the cards start to run bad, get up and come back tomorrow!  I have my own take on a positive progressive system, as outlined above, and my goal for each session is to win $100, or lose $60, or play for just 1 hour. Once 1 of those three results happens, I leave the table and come back another day.  With any betting system you should always have a pre-determined win/loss limit.

Just a caution, I’m talking about a POSITIVE PROGRESSIVE system.  A negative progressive system is a totally different story to be discussed at another time.  As mentioned earlier, with a negative progressive system, you increase (usually double) your bet with every loss. Just imagine how quickly you could lose your money with just a short streak of losing hands.

Conclusion

Professional blackjack players will tell you that casino’s like progressive bettors (especially negative progressive bettors) because in the long run, they will lose  There again are the magic words “in the long run,”  and so your goal should be to play disciplined and not stay at a losing table.  A positive progressive bettor can lose money, but will have increased winnings to get ahead and offset the losses.  Positive progressive betting is good and can work!