To effectively practice blackjack bankroll management, you need to set a budget, know how to calculate bet sizes based on your total budget and make use of strategies to help balance risk and rewards along the way.

Here, we’re going to tell you how to do exactly that. All of this, ultimately, can help to make you a better player.  

Budgeting for Your Blackjack Bankroll

Before you can actually manage your bankroll for blackjack, you need to determine what your budget is. After that, you can start deciding on your bet sizes at the blackjack table.

There are a number of factors you must consider here, with these being four of the most important:

Your Spending Power

A common way to calculate this is to use the 50/30/20 rule. This states that 50% of your salary should go towards ‘needs’ (rent/mortgage, groceries, bills, etc.), 30% towards investments, and 20% to ‘wants’.

Your blackjack bankroll should come from the 20%, not the 30%. It is a fun hobby, not a financial investment. Work out what other things you’d like to spend that 20% on (clothes, eating out, and so on), and – from there – identify how much you’ve got left over for blackjack.

Evaluating Your Skill and Experience

You must be honest and realistic here. 

If you’re just starting out at the blackjack table, we’d recommend using a smaller part of that aforementioned 20%. Everyone makes mistakes while learning a new game, and your mistakes shouldn’t cost you too much. You can always increase this as you grow more experienced, however, and – if you’re a veteran player – feel free to increase your budget.

Selecting Suitable Variants and Stakes

There are a number of blackjack variants out there. While the basic rules remain the same (hitting and standing, finishing with a hand closer to 21 than the dealer’s, etc.), these variants do have subtle differences. We wouldn’t say they have a major impact on your potential profits, however. 

What will certainly have an impact are the table limits. These tend to start around $1 or less, and can grow to vastly more. Again, we’d recommend sticking with the former as you’re learning the game, and moving up as you grow more experienced and confident.

Growth Potential

As with all casino bankroll management, blackjack budgeting is largely about balancing risk and reward. The more money you put in, the faster your bankroll will grow – assuming you win. At the same time, however, you’re obviously risking more of your money.

Card Counting

Historically, card counting has been a popular blackjack bankroll strategy

It involves keeping track of all the cards that come up. You can then use that knowledge to more accurately predict the next cards that will be drawn, based on the probabilities of a 52-card deck (although remember that 6-8 decks will be used on each blackjack table). 

Unfortunately, card counters won’t have much luck at online blackjack casinos. Primarily, that’s because – in most games – the decks are shuffled after every single hand. Even with those that shuffle less frequently, you’ll still only tend to get around halfway through the decks at most (e.g. 4 of the 8 decks) before the cards are shuffled anyway. 

In the latter case, there is software out there to help you out, but your account will definitely get suspended – and your bankroll frozen – if you get caught using it. 

Calculating Your Blackjack Bankroll blackjack bankroll management - american blackjack

Based on the previous section, you should be able to determine an overall budget. Now, it’s time to learn the basics of how to manage a blackjack bankroll. There are two main ways to do so. 

How to Calculate Your Bankroll Based on Units

Your unit size is the standard stake you’ll be using. If you’re flat betting (i.e. not using a progressive betting system), this will be the amount of money you place on every game of blackjack you play. 

If you divide your budget into fewer units, and therefore larger stake sizes, both the potential reward and the risk increase. Have too few units, however, and you’re likely to blow up your bankroll quickly. If your budget is $100, for example, and you’re going in with $20 units, there’s a strong chance you’ll blow through that $100 in no time. 

A good rule of thumb, to avoid this happening, is to have a maximum bet size of 10% of your blackjack bankroll. For $100, that’d mean 10 x $10 units. Some bettors feel this is still too aggressive, however, and – particularly when you’re starting out – you might want to cap your units at 5% of your bankroll. 

How to Calculate Your Bankroll Based on Risk of Ruin

b2c-risk-of-ruin blackjack bankroll management

Your Risk of Ruin in blackjack is the percentage chance that you will lose your whole bankroll. This can actually work in conjunction with splitting your bankroll into units quite nicely. 

There are a few factors that can help you determine Risk of Ruin. The most notable are the size of your bankroll, your unit size, and the number of hands you play.

Of these, the most important is the size of your bankroll. There are some excellent simulations online that show this, and it makes complete sense. 

If you’ve got $1,000 in your account, that gives you a lot more leeway – and the room to suffer more losses – than if you only have $100. 

To clarify, we are definitely still not telling you to stick more into your blackjack account than you can afford to lose. The statistical chances are, however, that the larger your budget, the lower your Risk of Ruin, as demonstrated in the above graph. If your budget is comparatively low, the stats suggest – as does common sense – that you must lower your stakes accordingly. 

Helpful Bankroll Management Strategies for Blackjack Players

blackjack bankroll management - live blackjack

By now, you should have a good idea of how big your bankroll should be, and the size of your individual units per game. Now, it’s time to find out how you can get more guidance with your blackjack bankroll management. Here are four of the best routes you can take. 

Unit Method

This is the most straightforward blackjack bankroll strategy of all. Also known as ‘flat betting’, you literally just take the unit size you identified earlier, and use this for every single wager you place. 

The main advantage of this approach is that you’ll know the minimum number of games you’ll get out of your bankroll precisely. If your bankroll is $100, and your unit size is $5, you’re definitely getting at least 20 games.

Percentage Method

The main disadvantage of the flat betting blackjack money management strategy is that it doesn’t account for subsequent losses, or – especially – profits. The latter is arguably more important, since – with money in your account – you can technically ‘afford’ higher stakes. 

That’s where the percentage method comes in. Rather than using a percentage of your initial total bankroll for your stakes, you use your current bankroll. If you’re sticking to 5%, for example, that might see you starting at $5 with a $100 bankroll, but – if you get to $200 – those stakes will grow to $10. Thus, your risk and reward are kept in proportion to your spending power.

Session Method

A ‘session’ is simply how long you play blackjack in one go. Because you’ll likely be playing in sessions, rather than just one or two hands at a time, dividing your bankroll up per-session can be logical and convenient. 

Having a blackjack bankroll session strategy just means setting aside a certain amount of money for that session. We’d recommend doing so based on units, and aiming to have 100 units (whatever size they are) available. 

In practice, this means you’d sit down with your session bankroll, and a time frame decided (two hours, for example). You’d then stop playing when you run out of money (or hit your loss limits), or the time elapses.

Progressive Betting Strategies

There are two types of progressive betting. Positive progression aims to make higher profits, and a negative progression betting strategy seeks to recover your losses.  

Blackjack isn’t a perfect fit for most progressive betting strategies over the long run, because it’s not a straightforward 50/50 proposition (like red/black with roulette money management, for example). Thanks to a relatively low house edge, however, these strategies will still mostly work as intended.

Avoid These Common Bankroll Blunders in Blackjack

blackjack bankroll management - online blackjack

A key to cutting down on your mistakes, as you start off with money management for blackjack, is knowing the most common pitfalls to avoid. By doing so, you can save yourself both money and frustration. Here are some of the blunders which newer players often make:

  • Chasing Losses – When you’re down money, your natural instinct – rather than accepting it and walking away – may be to bet even more, in an effort to recoup your losses. Not only are you likely to play worse here, since you’re probably not thinking clearly. You’re also likely falling foul of Gambler’s Fallacy, by assuming that your ‘luck will change’ if you just keep playing.
  • Not Having Limits In Place – Technically, your recommended blackjack bankroll – as decided using the aforementioned factors – serves as a maximum spend. You might not want to risk losing all this, however, in which case you can put your own loss limit in place (50%, 75%, or whatever you please). Just as important though, is having a winnings target in place. When you hit this, you simply collect your winnings and walk away, rather than opening yourself to the possibility of a losing streak. 
  • Not Knowing the Rules – You probably know the basic rules of how to play blackjack, but there are two other areas to look into before betting any money. Firstly, check exactly what variant you’ll be playing, and what its specific rules are. Secondly, ensure you know how the actual betting works (including doubling down, splitting, etc.), before actually putting any money down.
  • Not Following Basic Strategy – Successful blackjack money management usually involves ‘perfect play’ in the game itself. That’s actually easier than it sounds though, since you can keep a cheat sheet open beside you as you play, which tells you exactly what to do in each situation.

Final Thoughts

With its blend of luck and skill, it’s not hard to see why blackjack continues to be enormously popular. As with all casino games, however, the game itself is weighted against you thanks to the built-in house edge. Managing your blackjack bankroll is essential in boosting your chances of overcoming this over the long haul. 

After reading this article, you now know how to set your budget to play blackjack, split it up, and manage it. Remember to start slowly and ramp up gradually, and keep your play as close to perfect as possible by using the many online resources available to you. 


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