Online Blackjack Odds

The Negative Progression

By Howard Moon

Part of the blackjack betting systems series by a professional blackjack card counter.

One of the most common useless systems is built upon the principal that because one result has not occurred for some time that it is more likely to occur now. Think about it this way, if I flip a fair coin what are the odds that the coin will land with the heads side facing up? Well this is fairly easy – 50/50. Half of the time that I do this the coin will land with heads facing up the way.

Now what happens if the coin has just been flipped and it landed with heads facing? Does the fact that I’ve just flipped the coin and it’s landed heads up change the chances of it landing heads up this time? Of course not. There’s no magical probability magnet that will force the coin to land tails up just because it landed heads up last time. While the probability of tossing 2 heads in a row at the start of the sequence is only 1 in 4, once the first head has already occurred the odds of the next result being a head revert to 1 in 2.

This idea can be extended – it does not matter how many times in a row the coin has landed heads up, the chances of it landing heads up on its next flip are still 50/50.

Now we can apply this to any gambling game we like. Just because the last 5 spins on the roulette wheel came up red does not mean that black is due to come up. Just because I’ve lost the last 12 hands in a row on this blackjack table, doesn’t make me any more likely to win the next hand. These are what can be considered independent events i.e. the past events have no bearing on the future (in fact blackjack hands are far from independent, but wins and losses provide no substantial useful information to help us predict the next event so in this instance can be considered to be independent).

The most common form of this system can be referred to as a Negative Progression. With the simplest negative progression, every time you lose a bet you double the amount you bet for the next round. The theory for this is that when you finally win a bet you’ll be up by however much you placed for an initial bet. So betting $1 to being with, after a loss $2 is placed, followed by $4 then $8. If the last bet was won, the total amount won would be $1 ($1+$2+$4=$7 lost compared to $8 won). The truth about this sort of system is that it will generate many small winning sessions but the sessions that you lose will be catastrophic!

There are also many very limiting and dangerous factors that stop this style of play having any practical use. Consider this; playing blackjack on a table with limits of $5-$2500 (far larger than ever normally occurs). The first bet is $5 and is lost. The progression now looks like this. $5, $10, $20, $40, $80, $160, $320, $640, $1280, $2560 – we can’t place that 10th bet as we’d have to bet more than the table limit. So by the time that I’ve lost 9 times in a row, I am now no longer in a position where I can win back the money I’ve lost – and as any experienced and knowledgeable gambler will be able to divulge, losing 9 bets in a row occurs a lot more frequently than might seem logical. This is the direct cause of the catastrophic losing sessions this system is plagued with. It would take 511 winning progressions where you end up one initial bet ahead to compensate for this one bad progression.

Another factor you might want to consider is that by the time you’ve lost 9 bets you would be betting $2560 to accumulate a win of the grand total of $5 – does that sound worth it to you?

There are many different variations on this betting system, ranging from waiting until a number of loses has occurred before the player start raising their bets to using some external indicator like waiting for a certain type of hand, or whether you are up or down overall – none of them will win in the long run. Some may delay the losing session, but I’m afraid that no system that is solely based on betting will ever gain an advantage over the house.

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