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Best of John G. Brokopp

Gaming Guru

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High Expectations on a Low-Roller Bankroll

28 June 2000

The advice given by many gambling experts as to the amount of money you should bring to the casino to give you a fighting chance at winning often is unreasonable for the average recreational gaming fan. Buying into table games or sitting down at the slot machines with hundreds of dollars is simply unrealistic for a majority of us.

The fact of the matter is that most people are lucky to be able to afford to bring along $100 for an evening of casino gambling. As most of us also know, that $100 can evaporate mighty fast if you catch a cold streak. What's a "low roller" to do? There are ways to fight back by using optimum playing strategies.

Today we're going to consider bringing that $100 to a blackjack table. The game we'll be talking about is a $5 minimum bet table. It's improbable, although not impossible, to expect a positive return buying in for $100 at a $10 game. After all, if you get a double down hand on your first bet, you're risking $20 or 20 percent of your bankroll right off the bat! There's just not enough "breathing" room to play comfortably or enough time to weather the inevitable cold streaks.

O.K. So you lay your $100 on the table and the dealer moves a stack of red ($5) chips over to you. Plan "A" would be to restrict your wagers to $5 on every hand, surely an option but not your best plan. Such strategy may keep you in action for a while, but your prospects of a making a profit are diminished simply because you are not able to take advantage of what the game has to offer. For example, if you were to win five straight hands (an exceptional run) you'd have only $25 profit to show for it.

The object of the game of blackjack is to take advantage of favorable situations when they develop. Getting the opportunity to double down and split, not to mention the fact you are paid 3-2 for blackjacks, is what makes the difference between making money and just playing to stay even.

Another way to increase your profit potential is to increase your bet. But how do you do it and when? I've seen players push a stack of chips into the betting circle strictly on a whim. I've seen them win, but I've also seen them lose. Making big bets on a "feeling" is not what I'm talking about.

Surely the wisest time to increase your bet at the blackjack table is if you utilize some system of card counting and you know when the shoe is tilted a bit in favor of the players. This is a solid way to take advantage of the game. It's an educated guess and worth playing the percentages. There are no guarantees, but it's better than increasing your bets on an uneducated guess.

Short of that particular strategy, you may want to use a form of progression betting that I've used with success on occasion. I don't advocate progression betting because it can get you in trouble, too. But this is a relatively harmless method for average players if it is employed prudently:

The series starts by making a $5 bet. If you win the hand, you double the bet to $10 on the next hand. If you win that one too, you take $5 back and bet the remaining $15 on the next hand. What you've done is take back your original investment and bet the $15 profit you've made on your two winners. If you win your $15 bet, you take $25 profit and start a new series with a $5 bet.

There are some pitfalls using this system. First, in order for you to pull it off, you have to win three straight hands. Sounds easy, but as we all know it isn't. However, when you do, it's a nifty way for a $5 player to make a little more money than he would have made betting a single $5 chip on those hands.

Also, after winning the first two hands and risking your $15 profit on the third, you will be back to even if you lose that third hand. But that's the chances you are taking in return for taking a shot at greater profit potential.

An added plus is the fact that you can take better advantage of splitting and double down situations. If you get a double down hand when you've got a $15 bet out there, you increase your bet to $30 and suddenly have the potential for a nice little hit. It also increases the excitement of the game for an average $5 player, knowing there's a $60 "swing" riding on winning or losing.

John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp

John G. Brokopp
John G. Brokopp's gaming column appears in Chicago Sun Times (Chicago, Illinois), The Times (Northwest Indiana), The Quad City Times (Davenport, Iowa), The Courier News (Elgin, Illinois), The Gazette (Southwest Suburban Chicago) and Senior Wire (Denver, CO). He's also a regular contributor to The Colorado Gambler, Midwest Gaming & Travel, Casino Player and Strictly Slots. John possesses 28 years of experience as a professional handicapper, publicist, freelance writer, and casino gaming correspondent. He is also the author of two very popular books, The Insider’s Guide to Internet Gambling and Thrifty Gambling.

Books by John G. Brokopp:

> More Books By John G. Brokopp