How Much Should You Bet in Blackjack Mines Games Bonus?
The answer to this question depends on so many variables that writing this post was kind of a daunting task. I had made up my mind to write on this topic after seeing this question time and again in Google search results and in posts on reddit and other forums. Hopefully, all the people wondering how much they’re supposed to bet playing blackjack will find their way here.
The amount you should bet in blackjack depends on the game’s rules, the range of available bets, your own gambling strategy, your bankroll, and a slew of intangibles like your mood or your feel for a given game on a particular night. Depending on where I’m playing and where my bankroll is at, I may bet anywhere from $5 to $100 a hand.
The word “should” is difficult to write about because it implies some kind of judgement. I’m not in any position to tell anyone what they should or shouldn’t do. But I can make suggestions based on different variables.
That’s what this post does – it suggests bets you might consider depending on different game, bankroll, and personal situations.
Blackjack Bet Sizes
Most blackjack tables in America have a minimum bet of around $10.
You’ll find tables as low as $2, particularly off the Strip in Vegas. It’s not uncommon to find a $5 minimum bet table. You could say the same about $15 minimum bets – available occasionally but not the norm.
That’s why I say you should expect to find tables as low as $10. Some Vegas properties and some flagship casinos in other jurisdictions may not have tables that low, but you’ll usually find a $20 minimum bet table somewhere on the floor.
As for maximum bets, they can get pretty high, particularly in the high-limit sections of casinos in Vegas or Atlantic City. Tables allowing bets of $10,000 per hand aren’t unheard of. VIPs can pretty much set their own max bet, working it out with casino staff ahead of time.
Are VIP gamblers really in their private games betting six figures per hand? Sure. Seven figures? I’m sure it happens.
A quick scan of Vegas blackjack games reveals a trend – the posted maximum bets are around $10,000. Some properties there, like the MGM Grand and the Flamingo, limit max bets to $5k, but it’s pretty common to find a $10 bet max playing Vegas blackjack.
In short, a typical blackjack range of bets is $10 to $10,000 per hand. There’s a little wiggle room there – you may only find $20 – $5,000, or you may find $5 – $20,000 or whatever. But I’d say the typical large casino blackjack game accepts between $10 and $10,000.
With a wide range of available bets like that, it can be hard to know what you should be betting.
Let’s break down what a sensible bet looks like in different common game contexts.
Small Bankroll Players Should Bet Small
This one seems obvious, but you never know.
If you’ve got a bankroll of $100, you can absolutely have a good time playing blackjack. You just have to hunt down the right game and play it at a slow pace.
If you’re in Vegas and you have $100 to spend playing blackjack, you should check out Circus Circus. It’s on the north side of the Strip, and it’s a little bit corny, but it has low bet minimums, and the play is generally pretty slow. I’ve found $3 table minimums at Circus Circus consistently. The max bet on these tables is $500, and the rules aren’t exactly player-friendly.
At $3 a hand, playing at a table with a few other players, and following basic blackjack strategy, you’re losing $0.015 per hand. That’s one and a half cents in expected losses per hand, provided you don’t make any strategic mistakes. You can play something like 6,600 hands before you blow through your $100 – that’s like 78 hours of blackjack, or $1.28 an hour.
Advantage Gamblers Should Bet Max
Some gamblers should be betting on the extreme low end of the table’s betting range.
Other gamblers, like those playing perfect strategy, counting cards, and grinding out a tiny advantage against the house, should be betting as much as the casino will allow on every hand.
It’s not unusual for player skill and game rules to produce an expected casino edge of just 0.15%. Betting $10,000 a hand, an expected loss of 0.15% on each hand means $15 of losses per decision. At 90 decisions an hour, you’re still losing $1,350 an hour to the casino. A four-hour session is likely to drain almost $5,500 from your bankroll.
Of Course, That May Not Happen. Blackjack Is a Streaky Game
You may have seven or eight wins in a row. At max bet sizes, those seven or eight wins could be profitable. If you’re smart enough to bail on the right winning streak, you could make a tidy profit.
You can’t beat blackjack consistently, not without MIT Blackjack Team-level skills, and even those guys had losing streaks and bad beats. That said, when you’re playing against a casino edge in the tenths of a percent, it makes sense to maximize your winnings from winning streaks by betting as much as you can.
New Blackjack Players Should Create a Unit Bet Size
If you’re new to the game, you don’t need to be thinking too much about how much to bet on each hand. That’s because you should be following basic bankroll strategy. That means creating a unit bet and sticking with it.
How does it work? You set a bet amount, say $10 per hand, and never bet more or less than that number.
This has several positive side effects. For starters, managing your bankroll is a lot easier if you don’t have an ever-changing bet size. The calculations and tracking tasks you should be engaging in as a new blackjack player will be much easier if you always bet that same $10 amount.
Another positive effect – relieving you of the duty of worrying about how much to bet. Your focus should be on following optimal strategy, not wondering if you should increase or decrease your bet.
You can also plan a casino trip a lot easier if you know how much you’re going to bet on each hand. At $10 per hand, if I’m getting 99.5% payback by playing optimal strategy at a decent blackjack table, I’m losing a nickel per hand, or about $4.50 an hour at a decently busy table. That’s cheap entertainment, even if I don’t leave with profit in my pocket.
Bettors Curious About the Martingale Should Try It Out
If you want to try out the classic Martingale betting tactic – whereby you double your bet after losses in an attempt to recapture lost wagers – you should go ahead and do it.
I recommend that you find a table with a low bet minimum, something like $5 or $10, and work a classic Martingale. Start at your minimum bet, double after losses, and see how it works.
The beautiful thing about the Martingale, and the reason why it’s become something of a meme in the gambling community, is that over the short-term its effective. So long as you don’t hit a bad losing streak, you’ll be able to recapture your losses over the course of just a few rounds of play.
A good buddy of mine likes to use the Martingale betting technique to impress women he brings to the casino. It’s nothing slimy – he just tells her ahead of time that he knows how to always win at blackjack, then shows her the Martingale method as they play. He says it’s fun to watch them squirm when you get to a three- or four-hand losing streak, and the doubled-bet gets up into the three- or four- figures.
There’s no reason not to try something you’re curious about, and if your bankroll can stomach it, you should go for it. Just bail out before your doubled-bet gets higher than the mortgage payment.
Rich Bettors Should Bet However They Want
Those of us that work for a living often underestimate just how much money rich guys spend at the casino. You and me, we bet in 10s and 20s. These guys bet in 10 and 20 thousands, risking more on a single baccarat or craps outcome than some of us make in six months of hard work.
It may seem insane to us to bet $100,000 per hand playing blackjack – but we should right-size this a little.
Let’s say you’re a billionaire. Your net worth of $5 billion means that a $100,000 hand of blackjack represents 0.02% of your total wealth.
Let’s compare that to my numbers – I make about $75,000 a year, so a $10 bet on blackjack represents 0.013% of my wealth.
As a billionaire, you’re only risking slightly more than me (0.007% more) by wagering $100,000 instead of the $10 I regularly bet.
If you, the billionaire, were betting just $10 a hand, you’re only risking 0.00000002% of your total wealth, the equivalent of a guy like me gambling for less than a penny per hand. Why would I do that? It would be boring.
The same goes for you, the billionaire. You’re going to bet in accordance with your holdings.
Are you loaded? Bet as much as you want. It’s more meaningful and fun that way.
Obviously, you “should” be betting any amount that you want while playing blackjack, provided you can afford it and it’s improving your enjoyment of the game and your time at the casino.
Increasing your entertainment value is a value-add that the casino can’t take away, and if you think about it, the happier you are, the more you shave down the casino’s edge. The money you spend gambling costs less when you’re having a good time.
Don’t worry about how much you should or shouldn’t be betting on blackjack – instead worry about how much you can afford and what kind of bet increases your enjoyment of time spent playing.