PERFECT BASIC BLACKJACK STRATEGY – not just a pretty slogan

Dear Mark: Outside of perfect basic strategy, is there any other key to winning at blackjack? Gary Z.

First off, Gary, you get a Gold Star for correctly identifying perfect basic strategy as an important factor for leveling the playing field against the house. The second essential key is money management.

In passing, most players try to take on the casino with too small a bankroll. Your bankrollis the amount of money that you are willing to put at risk, knowing that there is a reasonable possibility that you could lose that entire amount. Accordingly, you should never gamble with money you can’t afford to lose. So, Gary, if you’re front-and-center at a ten-dollar table, you’ll need a war chest of at least five hundred dollars. Count ‘em $ $ $ $ $.

Never bring your entire bankroll with you to one gambling session. You need a daily gambling budget. Start by dividing your bankroll by the number of days you’ll be gambling. Then divide your daily bankroll into the number of sessions you will be playing each day. Result: your single-session bankroll. Bet tomorrow’s money only when tomorrow comes.

Set win goals of between 50 to 100% for a single-session bankroll. Then, when you win something, set aside your original bankroll plus half of your winnings. Now play with the remainder and continue to set aside additional winnings.

Set loss limits, meaning that, when you’ve lost half your session bankroll — your loss limit — you walk.

Use the Winning Progressive method of betting by predetermining a percentage increase for each winning bet and sticking to it. For instance, you might want to increase your winning bets by approximately 50% after the second win. As an example, start with a  $10 bet, followed by another $10, (both winners, you understand) then go to $15, $22, $30, $45, etc. You would continuously flat bet (the table minimum) when losing.

Never double-up your bet to catch up. Your money would just fizzle away like an Alka-Seltzer in warm water.

Identify the profitable opportunities in gambling by shopping for the best odds, rules, and playing conditions available where you play.

What I can’t guarantee, Gary, is that these tips will in any way affect the casino edge. Perfect basic strategy does that job. Nor can I guarantee that you will win more money. What these principles will do is minimize your losses and in most cases protect your winnings.