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Card Counting - Varying your bet  

Varying your Bet with the Count

The biggest advantage from counting is derived from a large bet variation between positive and negative counts.  You goal is to get away with a large ratio between your minimum and maximum bets.  In plain English, bet high when the count is positive and bet low when the count is negative.  A betting ration of 6 to 1 is a good goal.  Under normal playing situations, bet variations should be gradual or you will draw attention from the pit.  I usually try to avoid tripling my bet from one hand to the next.  The single deck game is the easiest game for the counter to beat and the casinos know it.  In many single deck games, dealers are instructed to re-shuffle if you increase your bet above a certain ratio.  For example, if your second round bet was more than double your first round bet, the dealer may reshuffle.

Ideally you would prefer to bet $0 when the count is negative, but your cover as a counter would be eliminated pretty fast.  During a multiple deck game, I find a large negative count is an excellent time to ask the dealer to hold my place while I go to the washroom.  Take your time, walk around a bit and give yourself a little break.  The average counter should take a periodic break anyway in order to stay fresh.  Another way of betting $0 is by periodically getting up and changing tables or casinos. 

When playing a multiple deck game, you should bet the minimum or just above it off the top of the round and gradually raise your bet as the count goes up.  If the count goes negative bet the minimum.  A similar strategy can be used for single deck whenever the dealer is dealing at least 3 or more rounds.  Based on the player's edge off the top, which is better in single deck, you can get away with betting more off the top.  See the section on starting advantage in chapter 5 to figure out the starting advantage for the game you are playing.

When playing single deck with more than three players you will rarely be dealt more than two rounds.  Since you are close to even or at an advantage off the top, it is better to make your first bet in the mid range.  In the second round, your bet should be the minimum if the count is negative or at least double of your opening bet if the count is positive.  For example, in a good single deck game with a $5 minimum, bet $25 off the top, then in the second round bet $5 if the count is negative or at least $50 if the count is positive.  You may choose to experiment a little to see if you can get away with larger bet increases without the dealer reshuffling.

The above betting strategy is a start, which would easily be effective for you.  As you learn more, you should attempt to alter your bets using the principal of betting in proportion with your actual advantage.  I must warn you that figuring out your actual advantage is probably going to be the most difficult subject to learn in the science of blackjack.  I have not attempted to tackle the subject in this guide.  This is where most of the heavy math comes in.  As I stated earlier, it is not necessary to understand the mathematical details.  It does help if you read enough to get a feel for your actual advantage.  

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