How Do You Guarantee a Win in Blackjack?

Man Holding up a Blackjack Hand and a Casino Chip

I wish I could tell you a secret betting technique that would guarantee you a win in blackjack. I would be the most popular guy in the world – or at least in Las Vegas. I’d also be stinking rich. No doubt I’d be banned from casinos, but by that point, who cares, right? I’m the Guaranteed Blackjack Win Guy, who needs a casino? I’ll open own casino.

Anyone promising you a way to play blackjack that gives you a 100% guaranteed win on every hand is either misinformed or trying to sell something. Yes, there’s a thing called perfect blackjack strategy that gives players the best chance of winning, but it doesn’t guarantee a win.

Do some people count cards to gain an advantage? Yes – very few people, most of whom get caught and kicked out of the casino, can count cards at a level high enough to gain some edge. They don’t win every single hand, though. Sometimes they lose big.

This post will attempt to obliterate any rumors about a mythical blackjack guaranteed-win strategy. I’ll go over different tactics people try to guarantee wins in blackjack and explain why they won’t work. I’ll even go out on a limb and suggest some off-the-wall ways you might try to guarantee a win.

Why You Can’t Beat Blackjack

My favorite blackjack story goes something like this:

I was killing the last couple of hours on a trip to New Orleans and I wandered into the cavernous Harrah’s Casino right there on the waterfront.

I had a couple hundred bucks left that I wouldn’t mind losing, so I made my way to a blackjack machine, one of the big modern electronic table games with video dealers and four or five seats at each table.

The guy next to me looked like he was on a good one – his shirt was untucked, hair disheveled, the whole stereotype of a losing gambler. I sat there betting $10 a hand, casually, not really pushing perfect strategy or anything.

The guy broke me down on his strategy, which boiled down to “bet more after a dealer blackjack.” His logic was that the machine wouldn’t deal two naturals to the dealer in a row, that this just wouldn’t be fair.

The dealer proceeded to draw not one, not two, but three natural blackjacks, all in a row. The guy literally kicked the machine hard enough to set off an alarm, and security came and talked to him and everything.

Here’s the deal – blackjack was designed a long time ago to return a profit to its operator. The game has been enhanced over the years, mostly swinging the odds further in the favor of the house. It’s designed to make money regardless of player skill.

Let’s break down the most popular ways to beat blackjack and why they aren’t perfect win-guaranteed systems for beating the house.

Counting Cards Doesn’t Guarantee Blackjack Winnings

When the average Joe thinks about blackjack, the concept of card counting can’t be far from his mind.

It’s maybe the one thing a typical American knows about blackjack beyond the name – that people can “count cards” and somehow beat the casino.

That’s just not how counting cards works.

Check out this research paper, “The Expected Value of an Advantage Blackjack Player” by Kamron Paul Jensen. While this guy proved that using a High-Low counting method and perfect blackjack strategy is profitable over the long run (to the tune of about $50 per 100 rounds of play), it wasn’t the guaranteed-win get-rich-quick scheme that people assume.

Multiple Blackjack Hands on a Table

In fact, over the short term, winning and losing streaks were common. As Jensen says, “ . . . it would be extremely common for the player to win over $300 one hour and then to lose it all back the next hour, or for a player to be on a losing streak for several hours.” Jensen says the player, who is already doing the difficult work of maintaining a perfect High-Low count and following game strategy to the letter, should expect “great variance in the wins and losses.”

There’s a difference between a system that’s profitable over the long term (like counting cards) and a system that helps you win on every hand.

Don’t overlook the fact that, to pull off Jensen’s system, you have to find the perfect table with a very specific set of rules. Removing just one or two of the player-friendly rules in Jensen’s system would swing the advantage toward the house by as much as 20%.

Why the Martingale System Won’t Beat Blackjack

If you don’t know what the Martingale is, the best way to explain it in just a few words is that it’s a system of betting whereby you double your bets after losses.

Obviously, the idea behind the Martingale is to win back losses. But you don’t have to dig too deeply into this system to work out why it isn’t effective long-term.

For starters, table limits are going to eventually prevent you from chasing a big loss, and your losses will be permanent. Even at the high-limit tables in Vegas, you’re unlikely to negotiate a bet larger than $100,000 per hand, particularly if the dealer figures out that you’re using the Martingale system.

Let’s say the table minimum at that high-limit blackjack game is $200. After just nine losses in a row, you’d be unable to bet high enough to chase all those losses. Remember, blackjack is a streaky game – a streak of nine losses isn’t exactly unheard of.

Like anything, over the short term, the Martingale can work, in the sense that you can win back your losses, provided you get a win early enough to avoid hitting the table limit.

Bear in mind that casinos aren’t super keen on bettors using the Martingale or any other betting system, and you might be asked to cut it out or leave the casino altogether.

There’s no manipulation of bets that will guarantee blackjack wins. At some point, the rules of the game will prevent you from manipulating your way into gaining back your losses. Blackjack rules were set up and refined over decades mainly to avoid the kind of tactics you still see advertised online.

Here’s How to Beat Blackjack Every Time

Alright, I thought of three ways you could try and create a can’t-lose blackjack situation.

Make Your Own Game Rules

The first – be so rich or influential or powerful that the casino will let you set up your own rules. Ever heard of Don Johnson? Not the Miami Vice guy – this Don Johnson beat Atlantic City for $15 million playing blackjack, including $6 million on a single night.

How’d he do it? He plays perfect blackjack, for starters. He’s a skilled player with great instincts. He’s worked as a jockey, casino manager, and casino executive. He used his knowledge of casino operations to negotiate his own playing terms, including offers of loss rebates and changes to game rules that favored the player. He also knew that AC casinos were hurting for money.

Blackjack

If you’re rich enough to tell a casino “I’m going to bring $1 million with me, and I’ll spend it all at your casino if you let me make my own rules,” you could use this method to set up a game where you have a positive expectation.

Johnson took advantage of his knowledge of blackjack, looking for swings in wins and losses and backing out when the time was right.

If you could make your own game rules, you could set up a blackjack game where you’re guaranteed to win overall – but every hand? You’d have to be pretty rich.

Do Something Illegal

I’m not going to go into details, but I suppose you could collude with a casino employee and set up a game where you won every hand. You’d almost immediately be caught, you’d both be arrested, and it would be a really dumb decision. But I suppose that’d be one way to create a blackjack system where you win on every hand.

Redefine What it Means to Win and Lose

This may sound corny, but you can win on every hand of blackjack if you’re having the time of your life.

The perfect night, with the perfect drinks, and the perfect group of friends, makes for the best possible game of blackjack. It won’t matter if you win or lose on a given hand, because the time you spent together and the memories you make together are worth the losses.

At that point, winning and losing on the outcome of blackjack becomes moot. Every hand is a winner.

Our Thoughts on Playing Winning Blackjack

I’m pretty sure nobody clicked on this post expecting a bona fide can’t-miss blackjack strategy.

Why would I be grinding out blog posts for a few pennies a word when I could be destroying the player-friendly tables in Atlantic City, or getting comp’d suites in the best hotels in Vegas?

Though you can occasionally beat the house, you’ll always lose money playing blackjack over any period of time.

Even if you train yourself to count cards and follow perfect blackjack strategy, you’ll experience swings of wins and losses that are anything but a guaranteed blackjack win.