My brother likes to joke with me whenever he knows I’m headed to Las Vegas (or any casino for that matter): “Hey bro, if I give you $100 can’t you, like, turn it into $100,000?” He knows that’s not how card counting works, but movies like “The Hangover” have resulted in many people not understanding what it really takes to beat the game.
I’m going to explain exactly how much of a blackjack bankroll you really need to beat the house? But first…
So, How Much Money Can You Make?
If you’re still with me and are really asking “What kind of money can I make with my blackjack bankroll size”, then keep reading.
Again, all of these are based off of 100% PERFECT BLACKJACK and standard rules with a 1-12 unit bet spread. Worse rules, more decks, poorer penetration will hurt EV and increase Risk. Better rules, fewer decks, or better penetration will increase EV and lower Risk.
Here are a few numbers that might help give you a grasp of what to expect:
1. $1,000 Bankroll – $10/hr EV; 45% Risk of Ruin. Now that seems like lot of risk, but you also have a 55% chance of never looking back and doubling your bankroll in 100 hours. Does this mean you need $1,000 before you start playing? Not necessarily. If you have $500 and know that you could save another $500 if needed, this is essentially the same thing. For Ben, it was $200 (lost), another $200 (lost), then he risked his last $400 (the rest is history).
2. $5,000 Bankroll – Using the same bet spread I calculated for the $1,000 bankroll, that would generate the same $10/hr EV, but with only 2% Risk of Ruin. Or, if you’re willing to go up to 10% Risk of Ruin, you could generate closer to $16/hr. That’s a 90% chance of not tapping out and an expectation of doubling your investment in just over 300 hours. At which point that same 10% Risk of Ruin bet spread with a $5,000 bankroll drops to 1% Risk of Ruin once you get to the $10,000 bankroll range! Are you starting to see how well card counting scales?!?
3. $10,000 Bankroll – You could stay there and keep risk low at $16/hr. But if you’re still comfortable with 10% Risk of Ruin, you can get your EV into the $33/hr range with a 1-12 bet spread. That means you’re expected to double your bankroll again in about 300 hours of play. At which point, your risk drops again to 1% at the $33/hr bet spread! Or…
4. $20,000 Bankroll – Once you’re getting into this range, you’re maybe wanting to keep risk at 5% or lower. So for a 5% Risk of Ruin game, you could expect to generate $53/hr in EV. Not enough risk for you? 10% Risk of Ruin gives you a game worth $75/hr.
5. $50,000 Bankroll – Now we’re starting to get into the “Pro” level. And our 1-12 spread is yielding $100/hr with 2% Risk of Ruin. Too much risk? Scale your bet spread back just a bit and expect $80/hr and a 0.5% Risk of ruin (yep, that’s 1/200 chance of going broke).
6. $100,000 Bankroll – $170/hr EV; 1% Risk of Ruin with the “mediocre rules”. BUT, one of the nice things about getting into higher limits means you can play some of the better rules that are typically at the higher limit tables. Based off of the common “higher limit” rules all over the Las Vegas strip (6 deck, S17, DAS, LS, RSA 1.5 Pen), you can generate $335/hr EV with 1% Risk of Ruin on a 1-8 bet spread. Not a bad investment!
Hopefully by now you’re getting the idea. The more you have, the more EV you can generate and the lower your risk. Does that mean you need to save up $20k, $50k, or $100k to get started? Not at all. You need a perfect game and a willingness to scale your business as it grows.
Betting Unit: The dollar amount you bet according to. If you change your bets by $5 increments, then it would be a $5 betting unit. Expected Value (EV): The statistical amount that any given time period is worth. Even though results rarely equal a player’s expected value in the short run, the Expected Value is the amount a hand is theoretically “worth.” Given enough time, actual results will inevitably catch up with Expected Value. For more information on Expected value click here. Perfect Game: No mistakes at Basic Strategy, running count, true count conversion, bets, or playing deviations. For more info, check out the BJA Card Counting Video Course. Risk of Ruin (ROR): The mathematical chance of losing one’s entire bankroll. Also referred to as ROR. For more information Risk of Ruin click here. Standard Rules: 6 decks, H17, DAS, RSA 1.5 pen, avoiding counts below true -1.