Blackjack Bankroll Management

Written by: Joe Falchetti, Online Casinos, Sports Betting, & Poker Expert

Having good blackjack bankroll management is essential in overcoming the house edge. Knowing how much money you need for a specific table helps you continue to play through bad beats and minimize losses.

Many books and systems claim you can beat online blackjack using only money management. While it is a tool to help you play through downswings, bankroll management alone is not enough to win every time.

This guide to managing your blackjack bankroll will help you understand the numbers and determine what tactics to use.

Manage Your Blackjack Bankroll

Table of Contents

Calculate Your Bankroll

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Video Guide to Blackjack Bankroll Management

This short video gives you the essential information you need to start managing your money at the blackjack table.

What is the Recommended Bankroll for Blackjack?

Bankroll sizes

The pros recommend a bankroll for blackjack that is 100-200 times your average wager. This amount gives you a significant chip stack and helps prevent you from going broke on a random bad streak.

So, the size of your blackjack bankroll ultimately depends on the size of bets you place and how long you want to play. However, as a general rule, you should only play with what you’re comfortable losing.

How to Calculate a Blackjack Bankroll

Below are a couple of common ways to calculate the optimal blackjack bankroll. Keep in mind you can never have too much money on hand to play at a table.

Blackjack Bankroll Betting Units Poker Chips Icon Big

Based on Betting Units

The common rule is that you should play with no less than 100 betting units over a 3-4 hour period. So if you plan to be at the blackjack table for a while and bet $5 a hand, you should have at least a $500 bankroll.

Keep in mind that doesn’t mean you can play only 100 hands, necessarily. There will be wins, losses, and additional wagers to make along the way.

Bet SizeMinimum Bankroll
$5$500
$10$1,000
$25$2,500
$50$5,000
$100$10,000
Blackjack Risk of Ruin Down Arrow Icon Big

Based on Risk of Ruin

The risk of ruin is defined as your chance of losing your entire bankroll. You are far less likely to go down to $0 if you have more money upfront. The table rules, bet size, and your skills all affect this outcome.

Think about it this way. If you start with $500, you can bet $1 all day, but if you start by betting $100, you could quickly run out of chips in just a few minutes.

Bet UnitsRisk of Ruin
100~60%
200~37%
300~23%
500~8%
1,000~1%

Calculating Per Day Bankroll

Daily Bankroll Money and Clock Icon

When you plan to play for a week or a trip to Vegas, you need to split up your blackjack bankroll, so you don’t run out of money on day one. For example, if you have $1,000 for the week and want to sit at the table for five days, you should set aside $200 a day.

Based on a $200 daily bankroll, you should play at a table with $1-$2 wagers so that you have 100-200 betting units each day.

Blackjack Money Management

Managing your funds while playing blackjack for real money goes beyond dividing your week into equal parts so you don’t run out of cash. It also incorporates what to do with your winnings and knowing when to stop playing.

Each player handles their blackjack bankroll and money management in different ways. Some gamblers re-total the amount and divide it again after each day of gaming. Others pocket the winnings from each day to balance out losses.

Money Management Examples

Mobile Live Blackjack Online Casinos with Chips

If you plan to play for five days and have a total bankroll of $1,000, you have $200 a day. However, if you still have $100 at the end of the first day, your total remaining bankroll for the week is $900.

Starting with more betting units is beneficial, so you could divide $900 by the four remaining days for a new daily bankroll is $225. Alternately, you could pocket the $100 from day one and just stick to the plan with $200 a day.

Table Limits Matter

Deciding which table bet limits to play is also part of money management. Many casinos offer different table rules at the low limits than they offer at the high limits. Do you have enough money to play at the $20 minimum tables if the $5 or $10 tables don’t have good rules?

Blackjack Table Icon Big

Some low minimum bet tables have a much higher house edge based on their rules and payouts. For example, if a blackjack only pays 6:5, your expected loss per hour is much more significant. That means you might need more bankroll than you initially anticipated.

Best Blackjack Bankroll Rules

If you plan to play more often, it’s beneficial to be aware of your money and how many bets you can place. For example, during a trip to Vegas, you should have a per-session bankroll and an overall bankroll.

Use these rules when managing your blackjack bankroll, and you should be able to handle any situation.

  • Don’t Play With Less Than 100 Betting Units

    You want to make sure you have enough money to deal with a downswing.
  • Spread Your Money Out

    If you need your bankroll to last all week, don’t take it all to the table on day one.
  • Use a Hit/Stand Chart

    You get much better odds with optimal gameplay.
  • Keep Your Mind Sharp

    It can be tiring to play blackjack all day. Limit yourself to a few hours at a time.
  • Always Bet One Unit

    To keep your pace, avoid progressive betting models and only bet a single unit.

You Don’t Need A Massive Bankroll to Have Fun

Small Blackjack Bankroll Bag of Money with Coins Crossed Out Icon

If you just want to sit down and try to win a few blackjack hands, you don’t need a huge bankroll. You could find a $5 table, sit down with $50, and play until you double up or lose it all. You should still try to find the best games and use a strategy chart, but you don’t need to worry too much about your total bankroll.

Serious gamblers use blackjack bankroll management techniques to weather losing streaks over a long time. It takes thousands of hands with perfect decisions to calculate the low house edge they want.

Blackjack Bankroll Management Lessons

Now let’s put it all together by determining your blackjack bankroll needs depending on the house edge and how you play. We’ll do this through a couple of examples.

We’ll show you the math and why you might need different blackjack bankrolls based on the estimated house edge. You’ll notice the player’s money management needs vary greatly.

Example #1: Playing With No Strategy

No Blackjack Strategy Icon Big

A casual player that sits at a blackjack table with no plan gives the house an edge of around 3%.

That assumes you know the basic rules but didn’t look for a table with good payouts.

Expected Loss Rate

Let’s look at the math for a 3% house edge if your average bet is $10 and you play 50 hands per hour. If you play a different average wager, you can plug your amount into the formula.

0.03 x $10 x 50 Hands per hour = $15 loss per hour

So, with no strategy, you’ll lose around $15 per hour playing this game. If you want to play 4 hours a day for five days, that’s a total of 20 hours. That makes your expected loss $300 for the week.

Example #2: Playing With the Basic Strategy

Blackjack Strategy with Coins Icon Big

If you use a basic blackjack strategy and find a table with rules and payouts in your favor, you can expect a house edge of around 0.5%.

That’s a pretty big jump from 3% in the last example.

Expected Loss Rate

Assuming you’re still betting the same $10 per hand and playing 50 hands per hour, we can rerun the math with the new house edge in mind.

0.005 x $10 x 50 Hands per hour = $2.50 loss per hour

Now you only lose around $2.50 per hour playing the game. Now a 20 hour week at the table has an expected loss of just $50. So, you could confidently buy-in with less money.

Manage Your Money at the Blackjack Table & Have Some Fun

Once you learn how to determine your expected loss or win per hour, you can easily calculate your ideal blackjack bankroll. One thing to remember is there’s never a situation where your bankroll can be too big.

Focus on playing a break-even game with a low house edge, so you don’t have to worry as much about your blackjack bankroll. You still need a cushion, but if you have some backup cash, you likely won’t go broke in the long run.

Blackjack Bankroll FAQ

These are the most common questions we get about blackjack bankroll management.

How much bankroll do you need for blackjack?

There are a couple of ways to calculate the best blackjack bankroll. As a general rule, you should have no less than 100x the amount you want to bet per hand.

How much of my bankroll should I bet?

You should only bet around a maximum of 1% of your starting bankroll. So if you have $200, you should wager around $1-$2 per hand.

What does “100 betting units” mean?

A betting unit is an amount you plan to wager per hand. Simply put, 100 betting units is that number times 100. If you play $5 hands, then 100 units would be $500.

What does “risk of ruin” mean in blackjack?

Your risk of ruin is your chance of burning your bankroll all the way down to $0. If you start with a lot of money and bet small, this number is low. However, if you only have $100 and bet $50 per hand, regardless of your luck, you run a higher risk of hitting $0 before the end of the day.

Joe Falchetti

Joe Falchetti Online Casinos, Sports Betting, & Poker Expert

Joseph Falchetti, also known as Smokey Joe, is an expert online gambler. We've teamed up with him for exclusive OUSC content relevant to USA online casino players. Joe is a former professional poker player and a full-time online betting expert who has been featured in major publications, such as CBS Sports and Forbes.com, and linked to by the New York Times.

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