As a professional player, you can expect to make an average of $40 per hour playing blackjack at a regular table in a land-based casino. You can earn even more money if you are an advantage player, meaning you are exploiting dealer mishaps or counting cards. Remember, like any other casino game, blackjack gives the house an edge over you.
Factors that Affect How Much Money You Can Make Playing Blackjack
The amount of money you can make playing blackjack varies depending on a wide range of factors, including the following:
Worse rules will eventually affect your blackjack odds. For instance, if you are playing a game that pays 6 to 5 for a natural blackjack, you can expect the house edge to tick up by around 400% to reach around 2%. That means for every 100 dollars you wager, you can expect to lose 2 dollars despite playing perfect blackjack basic strategy.
However, if you opt for a game with the 3 to 2 blackjack payout rule, you can squeeze the house edge down to the 0.5% range with the perfect basic blackjack strategy. In other words, your expected loss is $0.50 for every $100 you wager at the blackjack table. Even better, you can gain more edge over the house by counting cards and earning more money.
Other positive expectation rules, like the 5-card Charlie rule, boost your winning odds and increase the likelihood of earning money while playing blackjack. The rule results in an automatic win when the player collects five cards without busting. This gives the player an advantage and reduces the house edge by 1.46%.
The same goes for the blackjack rule requiring the dealer to stand on soft 17. It will increase your chances of winning and the amount you can win while playing. That’s because the opposite (dealer hits on soft 17 rule) will add 0.22% to the house edge.
The bottom line is that standard or better rules will help maintain or increase your expected value (EV) while playing blackjack. Worse blackjack rules will increase your risk and reduce your ability to make money.
The size of the shoe / number of decks being used
It might seem inconsequential, but the number of decks of playing cards contained in the shoe of a blackjack game can affect your likelihood of making money. Ideally, you should make more money on a single-deck blackjack game with the perfect basic strategy. More decks will ruin your expected value and reduce the amount of money you can potentially earn from playing blackjack.
Betting spread and deck penetration
If you are playing a regular blackjack game with standard table rules, your ability and the amount of money you can make will be influenced by the betting spread and deck penetration. This is especially the case if you prefer the Hi-Opt card counting system.
Most blackjack players go for a unit bet spread between 1 and 12. That means you divide your bankroll into 12 units, each worth $100. So the betting spread, in this case, is between $100 and $1,200, meaning you will wager more money. The flexibility that comes with a wide bet spread increases the likelihood and the amount of money you can make while playing blackjack.
Most casual, amateur, and intermediate players usually choose a 1-5 betting spread. They bet between $100 and $500 per session. Let’s use an example to highlight how to bet spread and deck penetration can impact how much money you can win while playing.
Let’s assume you are a professional player plunking an average of 180 hands an hour. Using a unit bet spread of 1-5 and the deck penetration is around 70%, you can expect to win about $395 per hour using the Hi-Opt II blackjack card counting strategy with full indices.
Professional blackjack players using the basic strategy can make around $20-$40 an hour playing at a medium-bet table. However, if you want to make good money, you should consider learning and applying proven card counting systems like Hi-Lo, Hi-Opt I, Hi-Opt II, Zen Count, Silver Fox, and RPC .
You can expect the best blackjack card counting strategy to help you gain an edge between 0.5% and 1.5% over the casino. However, large shoes, poor penetration, and worse table rules can still reduce your expected value. The best way to improve the amount of money you can make when counting cards is to increase the bankroll.
For instance, with a bankroll of $1,000, you can expect to double your money in 100 hours with a 45 percent risk of ruin (RoR). RoR is the probability of your bankroll going to zero before you can double it. You can achieve this while making roughly $10 per hour.
However, if you increase your bankroll tenfold to $10,000 and keep the RoR at 10%, you can expect to make around $33 per hour using the Hi-Opt II counting system. This might be a lot for some high rollers, but the good news is that the risk to your bankroll drops to 1%.
The two examples show that the bigger your bankroll, the lower your risk (RoR) and the higher the amount of money you can make while playing blackjack. You need to apply the perfect basic strategy, count cards, and be willing to scale your bet spread as your bankroll grows.
Can you make a living on blackjack?
Yes, you can make a living on blackjack by being an adept card counter and applying the perfect basic strategy. Many players have made a living playing blackjack in Las Vegas, Atlantic City, online, and on other gambling platforms. However, it is only possible to go into a casino with a $5,000 bankroll and leave with $10,000 daily.
The casino is not an ATM for career blackjack players. It is a place of work where you need to practice self-discipline, put in the hard work, and be patient.
Remember, all blackjack games have a house edge, giving the casino some advantage over you.
The trick to making a living playing blackjack is to use every betting tactic, strategy, and technique to boost your winning odds. Card counting can be a cash cow for professional blackjack players in the long run when executed correctly and perfectly. It provides you with a slight edge over the casino.
Card counting essentially flips the tables from the casino, having a slight edge to the playing, getting some advantage. On average, a good card counting technique like Hi-Lo or Hi-Opt II can tip the scale at around 0.5% to 2% in favor of the player. In reality, that means if you wager $1,000 over an extended period with card counting on your side, you can expect to make around $5 and $20.
How to Make a Living Playing Online Blackjack Games
Some players make a living playing online blackjack. Otherwise, the online casino industry would have failed a long time ago. But making money from online blackjack is not easy – it takes patience, determination, and strategy.
Here are steps you should take to ensure success when playing online blackjack:
Step # 1 – Choose the right casino
The first thing you should take is to find and sign up with a trustworthy and reliable online casino. It should be legally licensed and regulated by a trusted body like Malta Gaming Association (MGA), UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), or e-Curaçao.
Be sure to read online casino reviews to narrow your search down to top-rated legitimate sites. Pay special attention to any complaints, negative reviews, and bad testimonies. This is especially the case when it comes to payment speed, account closures, and quality of customer support.
If you are planning to play blackjack offline, be sure to do some research beforehand. Which brick-and-mortar casinos have the loosest or cheapest blackjack tables?
Typically, the cheapest tables with good rules are usually found in mid-tier casinos in places like off-Strip in Las Vegas. For instance, the best blackjack casinos in Las Vegas are typically found downtown and close to the Station.
Step #2 – Find the right blackjack table or game to play
The next step is to locate blackjack tables or games that match your playing style, betting budget, and expected value. If you are looking to make around $200 or more an hour playing blackjack, you’ll want to find a high-limit table. However, if you don’t mind making around $10 or lower per hour, you will feel at home playing at a low-limit table.
The most important thing to check is the table rules and setup. How many decks of cards are in the shoe? Does the dealer stand or hit on soft 17? Does a natural blackjack pay 3/2 or 6/5? Is the five-card Charlie rule available?
Step #3 – Follow the basic blackjack strategy chart
You cannot make a living playing blackjack if you are going to make costly mistakes. The strategy chart will help guide each and every move you make. It tells you when to double down, when to split, when to hit, and what to stand, depending on the dealer’s up-card.
Take time to study, practice, and apply all the basic blackjack strategies perfectly. They will help bring the house edge down to around 0.5 percent before you even count cards. It will help you whether you are playing blackjack online or offline so that you can prevent costly mishaps, errors, and mistakes.
Step #4 – Learn the do’s and don’ts of playing blackjack for a living
If you are looking to make a living playing blackjack, please do the following:
- Avoid live dealer blackjack games with continuous shuffling machines (CSMs). These shufflers automatically ruin the sequence of the cards after every few games. This makes it very difficult for you to count cards and boost your odds of winning. Instead, it would be best to opt for games with batch shuffle machines after 50-75% penetration. Even better, you should go for land-based blackjack tables where the dealer manually shuffles and mixes the cards.
- Learn and master the rules – You should take time to internalize all the important rules of the game. Pay more attention to rules that affect the house edge, payout, and payback percentage.
- Learn the basic strategy – It is worth reiterating that you can’t make a living playing blackjack without using the perfect basic strategy.
- Perfect your card counting skills – First, you must learn how to count cards before committing to playing blackjack as a career. Use free games and demo accounts to sharpen your card-counting techniques and learn the ropes.
- Learn bankroll management – There is no point in making $5,000 in one afternoon and losing your entire bankroll the next day. Good bankroll management skills can help you become a good earner from playing blackjack. You should set the unit bet based on your budget and your win and loss limits.
- Try out many blackjack tables, games, and casinos – You should not restrict your play to a specific casino, table, or blackjack game.
- Take advantage of casino offers – Playing blackjack for a living means you will have little to no time to earn income elsewhere. But the bills won’t go anywhere. It would help if you found a way to foot all your bills and experiences, including accommodation, food, and transportation. Thankfully, you can take advantage of some of the casino’s complimentary services to reduce costs. Moreover, claiming casino bonuses, cash-backs, rebates, rewards, and discounts can help you live a little on the house.
At the same time, you should keep the following don’ts of playing blackjack for a living:
- Don’t take insurance bets – Blackjack insurance bets are traps or sucker bets that will eat into your house edge in the long run. The payout of 2 to 1 does not match up to the probability of the dealer getting a blackjack with an Ace up-card.
- Don’t play blackjack side bets – In blackjack, side bets are intended to make the game fun for players who get weak or lose hands. However, as a professional/career player, you should always avoid these side bets. The house edge on them is sinfully high.
- Don’t play while intoxicated or drunk – This is the first rule of playing blackjack for a living: never play under the influence of alcohol, drugs, etc. You will likely make a rush or impulsive decisions that will wipe out your bankroll.
- Don’t play 6/5 blackjack – Playing a blackjack game with the 6/5 payout rule will ruin your expected value and payback percentage (RTP). In fact, switching from a table or game that pays 3 to 2 for a natural blackjack to one that pays 6 to 5 will increase the house advantage by a whopping 400%.
Step #5 – Incorporate card counting into your strategy
In blackjack movies, card counting is depicted as an incredibly complex tactic, but some systems, such as Hi-Lo, are surprisingly straightforward. To master it, all you need is time and practice. By using card counting, you can determine which cards are still in the shoe and adjust your bets accordingly.
Card counting can also help experienced players determine when to use any variations in their blackjack strategy.
Card counting is a crucial skill for players wishing to make a living at the blackjack tables, despite recent efforts by casinos to discourage it.
How do blackjack dealers always win?
Blackjack dealers always win money for the house in the long run because of the house’s edge. For instance, Atlantic City Blackjack has one of the lowest house advantages of around 0.5%, but the dealer still wins about $0.50 for every $100 wagered by the player.
Unfortunately, some blackjack dealers also always win by cheating.
In fact, blackjack dealers can cheat in various ways…
- Removing some cards from the deck – Some casinos and dealers in Las Vegas have been caught cheating in the past by removing some playing cards from their blackjack shoes. For instance, they can reduce the probability of blackjack occurring by removing aces, kings, queens, jacks, and tens.
- Using selective shufflers – Some ill-repute casinos reshuffle their shoes when some players hit a winning streak. They can do so if they also suspect that someone is counting cards.
- Using sleight of hand/dexterity – This is an old-school cheating method in which the dealer deals from the bottom of the deck. Avoid playing while drunk or intoxicated to figure out when sleight of hand is happening.
- Shuffling too fast and too often to dissuade card counters – This method involves a super-fast pace of blackjack play. Since the casino has a house edge in blackjack, they stand to win more money from players if they increase the pace of the game.
How do you win blackjack with $100?
It is easy to win blackjack with $100…
- Place small conservative bets of around $1 to $10 instead of large bets of $20+
- Have a blackjack basic strategy chart handy
- Set and stick to your win and loss limits
- Avoid using the progressive betting system or placing expensive side bets that will decimate your small bankroll of $100
How much money do you need to play blackjack in Vegas?
On average, you need around $400 to play blackjack in Vegas. That will last you for at least one session of 2 to 6 hours, depending on your bet size and the pace of the game. You should budget for betting around $5-$10 per hand in Vegas casinos.
If you have a smaller budget, you should look for off-Strip Vegas casinos with cheap blackjack tables. For example, Downtown Vegas casinos that offer $5 blackjack include:
- Binion’s Hotel and Casino
- California Hotel and Casino
- Downtown Grand Hotel and Casino
- El Cortez Hotel and Casino
- Four Queens Resort and Casino
- Fremont Hotel and Casino
- Golden Gate Hotel and Casino
- Golden Nugget Las Vegas Hotel and Casino
- Main Street Station Casino Brewery Hotel
- Plaza Hotel and Casino
- The D Casino Hotel Las Vegas
Is Blackjack a skill or luck?
Blackjack is a game of both skill and luck. However, the game is more skill than chance since you must apply the basic strategy to win.
Who is the best blackjack player in the world?
The best blackjack player in the world is considered to be Don Johnson. In his colorful career as a blackjack player, he won a lot of money. However, his biggest win was $15 million, which he won over six months at three casinos in Atlantic City.