Blackjack has consistently been one of the most-generous casino games for decades. It typically features between 98.0% and 99.5% RTP in land-based casinos. It usually offers between 99.0% and 99.5% RTP in online casinos.
As you’ll notice, though, none of these figures equate to 100% payback. Therefore, you’re still at a slight disadvantage to the casino.
You may even wonder if there are ways to swing the edge in your favor and make consistent profits. The good news is that there are multiple methods for winning blackjack profits. The following four options are all valid ways to earn money with this game.
1 – Card Counting
Card counting is a famous advantage play method that’s used by blackjack players. It involves tracking card values to figure out when you have the edge. Once you gain an advantage, you raise your bets to capitalize.
A common misperception surrounding card counting is that only geniuses can do it. The truth, though, is that counting cards isn’t overly difficult to learn.
Everything begins with choosing a counting system. You’re free to do your own research on the various systems. However, you can get off to a fast start and gain a solid edge with the Hi-Lo.
The Hi-Lo requires you to assign the following numbers to different groupings:
- 2 through 6 = +1
- 7 through 9 (neutral cards) = 0
- 10 through ace (high cards) = -1
A positive count indicates that the deck has a larger percentage of aces and 10s. These high cards improve your chances of getting a natural blackjack. They also increase the odds that the dealer will bust when trying to reach 17.
Meanwhile, a negative count reveals that the deck has an abundance of low cards. The latter reduce your chances of getting a natural and lower the odds of the dealer busting.
You must count every card as it comes out of the shoe—no matter if it’s deal to you, another player, or the dealer. As long as you can keep an accurate “running count,” then you’re well on your way to being successful.
However, the Hi-Lo system also requires converting the running count into a “true count.” The latter is necessary for the multi-deck shoes that are common in casinos.
To get the true count, you divide the running count by the estimated remaining decks. If your count is +4 and you estimate that four decks remain, then you’ll have a true count of +1 (4/4).
The final step is to figure out when and how much to increase your bet size. Generally speaking, you want to raise your wagers when the count is positive.
However, you should also have a system in place for doing so. Here’s an example on determining how much to increase your bets:
- The table’s minimum wager is $10.
- You stay at the minimum bet with a neutral count or worse to minimize losses.
- You select $25 as a betting unit.
- You move to $25 whenever the count hits +1.
- You then raise your bet by one unit for every subsequent increase in the count.
- Therefore, your betting units would raise by: $25 (+1); $50 (+2); $75 (+3); $100 (+4); etc.
Aside from knowing how to count cards, you also want to work on your skills before risking serious money. After all, keeping up with the dealer’s speed is difficult.
Here are some ways that you can practice card counting skills:
- Deal cards to yourself and imaginary players at the table while keeping the count.
- Use a (free) online card counting trainer.
- Stand off to the side of a real game and count.
- Play low-stakes blackjack and practice counting without ever raising bets.
2 – Hole Carding
The basis of hole carding is to see the dealer’s face-down card before it’s flipped over. You gain information that wouldn’t otherwise be available by catching a glimpse of the croupier’s hole card.
Unfortunately, the vast majority of dealers are well-trained. They’re good at concealing their face-down card until revealing it.
Therefore, the first matter of hole carding involves finding a bad dealer. These croupiers are more likely to flash their hole card values (a.k.a. “flashing”) off and on throughout the game.
You need to scout out casinos and play at different tables to find flashers. With enough work, you’ll eventually locate a poor dealer.
The second key of hole carding is to get good at taking advantage of opportunities. You not only need a trained eye to spot flashers, but also sit in a manner that helps you see their cards better.
If you’re playing blackjack, for example, you should sit on the dealer’s side where they peel up their hole card to check for naturals.
Your posture should be slightly slouched so that your eyes are more level to the table. However, you don’t want to be obvious and give away what you’re doing.
Hole carding is arguably tougher than card counting. It requires lots of work to find a flasher and also skill to consistently see face-down cards. However, it can result in a 13% advantage when successfully pulled off.
3 – Combining Bonuses & High RTP
Online casinos offer bonuses for two main reasons:
- Attract new players.
- Retain customers that they already have.
To qualify for a blackjack bonus, you need to place a deposit and enter the proper bonus code. Most blackjack deals are of the match percentage variety, where the casino matches a percentage of your deposit.
Here’s an example:
- An online casino offers a 100% match blackjack bonus worth up to $500.
- You deposit $400.
- You’re now in line for a $400 bonus.
Here’s an example of a deal where you can make profits:
- You qualify for a $100 bonus.
- Playthrough is 50x.
- 100 x 50 = $5,000 must wagered
- You play a blackjack game with 99.5% RTP.
- 5,000 x 0.995 = $4,975 in theoretical winnings
- 4,975 + 100 = $5,075 in overall theoretical winnings
- 5,075 – 5,000 = $75 in theoretical winnings
4 – Comp Hustling & High RTP
Both online and land-based casinos provide VIP rewards. Assuming the value of your rewards overshadows the losses, then you’ll profit through “comp hustling.”
Sadly, casinos aren’t as generous with VIP rewards as they were in the past. But in rare cases, you can comp hustle for winnings.
Cashback provides an easy way to measure if you’re profiting or not. Assuming you can get a cashback rate that pushes your overall RTP over 100%, then you’ll earn theoretical profits.
Here’s an example on making this happen:
- You play a blackjack game with 99.6% RTP.
- You find a casino that offers 0.5% cashback for blackjack.
- 99.6 + 0.5 = 100.1% theoretical RTP
The two big problems with comp hustling include:
- It’s extremely difficult to find a generous VIP program.
- Your theoretical profit margins will be really slim.
Which Approach Is Best for Earning Profits?
Before choosing a method for making blackjack profits, you need to determine your exact goals. Are you looking to win serious money and possibly become a professional someday? Are you just hoping to make a few dollars on the side while playing?
If you’re in the latter category, then hunting for profitable bonuses and loyalty programs are worthwhile.
Both methods require some work, but they don’t force you to have a tremendous amount of skill. Instead, you just need to use good basic strategy and find the right opportunities.
Card counting is easier to pull off as a new advantage player. However, it’s more common and well known among casino management.
You may want to work with a team of players to reduce your chances of getting caught and thrown out of the casino. But you can also make it as a solo counter with enough skill and practice.
Hole carding requires a lot more work to find worthwhile opportunities. In fact, you’ll spend more time looking for flashers than you will actually playing. Of course, the potential 13% house edge is hard to turn down!
Card counting is a tried-and-true method that still works today. It’s fairly easy to learn and results in big winnings if you develop your skills enough.
Hole carding provides the biggest edge of all. However, it also forces you to put painstaking work into finding bad dealers.